Category Archives: Players
I posted recently the sad results of a mis-hit but I don’t think that term has been properly discussed. So, let’s talk about it now.
In the post I also mentioned the word “shank” and in fact, that may be more descriptive of what happens.
Mis-hits or Shanking is the “hard” collision of the ball hitting the string and the racquet frame at nearly the same time. This impact causes huge shear loads, like a scissor, and is accompanied by an “impulse”. That means the load is applied over a very short time period, or, in other words, a sharp blow.
A reasonable question, then, is “why does it usually break around the top of the racquet?” The short answer is that the top of the racquet is moving faster than any other part of the racquet with great leverage , therefore, the load has no place to go except into the string. If, however, the mis-hit occurs around the side of the racquet it can “rotate” in your hand and mitigate the load. That is why we see very few failures around the side of the racquet.
I have found that most mis-hits happen with younger players that are very aggressive naturally and are, at the same time, experimenting with different strokes, serves, grips, and spin. All of these things can cause mis-hits and the string failure associated with them.
In most cases mis-hits can be eliminated, by the player, through concentration on impact location, such as trying to hit the center of the string bed, however, on occasion, seldom I hope, the concentration is not there or the desire to return a shot takes precedent over concentration!
I don’t normally post about string failure in a positive way but today is special!
This is the date the racquet was strung…
Today is 3/24/2016! The string is broken! 229 days!
In the interest of full disclosure this player has three (3) racquets and plays about 2-4 days a week (yes, I think he does have a job)! So, even if you divide this number of days by 3 it is still 76 days. Pretty good, I would say!
The string is Ashaway Monogut ZX Pro, Black, 17 gauge (1.22mm) strung at 55 pounds (24.95kg)
Racquet Quest is in the racquet technology business! What does that even mean?
It means we devote a great deal of our time to understanding racquets and what makes them ”tick”. Of course, it is fun and meaningful but sometimes not well understood.
Hardly a week goes by that I don’t have a request for “Pro Stock” racquets of some sort. But what does that mean?
To help sort out this question I reached out to one of the people in this industry that knows the answer! Jerry, I will call him, works for a major racquet manufacturer and is responsible for racquets for professional players. I asked him to comment on the following narrative. The responses are in red.
Pro Stock Racquets. What does that even mean?
“Rackets which have been customized to players need.”
“Many people believe that pro players are using different construction, which is actually not true; a reason to think so is that these people have no idea about racket production.”
For years, it has been the position of manufacturers that the “retail” version of racquets did not work for the top world ranked player(s). So what to do?
“Players need different weight/balance/swing weight than regular players due to their fitness and technique.”
Many “pro” players prefer the model they started their career with but those racquets have long been replaced by newer, and mostly, better technology regarding materials. Of course, it is “possible” to use the older mold, (the mold is not the graphite tube), to re-create the preferred geometry and feel. I doubt that the materials I used in our racquets many years ago are still available.
“If players are used to their old/first racket as their extension of the arm/hand in many cases they don´t want to switch unless they feel they have to!”
Probably the most important consideration is the third paragraph. “Players need different weight/balance/swing weight than regular players due to their fitness and technique.” Why would I even think I can play with the “same” racquet as Roger, Novak, Andy, Rafa, and the rest of the top players! It is simply not possible.
Yesterday I finished an “evaluation” racquet for a pro player with a swing weight of 400 kg/cm2 with an “even” balance. Is this a “pro stock” racquet, or just a racquet that has been radically customized?
I can, however, make my racquet the best it can be for ME! So, let’s go back to the top of the page,“Rackets which have been customized to players need.”
It doesn’t matter to me at what level you play but as racquet “technoligsts” we can help you be a better player.
Well, I made it to see 2016 arrive! I am not sure why I stayed up but it does commit me to pay attention to what may happen in the coming year.
I think the big story for 2016 is going to be more string related than racquet related. Why? Because manufacturers can “turn around” a string model much quicker than a racquet model, and, there are significant areas for improvement in selecting the correct string material for each player physicality and style.
String characteristics, materials, tensions, and applications are confusing to many and rightly so. This year I want to continue the “educational” effort and invite anyone with something to contribute to speak up.
My motto for 2016 is “Speak Up…Then String Up”
I have a bunch of customers using Ashaway Monogut ZX and ZX Pro and it is time to give them credit for their performances!
Brittany Taglierini is the latest conversion and she likes the extra energy she gets especially on her serve. This can be contributed to the high elongation which is power potential.
Samantha had been using a custom hybrid with a fluorocarbon main string and Monogut ZX as the cross string. Recently she converted to 100% Monogut ZX Black and has continued to win, with the latest being a Super Series in Florida.
Plus, she has over thirty (30) hours of play on one of her racquet! Incredible! And good news, of course.
