Question of the Day: Specific Strings for Specific Sticks

by: Justin diFeliciantonio | October 16, 2012

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Hi Justin, I am wondering if some racquets are better suited for specific types of strings? For instance, is there a racquet out there that is just dynamite for gut? Thanks.—Richard Harfst

Thanks for writing in, Richard. But contrary to the premise of your question—and the practice of most manufacturers, which almost always print their racquets with the names of strings recommended “for optimum performance”—I don’t think it’s wise to go about matching strings to racquets tout court.

While certain racquet specifications can influence string selection—for example, sticks with open string patterns typically demand thicker, more durable gauges—a stringbed’s setup should first and foremost accord with the player and her own sense of feel. Indeed, regardless of whether a string has reviewed well, or whether a company recommends it for one of their racquets, if a player doesn’t like the feedback she’s getting, that string is probably not for her.

Additionally, a player’s choice of string(s) should, ideally, accord with how he or she goes about hitting the ball; beyond a certain threshold of acceptable feel, players should try to tailor their strings to the grips and spins they use, as well as how they go about winning points. In very crude terms, players with more Western, power baseline games usually gravitate toward strings with monofilament constructions (for more rotation on the ball), while those who play more traditional, serve-and-volley or all-court games tend to incorporate gut or high-end multifilaments into their stringbed (for greater touch and energy return, i.e., power).

(Of course, performance considerations aren’t the only reasons to choose a string. Natural gut especially is a good choice for players looking to maintain their tension and/or minimize shock that can lead to injury.)

The upshot here, Richard, is that it’s really impossible to pick out one racquet that’s “dynamite,” as you put it, for natural gut; there are just too many other variables involved. The best thing to do, in my opinion, would be to consult with a certified racquet technician. (To locate a technician near you, check out the USRSA’s stringer search here.) Tell them about your game and needs, and they’ll be able to help you choose a racquet and a string that’s right for you.

(For a more in-depth consideration of natural gut, read “Old Faithful,” an article that appeared in the August 15th edition of Tennis-15-30.)

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