Wilson “Naked Series” Tennis Racquet

overall Rating:

1.83

planets

Andrew (Hao) HUANG
7/2/2021
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Take a look at the tennis participation in the U.S.: according to an annual study commissioned by the Physical Activity Council (PAC), the tennis market in the U.S. has skyrocketed during the pandemic with an estimated 21.63 million Americans picking up a racquet in 2020, an increased 22.4 percent after several years of stagnant participation.

Due to the rapidly expanding tennis market, it is apparent that the demand for tennis balls and racquets will soar as well because of their complementarities. Given the massive amount of choices (different brands and models) in the market, I think there is a pressing need to figure out which brands and which models are eco-friendly and thus can be promoted to the responsible consumers, and most importantly, the influential tennis players who are more likely to have the power to re-educate the market or to persuade their fans.

After the first-round research, I think Wilson’s “Naked Series” Tennis Racquet stands out from the crowd as it tries to commit to the sustainable practice from the product’s design to the final delivery stage. Most importantly, Wilson’s continuous engagement in promoting sustainability not only makes the products more reliable, but it also may have a spill-over effect to other tennis goods brands. 

what it's made of:

2

The introduction of “Naked Series” has revealed Wilson’s ambition to lead the trend of a more sustainable sporting goods industry. The naked series racquet is eco—friendly from its design stage, packaging stage to the delivery stage.

In regards to naked series’ eco-friendly design, first, it is free of solvent-based paints or dyes, which helps reduce the number of carbon compounds released in the air, making for cleaner air, water and eco-system. Second, discarding the traditional painted finish, this racket sports a water-based protective coating which lends a subtle yet powerful look on the court. Third, the naked series racquet features the Agiplast bio-based bumpers and grommets, a biodegradable PU grip, and an end cap comprised of no-dye Agiplast.

In the packaging and delivery stage, the naked series racquet not only ships without a head card, but it is also shipped in fully recyclable cardboard with a plant-based poly bag for added protection.

Some people may argue that, no matter how sustainable the naked series tries to be, tennis racquets in general are not sustainable as they are made from aluminium and other alloys like silicon, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Also, racquet strings can be made of “nylon, gut, or synthetic gut for the strings, and leather or synthetic material for the handle grip.”

However, I will still rate this section 1.5 planets because of the trailblazing intention of Wilson Naked Series. The naked series racquet probably is the first racquet that has no head card when shipped and the first one that is shipped in a 100% curbside recyclable reinforced cardboard box. I am looking forward to witnessing Roger Federer, who is sponsored by Wilson and has been using its racquet for most of his career, to promote the naked series to his avid tennis fans - the power of idol will be potent, which may motivate other sporting goods brands to follow Naked Series sustainable practice.

how it's made:

1

A tennis racquet consists of the body and the string.

In regards to the main body, as demonstrated in the previous section, even though Wilson tries to remove the solvent-based paints or dyes in the racquet manufacturing process, tennis racquets in general are not made of eco-friendly materials. They are made from aluminum and other alloys like silicon, magnesium, copper and zinc, varying from one and another.

In terms of the racquet strings, they are made of eco-unfriendly nylon, gut, or synthetic gut for the strings, and leather or synthetic material for the handle grip.

It seems that it is inevitable to use eco-unfriendly materials in the manufacturing process of tennis racquets, but this is subject to the current limited technology. If scientists can find eco-friendly substitutes for nylon, aluminum etc. that may have the same effect for players, then we can expect a more sustainable sporting goods industry.

However, I will not rate this section a super low score because given the current technology, Wilson cannot manufacture its racquets with 100% eco-friendly materials; instead, the Naked Series has removed all the dyes and paints, which may sacrifice its appearance, even though I personally think that an all-black racquet looks extremely cool. All in all, I will rate this section 1 planet. 

who makes it:

2.5

Wilson Sporting Goods is a global leading manufacturer of high-performance equipment, accessories and apparel. Established in 1913 and being the official ball provider of the NFL, U.S. Open, and NBA, Wilson aims to empower all people to live like athletes. As a branch of the Wilson Sporting Goods, Wilson Tennis is leading in the industry, and they sponsor top athletes including Roger Federer and Serena Williams.

I have clearly seen the initiatives Wilson has taken in bringing more sustainable sporting goods to the market. In 2018, Wilson Tennis started to partner with Recycle Balls to collect, recycle and reuse 20 million tennis balls in the U.S. over a three-year period. In 2019, Wilson Tennis introduced the world’s first eco-conscious, high-performance tennis ball – Triniti. With 100% sustainable packaging, they maintain a fresh-ball-feel 4 times longer to reduce consumption and waste. 5% of Triniti profits support worldwide sustainability efforts. In the same year, “Wilson Pact” was founded in order to introduce sustainably-minded habits into the fabric of Wilson Sporting Goods’ company culture.

In 2020, Wilson Tennis introduced the Eco Overcap across key tennis ball franchises, which has reduced the amount of plastic by half and left a smaller footprint on the environment after it had been used. Based on my personal experience in using the Wilson tennis balls (Triniti as mentioned before) recently at training, I surprisingly found that the Triniti balls were more durable compared to balls from other brands, such as Slazenger; and the balls were all contained in an eco-friendly cardboard instead of the traditionally-used plastic tube.

Therefore, I will rate this section 2.5 planets because of Wilson’s continuous effort and success in trying to incorporate sustainable-guidelines in its products’ design, packaging and delivery.