The Pro Shop

Question of the Day: Stenciling Racquets

Tuesday, March 12, 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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I recently purchased a Dunlop M3.0. I’ve also started to learn how to string, and would like to start stencilling my racquet. What type of ink should I look for? How should I go about stencilling?—Jerry G.

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For the most part, Jerry, stencilling is a pretty straightforward process. You visit a specialty pro shop or online retailer, purchase your favorite string ink(s) and stencil outline(s), lace up a fresh set of strings, and then lay down the ink.

That said, there are a few important things to keep in mind as you stencil. First, make sure to purchase inks that are intended for marking strings; almost every major string manufacturer sells them. Stencilling with, say, wall paint from the home improvement section of Lowe’s is generally a bad idea, as those paints can contain chemicals that damage strings.

Second—and this may seem pretty obvious—use a stencil. If you’re an artist, tracing might be unnecessary. But for most, stencils are a must, especially when painting relatively complex patterns, like Dunlop’s “flying D” logo.

As for step-by-step instruction, consider the following from the Racquet Service Techniques Manual, published by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association:

  1. Place the strung racquet on a flat surface with newspaper or other porous material to absorb any drips.
  2. To prevent stencils from slipping, apply small pieces of leftover grip to the top and bottom of both sides.
  3. Align the stencil so that the top and bottom edges are centered.
  4. Apply ink inside the stencil, covering all strings. Don’t be afraid of getting ink on the stencil itself.
  5. After you’ve stencilled one side of the strings, remove the stencil and tap the racquet tip on the newspaper to remove ink drops gathered at main/cross intersections. You should also wait a few seconds to allow any ink on the stencil to dry.
  6. Turn the racquet over, apply the opposite side of the stencil (be sure the top and bottom edges align on the same strings) and apply ink.
  7. Remove the stencil and tap the racquet tip again to remove ink drops.
  8. Allow ink to dry at least 20 minutes before play.

Also of note: If you look hard enough on the net—Talk Tennis is a good place to start—it’s possible to find logos that you can print out for free. A number of sites also feature creative stencil designs, like Racquet Art.

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