Real Tennis rackets are hand-crafted in wood by two companies: Grays of Cambridge (UK) and Harrow Sports (US) based in Denver, CO.
Grays has been making real tennis rackets since the 19th century and today their rackets are made in their factory outside of Cambridge by 4 employees who have loyally worked for Grays over many decades.
Harrow Sports, founded in 2000, has picked-up the mantle from Bancroft (former manufacturers of court tennis rackets for most of the 20th century) and have been making real tennis rackets since 2006 in their factory based in Pakistan.
Real tennis rackets are required by the laws of the game to be made “almost entirely of wood”.
At Grays they are made from Willow staves and loops of Ash. The racket may be strengthened further (and made more rigid) by adding up to three layers of leatheroid vulcanised fibre, which is extremely strong. Some players believe that it is graphite, but it is in fact made from paper (which is made from wood and therefore complies with the rules regarding rackets).
Similarly, Harrow's rackets are made of Ash with thin layers of fibre in the head and throat. Harrow make three models: The white Pro (standard racket), the black Elite (with more layers of fibre for strength relative to weight) and the top of the range red Camden Riviere Autograph (with greater weight and reinforcement in the throat).
Grays' version with two layers is branded as “Semitec”, and three layers as “Extratec”. Whilst some feel that the Extratec is too rigid, others find it suits their game better. Since it is a personal choice, you should try a range of rackets and find which one suits you the best. There is little doubt that the Extratec is the longest lasting. Whilst some players go 10 years without changing a racquet, for others rackets only last a couple of months.
To view a Grays racquet being made:
For more information on Harrow Court Tennis: