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Fri, Jan. 24

Spring Fling this Sunday; racquet strings

When you string a lot of racquets, clients ask many questions in regard to tension, how long they will last, when they should restring, care, string movement, breakage, grommet and bumper-guard replacement, buying a racquet prestrung, just about anything you can imagine.

Here are a few answers for some of those thoughts.

How often should I restring my racquet?

The rule of thumb is that you should restring your racquet the same average of times you play per week, each year. So if you play three times a week, you should restring your racquet three times a year to get the best play from your racquet as possible.

If your strings seem to break prematurely you may want to ...

Put in a more durable string. Check your grommets to see if a sharp or broken grommet is causing the problem. Consider playing with a racquet that has a more dense stringing pattern.

The strings in my racquet always seem to be out of place. What can I do?

Any time you hit the ball, your strings are going to move, the question is will they move back into place by themselves or will you have to move them yourself. As you use your racquet, the strings become a bit more rough, causing the moved string to not jump back into place as easily, but in reality, they are moving less than the strings that are still smooth. Bottom line is that unless you somehow bond your strings together at the crosses, they are bound to move to some degree.

When buying a new racquet, does it matter if it is prestrung or not?

It depends on much you're concerned. A stretched nylon string will begin to lose its resiliency much like a rubber band that is stretched out, thus a loss in playability if the strings have been in the racquet a long time, even without being used. Will a beginning player notice the difference? I doubt it.

But you'll find that many prestrung racquets are not strung with much care and it's production over quality, not to mention the strings are normally a pretty cheap material.

Another factor is that the frame of the racquet takes a small toll as well with just sitting on the shelf with tension from the strings.

So if you are a more accomplished tennis players you may just want to buy an unstrung racquet and have it strung with the strings and tension that is best for you.

What tension should I have my racquet strung at?

On the side of most racquets is a recommended range of tension for your racquet. If you want a little more control, string your racquet at the higher tension. If you want a little more power, go for the lessor tension. If you don't know, go for mid range.

What is a patch job?

On occasion you might break a string prematurely. A racquet stringer can go back and retension the strings around the broken area, tie new knots and add in a couple new strings to get you up and playing again.

This method was used a lot 30 years ago, but is not very common today, not to mention that the grommet holes don't let you do this very easily with today's racquets.

The racquet frame affects playability more than string tension.

I liken the restringing of a racquet to the fine tuning of a piano ... to the trained ear it will make a difference, but by and large if it's close to sounding OK, most people wouldn't know the difference.

If you want power, buy a stiff racquet frame, and if you produce enough of your own power with swing speed, buy a frame that is more flexible. The stringing of the racquet will make a difference, but not nearly to the degree that the stiffness of the frame of the racquet will.

When should bumper guards and grommets be replaced?

By looking at the guard you can pretty much tell if it's still in good shape or not. If you see the frame of the racquet starting to become worn down, you are definitely due. Broken and loose grommets also should be replaced to cut down rattles, and premature string breakage.

Word to the wise ... there are hundreds of racquets being made, when you purchase your racquet, buy three or four packages of bumper guards at the same time for future care to give your racquet stringer.

•Spring Fling Mixer Doubles Tourney is this Sunday, May 30 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Grab you favorite mixed partner and call 445-1331 to enter.

•City of Prescott Junior Team Tennis League begins June 9 for seven weeks. For kids 18 and under to have a chance playing against other Northern Arizona teams, call 776-4245 or 771-1122.

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