Choosing a racquet technician
How can you judge the competence of your racquet technician? If it’s your first visit, a good stringer should ask you tons of questions, assuming he’s unfamiliar with you and your game. A few of the more obvious ones include:
- What’s your playing level and style?
- What surface(s) do you play on?
- Do you play mostly singles or doubles?
- How often do you break a string?
- Do you have any arm problems?
- Are you satisfied with your racquet?
- Are you looking to change your string’s power, control, or durability?
- What string are you currently using?
- What do you like and dislike about it?
- What kind of stringing machine was your current or previous stringer using to service your racquet?
- What string tension have you been using?
I realize that there are a lot of questions, and I might not ask them all at once. Usually, more than a couple questions in a row make a person’s eyes glaze over. But as we work together, I'll be gathering information to plug into the decision matrix, so I can get you a string and tension to give you just what you want.
A good racquet technician will try to fit your equipment choices (racquet model, weight, and balance, and string model, thickness, and tension) with your playing style.
Also, your racquet technician might recommend replacing the grommet strip and bumperguard to keep your frame in good repair and your strings intact. He can show you the worn grommets and the chipped or worn bumperguard. Don’t resist this replacement. It’s a normal part of servicing your racquet (like replacing the tires on your car) and it'll add years to the frame’s longevity and maximize the longevity of your strings.
You should pose a few questions of your own:
- How often does he check the accuracy of his/her machine? This should be done every 25-30 string jobs — at least!
- Does he have any credentials from the USRSA? (Is he an MRT, Certified Stringer or USRSA member?) Each USRSA member has a membership card and a certificate indicating how long he’s been part of the organization. You can check this by calling the USRSA at 760-536-1177 or e-mailing them.
- What string and tension (and perhaps racquet) would he recommend for you and why? These should be based on his understanding of your needs (playability, comfort, durability, power, etc.).
- Does he have some way to measure tension loss in your strings? Your strings are your racquet’s engine. Once they’ve lost 20% of their original tension, you should have them replaced — even if they're not broken. They’ve lost their zip and much of their performance. At the very least, restring your racquet twice a year.
Once you get your racquet back after restringing, make sure there are no missed weaves in the string face, and no strings crossed over outside the frame at the top (sometimes this is unavoidable at the bottom). Also, make sure your frame was not deformed or cracked by the stringing process. If it was warped or cracked before stringing, your stringer should have called it to your attention.
The right racquet technician can help maximize your on-court performance, extend the life of your racquet and strings and help mitigate arm and shoulder problems by making the right equipment recommendations and servicing your equipment properly. Your racquet technician is your silent partner on the court. It behooves you to seek out a competent stringing professional.
If you live in the high desert, I welcome the opportunity to be your racquet technician.