What? There are counterfeit tennis racquets now?
Unfortunately, counterfeiting is a plague to which the tennis industry is not immune. Generally speaking, the impostors are manufactured in China and sold via the internet, on random online retail sites that look as legitimate as Tennis Warehouse (or even Courtware Pro Shop!). To the untrained eye, a counterfeit racquet may look like the real deal, which is why they pass so easily over the internet, where the subtle cosmetic differences are virtually non-discernible.
But as with anything counterfeit, the similarities between the “fake-o” and the “real deal” end with the image on the computer screen. Everything else about the racquet- from the balance, weight, flexibility and feel, to the integrity of the technology, design and the brand has been compromised.
So how can you, the educated tennis consumer, ensure that you are purchasing a legitimate performance racquet?
1) Only buy your racquets from a manufacturer’s “Authorized Dealer”. Authorized Dealers have a direct relationship with the manufacturer, which ensures that you not only get the real article, but that your racquet is sold with the protection of the manufacturers warranty in place. Most performance racquets are warrantied for manufacturer’s defects for up to one year from the purchase date. If you are unsure whether a dealer is authorized, most manufacturers have websites that have a store locator or list of authorized dealers.
2) Check the price. All Authorized Dealers are held to a “minimum advertised pricing” or MAP policy, which dictates the minimum price that any dealer can sell a particular racquet for. Go online and search for the Babolat Pure Drive GT and you will inevitably find the same $179 price point at all the well-known tennis web sites. There are severe penalties for Authorized Dealers who violate manufacturer’s “MAP” policies, so you will rarely find a legitimate retailer who is willing to do so. As a rule of thumb, if you find a Babolat Pure Drive GT for under $179, it is either a fake or is being sold by a dealer who is not authorized to sell Babolat product.
Gerald Sarmiento is a USRSA Master Racquet Technician and National Certification Tester of over 15 years. He owns and operates two Courtware Pro Shops in New Jersey with his wife, Brooke. Courtware Pro Shops are authorized dealers of Babolat, Dunlop, Head, Prince, Wilson and Yonex racquets.