Ah, the memories of an unprecedented run of victories at Wimbledon and Roland Garros by Bjorn Borg; epic battles at Wimbledon with John McEnroe …
During the heyday of tennis, the pinnacle of the sport was Bjorn Borg and Donnay racquets. He was the king of cool and everyone wanted to use his racquet, the Donnay Borg Pro. After spending years as the number one racquet manufacturer in the world and the leader in innovation, Donnay quickly faded away through bankruptcy and ownership changes.
After a 13-plus year absence from the U.S. market, Donnay is now trying to recapture the glory days by re-launching the brand with a new line of racquets called the X-Series. Touting an ultra thin beam width of 15 mm. and a new technology called “XeneCore,” these racquets are generating a lot of buzz. Proclaimed as a “solid core,” they claim to achieve feel and control without loss of power. An interesting concept, but haven’t we heard this before? Don’t all tennis manufacturers come up with some ultimate claim, only to let us down? Well, we tested all nine models in the Donnay X-Series and here are the results.
At first glance, all of these frames look about as stable as a badminton racquet. However, once you start to hit with it, you realize the stability allows you to really go after your shots. The “hexagonal molding” appears to increase the torsional rigidity, preventing the racquet from twisting on off-center shots. The 94 has a dense string pattern (18x20), so this is more suited to those using flat to moderate spin and have long and fast swings. Interestingly, the 99 has a more open string pattern (16x20), allowing for more spin, which gears it more towards an aggressive baseliner. The thin beams really let you feel the strings, so it is paramount to have the right string type and tension combination for your game. These are some of the most stable and forgiving frames out there.
This is a serious player frame. You really have to be at the top of your game, with full strokes, to maximize the potential of these racquets. The dense string pattern (18x20) provides gobs of control while allowing you to really bomb your serves. Again, the “hexagonal molding” prevents any twisting and the “solid core” creates an extremely stable racquet.
X-Dark Red 94
This softer and heavier frame is for those that like to play with more feel and control and can generate their own power with great plow through. Easy to generate spin, but they seem better suited for serve and volley type playing styles, as opposed to baseliners. They require you to really swing to generate power, but the amazing levels of feel and control allow you to be creative with your shot making.
The most popular among our staff, these frames seem to suit multiple playing styles; from the baseliner to the serve and volleyer. The 94 is better suited for the all-court player and is great for volleys and doubles, while the 99 is great for the aggressive baseliner. Jim Courier was seen playing with the Red 99 at a charity event in Los Angeles. Both of these frames encouraged spin on ground strokes, worked great for kick serves, and offer an excellent combination of feel and power.
The stiffness of this frame allows you to generate power on your shots without the stinging feeling in your arm. Extremely maneuverable, this is a great choice for an all-around game without the need for high levels of strength. This racquet is better suited for those with a moderate swing and looking for power.
This is the choice for those that like the playing characteristics of the Red 99, but need something lighter. Extremely maneuverable, these frames provide the feel and control you want without the unwanted vibration usually associated with light racquets. Solid with great control.
The lightest and stiffest frame of the line, this racquet is the choice for those with short compact swings, looking for added power and maneuverability. They are great for developing juniors with an all around game.
In summary, it appears that Donnay is truly back. Their X-Series racquets are a must try for anyone serious about their tennis game. The thin beam solid core construction of these frames provide exceptional feel and control while maintaining the stability of wider beam frames, allowing you to generate the needed power. They are also some of the best looking racquets we have seen and the grips feel great as they are consistent and round. The self-customization kits are simple to use and actually quite effective—no more dealing with sticky and ugly lead tape. The company assures us that their quality control, consisting of a serial numbering system on each frame, will ensure that orders of multiple frames will have consistent specs.
With retail prices ranging from $249 to $299, these racquets may not be for everyone, but if you want a racquet that will help elevate your game, these are definitely worth play testing.
For more information, visit www.donnay.com.