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      Ask the Stringer: My String Is Short

      Ask the Stringer: My String Is Short

      Q: I'm almost done stringing a racquet and I must have made a mistake measuring the string because it came up short. I'm new at stringing and it took me a while to do this racquet, is there anything I can do to salvage the string job or do I need to pull the strings out and start from scratch?

      A: Sorry to hear that happened. I've been there more than a few times, especially when I was still a new stringer myself. Few things are more frustrating than almost finishing a string job and having to go back and start over. Whether or not you can salvage the string job depends on your exact situation.

      First of all, did you have enough string to complete the last cross with some left over for the knot, but just not enough to reach the tensioner? If so, your situation isn't terribly dire. The easiest (and probably best) solution is to use a starting clamp—if you have one—with some spare string to act as a "bridge" to the tensioner. If you don't have a starting clamp, you should DEFINITELY invest in one. They're indispensable tools that are useful in several situations, including when you come up short. Starting clamps have saved my butt countless times in similar situations. If you don't have a starting clamp, you can try splicing a scrap piece of string to the end of the string you're trying to tension. It's been quite a long time since I've tried this (since I usually use a starting clamp in this situation), but I have done it in the past with mixed success. Some types of strings lend themselves to this method better than others and you may or may not be able to get your splicing knots to hold while pulling tension.

      If you didn't have enough string to complete the job (you're short by a cross or two, for example), my personal recommendation would be to just suck it up and take the extra time to go back and do the job right. Stringing is a craft and like any craftsman, you should take pride in your work and doing the job the right way; trust me, a quality string job is well worth the time and effort you put into it. That being said, there are still technically a few workarounds, but I would NEVER recommend using these on a customer's racquet and you should really only use them on your own racquet in a pinch.

      If you're stringing off of a reel or have extra sets of your string lying around, you might be able to just remove your botched crosses and save the mains you've already installed. If you strung two-piece, your mains are already tied off and you can remove your crosses and install new ones. If you strung one-piece, you'll need to move a clamp back to the last main on the long side and cut the first cross, leaving enough to tie off that side of the mains. You can then remove your old crosses and install new ones, ending up with a two-piece string job. Keep in mind that your mains almost always sustain a little bit of wear even if you're careful during installation, so if you go this route you'll be subjecting your mains to some additional wear.

      You can also try patching in a piece of string, if and only if you're really desperate for time. This isn't a practice I normally recommend, but if you're ten minutes away from needing your racquet for a tournament match, you might not have any other choice. Tie off what you have and cut another length of string long enough to complete the last few crosses you need. Find a hole large enough, put your new piece of string through and tie a starting knot. Then, weave and tension your remaining crosses and tie off at the end as usual. You may need to carefully enlarge a few holes to accommodate the additional knots—again, not a practice I normally encourage—but it can serve in a pinch.

      So, in summary, the "solution" really depends on your circumstances. If you've managed to finish weaving all the crosses and just don't have enough string to reach the tensioner, using a starting clamp as a "bridge" to the tensioner is definitely the best solution. If you didn't have enough string to finish weaving the crosses, your best bet really is to start over so you can provide the highest quality job possible. The other solutions I provided are what I might call "hacks" and really shouldn't be used except under desperate circumstances.

      Hopefully that helped! Best of luck.

      Ask the Stringer: Alternating Tensioning Mains

      Ask the Stringer: Alternating Tensioning Mains

      Q: I'm just learning to string and a lot of the how-to videos I've watched suggest tensioning mains alternately (one or two on one side, then one or two on the other). It seems like it'd be easier for me to just finish one side and tie it off, then do the other side. Should I really do it that way and is there a reason that alternating is suggested?

      A: This is definitely something you should be doing, and for good reason. Alternate main stringing is recommended (really, "required" would probably be a more accurate term) and helps protect the frame during stringing.

      Stringing applies a tremendous amount of force on a frame and alternating mains helps keep the forces balanced. I've written a few posts in the past that make reference to minimizing the stress on a frame (one post about cutting out all of your strings after breaking one, and one post about stringing mains and crosses at different tensions) , and the same principles apply here. Stringing just one side of the mains means you're applying a lot of force to one side of the frame and nothing on the other side of the frame. The uneven force can permanently distort and damage your frame.

