Virginia Crawford's vintage racquet collection
Virginia Crawford is a collector from New Zealand. She has a reasonably extensive collection of racquets (500), mainly from the 80's, as this is her favourite era.
You can read her collector story here.
Virginia Crawford's collector story
How did I get started collecting tennis racquets? In the first place, since I was just coming back to tennis after a long hiatus, I decided that I should probably get a new racquet. After looking at and handling a few different frames, I bought a Prince Force 3. It seemed rather light, but the sports shop salesman told me it was just the thing for me and indeed, it felt comfortable enough and seemed easy to swing.
After a few games with this racquet, I wasn't happy, not only with my game, but with how it actually felt to hit the ball. The racquet didn't seem to have enough mass and I found it just too flimsy to really cope well with a heavy ball.
Since I didn't want another expensive "experiment", I decided to see if I could get a cheap second hand racquet on Trademe, New Zealand's local equivalent of Ebay, to try out. As it happened, I picked up a Prince Graphite Pro 110 for less than US$20 - it was in excellent condition and I liked it straightaway. I didn't realise at the time, that this was actually one of Prince's really good models from the 1980's. As I'd got such a good bargain, I thought I'd keep looking and my next purchase was a pair of Prince Spectrum Comps (110) in beautiful condition for around US$50. If I liked the Graphite Pro, I really loved the Spectrum!
The following month (April 2007), I happened to be browsing in a local hospice shop and noticed a very dirty looking racquet lying in a corner. I took it out of its half case, licked my finger and rubbed it on the frame; I then realised that this was just surface dirt and would probably come off with relative ease. I bought it for about US$3, took it home and carefully cleaned it up. I discovered it was a Head Prestige Pro and by the looks of it, had never seen a court. I loved the look of it and instictively felt that this was something rather special.
I "googled" both this racquet and the aforementioned two Prince models and found my way to the Tennis Warehouse forums, where racquets, pro players and all things tennis are discussed in detail by some very knowledgeable tennis fans. I learned there how highly thought of these racquets were and what a huge following there was around the world for so called "Old school" and "classic" tennis racquets, mainly from the 1980's.
One thing led to another and I found myself buying more racquets on Trademe, first researching them on the T-W forums and elsewhere. I found more good racquets at the hospice shop and also at the local Salvation Army shop, where I picked up a beautiful Slazenger Phantom for the princely price of US$2!
Since the exchange rate with the US dollar was starting to improve substantially, I started looking on Ebay and found lots of goodies there too, making some good friends in the process - Jens in Germany (the owner of this website, from whom I've also subsequently bought several fantastic collector's racquets), someone in Japan, two collectors in the United States and two collectors in Australia.
My focus has mainly been on racquets from the 80's as so much exciting racquet development took place in that decade - changes in materials, head size, shape - and of course the transition from wood through to graphite. I also happen to think that these racquets were exceptionally well made, attractive looking and able to stand the test of time, still playing well more than 20 years after their original release. It's sheer delight to take them out for the occasional spin, as I like to do. It's maybe not so good for my tennis, playing with different racquets, but does wonders for my appreciation of these interesting and highly sought after frames! For instance, there's just nothing like hitting with the Dunlop 200G, injection moulded, with its wonderful feel, and sheer power when hit with a big swing.
I also fell in love with some of the beautiful and famous wooden frames of the 50's, 60's and 70's - such as the Spalding Davis Cup, Wilson Kramer Autograph, Slazenger Challenge, Dunlop Maxply and many, many others.
In addition, I was keen to have as many different manufacturers as possible represented - I now have 65 and I'm always looking for more. My collection of over 300 racquets is kept in my garage - 120 or so displayed on the walls and the remainder on special racquet racks (originally clothing racks) that I was lucky enough to find for very reasonable prices on Trademe. Once I have everything properly organised and some astroturf laid on the floor, for a nice touch, I'll be sending photos along to Jens to add to my photo collection.
So that's my story - and I guess I'm just addicted!