TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.
Recently I’ve been having difficulties breaking strings—not so much in the center of the stringbed, though this does happen after the requisite playing time, but at the tip of the racquet on vigorous mishits. It’s extremely frustrating when this happens, especially when the strings are fresh and have only been in there for a few hours. I string all poly (Luxilon Alu Power 16), so I know the solution isn’t going with a more durable string. What’s your sense of this? What measures can I take to prevent this costly habit? I’m a 4.0 baseliner with a Western forehand. I play with the Wilson K Factor KSix-One Team.—Herman Y.
A few years back, Herman, I also suffered from this frustrating proclivity. Often it would happen when I was stretched out on my forehand side, trying to curl a shot back into the court with authority. Pop, a main string would go, right at the tip of the frame. At first it was a matter of pride. Real players bring strings frequently, I would think, and so do I. But a short while later, pride gave way to financial concern, when I starting realizing how much of my disposable income was going toward reels of Luxilon.
So I had to figure a solution, and what worked was, in retrospect, pretty simple. I started regularly replacing the grommets—about every 15 string jobs. Not only did this improve the racquet’s feel (try it, the strings play crisper), but more importantly, it kept the grommets from becoming overly jagged and dilated. I still keep this practice alive, and while the occasional fore breakage does occur, it doesn’t happen nearly as frequently.
Try it out. Replacement grommets can be ordered for most current models online or in a specialty pro shop. If that doesn’t work, you might also experiment with placing string savers in the problem areas. Finally, and of course, the best solution may be to stop mishitting the ball altogether.