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 relatively new player, and I've always had just one racquet, simply because I have never seen the need for two. But almost everybody that I play in our amateur league has at least two racquets. Is it worth having two? Why? And if so, should they both be the same? I just played a guy who had one racquet for power, one for control, and one with an 18x20 string pattern to be used against opponents who hit with heavy top spin.—Traian Mitrache
Generally speaking, Traian, players carry multiple racquets, of the same make/model, so that they’ll be prepared in case one’s strings break. (It’s ill advised to continue playing with a snapped string; upon breakage, the stringbed loses tension, control, and all manner of predictability.) Popping a string is a regular occurrence among serious, intermediate- and advanced-level players, especially those who hit with a lot of topspin. Thus, to prevent getting stranded without a racquet, most serious players bring at least two matched, freshly-strung sticks to a competition.
As for beginners, the prescription for backup sticks is a little less clear. While players with slower and/or shorter swings rarely break strings through wear, any player, whether a first-timer or an ATP pro, is liable to mishit the ball and pop a main at the tip of the frame, warranting a switch to another frame until the former’s strings have been replaced.
Granted, the chances of this happening to a beginner are low. But it’s a possibility, and if you’re very particular about the racquet you play with—i.e., are uncomfortable competing with other makes/models—you might consider investing in a second stick identical to your first. On the other hand, if you’ve never broken a string in the past, and aren’t particularly choosy about the racquet you play with, buying a backup isn’t absolutely necessary.
Finally, with respect to your most recent opponent and his divers, racquet-specific stratagems: The approach is extremely unorthodox, and I wouldn’t recommend you emulate him. Instead, seek out a qualified racquet technician. If you’re dissatisfied with your current gear, they’ll be able to help you find or customize a racquet that best fits your game, as well as all the situations you tend to find yourself in on court.