After testing many, many racquets, Tennis Warehouse has decided to make its own racquet and revolutionize the game of tennis. After an extensive commitment to about 30 minutes of research, we were sure we had hit on the magic formula to create a racquet worthy of the title, The Holy Grail. After experimenting with some fiberglass from a 1973 tri-hull speedboat, we realized the use of hard materials such as graphite, titanium, carbon and aluminum were not needed to produce the kind or racquet we were seeking. Our next problem was finding a reliable source of 1970s speedboats that could provide our raw material - vintage fiberglass. As luck would have it, Bob's Boat Salvage, located just west of San Luis Obispo, came to the rescue. With enough fiberglass for a production run of approximately 732 racquets, plus one 21-inch junior racquet, we were in business.
We tested the Holy Grail for three days and thought the racquet really was deserving of its name. However, to get an unbiased opinion we brought in some outside playtesters for a three-week playtest.
To try and harness some of the bodacious power of The Holy Grail, we strung it with some 14-gauge nylon we found in the back of the warehouse. For the ultimate in hand to racquet traction, we wrapped the handle with 40-grit sandpaper. 30 grit sandpaper was also supplied, but use was left to individual playtester preference.
Our team of new playtesters hit the courts with The Holy Grail not knowing what a 15.2 ounce racquet with a flex rating of 19 (RDC) could do for their game. First up was Steffi. She said, "I was amazed at the power of The Holy Grail. My backhand slice has never been so lethal. With hardly any backswing, I was able to paint the baseline with consistent heavy slices that drove my opponent nuts. I was also able to hit my one-handed topspin backhand with this racquet, and that's a shot I've never been truly confident with, until now. I had good results with my forehand, too. I was hitting my forehand harder than ever, and it was just unreturnable for the entire three weeks." Pete also quickly found the groove with The Holy Grail. "This racquet was amazing. After recently taking a break from the game, I'm now back playing more than ever since hitting with The Holy Grail. My baseline game has never been stronger and I was ripping winners from both sides. I really felt like I was shooting from the hip with this baby. I'm used to using heavy racquets, so the 15.2 ounce weight of The Holy Grail was not a problem. With such a head light balance (12 points), I was able to really whip this racquet through the ball and generate a lot of spin." Having better results than she expected with such a heavy racquet was Chrissie, saying, "I've never been more consistent from the back court. I just love the way I can put the racquet out, feel it flex, and then just power the ball back to my opponent's baseline. My two-handed backhand was just on fire, and I was finally able to pass a longtime serve and volley opponent of mine. I think she was really shocked at the power I was getting from this racquet."
Both Boris and Jimmy enjoyed hitting groundstrokes with The Holy Grail. Boris said, "wow, my shots were just like, Boom, Boom with this racquet. The power and the control are like nothing I've ever seen. I hit with a one-handed forehand and backhand, but with this racquet, it didn't matter. One-handed, two-handed, no handed, it was all the same. Whatever I hit found its target with heavy spin and pace."
Jimmy agreed, saying, "this is a sweet racquet. I tend to hit the ball pretty flat, and The Holy Grail was just a perfect fit for my game. I was moving my opponents all over the court with my forehand, and my put-a-way backhand down the line was spot on target every time."
Martina, said, "this is a great racquet. I was able to hit both topspin and slice forehands and backhands. I was playing more aggressively than ever, and The Holy Grail was just so comfortable to use. My approach shots always seemed to find the target and set me up for some aggressive net play."
With a 12 points head light balance, The Holy Grail proved to be very maneuverable at net for our team, despite a strung racquet weight of 15.2 ounces. Our three serve and volley players really found the groove with The Holy Grail. Boris said, "my volleys were wundervoll with The Holy Grail. I was sticking cross-court angles like there was no tomorrow with this racquet. The control, power and stability were exceptional. I chose to use the 30 grit sandpaper, and I really think it helped stop the racquet from twisting on off-center hits." Martina agreed, "this racquet is exceptional at net. I play mostly doubles, and The Holy Grail was the perfect volleying stick. The feel from the fiberglass frame is exceptional and I was making some great angle and touch volleys." Pete observed, "this racquet is one solid volleying machine. I could punch low volleys deep to my opponent's baseline with absolutely no effort. Anything above the net became a sitter and I was regularly finishing off points with a killer volley."
Jimmy said, "Although I prefer to play from the baseline, I was able to volley with a lot of confidence with The Holy Grail. The racquet just feels right in the hand, with great balance, a solid weight, and that incredible flex on every contact - it really is the perfect racquet for volleying." Like Jimmy, Chrissie also prefers playing from the baseline, however, she also had good results at net with The Holy Grail. "I found The Holy Grail very easy to maneuver and I made some great pick-up volleys. The racquet felt very comfortable and I felt like I could volley all day with it. On the backhand I found that I could volley with just one hand, rather than the two-handed volley I usually hit." Steffi also found the groove with The Holy Grail, "this is a great racquet. The sweetspot is so much bigger than on my Dunlop Max 200G. I don't think I missed one volley with The Holy Grail. The racquet is so soft and buttery feeling, I was able to place volleys cross court or down the line with ease."
