Tips from the Pros
by John Kerr
Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center
Is it time to restring your trusty old tennis racquet? Most tennis players don't know the answer to this very important question. A good rule of thumb is the number of times you play tennis per week is the number of times you should restring per year. The maximum recommended time between restrings is one year. It is important to restring because tennis strings, according to the manufacturers, have a "life." That life is affected not only by the amount of tennis played, but also by nature (temperature, humidity, court moisture). Leaving your tennis racquet in your car during extremely hot and/or cold weather will dramatically reduce string life. Dead string could lead to injury as well as decreased performance on the court.
Having decided to have your racquet restrung, what are your options? The type of string available ranges from natural gut ($50) to an inexpensive nylon ($24). Most players choose some type of synthetic gut (fancy nylon), which falls in between. The gage (thickness) of the string is also very important. The lower the number (15 gage), the thicker the string. The advantage of a thicker string is durability. If you don't break strings on a regular basis, you don't need a thick gage string. Most players opt for a string gage in the 16-18 gage range. The thinner the string, the livelier the feel and the more spin you can generate on the ball. The disadvantage is durability, but if you don't have a string-breaking problem, you will enjoy the thinner gage.
The tension of your new string job will make or break how your racquet feels. An improper tension can lead to injury and/or erratic play. All racquets have a recommended tension range. A quality stringer has a manual listing all the racquets and their ranges. The high end of the recommended tension offers more control as the ball flattens on the strings at impact. The low end offers more power as the strings form a pocket as the ball impacts and acts like a trampoline to propel the ball. A good starting point is in the middle. See how it feels and adjust accordingly on your next string job.
Paying attention to your strings can lead to better performance on the tennis court and also help to keep you out of the doctor's office. Many people restring and say, "I can't believe I waited so long." You'll notice the difference a good string job makes in your game. And as always, consult your local pro. Your pro knows your game.