Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro Ti 15g Reach Racquet Review
Pro Kennex has come a long way since it introduced its best-known performance racquet, the Black Ace, 18 years ago. Throughout the '80's, Pro Kennex was known for producing thousands of inexpensive racquets with similar-sounding names (or so it seemed) and selling them at elite tennis shops like K-Mart and Benny's Bargain Basement. They did have a few high quality performance racquets, like the Black Ace, but they were never a high priority. In the early '90's, a new management team was formed in San Diego and Pro Kennex began pursuing the "performance" racquet category. They had moderate success with the Graphite Presence and followed up with the Asymmetric, which was Pro Kennex's first endeavor into vibration damping racquet technology.
Asymmetric technology was just the beginning for Pro Kennex. During the 1991 Munich ISPO trade show, a German inventor named Roland Sommer presented Pro Kennex with an entirely new concept in racquet design called Kinetic System Technology. The Kinetic System was supposed to enhance racquet power while reducing frame vibration and shock at the same time. It accomplished this feat with the help of small, movable pellets placed in tubes located in the racquet head.
Although the concept sounded logical and effective (if also a bit noisy), the International Tennis Federation's Technical Committee questioned the Kinetic's legality. After determining that the moveable kinetic mass (the pellets) did not change the racquet's center of gravity (see Rules of Tennis, Rule 4, paragraph D below), they deemed Kinetic System Technology legal and Pro Kennex introduced the Kinetic 10g in 1994.
Since then, many more Kinetic racquets have been introduced. There's the Kinetic 5g, Kinetic Pro 5g, Kinetic Pro 5g Reach, Kinetic 15g, Kinetic Pro 15g Reach, Kinetic 20g, Kinetic 20g Reach, Kinetic Pro 20g Reach, and so on and so on... While the new management team was very open minded towards new racquet designs, their creativity apparently didn't carry over into racquet names.
To be fair, Pro Kennex isn't the only company guilty of introducing lots of racquets with similar sounding names (Hammer this, Thunder that). Once you get past this name-confusion hurdle you'll find a racquet line that offers a variety of power levels and have one common feature - comfort. Kinetic racquets are recognized as being some of the quietest, most comfortable racquets on the market. Their latest introductions, the Kinetic Pro Ti 15g Reach and Kinetic Pro Ti 20g Reach (don't worry, we'll abbreviate these soon) add titanium "micro mesh" to the shaft for added stability and strength. They will be replacing the Pro 15g Reach and the Pro 20g Reach in the Kinetic line.
Besides the titanium mesh in the shaft, the most notable changes to the Ti 15g Reach from its predecessor are weight, balance and length. Slimmed down from 11.3 ounces to a svelte 9.6 ounces (strung), the Ti 15g Reach is noticeably lighter than the original 15g Reach. Despite being balanced 6 points head-heavy (compared to 5 points head-light for the original 15g Reach) it has a much lower dynamic swingweight - 321 compared to 360 - and doesn't have that droopy head-heavy feel. Otherwise, the overall head shape, frame stiffness, string pattern and color scheme looks pretty much the same (except for the titanium mesh on the shaft). But make no mistake, the Ti 15g Reach is a totally different racquet.
The Ti 15g Reach is actually more similar to the Head Ti.S2. Dan observes, "this racquet brought flashbacks of the Ti.S2 - similar power level and feel but a tad heavier. A good choice for 'tweeners' or those in need of a bridge between power and control." On groundstrokes, the Ti 15g provides a nice blend of maneuverability, stability and comfort but requires a full swing to generate enough power and depth. Dan continues, "I found good control on groundies but generating pace took some effort. Full swinging players will reap the benefits of good control in a light and maneuverable frame." Granville adds, "I preferred this racquet at the net. The lack of mass at a mere 9.6 ounces inhibited pace on groundstrokes. This would be my only reservation in recommending this racquet to 5.0+ players. Perhaps dropping string tension a few pounds and/or adding weight at 3 and 9 o'clock would bring the power level back up to an acceptable level." Don agrees, "I'd love this racquet with just a little more weight, perhaps an extra 1/2 ounce. " Mark (our fast swinger) counters, "I was able to hit good topspin off both sides and hard, consistent slices too. I also got the racquet head on a lot of balls I could barely reach and came up with some really good shots! While it is light, it has enough weight to generate power on off-balance shots."
