For the past 15 years Solinco Sports has placed tennis strings on a focus. Many major champions of rackets — quite often incognito — and now Solinco wants to build around that success. The next step: rackets.
“We had this mission statement early on to provide players with all levels of high-performance, high-quality products, everything you need to get out there and the equipment side of the tennis,” says KT Kim, director of Solinco Sports. “The strings are where we focused and had the expertise and where we built our brand. Rackets were always on the dock.”
The Whitewood and Blackout frames of the 2022 launch rackets into the first real entry, making one roughly four years in the making. “Our vision has always been to work at that high-performance pro level and down the filter,” Kim says. “We could use any top-10 player we wanted. That was the type of quality and performance we were targeting. If we could get to that point, we wouldn’t have come up with anything.”
To Get There, Solinco hired two prominent names in racket design, including Roman Prokes, known for his racket customization when working with Andre Agassi. With a strict schedule, instead of focusing on developing a product, they could succeed.
Solinco rackets of the future for the February 2022 launch of the Whiteout and Blackout frames set. From a technology standpoint, Solinco placed 40T carbon fiber, the highest-grade carbon fiber available in tennis and rarely used in the sport, to the 3 and 9 o’clock positions to increase stability and strength while providing a sweet spot. Dampen vibration to the grip targets in crystal liquid fibers.
The Whiteout comes with its own racket-head speed that generates players for a solid feel, creating a foam-filled hoop. The 98-square-inch head features weights at 290 and 305 grams.
The Blackout features a Power Flex Zone, enlarging the beam width around the 5 and 7 o’clock areas that maximizes the flexibility of the power back to the ball, even with off-center strikes. With a 100-square-inch head, the Blackout is meant to appeal to a beginner, intermediate or professional with a range of weights from 245 grams to a mix of adult-sized rackets up to 300 grams.
To add an extra bit of Solinco flare, and bring in the expertise of Prokes, each frame comes with a weight control module. With interchangeable 5-gram and 10-gram butt cap plates, Kim says players can pop out the plate and put in a new one in a matter of seconds. “During a hitting session, it gives you a balance of play and overall weight and feel for yourself,” he says. Consumers get the option of a slightly lighter racket and easily add weight.
During design in Torrance, California, Solinco also had numerous marketing discussions centered on the new lines. “We try to simplify things here,” Kim says. “We didn’t want to come out with five or six lines of rackets.” And in keeping with the simplicity, Kim says they know the most players — sometimes even at the pro level — that they can use but call it the brand and the color.
“We’ve had a lot of strategy meetings and 100 different names listed,” he says. “You can call it any cool name you can think of, (players) will come back to the color. Our thought process was to keep it super clean, classy and do something that most people don’t and just don’t have.” “In that process, let’s call it what it is.”
Enter Whiteout and Blackout. “Easy enough,” Kim says. “It’s hard to forget the name.”
With a crowded frame market at the top of tennis, Solinco plans to build its racket awareness the same way it did strings, taking a long-term view. From everything using The Strings, top-10 players to Solinco’s popular Hyper-G to TourBite and more, they already have the highest level of inroads.
“We’ve had many grand slam champions, former world No. 1s, current top-10 players all choose to sue our products without any official contract or compensation, spending some of their own money on what they believe is theirs. Their best, ”Kim says. “That to me is the clear validation that our products perform at the highest level out there.”
The Whiteout and the retired Bryan brothers both wield the Blackout with already American Noah Rubin and 21-year-old rising Swiss player Leonie Kung play.
“Part of our company philosophy is that if we come out with a good price point and take a long-term approach, things will work out,” says Kim. “We have seen that with our strings, and we have a strong following to build. It may take some time to get it out there, but we will get there.”