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Strings, Shoes, Grips, etc.

People who play a lot will need to maintain various parts of their racquets as they go.  Grips get slippery, head guards (the plastic around the top) get broken and strings get loose and/or break.

Places to String Racquets:  In Portland, I recommend Players Racquet Shops (one in Beaverton, and one on the east side in Portland).  I believe Dick's has a stringer and can do it, but Player's has high-end stringing machines ($4000+) and people who do this 10-20 times a day.  They also know about strings and make better recommendations.


Stringing Timeline:  The old adage is that you should re-string your racquet once per year for every time you play per week.  So, players who play on average two times per week should re-string every 6 months.  That is because strings will gradually loosen over time and lose control.  You should also re-string if a string is broken.  The strings are generally one long string (or sometimes 2), so you don’t just replace one – you do the whole thing.


Stringing Cost:  $27 - $45 usually.  For serious big hitters who break strings a lot, Players offers string cards - 10 re-stringings with 20% or 30% off.


Strings to Use:  I’d discuss this with Players when you get it strung there.  This is tricky and really a matter of personal preference.  For lots of players, a generic synthetic gut string is probably a good choice (except Wilson Sensation - Players tends to recommend that and our players have not liked it).  For people who hit really hard and break a lot of strings, a poly main string (Babolat RPM Blast for example) will increase string life.  But most people will temper that hard string with something like a synthetic cross to get a good balance of string life and comfort.  Those hard strings can be hard on your elbow.  I've personally moved away from RPM Blast into a "softer poly".

To sound intelligent when getting a racquet strung:  Strings come in different gauges.  The bigger the number, the thinner the string.  15g is a thick string (more durable), 17g is a thin string (breaks more often but gets a little better bite on the ball for spin).


Shoes:  These are mostly personal preference, but I do recommend tennis-specific shoes if possible.  If not, then go with cross-trainers.  Do not wear running shoes for tennis – they do not have enough ankle support.  In Portland, getting access to the Nike or Adidas Employee store is a good way to get a discount. tends to rotate their inventory early in the year, leading to discounts prior to tennis season.  Looking today at the sale section, I see their low-end tennis shoe (Court Express) for $47.  Their mid/high end Express 2 for $88.


Bags:  Having a dedicated tennis bag is nice.  You'll be able to grab and go with your gear and not worry about forgetting something.  I'd recommend getting a bag that's slightly bigger than what you first think.  Carrying extra balls, a change of clothes (shoes take up a lot of room) and assorted junk is nice.

Grips:  You can buy replacement grips ($10) or overgrips ($2 - $3 each) to get a fresh feel on your racquet.  You should learn how to add an overgrip to your racquet –it’s pretty easy.  Various brands don’t matter much, although I would recommend TournaGrip (overgrip) for people whose hands get sweaty.  For replacement grips, I usually go with Head Hydrosorb Pro.


Head Guards:  These can only be replaced at the time of re-stringing.  So, if you are debating it, go for it.  They are $8 - $15 installed.  If yours is broken and you are scraping the expensive parts of the racquet up, definitely do this the next time you re-string.  If you aren’t re-stringing soon, they make tape you can use for protection (it’s not great).


Vibration Dampeners:  This is all personal preference.  They do take a little or a lot of vibration out of the racquet and change the sound when you hit the ball.  Most people notice the sound difference more than the vibration difference.  The worm-type dampeners take tons of vibration out, while the little ones take about ½ as much away.  These are a few bucks each.


Gift ideas:  Grips, Vibration Dampeners, Cans of balls, Tennis Ball Savers (mentioned on the ball page) are decent small gifts for tennis players.

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