Making a Racket

Like tennis balls, most tennis rackets sold in the US are produced overseas, typically in Japan or other parts of Asia. But unlike the tennis ball, whose design has remained largely unchanged for decades, the tennis racket is a constantly evolving piece of equipment that engineers continue to redesign in the hopes of developing even faster, more responsive rackets.

As designs have become more sophisticated, the materials used to manufacture the equipment have also evolved: until the mid-1960s, all professional tennis rackets were made of wood. The first steel racket was patented in 1965, and by 1968 aluminum rackets were officially on the market. Now, manufacturers build rackets out of composite materials, including carbon fiber, and metals such as titanium alloys.

Once the design is complete, the first step in building a racket is to set the composite materials in a mold to form the frame. When the frame has been formed, holes are drilled for the strings, the racket is tempered for strength, and a stringing machine runs the strings across the racket. When the racket is finished, it’s thoroughly examined and tested for qualities like balance, strength, string tension, and grip. Once the rackets have passed quality control standards, workers place them in protective covers, then package and send them to a warehouse for distribution.

The impeccable craftsmanship and detailed production of tennis equipment are crucial to our collective fondness for the sport: having the highest quality equipment, down to the right composition of rubbers in a tennis ball, ultimately make tennis more enjoyable for both players and spectators alike.


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