I have often wondered what players know about the “stringing” process and in particular what goes on after the “string is strung”. So, while Madelyn was here she decided to video me doing what we do after each racquet is strung and just coming off the machine.
Had I known we were going to do this I might have dressed up a little, emptied the trash and fixed the crack in the wall behind the RDC! But I didn’t.
This video is offered as a “real-time” view of what we do with every racquet and is intended for information and fun only. If you have any questions please let us know…now enjoy the movie!
A huge congratulations go out to Sophie Williams for her terrific run at the recent Easter Bowl in Indian Wells, Ca.!
Sophie played the finals against the number 3 seed Elena Yu…
Having the experience of making the Girls’ 12s final last year, Eleana Yu of Mason, Ohio, said she only had to fight a moderate case of nerves as the No. 3 seed won the Girls’ 14s USTA gold ball and her first Adidas Easter Bowl national title with a 6-1, 6-0 win over No. 7-seeded Sophia Williams of Charleston, S.C.
“Having been in the final before really did help,” said the 13-year-old Yu. “I did feel a little nervous at the start, but once I found my rhythm it was fine and I just felt really confident. I think my opponent was more nervous, but the match was definitely closer than the score indicated.”
Sophie’s great result at the Easter Bowl continues her recent extraordinary results at tournaments around the country. Below is Sophie holding the first place trophy of a previous tournament.
If you have been to Racquet Quest in the past several years, you have probably seen some of Sophie’s forty-five (45) racquets either in “process” or being prepared to ship to her. Sophie is left-handed, so all the leather grips and overgrip is wrapped left-handed, and each racquet is “sequenced”. All of the racquets are “matched.” so the only thing that is different is the string bed stiffness (SBS).
Even racquets that are done on the same day may have slightly different string bed stiffness numbers due to the time between racquet number one and racquet number eight. Sequencing indicates in what order the racquets can be used.
That may seem like a lot of racquets, but if you play as many tournaments as Sophie you need a few!
When Sophie is in town, she is either at the USTA Center or training with Robert Kendrick at the Winter Park Racquet Club.
The Racquet Quest World Headquarters had the pleasure of having Curt Dailey, CEO of LaserFibre Strings, visit today!
Racquet Quest, LLC will be doing a little evaluation work on LaserFibre string made in the United States! LaserFibre is the only string supplier committed to making all of their string products in the United States. Right now this is not the case, but they are headed in that direction.
Curt has been in the tennis business for many years and is trying hard to bring updated string products to the market.
Welcome to Racquet Quest, Curt!
Have you ever wondered what keeps the Racquet Quest World Headquarters going? I can’t imagine why you would, but here it is anyway!
These are made in France, of course, so they are good for you, and after work, they pair up nicely with a good Bordeaux!
In the words of Lord Kelvin (May 1883) “When you can measure what you are speaking about, and express it in numbers, you know something about it, when you cannot express it in numbers, your knowledge is of a meager and unsatisfactory kind; it may be the beginning of knowledge, but you have scarcely, in your thoughts advanced to the stage of science.”
That is why every racquet we do has over fifty (50) numbers attached to the finished data. Most of these numbers will remain unknown to the client, but for us, it is imperative that we know them.
Which leads me, again, to this very important discussion.
Every day we see a statement from tennis string manufactures claiming, or suggesting, their string is the “softest ever tested” and other claims. What the heck is “soft” anyway? There is a lot more to it than meets the eye so we have done significant analysis on bunches of string and can now quantify “soft” as it relates to tennis string.
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!
Under the direction of Dr. Rich Zarda, we have 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 an 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
My answer is simple! To give you the very best performance you can get from your racquet dollar!
You are probably thinking “aren’t I getting that now from my online purchase?”
Probably not! I see a lot of racquets from online sources and what I see convinced me that you need to have another option! The issues I see are typically poor string selection and really poor string installation. String and stringing are very important, and you deserve better! We offer racquets, in a limited sort of way, so you are getting what you expect!
How do I select what brands I will offer? Well, I review almost every racquet made either before or right after they are introduced and this review yields a great deal of information that is not normally known to the online consumer.
That is why you will see Head and Wilson racquets when you visit the World Headquarters of Racquet Quest. This selection does not mean other brands are not worthy of your consideration, and we are pleased to discuss all brands and offer them when appropriate.
Our racquet prices are attractive and the special service we offer adds to the value of your purchase.
Even if you just have a racquet question, we will be very pleased to help!
