Over the last few months I have been stringing for Futures players and ITF Junior players playing tournaments in Doha.
Out of habit, and curiousity, I check the specs of the players rackets to see have they been matched (that is are they all the same weight, balance and swing weight). It's surprsing, and concerning, how even at these higher levels there are noticeable differences in players equipment.
Each player had at least 3 rackets and with all that I strung, there was always one that differed.
One player had gone to the trouble of having his rackets customised at home but while playing he felt they weren't quite right. On checking the specs for him we found that they were in fact different to what they were supposed to be.
Presumably he paid for this service. (This why it is very important to go to a qualified racket technician to do the work for you).
A lot of the players travelled with coaches, either private or federation coaches, responsible for a few players. You would imagine that there is a cost involved in this. They would also be paying for private sessions at home. I know in Ireland the better players have at least 1-2 sessions a week, often times more.
Also with the physical demands of the game now more and more players are doing a fitness session each week with a trainer.
To have any chance of advancing in the tennis world, both on and off court sessions are necessary and come at a cost, which parents seem very willing to pay.
What is interesting, worrying even, is the lack of attention that is paid to the players equipment.
- Have their rackets matched?
- Understand strings and tensions?
- Test different strings regularly?
- Understand their rackets and which style of game it is for?
- Make sure their strings compliment their racket?
At some point someone, the player, the parent or the coach has to focus on the equipment.
The difference in swing weight in unmatched rackets, based on the acceptable discrepancy allowances from the production factories, can be as much as 14 grams. This can be the cause of a player over hitting or losing power all of a sudden in a match if they are forced to change rackets due to a broken string.
Strings that don't compliment your frame can mean less power or less control depending on the choice made.
Never changing tension as you move from one climate to another or one surface to another can also affect how you play.
As a stringer one of the comments made to me by parents is the cost of regular stringing, yet the irony is that it is during the more expensive coaching session that their child is breaking the strings.
I'm not suggesting there is less coaching sessions to cover the cost of the stringing, merely that to help players improve they should be as attentive to their equipment as they are to their coaching. After all, when all the coaching and fitness sessions are done it is the player and their racket that are on court hitting the ball.
There is a reason why the top players change their strings so often during a match and why they pay certain companies $40,000 plus a year to travel with them to string.
They understand their equipment, the same way a concert violinist does, and know that this attention to detail gives them the small gains needed to have a greater chance of succeeding.
A qualified Racket Stringer can help you with equipment choices and would be delighted to help. If you don't know any feel free to email me and I will gladly help in anyway I can. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Best of luck with your game and remeber to check your strings!!