This article is intended for any beginner who would use an adult tennis racquet. Most players who weigh at least 85 pounds should use an adult racquet, but see Buying the Right Length Racquet for a Junior Player if you are not sure.
Beginner, "Tweener," or Advanced?
Racquet reviews often classify racquets in one of these categories, which are useful indicators, but some beginners might be happiest with a "tweener" (intermediate) racquet. A racquet rated for beginners tends to be very powerful, and a strong, athletic beginner might find it hard to control.
The two types of racquet that at least 90% of beginners should not consider are the extremes of the racquet power spectrum:
- a heavy, head-light, low-powered racquet intended for an advanced player.
- an extremely light (under 9.5 ounces, strung) and powerful racquet, which is only suitable for a small minority of players who don't play often and lack the strength to generate a powerful swing.
Price and Material
If price is a concern, you're in luck. You can buy an entirely adequate beginner racquet for less than $30; less than $20 if you shop around. It will be made of aluminum and come pre-strung, usually with just a cover for the head.
Aluminum is too flexible for a player who hits hard and needs a predictable response, but that usually describes a fairly accomplished player. If you anticipate that you will advance quickly, you might want to consider a graphite racquet, for which prices start at around $70 and go up to almost $300.
See Tennis on the Cheap for more on how to buy an inexpensive racquet.