Ashaway MonoGut ZX Family
Ashaway, RI – “While it is certainly premature to proclaim the demise of polyester and co-polyester monofilament strings,” said Ashaway Vice President Steve Crandall in a newly published column, “I think it is certainly fair to say that the tide is against them, and that a counter trend towards “Zero Poly” monofilament strings is gaining momentum among tournament and other high-end players.”
In addition to growing complaints of arm pain and wrist pain and even injury, Crandall claims players are simply not reaping the benefits touted by the makers of these ultra-stiff high tech strings. “More and more high-end players are coming to realize they can get equal, if not better performance from newer zero poly monofilament alternatives, along with better feel, better playability, and reduced risk of injury,” he said.
In terms of spin generation, polyester’s main claim to fame, Crandall cited technical reports by Australian physicist Rod Cross and Tennis Warehouse University’s Lindsay Crawford, which demonstrate that topspin is generated not by the stiffness of a string material, but its ability to move laterally and snap back when striking the ball, characteristics shared by non-poly alternatives.
This is the case with Ashaway’s own MonoGut® ZX strings, Crandall claimed. “Here is a material that, 1) is nearly as slippery as polyester, and 2) has much better dynamic stiffness,” he said. “This means it can generate almost as much spin as poly, but with more power. Not to mention that it plays softer and offers much better feel. This is a combination people are beginning to notice.”
Crandall also cited comments by leading stringer John Gugel, who he quotes as saying, “To get the benefit of poly you have to hit the ball really hard. That’s when the string bed becomes non-linear and much stiffer. You can see it with professional players. They hit the ball just about as hard as they can every single time. And there are unintended consequences to that.”
Gugel said he, too, finds that players are increasingly looking for alternatives, and that they are very pleased with the performance of MonoGut ZX. “Most of the players that I introduce MZX to are a little bit skeptical of what it can do. However, after hitting with it, it is the consistency of string bed stiffness that they like. They find the spin as good as polyester and some find it better.”
Gugel said he actively discourages junior players from using polyester and that he has “a lot of juniors using 100% MZX and playing at a very high level.” Hybrid stringing is also a popular alternative, he added, with one of the best combinations being natural gut in the mains and MZX Pro in the cross strings.
Ashaway Racket Strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racquet strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway has been the Official String of USA Racquetball for more than ten years, and is also the Official String of Professional Tennis Registry. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications. For more information visit www.ashawayusa.com. Zyex is a registered trademark of Zyex Ltd.
For additional product information, contact:
Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co.
PO Box 549
Ashaway, RI 02804 USA
Tel: (800) 556-7260 (U.S. only) or +1 (401) 377-2221
Fax: +1 (401) 377-9091
Racquet Preparation Specialists as close as 407.491.4755 or 407.494.4702!
Appointments are accepted and encouraged.
We are glad you are visiting our site. We encourage you to ask any tennis, racquet, and string questions, post ideas, share tennis and racquet related stories with other tennis and racquet enthusiasts.
While visiting our website check the periodic specials page where our racquet analysis and stringing services specials are posted.
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There must be hundreds of web sites and forums that discuss tennis and tennis racquets specifically.
Racquet Quest is different…
I have spent over forty (40) years working with racquets; from designing to manufacturing to stringing to customization, plus retail and anything in between! I know that each racquet and player combination is unique. So, the racquet specifications must be exclusive to the player.
Even if you go no further into this site I want you to know that you, the player, is what this is all about. Some fun, some ideas, some questions, some suggestions, and most importantly, your involvement.
I hope you will enjoy your visit!
Jack Anthrop teamed with Chris Granville to play in the 2018 version of the Winter Park Racquet Club Member-Guest Tournament this weekend. This highly anticipated event brings most of the best tennis players from around the area, and beyond, to compete for beer as nearly as I can tell.
Jack, at age 14, does not drink beer so he is playing for the experience and fun of competition as if he doesn’t get enough during the week at the USTA Center in Orlando, daily training, and other tournaments around the country.
“Quiet in the Stands” does not apply for this family-friendly event managed by Rich, Robert, Nancy and the entire WPRC Staff. Well Done!
In a previous post, we saw string failure(s) for the same string, i.e., not a “hybrid” format.
In this post, we will see the typical failure of a “hybrid” format using polyester for the main string and a multifilament for the cross string.
The polyester string shows very little wear whereas the multifilament cross string has completely come apart. This is exactly what one would expect, and frankly, hope for.