Perhaps the ultimate serving weapon, The Holy Grail had our group of testers hitting ace after ace. Boris was finding some major power with The Holy Grail. "The first serve I hit with The Holy Grail was amazing. It was just a warm-up serve, but it went right in the corner of the service box, sped past my practice partner, put a hole through the back fence and went onto the court behind us. A couple of guys were getting ready to start a game on that court, and apparently the ball landed in the corner of the deuce side service box on its second bounce, acing the waiting returner. After that humble start, my serves really started to boom boom, and I did not lose one service game with this racquet." Our other big server, Pete, also found some added pop on his serves. "This racquet provides the kind of weight and pace I look for to impose my attacking playing style. I lost count of how many aces I hit, finding I could take some pace off to go out wide with slice, or just blast heaters up the middle. It was all just so effortless."
Martina found some nice slice on her lefty serve, saying, "I was able to pull my opponents way off the court with a wide slice to the add side service box. This set up an easy volley to the open court. Although I really enjoyed serving with slice, I also found some good power on flat serves. This really is the best racquet for serving." For once, Chrissie agreed with Martina, saying, "what a great racquet for serving. So powerful, yet offering the ultimate in control and placement. I've never served with a racquet this comfortable, and when I got the 15.2 ounces in motion, the racquet just ploughed through the ball."
Again, Steffi was impressed with the size of the sweetspot on The Holy Grail. "It didn't matter if I caught the ball off-center, The Holy Grail seemed to offer the same power and control. I have a very high ball toss, and on windy days I have to stop and catch the ball if it gets blown out of my contact zone. However, with The Holy Grail I could hit every ball with the same remarkable results. This is simply a great serving racquet." Jimmy said, "I got all the control I needed with The Holy Grail. I was able to hit the corners consistently, and I picked up a lot of easy points on serve. Even my flat serves had a lot of weight and kick with The Holy Grail. The 27.3333 inch length of The Holy Grail seemed to offer that extra bit of pop I've been missing with my Wilson T2000."
When our testers weren't hitting aces with The Holy Grail they were frustrating their opponents with return winners. Jimmy said, "my return is usually my strongest shot, but with The Holy Grail it was just amazing. My favorite return became the behind the back, inside out, cross-court winner from the deuce court. With a flick of the wrist I could also go down the line on this shot, and really surprise my opponent. I like to take the return early, and with The Holy Grail I was able to stand right on the service line and hit winners off my opponent's first and second serves. What a racquet, this thing was just amazing." Pete also found The Holy Grail added a little something to his return. "I wish I had had this racquet on my last trip to Europe. There's a grass court tournament I was fond of playing over there, and I think The Holy Grail would have helped me win it just one more time. My returns were just so much stronger with this racquet. On the grass I think about 90% of them would have been winners. Even on the California hard courts, my returns would consistently put my opponent on the back foot and out of contention for the point." Chrissie found she had more time to hit the shot she wanted with The Holy Grail. "I felt like I could hold the ball on the strings for that split-second longer when returning with The Holy Grail. The extra time helped me disguise my returns and find easier ways to pass serve and volley players. I found some nice weight on my topspin returns, and when my opponents were able to reach them, they just could not handle the power provided by The Holy Grail."
"This is the best racquet for returning," said Martina. "One time, I managed to break my opponent's serve without even getting up from the bench after the change of ends. Although The Holy Grail is incredibly powerful, I found my best returns were the little slice angles and touch shots so important to good doubles play." Steffi continued to pressure her opponents with slice when returning with The Holy Grail. "My slice backhand was like a bolt of lightning with this racquet. A short backswing, catch the ball out in front, and watch it plough through my opponent's defenses like a knife through butter. I've never had so much fun on the return." Boris became a little worried during the playtest when he lost one of the test racquets. "Fortunately, I found The Holy Grail in the broom closet. I must have left it in there when I was, er, cleaning. Anyway, when I got out to the courts and hit some returns, The Holy Grail didn't let me down. I was blasting forehand and backhand winners with ease. This really is the greatest racquet I've ever returned with."
At the end of our playtest, each member of the new test team decided to make the switch to The Holy Grail. So enamored with the racquet were these new testers, they have refused to use another racquet and will no longer be able to participate in Tennis Warehouse racquet reviews. They also bought our entire supply of The Holy Grail racquets, and with our supply of 1970s speedboat fiberglass depleted, The Holy Grail racquet will sadly now be out of production. Playtester Pete even purchased our only 21 inch junior version of The Holy Grail for future use by his tennis playing son.
Review date: April 2004. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.