Almost all playtesters felt the Ti 15g performed best at net. The 105 head size, combined with it's light weight and extra 1/2" of length make it a volleyer's dream. Don offers, "I felt most in control at net. I could hit assertive put-away volleys and touch, angle shots. Despite it's light weight, even reaction volleys were stable." Mark adds, "I could hit low volleys and half-volleys with lots of control and put away high volleys without taking a big swing. There's enough weight to keep the racquet head from flying out of control but it's also maneuverable enough to handle most reaction volleys."
Serves and overheads were met with differing opinions, mostly due to the racquet's weight. Dan comments, "what can be said about serving with this racquet other than 'crunch time'! Big servers will love the racquet head speed they can generate with this frame. Whether slicing out wide or drilling the flat one up the T, this racquet was seemingly designed for big servers. Kick serves had good spin and placement was never a problem." Mark loved the Ti 15g for serving and volleying. "An ideal racquet for an aging serve and volleyer, like myself. I could hit any shot in my repertoire with it. I liked this racquet better than any racquet I've playtested in the last 6 months." For servers who don't swing as fast, though, power will be somewhat lacking. Drew observes, "if I had to knock the racquet in one area, it would be in serving. It doesn't boom serves like some of its stiffer and heavier (or head-heavier) competitors. For anyone with a weak serve, I'd recommend looking for a racquet that would help them more."
But do those little kinetic pellets shaking around inside the frame really work? Until the Kinetic came along, there really was no racquet designed for tennis elbow sufferers. Today, there is strong consensus among players, dealers and even other racquet manufacturers that Kinetic System Technology is most effective in dampening frame vibration and shock. Our playtesters unanimously agreed. Don comments, "although I had to swing a little harder with this racquet to get the power and depth I needed, each shot felt solid, even mishits. Drew continues, "the racquet feels like you hit the sweetspot everytime, even if you don't." Granville probably describes the Kinetic "experience" best. "As a competitive player who suffers with intermittent bouts of tennis elbow, I must admit my initial reservations about the technology are all but eliminated each time I play with a Kinetic racquet. With the simple exception of hearing the moveable mass when shaking the racquet next to my ear, I am sold on the Kinetics. Without a doubt, it is the most significant technological advance in racquet technology since graphite." We wonder how much more popular Kinetic racquets would be if they enjoyed the marketing muscle of a Wilson, Head or Prince.
The Kinetic Pro Ti 15g Reach comes close to offering the best of both worlds. It's light and maneuverable, yet stable and comfortable. It offers a 105 square-inch head for a larger sweetspot but doesn't sacrifice control. It is slightly longer for added reach and leverage without the negatives of a "long" racquet. For players seeking a racquet that offers all of the above in the medium-power category, the Ti 15g Reach is a good choice. For players seeking all of the above and who suffer from tennis elbow, we unreservedly recommend the Kinetic Pro Ti 15g Reach.
4. The Racket
d. The frame, including the handle and the strings, shall be free of any device which
makes it possible to change materially the shape of the racket, or to change the
weight distribution in the direction of the longitudinal axis of the racket which would
alter the swing moment of inertia, or to deliberately change any physical property
which may affect the performance of the racket during the playing of a point.
For a detailed look at Rule 4, click here.
Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro Ti 15g Reach
Technical & Statistical Data
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
|Length||27.5 inches||70 centimeters|
|Head Size||105 square inches||677 square centimeters|
|Weight||9.6 ounces||272 grams|
|Balance Point||14.5 inches|
|6 pts Head Heavy|
|Shaft Width||25mm Head / 23 mm Shaft|
|Composition||Graphite & Titanium||
Babolat RDC Ratings
|Flex Rating||68||Range: 0-100|
|Swing Weight||321||Range: 200-400|
5.5 all-court player currently using a Dunlop Tournament Pro Midplus.
5.5 all-court player currently using a Gamma Tradition 18 Midplus.
5.5 serve & volleyer currently using a Prince ThunderUltralite Titanium Oversize.
4.5-5.0 all-court player currently using a Prince Precision Response Titanium Midplus.
4.5-5.0 baseliner currently using a Dunlop Tour Pro +1.0 Midplus.