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Hardscrabble Scramble
September 2001 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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It Has To Be The Racquet

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Mike Whittington

Rarely do I get into the equipment side of tennis in these articles but it is a very important part of the game. When is the last time you changed racquets or even changed your strings? Are you constantly complaining that your grip is too slick to keep that continental grip on your volleys?

There are several new racquets on the market these days. There is a racquet made for every style of play and every ability level. It is important to find the racquet that best suits your game. You might be looking for more power, control, or to ease the pain from some elbow or shoulder problems.

I would always suggest consulting your teaching professional or pro shop owner about the advantages to each of the different frames. Game improvement racquets are those that are usually wider and oversized and made for players with more compact swings. This doesn't mean that other racquets won't improve your game -- it simply means that the players that use these racquets are usually looking for the equipment to make an immediate change in their play. There is also what would be considered "players" racquets. These racquets are usually used by better players and not as big as the game improvement frames. They may not have as much power but the better player will be able to feel the ball better.

Depending on your level and style of play you might want to get a racquet that combines a few characteristics of both types of frames. If you consult a member of the United States Racquet Stringers Association, they will have the tools to help you narrow down your choices based on weight, flexibility, and price in comparison to your current model, if it isn't several years old. Do some research before upgrading and you'll be happy you did.

A fresh string job can make a world of difference. Most players just say "string it" without putting much thought into the different benefits of strings. As with racquets, there are strings that can give you more power, ease elbow pain, etc. The tension and gauge is also very important. Spend some time learning about strings and you can really change the way your racquet feels. I've had customers that came in to buy the latest and greatest racquet but found that a new string job and fresh grip made their racquet feel great.

Take the time to learn your equipment. You current racquet might be fine but at least consult with an expert to see if it is the right thing for your game. Take a tip from the pros on this one. Although some have lucrative deals through endorsements, you are not going to see a person that makes their living with the racquet use something that doesn't match their game. Make sure when you walk on the court that your equipment is right for you. Remember that the equipment should never be an excuse for bad play.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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