Choose what feels good to you. In terms of brands, I think everyone has a different preference as to what is best for them. If you're friend's racquet has been good to you, perhaps you should go with that manufacturer.
For choosing your first racquet, I suggest picking up several racquets to see how they feel in your hand. Try different grips-the material around the stick. Also, see how comfortable the racquet is in your hand. Is it too heavy? I've had issues with a racquet feeling too heavy in my hand. As a begineer, you might like a lighter frame. Take a few (small and light) swings in an open area in the store, just to get a feel for the racquet.
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