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Question of the Day: Restringing Cracked Racquets

Monday, March 04, 2013 /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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Recently, in an unfortunate turn of events, I broke my racquet, a Head YouTek Radical MP. (By mistake, it flew out of my hand and whipped into the net post.) The strings are still fine, and I’ve played with the racquet a couple times since then without incident. But I’m wondering: Will I be able to safely restring this frame? I can see the crack up at 10 o’clock. It’s pretty sizable; there’s clearly a notch that runs around the entire beam.—Peter A.

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Peter, I’m sorry to hear about your racquet. (By mistake, eh…? I also once “accidentally” sent a stick to a net post-induced death.) The good news: If and when you decide to restring that Radical, you or your stringer should be safe. The bad news: It’s dubious that the racquet will escape stringing machine unscathed.

As I’ve written before on this blog, in posts pertaining to frame life, restringing a racquet places it under tremendous amounts of stress. Any stringer will tell you that, as strings are tensioned, the hoop changes dimensions, pulling in and out of shape. This process, over several years, stresses the bonds that hold the frame’s carbon fibers together, gradually weakening the stick. (Because older, “softer” sticks are less powerful and feel different, most serious players replace their frames every few years.) Even so, barring some sort of factory defect or mounting error, most intact frames are able to get through stringing sessions without issue.

However, when a racquet is structurally compromised, it’s a different story. Cracked frames are less able to resist all the twisting and pulling that comes with re-stringing; depending on the extent of the damage, the frame will more than likely buckle under the stress.

Having said that, you’re welcome to try restringing it. Obviously, if the strings are still playing fine, wait until absolutely necessary to replace them. Who knows? Maybe your Radical will live to play another day.

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