      If you're worried that alternately tensioning mains will slow you down, you shouldn't be. It's really not a big deal at all. Besides, the quality of your finished string job is far more important than how long it takes you to complete the job.

      Ask the Stringer: Can I String a Cracked Racquet?

      Ask the Stringer: Can I String a Cracked Racquet?

      Q: After breaking my strings and cutting them out, I noticed that my racquet seems to have a hairline crack. Is it OK to still string it?

      A: I'm sorry to hear you've got a cracked racquet. I know how attached I am to my frames and it always stinks when you have to retire one of your frames.

      I'd say it probably depends on a few factors. First things first, you should understand that there's no way to guarantee the racquet won't break during the stringing process. Stringing creates a significant stress on the frame even under the best circumstances, so stringing a frame that's already compromised is always a risky proposition. Secondly, it's important to understand that a cracked frame—even if it's just a hairline crack—isn't going to play the way it should.

      That being said, here's my two cents: since the strings have already been removed, the racquet's currently not good for anything other than decoration anyway. If the crack is as minor as you describe it and you need to have the racquet strung (it's the only racquet you have and you have a match tomorrow, for instance) you might be OK trying to get it strung, as long as the racquet didn't have any sentimental value. If the racquet has any kind of sentimental value at all and you'd be upset if it was broken, then it's probably best to cut your losses and leave it unstrung.

      In your question, you said that the crack you noticed was pretty minor. If the crack appeared to be more serious, that would probably change the situation a little bit, for a few reasons. Firstly, if the racquet is seriously cracked, it's definitely not going to play or perform like you'd expect—even with a fresh set of strings. Secondly, the more serious the crack, the greater the chance that the racquet will cave in during stringing or soon after. The bottom line is that it's a bummer to pay for strings and/or labor only to have a racquet that plays poorly or a racquet that ends up totally broken.

      But, that's just my personal opinion and how I'd handle it if it was one of my racquets. In the end, it's up to you whether you want to take the risk and roll the dice. If you'll be stringing it yourself, it's totally up to you. If you'll be having someone else string it, then obviously it's between you and your stringer.

      Prince TeXtreme Tour 100T Review

      Prince TeXtreme Tour 100T Review

      Prince is one of tennis' most iconic, well-known brands, but there's no doubt that they've had a bit of a rough go over the past few years. Fortunately, they're back in a big way in 2015 with a completely revamped line of racquets. They've phased out the "big hole" technology that's been a staple in their racquet lines since 2005 and are now featuring a new technology called TeXtreme®.

      TeXtreme® is a third-party material technology that is currently being used in nearly a dozen different sports, including cycling, auto racing, surfing, golf, ice hockey, skiing, snowboarding and now tennis. TeXtreme® is essentially a very thin carbon fiber fabric with a high strength-to-weight ratio that is used to reinforce the throat area of Prince's new frames, ultimately reducing torsion while increasing the control, power, and stability of each frame.

      Early last week, I took to the courts with the Prince TeXtreme® Tour 100T, one of four new TeXtreme® frames, to see what this new line was all about. As I've mentioned in past reviews, I currently use the Prince EXO3 Rebel 95, so I had high hopes for Prince's new line, but I wasn't sure that the Tour 100T was going to be the racquet for me. At 10.7 ounces strung, the Tour 100T is quite a bit lighter than my 12 ounce Rebel 95 and it boasts a slightly larger 100 square inch head along with a more open 16x18 string pattern. All those differences aside, I'm happy (though a little surprised) to report that for the most part I really liked hitting with the TeXtreme® Tour 100T, even though it's a bit different from the frame I currently use.

      While Prince's O3, SpeedPort and EXO3 technologies were all certainly innovative, they weren't for everyone. There were some complaints that those racquets could feel a little "mushy," but Prince's new TeXtreme® line returns to conventional grommets. The end result is a more traditional feel that I thought allowed me to get a bit more feedback and overall responsiveness from the frame.

      At the baseline, the Prince TeXtreme® Tour 100T fits really well into today's fast-paced, topspin-heavy tennis. The Tour 100T's manageable weight and head light balance make generating racquet-head speed a breeze and the open string pattern helps with spin generation as well. The frame also offers plenty of pop, which I thought was great most of the time, but there were a few occasions where I had some control issues and sent a few balls sailing wide or long. Though I'm used to frames with a bit more heft, the Tour 100T still offered plenty of stability and plow-through, even on off-center hits.

