Category Archives: News!
The World Headquarters of Racquet Quest was pleased to have Erika and Federic from Head visit recently. Erika is with Head in Phoenix and Frederic is from the Headquarters in Kennelbach, Austria.
Team Head player, Jack Anthrop was on hand to provide a players perspective.
The purpose of the visit was to discuss a “grassroots” program that can effectively address, and contribute to the growth of tennis worldwide.
I was commenting on racquets and string selections, of course, when it dawned on me that Head has done an extraordinary job in designing racquets that have vast player appeal! A prime example is the Adaptive Series, introduced about a year ago, consisting of a “Speed” and “Instinct” model.
This series can go from a lightweight standard length racquet to a more substantial, longer racquet in a few minutes! Plus this series can be either a 16 x 19 or a 16x 16 string pattern!
This concept is valid, and one that allows players to maximise the performance of the racquet. And the implementation is easy. Some changes can be made at courtside!
So, while I believe more can be done to get players into the correct racquet, the Head Adaptive Series is very close to being perfect!
A client just sent me the following statement and I think it has reason to be distributed amongst tennis players searching for “direction” when it comes to string and their game!
“Hah. Trying out these different strings has been very interesting. Over the past week or so, trying the different strings has given me some insight into what my game should be. I think usually people do it in reverse. They try to find the string that tailors to their game. By experimenting with the strings, I realize the direction my game should be going.”
“I’ve been coming to realize that my game is better with control and feel rather than power. Experimenting with different strings have helped me recognize this.”
Do you think this applies to you?
A lot of players are anxious for new tennis racquets this time of year and have, maybe, asked for one as a gift. A great idea, of course.
However, be sure the gift giver, or yourself, gets real! There are some real bargains out there, but the bargains may not get you what you expect. This can happen to any brand and the more popular the racquet, the more likely there are to be fakes!
This is an image of a fake Wilson Blade 98 compared to a real Wilson Blade 98.
I am showing this image because without seeing this detail the fake racquet graphics will look nearly identical to the real Wilson racquet.
One of the best ways to confirm a fake or real racquet is to “bend” it, that is to check the stiffness of the racquet. In almost every case the fake will be quite a bit more flexible. For example, this fake racquet has a stiffness of RDC 41 whereas the real racquet has a stiffness of RDC 63. If your racquet technician does not have a device for checking stiffness the next best thing is to look at the “insides.” A qualified racquet technician will know what the insides of the real racquet look like.
Another sign of fakery is the grip pallet. Most performance racquets will have a foam pallet molded over the graphite shaft or a two-piece pallet that is attached to the racquet shaft.
Fake racquets may very likely have a continuous graphite pallet. You can quickly look under the first couple of inches of the grip and see if it is foam or graphite.
Clamshell grip pallet
If you are requesting a new tennis racquet be sure you get it from a local business, if possible, or an otherwise reputable source.
If you have any questions at all, please call your local dealer or us (407.491.4755) to be sure you “GET REAL.”
With a zillion or more places to buy tennis racquets, why would Racquet Quest, LLC want to to do it?
Simple. Racquet Quest, LLC offers a level of racquet preparation that just can’t be matched by an online or big box seller of the same equipment!
Racquet Quest, LLC sells only a few brands of high-quality tennis racquets, so it is reasonable to look online for the racquet we do not carry. We can assist you in making the right decision wherever you decide to buy.
But, please take your new racquet to a local, and hopefully qualified racquet technician for stringing!
“But, dude, what about the free stringing I am getting online?” The value of “free” is not very high, so please consider the following post I made a long time ago:
So, the answer to the question is “we sell tennis racquets, so you get the very best performance from that racquet from the very beginning!”
We take tennis racquets very seriously, and we suspect that you do too so get it right!
Monofilament string can be easily produced in almost any shape. Round, square, triangular, hexagonal, octagonal etc. So, on the surface that seems like a good thing. Who wouldn’t want the sharp edges digging into the ball creating even more spin!
But, there may be a side to the shape that needs considering and that is tension as it is applied to the string vs tension as it is in the racquet. Those can be two very different things!
When the main strings (the long ones usually) are installed they are free to move and will normally be only slightly “twisted”. This is more obvious with square and triangular strings.
This image shows one of the lower cross strings and the “twist” is obvious. So what?
So the tension on these strings will be considerably lower than expected.
Why? The machine tension head is set to pull each string to the desired setting, say 50 pounds. When the machine “feels” 50 pounds the tension head stops. The cross string will twist, just like a screw, as it passes over and under the main string. A twisted string will not pull through the adjacent main strings easily so the tension will, in this area, be less than desired.
This variation in “tension” can affect the way a ball comes off the racquet.
