One of the raw materials that was experimented with in early composites, was graphite (a crystalline form of the element carbon). Graphite is a lightweight material and its properties provide strength, stiffness, and good vibration absorption. In the early days of their development, graphite racquets had the most wood-like feel compared to other composites on the market. Graphite’s downside is that its construct is of brittle fibers. Too much wear-and-tear on the court can cause damage that might ultimately affect the ability of it being a good tool for one’s game. Additionally, it was an expensive material to use in comparison to other materials (such as fiberglass) that were being used for racquet manufacture. Even racquets that are marketed as 100% graphite, are not 100% as the graphite fibers need to be combined with another material—usually epoxy resins—in order to be shaped into a tennis racquet form.
To play to graphite’s strengths, help minimize its weaknesses, and also keep the price of racquets reasonable, other materials come into the mix. Composites of graphite with other materials, such as boron, Kevlar, nylon, fiberglass, copper, titanium, and tungsten are common today.