      The Tour 100T also handles pretty well at the net—even in the hands of a less-than-stellar volleyer like me—and I can see lots of doubles players gravitating towards this frame. The 100 square inch head provides a nice, generous sweetspot that makes it easier to get good, solid contact on volleys. The manageable weight and head light balance are also a boon at the net, making the Tour 100T easy to maneuver. I personally wouldn't have minded a little more weight to enhance stability on hard-hit passing shots, but ultimately, that's a minor gripe.

      Serving with the TeXtreme® Tour 100T was a little bit touch-and-go, especially at first. Honestly, some of that is definitely on me since I'm still knocking winter rust off of my tennis game. After a few dozen practice serves, I started getting used to serving with the Tour 100T, and things went a bit better. I was able to reach back for plenty of pace on first serves and I got plenty of topspin and kick on my second serves. The frame's power did give my serve a nice boost, but once again, I did have a little trouble placing the ball exactly where I wanted. There's always an adjustment period when hitting with a new frame, so it's not a major concern; with a little time and practice, I know I would've been able to adapt and serve just fine.

      Ultimately, I'm glad to see that Prince is getting back in the game and I'm happy that they're moving back towards a more conventional frame design. And even more importantly, I think that they have a really solid offering in the Prince TeXtreme® Tour 100T. The frame really just fits with the power- and spin-heavy way tennis is being played from the baseline these days. It's easy to get plenty of power and spin, but players used to really low-powered frames might find it a little hard to control at first. In any case, I can see plenty of advanced juniors and competitive adults picking up the Tour 100T and really loving it, but I also found it to be forgiving enough that an intermediate player could have some success with it, too. I think frequent doubles players will find a lot to like as well, thanks to the Tour 100T's maneuverability and versatility at the net.

      The bottom line? If you're shopping for a new frame this spring, the Prince TeXtreme® Tour 100T is definitely worthy of consideration!

      Shop our Collection of Currently Available Tennis Racquets

      This review was posted in March of 2015. Sadly, we no longer carry this product.

      Ask the Stringer: How Can I Stop My Cross String Starting Knot from Pulling Back through the Grommet?

      Ask the Stringer: How Can I Stop My Cross String Starting Knot from Pulling Back through the Grommet?

      Q: I string my racquets two-piece and I've been having a lot of problems lately with my cross string starting knot pulling back through the grommet. Do you have any advice?

      A: I've run into this problem more than a few times and once it happens it can create some serious headaches, often turning a 20-minute string job into a 45-plus-minute job. I've found this problem to occur most commonly when you're stringing with a particularly slippery string (a few different polyester varieties come to mind) and/or when you're stringing a racquet with particularly large grommet holes. Also, in my experience, the issue seems to occur a bit more frequently when stringing on a constant-pull machine versus a lockout machine.There are a few different approaches you can take here in order to mitigate the issue or avoid it all together. Some of these tips work better in certain scenarios than others, and you'll have to decide which approach best suits your particular situation. I'll do my best to list the pros and cons of each, and explain when and where each could be used. Here are some of the tips and tricks I've had success with in the past:

      String the racquet one-piece – Stringing one-piece eliminates starting knots altogether as the entire string job is made up of one, long, uncut piece of string. Obviously if you're stringing a hybrid, stringing one-piece is impossible by definition. You also need to be careful going this route since some manufacturers dictate that their racquets be strung two-piece and stringing them one-piece can void the warranty.

      Tie a different or bulkier knot – There are a few different starting knots that can be used and most of them can fairly easily be "looped" an additional time to create extra bulk that will keep them from slipping back through the grommet. When I use a starting knot, I typically tie a "fisherman's knot." The "fisherman's knot" can be looped around an extra time to create more bulk, but when I'm working with a particularly slippery string or the grommet hole is extra-large, I'll usually revert to a "figure 8" knot. The "figure 8" knot doesn't need to be anchored around the main string—though it can be—and, like the "fisherman's knot" can easily be made larger by adding extra "loops." The "bulkier knot" approach can work virtually without fail since you can potentially make a knot as large as you want, but that doesn't mean you should; larger isn't necessarily better and this isn't always the best approach. Very large knots can look sloppy or unprofessional and they can even sometimes stretch out or crack the grommet.