Ashaway, a US company, makes Monogut ZX and ZX Pro which are monofilament strings using 100% PEEK material, no polyester!
No, this is not about cheating! At least on-court cheating.
This is about cheating the players that have their racquets strung at tournaments!
Tournaments are tough enough on parents due to travel, scheduling, equipment, and racquet stringing. Many times the player must have a racquet, or racquets, strung during the tournament. If, and when, the racquets return to me I see, in too many cases, they are not getting their money’s worth! They are being cheated!
The problems range from poor workmanship, bad knots, cross-overs, to incredibly inconsistent string beds. Inconsistent string stiffness from side to side and generally too “soft” or “hard” string beds are common as well as serious racquet distortion.
Does this mean the player is going to loose? No, of course not,but it is not giving the player the best performance they, and their racquet, are capable of.
I know the cost of stringing at a tournament is generally not “too” high but not getting what you pay for is very expensive. These poorly strung racquets need to be re-done and that is an additive cost that makes playing tournaments even more expensive.
I urge that tournament directors, parents, and players demand better stringing at the tournament site. And, if the racquet is not properly done it should not be charged. The problem is the person picking up the racquet may not know if it is right or wrong, good or bad!
I know some of these “stringers” try very hard but they may not have equipment required to affect a really good result. Other “stringers” simply don’t know, or care about, what they are tasked to do. It shows!
Players: make sure your parents know you need racquets strung before you go to a tournament.
Parents: have as many racquets as possible prepared by your regular racquet technician before the tournament. This can actually save some money!
Players: don’t accept racquets that are not properly done. Don’t blame the racquet for poor performance if you accept it!
Parents: don’t pay for racquets that are not properly done. Let me know if you are not sure what to look for.
Parents: take at least three (3) racquets to every tournament.
Parents: if you think you are not getting the quality you deserve send me the tournament name and I will reach out to them and suggest they attend the Annual IART Symposium where all stringers learn how to do a better job…for you!
First let me get the “shorts” thing out of the way…I like them! I would like them better with a cool white shirt, but that’s just me.
The next item of business, for me, is the fantastic one hand backhand that serves Stan so well. It makes me wonder why juniors, and maybe some adults, are being taught (forced?) the two hand backhand?
I think I understand the physics invloved in swinging a racquet and I also understand that you can build muscle memory and pure muscle if you train for that (one hand backhand).
After seeing the effectiveness of the one hander it seems more players would request that technique be taught to them.
I am still in Italy but will be headed back to France in the morning to continue discussions with Eric and Carine of ERECA regarding diagnostic devices and some ancillary equipment.
No one likes a failure but it does happen, especially, with tennis string.
This is the perfect fail if you are using natural gut string. You can see the natural fibers of the string have been unraveling and finally reached the point where the stranding could no longer handle the impact of a ball hitting that area.
Natural gut and some multi-filament synthetic strings will exhibit this failure mode. The great thing about natural gut is that it plays better longer than other string materials.
The problem is that it is quite difficult to quantify “better” but it is easy to quantify “broken”. I recommend, if you are using natural gut, play with it until it breaks or the “fraying” is so bad you know it won’t last another match.
The use of Sting Savers can extend the life of natural gut string and will not affect the “feel” of the racquet.
This has been an incredible year filled with challenges, great rewards, learning, and teaching!
One of the greatest challenges is making sure that tennis players of all ages can continue to play without injury. This is especially true of younger players that subject themselves to many hours of training and tournaments.
Along with all that hitting comes the risk of arm and shoulder injuries so this year has been filled with research, design, formatting, and experimenting with various string material combinations.
I would like to thank the folks at Acelon Racquet Sports for their tremendous support of our research, and, of course, continuing trial and error! There are many suppliers of tennis string that have contributed but Acelon has stepped up with an extraordinary array of string materials, and configurations. Thank you Dan!
Ashaway Line & Twine Manufacturing has also played a major role in our string research and our commitment to minimize injuries. The Ashaway Monogut ZX has proven to be an outstanding product in fulfilling our commitment. Thank you Steve!
Our commitment to “injury free” tennis will continue as long as I do this and I appreciate the contribution of many suppliers and players. Without the honest and clear feedback of the players it would be impossible to make as much progress as we did this year.
2015 is going to be a very good year! We will be challenged, rewarded, taught and will teach! I am looking forward to it!
Happy New Year!
I wanted to write an important, and profound, post about the Federer/Monfils match of last night…but no writing can communicate the impact of simply believing in yourself!
Roger said during the match “this may be it!” How many times have we had this phrase running through our minds as things begin to collapse around us.
I have no idea how the US Open will end but I know we can all learn from the on court stability and performance of Roger Federer.
Well Done, Roger!