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.
Hi Justin, I would like your recommendations regarding arm-friendly strings. I am a 4.0 player who hits mostly flat shots from baseline, and recently I got tennis elbow. My racquets are the Head Liquidmetal and Microgel Radical Midplus. I'd appreciate your help. Take care.—Stefano
As I always try to note, Stefano, before dispensing any health-related equipment advice: Please make sure to meet with a licensed physician or physiotherapist regarding your elbow. Consultation about physical therapy and other possible medical interventions should be the first step that you take toward good health.
That said, when it comes to arm-friendly strings, softer is always better. To this end, I’d recommend that you string up a set of natural gut. Not only is natural gut, compared to all other synthetic strings, superior in tension maintenance and power (i.e., energy return); it’s the most comfortable, shock-deterring string available on the market today.
True, natural gut has some downsides. It’s durability is, at best, average. And it can be pretty pricey, with high-quality gut costing as much as $50 a set. But given that you hit pretty flat, durability shouldn't be much of an issue. And with respect to the price… well, this is your elbow we’re talking about here. The bottom line is: If you have an injury, gut is worth paying for.
As for brands, I’d recommend you check out the USRSA’s (United States Racquet Stringers Association’s) 2012 String Selector
, which features a listing with every gut product currently on the market. Note: The Selector lists strings per category from least to most stiff; given that stiffness correlates with shock, the best thing to do for your elbow would be to choose one of the more pliable strings, with a stiffness rating in the high 80s to low 100s.
For more information on how to use the USRSA’s String Selector, click here
. For a longer meditation on natural gut, click here