      Use a starting clamp to start your crosses – are extremely useful gadgets. If you string frequently and don’t have one, I definitely recommend getting one. Starting clamps have saved me lots of work—especially in my early stringing days—when I may have measured strings a little too short and didn't have enough to reach the tension head. But, as their name implies, starting clamps can also be used for starting your string job—or in this case, starting your crosses. Before weaving your first cross, leave a tail long enough to reach the tension head and put the starting clamp flush against the frame. Then proceed with weaving and tensioning the crosses until you have three or five installed. Then, pull tension on the tail you left at the beginning and remove your starting clamp while the tension head holds the tension. You can now move one of your regular clamps back to the first cross string, release the tension head, and "tie off" the first cross using any standard finishing knot. This method removes the need to pull tension against a starting knot, thereby eliminating the possibility of the knot pulling through the grommet. Because you need to leave a tail, this method is not ideal if you think you might be short on string. The starting clamp method also doesn't work as well for older machines that use a glide bar clamp set up. Since there's usually only one clamp used for the crosses on those machines, you'll have to install all the crosses and tie them off before returning to the top. This increases the risk of something catching the starting clamp and knocking it off. I've also heard some people complain that they feel they get less tension on the first cross using this method—which may be true—but it isn't necessarily a bad thing; leaving the last mains and first/last crosses a bit looser actually creates a more forgiving feel when you really mishit a ball off-center.

      So, as you can see, there are several ways to deal with starting your crosses and avoiding pull-throughs, and I'm sure there are many, many more. I personally favor the last two since I don't really like stringing one-piece, though all three methods have their own pros and cons. Hopefully these tips point you in the right direction and get you back to headache-free stringing! Good luck!

      Check out some of these stringing machines and stringing tools!

      Ask the Stringer: Should My Mains & Crosses Be Strung at the Same Tension?

      Ask the Stringer: Should My Mains & Crosses Be Strung at the Same Tension?

      Q: If I string using a hybrid, should my mains and crosses be strung at the same tension or can I use different tensions?

      A: This is a question that comes up pretty regularly, especially since hybrid stringing has become so popular at all levels of tennis. The simple answer is yes, you can absolutely string your mains and crosses at slightly different tensions, though I strongly advise against using drastically different tensions. If your heart is set on experimenting with different tensions for mains and crosses (which is totally fine if that's something you want to do), my advice would be to keep the tension for your mains and crosses within about 3-4 pounds of each other.

      The reasoning behind that recommendation is all about minimizing uneven stresses on the frame. Most players who've been playing more than a little while—or who have been keeping up with the Ask the Stringer column—have probably heard that once they break a string, they should cut the rest of the strings out to relieve the tension on the frame. That's because when a string breaks, others around it loosen up too, while others farther away from the break remain under tension, resulting in a frame that is unevenly stressed. Leaving a frame like that over time will eventually distort the shape and damage the racquet.

      Similarly, stringing the mains and crosses at radically different tensions will exert uneven forces on a frame and cause distortion that will damage and destroy a frame over time. Once a frame becomes distorted, the damage is often permanent and your frame is toast.

      So, circling back to your original question: yes, it is fine to experiment with slightly different tensions with your mains and crosses, but it's important to keep the tension differential to a minimum to protect your frame in the long term.

      Ask the Stringer: Where Should I Tie Off My Strings?

      Ask the Stringer: Where Should I Tie Off My Strings?

      Q: Does it matter where you tie off your strings? I'm stringing my Head Prestige Pro and the racket has an indicator to tie the mains off at Top 7. However, this hole is on a down-running main making it difficult for me to squeeze the string through. So, instead, I've been skipping to T6 which is an up-running main that leaves a large gap for me to fit the string in.

      A: In the case you described, no, you're not hurting the racquet or compromising the integrity of the string job. If you can get the string through the hole fairly easily, it is fine to tie off there. If it's really bothering you, though, you can try cutting the end of your string on a very sharp angle right before putting it through the designated tie-off hole. This will make the string itself act like an awl and can sometimes help get the string into a tight tie off hole. This technique works pretty well, but it's a bit more difficult when you're dealing with a soft, multifilament string since multifilament strings have a (somewhat annoying) tendency to just sort of puff up when you try to put them in a tie off or covered hole. This technique is a safe alternative to using your awl to widen a hole, since your awl could damage the anchor string or even the grommet.

