The Pro Shop

Question of the Day: Should You Have a Backup Racquet?

Tuesday, November 20, 2012 /by

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.

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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

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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.
 

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