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'm a 4.0 player, and am wondering about racquet replacement. Do racquets ever wear out? What’s the lifespan of a frame that’s not cracked or scraped? I play on average three times a week for about two hours a session. Thanks for your help!—Steven
Racquets certainly do wear out, Steven. As I wrote back in August, frames weaken not only each time they’re played with, but each time they go in for restringing. It’s just the nature of the beast: When a stringer tensions a main or cross, the racquet pulls in and out of shape, stressing the bonds that hold the frame’s carbon fibers together. The upshot is that, after several years of regular restringing, your sticks—even if they show no outward sign of cracks or scrapes—will be softer and less powerful.
As such, most teaching pros and racquet technicians recommend that serious players—i.e., those who play more than three times a week, and who restring more than once a month—replace their frames every two to three years; a new racquet, all else being equal, will be more rigid, and thus will return more energy to the ball upon impact. Of course, if you like the feel of your frames, and still play well with them, by no means should you be in a rush to switch. Playtest new sticks carefully, and be sure to make an informed decision.
For a more in-depth treatment of this question, please read "Old Faithful," an article than appeared in the 7/15 issue of Tennis 15-30, the magazine's digital publication.