      Even though it's outside of the scope of your question, while I'm on the subject, I would like to offer a few words of caution about using an awl to anyone else who's in a similar situation. Sometimes it is necessary to carefully enlarge holes using the awl; however, I would not encourage anyone to aggressively enlarge a grommet hole with their awl in order to "force" it to become a tie off hole. Gently enlarging a tie off hole is usually fine, but forcibly "creating" a larger tie off hole can compromise the grommet, possibly leaving the string exposed to the sharp edges of the frame. This in turn can cause the string to break prematurely and eventually would mean that the grommet would need repair or the grommet strip would need to be replaced. Neither scenario spells the end of the world, but it's avoidable with a bit of care.

      Did you know that we employ two professional stringers, including a Master Racquet Technician? That’s the highest level of achievement that United States Racquet Stringers Association (U.S.R.S.A.) offers. Do you have a question for one of our stringers? Ask it in the comments below or send it to us and we will provide with an answer as fast and accurate as our on-site stringing.

      Ask the Stringer: Breaking Strings During Installation

      Ask the Stringer: Breaking Strings During Installation

      Q: Hello, I use an electric Gamma XES stringer, with RPM Blast 17 at 50lbs. About 10% of the time, the string will break when I am pulling tension on the machine. The grommets are fine, and it doesn't matter if I’m using 17 or 16 gauge, as it’s happened on both. I don’t know if it's the string (it's happened with all different kinds of string though), the stringer, or me? Any advice would be so helpful. Losing lots of money on broken strings that never see the court...

      A: Sorry to hear you're having trouble! Breaking a set of strings during installation is always a bummer and it's a drain on both your time and your wallet. Although it's tough to pinpoint the exact cause without being there in person to see what's going on, let me see what I can do to help. Based on your description of the issue, it sounds like there are several possible factors that could be causing the strings to break during installation.

      First things first, try to get in the habit of taking a look at the string as you take it out of the package. When uncoiling the string, treat it gently so that you don't damage it. If it gets tangled while you're uncoiling, simply stay patient and carefully untangle it. Just yanking and pulling on it rarely gets the string untangled and may just cause kinks and tightening knots that could damage the string. Tangles aside, make sure you carefully inspect the full length for damage (rough spots, unraveling, dents/notches etc.) while uncoiling. This is a pretty simple step that I recommend to anyone who strings, but I don't think it's necessarily the solution to your issue. Manufacturing defects are pretty uncommon and it sounds like your strings are snapping with some frequency, so manufacturing defects are probably not the cause of your problem.

      The more likely culprit is either your clamps or your tensioner jaws (or both). Check both to make sure they aren't squeezing the string too tightly. When your clamps or tensioner jaws squeeze the string too tightly, they can "squish" the string, leaving indentations that weaken the string. This can cause the crimped strings to break during installation. Your machine's manual should have instructions for making the necessary adjustments.

      Also, make sure that your clamps aren't gripping the strings too loosely. This can allow string to slip through the jaws of the clamp when you pull tension on the next string. As the string slips through the clamp, the jaws can abrade the string which may also lead to premature breakage. Again, you can consult your machine's manual for exact instructions on adjusting your clamps.

      In either case, you should also try cleaning your clamps and/or the tensioner jaws with a toothbrush and some rubbing alcohol. This removes the dirt and oil that accumulates over time, allowing your clamps and tensioner jaws to grip better with less pressure.

      It sounds like you have already checked the grommets, but aside from the clamps and tensioner jaws, this is another common cause of breakage during installation. If the string is consistently breaking in the same spot on the racquet, you may have a grommet-related issue. If you have the tools and know-how, you can try installing a piece of tubing or an individual replacement grommet. You should also keep a careful eye out when you pull tension on the strings going through the angled grommets (usually the mains just outside of the throat). Sometimes when tension is pulled on those strings, the grommet can pull out a little bit, leaving the string exposed to the edge of the frame.

      Other than that, you should also consider the following tips to minimize damage to strings:

        • When tying off or tying a starting knot, make sure the knot is not pulled too tightly as this can "choke" the anchor string, causing damage that may compromise the string job.
        • When weaving the cross strings, be careful not to pull the strings through the grommet too quickly. Pulling the cross strings through too quickly can cause friction burn that can notch the strings, ultimately leading to premature breakage.
        • Finally, be careful with your awl as it is easy to damage the strings when using your awl to enlarge a grommet or clear a path through a blocked hole.

