From American racquets to American players - a stereotypical view

Wilson Advantage and Wilson Sting 2 were the only American racquets I have ever played seriously with. Although I did experiment briefly with three classic racquets used by legendary players - Jimmy Connors's Wilson T2000, Stefan Edberg and Pete Sampras's Wilson Pro Staff Classic and Michael Chang's Prince Graphite Oversize, I have actually disregarded American racquets. Wilson, Prince and ProKennex racquets have a sizeable market share and I do not doubt their performance, but I just find that in most cases their designs lack style, unlike many of their European counterparts which reflect a combination of artistic and functional values.

And I feel the same about American tennis versus European tennis. It is a very personal feeling, with a certain degree of stereotyping in it, I have to say, but I find that while American players are in general hugely effective, they look to win at all cost, sometimes at the expense of style and grace. Just as there are notable exceptions, there are also notable examples of this type of players over the years. John McEnroe was outrageously talented, but he also tried to increase his chance of winning with his tantrums and gamesmanship which put tennis to shame and rightly earned himself the name of "Super Brat". Brad (not Brat) Gilbert epitomised the spirit both as a player and later as the writer of the book "Winning Ugly". And talking about ugly, there is a world-beating but pretty ugly doubles pair in the eighties, Ken Flach and Robert Seguso. An interesting Sports Illustrated article said it well about the pair: "for all their success, they remain more infamous than famous".

My two most favourite tennis players, Stefan Edberg and Roger Federer, both know how to play tennis and win matches with style and grace. But while they are not Americans, they both play with an American racquet.

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