This failure indicates the main string is moving across the cross strings which allows the ball to “catch” the main string and begin to “rotate.”
Players may decide on a hybrid format in the belief that the multifilament cross string will significantly mitigate the stiffness of the polyester main string. Depending on what strings are used this, may or may not be true.
For comparison purposes, this racquet has about seven (7) hours of hitting while training, That probably relates to about twenty (20) hours of “normal play” for this person.
The caption of this post is “String Failure” but while this string is definitely failed it is not a “failure”. This setup did exactly what it is intended to do for this player.
As racquet technicians, we are bombarded with “new product” information! Especially when it comes to racquet string!
So what do you and we need to know when making a string decision?
History, that’s what. The image shows just some historical data points.
We can look at data for any string and client to determine the history of that combination. If the history is a good one, we can make an excellent decision based on it. And, of course, the converse is true.
When a client comes in for the first time, it is imperative to have a real discussion about the needs of the player. In some cases, the “need” is far different than the “want”. I found that most clients will listen to what we have to say and we can say it with some conviction because we have the “history” to confirm our conviction(s).
So, know your history!
I wrote this post a long time ago but I recently saw where a tennis store was closing after many years of service to the community. I have NO idea if what I am writing about had anything to do with the closing but here it is:
Making a tennis racquet selection, and actually purchasing that racquet, has changed quite a bit in the last 15-20 years. Is that a good or bad thing? Well, I suppose it depends on who you ask, but from a tennis racquet specialist, it is a serious question.
It is no secret or great revelation that racquet manufacturers want to maximize their income and bottom line and what better way to do that than reduce the number of channels they need to manage!
Pretend for a moment that I am the CEO of XYZ Racquet Company and I can sell 75 to 85 percent of all my racquets to two or three online operations. Why wouldn’t I do that? These chosen outlets would be “house” accounts, so there is a minimal cost of sales, so no need for outside representatives, or all these in-house CSR’s!
I want you, the customer, to go to a local shop. You can see several racquets and discuss each in detail and get recommendations as to which racquet may be best for you. Great! Now the CEO wants you to hurry home jump online and order this racquet!
It sounds great to the CEO but what about you the customer?
Specialty racquet shops like Racquet Quest, LLC is in business to make this racquet the best purchase you can make! Here’s how.
A good shop will have knowledgeable tennis people there to help you.
A good shop will have a demo program.
A good shop will set up the demo as you will be using it. Yes, string and tension!
A good shop will take the time to help you make a good decision.
A good shop will be there for you if you need after -the -sale help.
A good shop will be able to correctly string the racquet of your choice.
And, all of this will probably be done at a reasonable price, which includes “sales tax”! Sales tax is the 800-pound gorilla in the room, and this gorilla has convinced some buyers that they can save big bucks by not paying sales tax. Sales tax is an amount you can see, so it is easily quantified. However, it is difficult to quantify the assistance you get from your local shop, that is until you take time to think about it.
There are many reasons to buy from a local source, but some areas of the country don’t have a “local” source. So here is what I would do.
Search for a qualified racquet technician as close to you as possible. Talk to them, and if you are satisfied, have the racquet you buy online drop shipped to them for preparation. They will be committed to a good job because they know you will send the racquet back to them if it is not done well!
The IART has a listing of qualified racquet technician…check it out here: IART
Yonex seems to be on a roll right now with several years of outstanding performance racquets! Well, with the VCore Pro Series they have pushed that ball a little faster, and harder! It is rolling now!
Let’s run down some of the specs on each of the three (3) VCore Pro racquets.
It is no surprise that the Pro 97 330 is the heaviest of the three because it very subtly says so right on the racquet (330). The Pro 97 310 has a meager swing weight (304) to accompany the lower weight of 310. I believe these are so low that some players will opt for the VCore Pro 100 which is a bit stiffer (RDC Flex) than the 97’s.
However, the VCore 97 330 feels the best of all of them because you know what it is meant to do.
In addition to the great “players” specs, these racquets are the best looking from Yonex in a while in my opinion!
If you are interested in a racquet series that is dedicated to performance, you need to try one of these new Yonex VCore Pro racquets.
This series is a “thin beam” design (21mm) with the traditional Yonex head shape that sort of equalizes the length of the main and cross strings in the center of the racquet offering a controlled feel.
This series like most of the Yonex performance racquets are made in Japan. The consistency of specification is very good if you carry several racquets and want them to feel the same.
The demos are in the shop and available for your consideration!