      Best of luck and happy stringing!

      Ask the Stringer: Can Pulling Cross Strings Through Too Quickly Damage a Racquet?

      Ask the Stringer: Can Pulling Cross Strings Through Too Quickly Damage a Racquet?

      Q: I string my own racquets but a tennis buddy told me that pulling the cross strings through too quickly isn't good. Is this true and what kind of damage might be done?

      A: Your friend is right. Once you've woven a cross string, and are ready to pull the rest of the string through, it is possible for friction to "burn" the main strings that are already installed. Friction burn can notch the main strings and shorten the life of a string job. In extreme cases, I've even seen friction-burn damage the grommets.

      The good news is that friction burn isn't too tough to prevent. Weave your cross string line normal, but instead of pulling your crosses straight through, use your other hand to push the cross string down (or up, depending upon whether you started at the head or the throat) so it forms a wide 'U' across the face of the racquet. Holding the cross string there while you pull the excess string through dramatically reduces the risk of friction burn. This technique works very well, but it is easier with softer strings. When pulling a stiffer string like polyester through, you may quickly find that the fingers of the hand holding the string out in a 'U' are getting burned up themselves. To counteract this I'll usually wrap some tape around the pad of my finger to save myself some pain.

      If you're not doing so already, you should also try weaving "one ahead." This is another pretty simple technique that can help reduce friction between strings. Simply weave one cross string ahead of the cross string you're about to tension, leaving a loop of string long enough to pull tension on. Not only does this technique reduce friction, it makes the cross strings easier to weave so you can save time while installing cross strings.

      Did you know that we employ two professional stringers, including a Master Racquet Technician? That’s the highest level of achievement that United States Racquet Stringers Association (U.S.R.S.A.) offers. Do you have a question for one of our stringers? Ask it in the comments below and we will provide with an answer as fast and accurate as our on-site stringing.

      Ask the Stringer: Do Tennis Racquets Ever Wear Out? Should I Replace My Racquet Frame?

      Ask the Stringer: Do Tennis Racquets Ever Wear Out? Should I Replace My Racquet Frame?

      Q: I've had my racquet for about 10 years and am wondering if it's time to take the plunge on a new one. Do racquets ever "wear out?"

      A: Yes, racquet frames do eventually "soften." Over time different stresses add up and eventually break down the fibers and resin that make up your racquet, resulting in a frame that is less stiff than it once was. The change is very, very gradual and usually takes place slowly over the course of many years, making it difficult to detect just by hitting with the racquet. Some very attentive players do seem to notice and have told me that they feel like their frame just doesn't have the same feel or pop that it used to. The only way to objectively measure "softening" is by using a Racquet Diagnostic Center (RDC) to measure the stiffness of the frame. To accurately measure the loss of stiffness over time, you would need to record a baseline stiffness measurement when the frame is brand new and then continue to measure over time in order to keep track of how much the stiffness had declined. RDC machines are rather pricey, though, so unless you have access to one at your local pro shop this is probably not a practical avenue.

      To further complicate matters, the exact time frame that the "softening" process takes varies based on a bunch of different contributing factors, including—but not limited to—how hard the player hits the ball, how often the frame is used, where the frame is stored, string tension, the frequency with which the frame is restrung, and how careful the stringer is during the stringing process. There really is no prescribed time limit—it just depends. The good news is that there are several steps you can take to prolong the effective life of your tennis racquets.

        1. Choose an experienced, conscientious, careful stringer. Restringing is actually one of the more stressful things a frame can go through, but that doesn't mean you should avoid it! It's really akin to routine maintenance on a car and it keeps your racquet performing like it should. A careless or inexperienced stringer can shorten your racquet's effective life or potentially even cause immediate damage to the frame. A skilled stringer using a quality machine can minimize stress on your frame during the stringing process and prolong your frame's life.
        2. Store your racquets in a climate-controlled area. Extreme temperatures and temperature changes aren't good for your racquets. Don't leave them in a baking-hot car during summer and don't leave them in an unheated shed during winter. Keeping them in a climate-controlled area at room temperature minimizes damage from extreme temperatures and temperature swings.
        3. Don't bang your racquet, throw your racquet, bounce your racquet, or use your racquet to hammer a ball out of a fence. While a few bumps and scrapes are unavoidable during the course of play, steering clear of the above behaviors will save your racquet some extra stress it doesn't need.