We use string spreading devices for every racquet and every type and shape of string. The “spreaders” raise and lower the main strings so there is no friction (twisting) between the cross string and the main string.
Not all racquet technicians use this type of device, so, the twisting can be mitigated by weaving the appropriate cross stings over and under the main string one at a time making sure they are not twisted and then apply the machine tension. This will result in a more consistent result.
If your racquet has cross strings that look like the image be sure to mention it to the stringer so it can be remedied.
The past month has been a whirlwind of weather and other activity and I wanted to pass on some recent news.
The USRSA World Conference was held at USTA National Campus, however in the brand new USPTA National Headquarters! What a perfect building! Several session leaders from around the world presented terrific sessions on topics necessary for racquet technicians. I presented a session on “Customization.”
Being near the USTA Campus was perfect for grabbing a fabulous and quick lunch. Try the fresh pasta the next time you are there!
This month the World Headquarters welcomed Ron Rocchi, the Advanced Innovation Manager at Wilson, and Eric Ferrazzi, Stringing Machine and Tour Stringing Manager for Babolat, France. These guys are the pinnacle of the field, and I am always glad to have them here.
The new Babolat Racquet Station is in and being used and evaluated. This is one of the most significant “electronic” upgrades you can imagine!
Some new and essentially “secret” racquets are in and being reviewed. The non-secret ones will be in around the 8th of November!
When the discussion is about stiff polyester string, it will always include the word “hybrid”! Typically this word is used to convince players that by putting a “soft” multi-filament string in the cross position the string bed will be easier on the wrist, elbow, and shoulder.
Intuitively this makes sense, but in reality, the reverse could be true!
I began analyzing hybrid string beds years ago and did many just to test the theory. At the time it did not seem so important because, frankly, the use of polyester based string did not approach the usage of current times.
I have nothing against the polyester string(s)! I do have an issue with bad applications of polyester string(s).
I am bringing this up again because recently an “interviewee” stated that that replacing the polyester cross string with a multi-filament would cure the ills of a very stiff string bed.
The bottom line:
A high elongation string of any material can increase the string bed stiffness of a hybrid string bed!
How can this be?
Stiff (polyester) strings are “stiff” and the tension applied to them during stringing is low. However, high elongation (multi-filament) strings will be influenced more by tension and become “stiffer”. The cross stings are typically shorter, and there are more of them, so the combined affect is stiffness.
The initial reaction to this conundrum is to automatically reduce tension on the cross string by a certain amount. Again this raises another issue, and that is racquet distortion.
During the installation of the main strings most stringing machines will allow the racquet to become wider, sometimes a lot wider! So, reducing the cross string tension may not return the racquet to the designed shape. What happens then is the racquet will continue to move around trying to find a “safe” place and therefore the string bed stiffness changes.
In summary, the hybrid string bed will not be statistically different than the full string bed of polyester. This is even truer if the initial string tensions of the polyester are very low, such as 35 to 40 pounds.
So if you feel the need to use polyester just go with lower, lower, tensions.
Racquet Quest sells only a few high performance racquet brands so it is not unusual for us to receive racquets purchased from on-line sources. These can be dropped shipped to us or brought in by the client.
That’s great. But here is the problem!
If you have a racquet technician in your neighborhood do not have the racquets strung by the online source! Take the racquet(s) to someone you trust, and, can be there if there is ever an issue, and this is an issue! The knot actually came untied! This is rare but is particularly likely when using a really “cheap” string and not knowing how to tie a proper knot!
Two things are happening here. The knot on the top is a “tie off” knot. While the tail may become loose it is not likely the knot will totally untie itself. The knot on the bottom is a “starting knot” and was subjected to the tension of the first cross string and, as you see, became a “not knot”.
This was very likely a “free” or “discounted” stringing so why not take advantage of the offer!
In this case, it is impossible to play with the racquet so what was saved by the cheap stringing?
This happens because the source knows that the racquet will probably not be returned for correcting the error(s) so who cares!
I care and you should care!
That is my “rant” for the day!
I have been working on these new models for a few days and will post more data as it is available but right now here a few points about this fascinating racquet concept.
The two (2) models are Speed Adaptive and Instinct Adaptive. The racquets are both new versions of the current models with slightly newer graphics, that are, in my opinion very cool! The Instinct has new graphics which will appeal to more players.
First, the Adaptive Tuning can create thirty-two (32) possible combinations, including increasing the overall length of the racquet.
The racquets are shipped in the lightest (285 gram), 16×19, 27.0-inch length format, and swing weight 287.
