Question of the Day: Searching for Vintage Grommets

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I have an early 80's vintage racquet, a Donnay Graphite Comp Plus. The grommets are not looking good. I might need to replace them on the next string job. Do you know where I can find replacement grommets for this racquet and others its age?—Dave


Finding new grommets and bumperguards for vintage racquets is always a trying process; the older the frame, the harder the search. The problem is simply that manufacturers, by and large, only sell accessories for racquets that are currently in production. Natch, when a racquet is no longer made, its corresponding grommets become more and more obscure, eventually receding from mainstream outlets into the scattershot world of enthusiast trading.

Obviously, the easiest solution to your problem would be to adapt a present-day racquet. Having said that, if you’re seriously committed to finding grommets for your Donnay, there are a couple of avenues to explore.

The first is to seek the help of a USRSA member. (Or, better yet, join the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association yourself.) Notably, the USRSA operates a grommets/bumperguard listserv, which periodically sends out member requests via e-mail to everyone affiliated with the organization. Surely, if anybody’s likely to have a few Comp Pro grommets sitting around, it’s a racquet technician. 

Another avenue is Tennis Warehouse’s Talk Tennis message boards. Become a member, and post in the “wanted” section. I’ve seen a number of requests for vintage grommets batted around on TW in recent years. Who knows? There might be a gearhead lurking who’s willing to sell you a set for a few bucks.

Still another avenue is to look for another Donnay Comp in better condition. It might seem absurd, but sometimes it’s easier to buy an old frame (with grommets) than just the grommets. Again, try TW’s message boards, as well as eBay, yard sales, etc.

As you search, it might, for the time being, be worth plugging up your racquet with nylon tubing. Available from most major retailers, stringers often resort to the stuff in order to protect a string job against beaten grommets, whose sharp edges can shear strings prematurely. Note, however, that if your grommets are hopelessly worn, installing the tubing might be more trouble than it’s worth. Again, if in doubt, talk to a certified stringer in your area.

(To those who watched Juan Martin del Potro in yesterday’s Indian Wells final, did you notice that he’s still using his trusty old Wilson Pro Staff KFactor? (Released ~four years ago.) Apparently, Delpo's still reluctant to switch to a newer model. When I last saw his KFactors, at US Open ’12, they were strung up with plenty of plastic tubing.)

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