      As to whether or not it's time for you to look at a new frame, I'm not sure there is a "right" answer to this question and it's tough for me to say with any surety—it really just depends. Based on my experience, I will say this: Ten years is a pretty long time to use a frame, though I've seen people play very well with even older frames. If you play regularly (one to three times a week) and get your racquet restrung regularly (as you should), it might be time to start testing out some new frames.

      Did you know that we employ two professional stringers, including a Master Racquet Technician? That’s the highest level of achievement that United States Racquet Stringers Association (U.S.R.S.A.) offers. Do you have a question for one of our stringers? Ask it in the comments below or send it to us and we will provide with an answer as fast and accurate as our on-site stringing.

      Ask the Stringer: Will Stringing My Racquet Looser or Tighter Increase the Longevity of the String?

      Ask the Stringer: Will Stringing My Racquet Looser or Tighter Increase the Longevity of the String?

      Q: If I string my racquet looser/tighter, will it increase the longevity of my strings?

      A: I've actually heard people submit theories on both sides of this argument. Folks on the looser-is-better side of the argument seem to hypothesize that lower tensions reduce friction between the mains and crosses, thereby offering better durability. Some of these same people also state that strings pulled at lower tensions don't stretch as much resulting in a thicker post-tension diameter. Proponents of the tighter-is-better side of the argument speculate that although higher tensions may increase friction between mains and crosses, it also causes the strings to move less. Less movement means less rubbing, which ultimately means less breakage.

      For the most part, both sides seem to have fairly logical arguments. Personally, I've never tested any of these claims nor have I strung two identical racquets with identical strings at different tensions to see which might last longer. As far as I know, there hasn't really been any research undertaken on the subject either. My take is that the difference—if any—will probably be pretty minimal. In my opinion, there are a few other factors—a string's composition, construction, and gauge—that will likely have a far greater impact on durability than any effect that lower or higher tension might have.

      Every player's situation differs a little, but if you're concerned about breaking strings too frequently, I'd first try moving to a thicker gauge of your current string (if possible). If that is not a possibility, then perhaps try switching to a polyester hybrid (if you're not using one already), and then a full string bed of polyester (again, if you're not doing so already). If all of those steps fail, you may finally opt to try a highly durable aramid string—but be warned that aramid strings are extremely stiff and tend to be quite hard on the arm.

      All that being said, if an inventive soul devises a practical experiment to test tension's effect on durability, I personally would love to hear about it. Just leave me a comment below with your findings! After all, there's almost nothing that I love more than a good tennis string experiment or debate!

      Did you know that we employ two professional stringers, including a Master Racquet Technician? That’s the highest level of achievement that United States Racquet Stringers Association (U.S.R.S.A.) offers. Do you have a question for one of our stringers? Ask it in the comments below or send it to us and we will provide with an answer as fast and accurate as our on-site stringing.

      Ask the Stringer: Why are some strings so much more expensive than others?

      Ask the Stringer: Why are some strings so much more expensive than others?

      Q: Why are some stringer so much more expensive than others?

      A: There are loads of different materials and processes that can be used when creating strings. In that general sense, tennis strings are like any other commercially available product: The more expensive the raw materials and the more involved the manufacturing process, the greater the end cost of the product. That's why natural gut strings are the most expensive type of strings on the market. Not only are the raw materials expensive, but the manufacturing process is also quite complicated.

      Keep in mind that there are very nice strings available at virtually every price point throughout the spectrum. A knowledgeable retailer, a teaching pro, or a stringer can certainly offer excellent guidance, but in the end choosing a string is really based largely on personal preference. Players shouldn't feel pressured to purchase the most expensive string nor should they base their assessment of a string solely on price. I advise that most players not be afraid to experiment with different strings (and different price points) during their search.

      Did you know that we employ two professional stringers, including a Master Racquet Technician? That’s the highest level of achievement that United States Racquet Stringers Association (U.S.R.S.A.) offers. Do you have a question for one of our stringers? Ask it in the comments below or send it to us and we will provide with an answer as fast and accurate as our on-site stringing.

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