UPDATE : I have had a lot of customer service issues with Donnay and although I like the racquet can no longer recommend the company. If you would like a detailed explaination, send me an email but be wary of dealing with the “new” Donnay company.
I recently received the 2016 Donnay-Xenecore Pro One Racquet as a demo and was excited to test this venerable name in tennis. The company was founded in 1913 by Emile Donnay in Belguim. They began to manufacture wood tennis racquets in 1934 and by 1970s was the largest manufacturer of tennis racquets in the world. Who could forget Björn Borg winning so many tournaments with a Donnay racquet. Sadly the company missed the boat on the graphite revolution instead concentrating on wood and aluminium racquets. This misstep led the company into bankruptcy in 1988 until in 1996 Sports Direct International acquired worldwide rights for the Donnay brand.
Quite a long history lesson but it fascinated me to find out where this racquet came from and the storied legend of the brand. The Pro One name also has legend attached to it as Andre Agassi played with this model name.
So it was with this understanding and excitement that I received this new Donnay-Xenecore Pro One racquet in the mail. The first impression of the new Pro One is the stunning high gloss reflective black paint job on this racquet. It’s something you have to see in person because the shiny reflective nature of the racquet just doesn’t capture on pictures. The paint is monochromatic and even the lettering on the racquet are an off shade of black to match.
The specs are as follows :
Head size: 97sqi
Unstrung Weight: 310g
Unstrung Balance: 315mm
Strung Weight: 11.5oz
Strung Balance: 5 Points HL
Strung Swing Wt: 320
String Pattern: 16×19
Stiffness (RDC): 60
Rec. String Tension: 45lbs (+/- 10)
Beam Width: 21/21/21mm
Technology: Quad XēneCore™
Xenecore is a material that is already used in the military for sound proofing and shock dampening. Xenecore is known for its strength to weight ratio as well, and is used in aircraft wings, nosecones, helmets, and vests. Xenecore frames promise to be solid feeling without stiffness that could hurt your body. Using a Tri-core filling process with Xenecore reportedly provides a more solid feel while keeping the shock level at it’s lowest.
I found the racquet to be excellent in generating power for such a low stiffness rating. I currently play with the Prince EXO3 100 Tour racquet that has the lowest stiffness rating of any raquet on the market at 54 (RDC). Considering the Donnay-Xenecore is also one of the lowest stiffness ratings on the market it plays far more solid and with more power and less flexibility than my Prince. The 5 points head light feel makes the racquet incredibly comfortable to swing and makes volleys a dream. I found this racquet excelled in volleys and put aways at the net thanks to the firm control of the racquet and the lightness in the hoop. I have demo tested a Head Prestige racquet and the rigidness of shots is very comparable. This is a powerful racquet as well which I attribute to the Xenecore technology. Easy power is generated on ground strokes and serves alike while service returns feel concrete and substantial compared to the flutter of my Prince racquet. This is definitely more of an intermediate to advanced racquet as I can imagine lots of flyaway balls from beginners who don’t know proper stroke generation. The 16×19 string pattern on the Pro One generated a decent amount of spin with the copoly that came loaded in the demo. Slices also seemed deep and penetrating with this racquet perhaps due to the Xenecore and additional swing power. Speaking of Coploy strings, I typically avoid them like the plague due to a tennis elbow injury I received playing an old Babolat Pure Drive with poly. Yet, even after several hours of hitting with the Donnay-Xenecore Pro One and a full bed of poly strings I was amazed that my arm was not sore. It made me a believer in Xenecore technology being solid but arm friendly.
I allowed a few of my hitting friends to try the Donnay-Xenecore Pro One and everyone who play tested it came back with a smile and asked me where they could get one. One male friend noticed a significant swing speed increase in his stroke. I did search online at the normal Holabird and TennisWarehouse outlets and came up empty so for now it seems direct from Donnay-Xenecore at $209.00 a pop is the only option. While this price seems steep compared to many of the mass manufactured racquets for advanced players I suggest you demo this boutique racquet. Donnay US offers a great Free Trial Demo program to anyone in the United States which covers all shipping as well.
I was truly surprised by this new Donnay-Xenecore racquet and I highly recommend this Donnay-Xenecore Pro One and suggest you demo this racquet before the 2 week free trial program ends. It has power, control, and comfort like no racquet I have ever tried before. I believe for players that are 3.5 USTA rated and above this racquet will be a dream to play with.