The Adaptive Tuning Kit is required and costs $29.00. In the “kit” you will find a “heavy” butt cap insert, three (3) sets of grommet inserts to add weight and change string pattern, and three (3) sleeves that go onto the shaft to create length.
The length modification can be made quickly by the player, if necessary, however, the other modifications require the racquet to be unstrung.
These modifications should be left to your racquet technician.
Below is a spreadsheet representing the various combinations as they are applied. This does not include all the options because the 16×16 grommet set did not participate in this session.
This was done at Racquet Quest, LLC and represents actual data, not calculated characteristics.
What is “soft”?
In 1994 I did a presentation for the USRSA in Atlanta. What was the topic?
It is now 2016 and we are still trying to understand string! Especially “soft” polyester based string.
In 1994 PolyStar was the only polyester based string I was familiar with. Since then there are dozens of offerings from anyone that can afford to purchase from manufacturers and market the string. If you have a desire to do it I applaud you!
In 1989 I started testing string and calculating “power potential”. Why “power potential”? Because “modulus”, “elongation” and “elasticity” didn’t get to the bottom line of string performance quickly enough! The steps to arrive at power potential are many.
For the testing, several calculations take place including “stretching” the string as in a ball impact. The difference between the first calculation and the “stretched” calculation is the power potential!
I have calculated hundreds of power potentials but have not until now quantified “soft”.
I think now is the time!
Dr. Rich Zarda has done a tremendous amount of work on this issue so we can now distill this work into the following explanation.
So, what is a “soft” tennis string?
Strings in a tennis racquet carry the ball impact load in two ways:
1) Via the pre-load string tension placed in the strings caused by a stringing machine (and the racquet frame “holding” those tensions in place) and
2) Via additional tensions that develop in the same string caused by the elongation of the strings as they deflect with ball impact.
Both of these conditions occur simultaneously and contribute to the string bed stiffness (SBS, units of lbs./in). Racquet technicians measure SBS by applying a load to the center of a supported string bed and measuring the resulting deflection. Dividing the load by the deflection provides the SBS (lbs./in). The lower the SBS, the more power you have (power here is the ability of the ball to easily rebound from the string bed), but the less control (presumably); the higher the SBS, the less power you have but the more control you have (presumably).
One more point about SBS: the lower the SBS, the less the load your body will feel for a given swing. But for an SBS too low (less than 50-80 lbs./in), balls will be flying off your racquet going over the fence; and for an SBS too high (greater than 200-240 lbs./in), the racquet will hit like a board with significantly less ball rebound. So the most common SBSs are between 100-200 lbs./in: a balance between control and power.
As already expressed, SBS is a function of the pulled string tension and the string elongation. Here is what is interesting: For large string elongations (for example, greater than 15%) and reasonably pulled string tensions (greater than 30-40 lbs.), SBS only depends on the pulled string tension and it does not depend on string elongation. Additionally, for this condition, SBS, for these high elongation strings, does not change as a ball is hit with more impact.
But for a string bed with low elongation strings (less than 5%) under low pulled tensions (less than 20 lbs., or tensions that have been reduced due to racquet deformation and/or string tension relaxing with time), the SBS additionally depends on the string elongation and will significantly increase, in a nonlinear ever-increasing way, for harder ball impacts.
In order to achieve a repetitive feel for a player when hitting with a racquet, it is best to have a SBS that is independent of an increasing ball impact force. This will lead to a more consistent playability of the racquet, which includes a more repetitive feel. This desired “feel” implies using high elongation strings (greater than 10%). If low elongation strings are used (less than 4%), the SBS will significantly increase as the ball impact force increases, resulting in a racquet feeling “boardy” for higher impact loads. And low elongation strings will cause un-proportionally increasing load into the body.
As you can see by the graph, elongation contributes to SBS in a big way. The red line indicates a stiff string, about 4%, and the blue line indicates a “soft” string, about 15% elongation. You can see the loads increase dramatically as the impact increases. So the harder the hit the higher the loads on the body.
So to the question asked at the start “What is a soft tennis string?” In the context of the SBS discussed above, I would suggest that a soft tennis string is one whose elongation is 10-15%, and a stiff tennis string is 4-6%. And any string under 4% should be categorized as ultra-stiff.
String elongation (soft, stiff, ultra-stiff), stringing machine strung tension, and string pattern(s) all contribute to SBS and SBS is an important measure of how a racquet plays and should be adjusted for an individual player, stiff and ultra-stiff strings can lead to less-repeatable racquet performance and player injury.
Soft = 10 -15% Elongation Power Potential Range = 10.0 – 16.0
Stiff = 4 – 6% Elongation Power Potential Range = 4.0 – 7.0
Ultra Stiff = Less than 4% Power Potential Range = .65 – 3.96