by Pierre Bastien
Over the past few months, Tecnifibre and Head have added some brand new frame designs to their respective squash racquet lineups.
Tecnifibre Dynergy AP
Tecnifibre’s new range of squash racquets is called Dynergy AP. The AP stands for Arch Power, so-called because the strings loop around an arch in the racquet’s throat. This is similar to the longtime design of many Prince racquets, as well as some Wilson frames, but this is Tecnifibre’s first model in that vein.
The new Dynergy range is being promoted by Colombian No. 1 Miguel Angel Rodriguez, who began playing with the Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125 in March of this year. This is the lightest of the three racquets—the others are the Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 130 and 135.
True to their name, the Arch Power frame provides a ton of power. The strings are very lively and the ball feels like it’s exploding off the string bed. You can get good feel on touch shots, too. One downside is the arch stringing pattern is tougher on strings, meaning you’re more likely to break them, especially on off-center hits. The Dynergy racquets have a thicker shaft compared to other Technifibre models, giving them a stiffer feel, which adds to their power but makes them feel a little bulkier and less maneuverable.
Tecnfibre’s other main racquet models are the Carboflex and Suprem ranges. The Carboflex is very popular: it’s used by Mohamed Elshorbagy, and many other pros. As with the Dynergy, the Carboflex is also a teardrop-shaped racquet, but the stringing pattern on the Carboflex is conventional, and the frame is not as thick. The Carboflex racquets feel more flexible and maneuverable, with more fine-grained control. Finally, the Suprem range racquets all have traditional head shapes with a beam across the throat, for those who prefer the feel of that head shape.
Head Xenon Slimbody
Head introduced the Head Xenon Slimbody frame at the end of last season, and it was quickly picked up by half a dozen top pros, including Jenny Duncalf and Omar Mosaad. The Slimbody frames have a traditional head shape with a bar across the throat, and come in two weights, the 120 and the 135.
The distinguishing feature of the Slimbody racquets is that the frame body is—wait for it—quite slim. It’s thinner both in terms of width (looking at the racquet side-on) and thickness (looking at the racquet head-on).
In my playtesting of the 135, the thin frame makes the racquet very quick through the air. If you have decent technique, you can generate lots of racquet head speed. The sweet spot on the Slimbody racquets feels very large, adding to both the power and touch. Though the sweet spot is large, the downside on this racquet is when you venture outside that sweet spot, you get a very wobbly, weak shot. The thin frame just isn’t stable enough to rescue you from an off-center hit. I would only recommend this one to more advanced players.
Head has two other frame types to complement the Slimbody. First is the Head Xenon 135. This frame has been in Head’s lineup for several years now and is a classic. Laura Massaro still uses this one—it has a thicker frame and is head-heavier, making it less maneuverable, but a very steady performer.
Head also has some teardrop-shaped racquets in their range. These are sold under the Head Cyano name, and come in three different weights: 110, 120 and 135. These frames have also been used by many pros, including Nour El Tayeb and Joelle King. I’ve tried the 120 and found it to be a smooth-swinging stick with a good balance of power and control.