What Do You Expect?

I see a lot of tennis racquets that come from any number of shops, on-line outlets, home stringers and others, and I need to know what you, the customer, expect from the person you use for stringing and buying your racquets.

I see racquets that are not properly, professionally strung, and I wonder "what are you thinking!" Do you, the customer, simply don’t know what to expect or you just don’t care? I am not picking on recreational players here because I see this from tournament players that are trying to make a living playing tennis!

I see racquets that are severely distorted due to improper setup, improper pattern, and stringer error. This, to me, is unacceptable, and I would like to know why it is acceptable to you.

If you see a problem such as distortion, mis-weave, crossovers, long knot tails, and other stuff, you should just not accept the racquet and demand that it be made right.

But, here is the problem, do you know what is right? If you don’t, please take the time to ask! You can ask me or some other professional stringers. Send a picture if you can, or, take a look at some images below to see what is unacceptable.

Not only is this a bad knot it is a sad knot usually called a "half hitch" or "double half hitch."  You will notice a small scrape on the string which can be caused by using a "starting clamp" on the outside of the racquet.  You will see a picture of this unacceptable procedure a little later on.

Bad Knot Tail

Bad Knot Tail

The knot tail is much longer than necessary.   Sloppy!

Bad Knot

Bad Knot

The "double half hitch" is a big and "loose" knot.  The tail can be pushed back through the knot, but this may not cause the total knot to come loose.  There are much better, and smaller knots.

Cross Over

Cross Over

A "cross over" is when a string goes over another string.  This can cause premature breakage if this area is exposed to impact and abrasion.

Mis-Weave

Mis-Weave

A mis-weave is probably the worst error that sometimes goes un-noticed by the stringer and the customer.  This is a total failure and should not be tolerated.

Strings not Straight

Strings not Straight

You can see the strings are not straight in the racquet head.  Not only is this poor craftsmanship it can also contribute to low string bed stiffness.  If the strings are not straightened as they are installed some tension will be lost.  If the strings on your freshly strung racquet are not straight do not accept it.

Starting Clamp Mis-Use

Starting Clamp Mis-Use

Using a starting clamp in this manner is unacceptable for a couple of reasons.  One primary reason is the potential scraping of the string where the clamp is placed. You can see this in the first picture.   Another, depending on the string, can cause crushing right where the string is going to bend and be tied off.  If you see your racquet being strung using a starting clamp in this manner be sure the string is not damaged, and suggest the stringer not use this procedure.  There is a tool available that keeps the starting clamp far away from the critical bending area.

DSC_0208_18

Some issues that are unacceptable to me may not be harmful to your playing but should not tolerated. It is your money! You should get the best product for your money. Of course it is possible to get a “value” string job and if a few dollars are more important than a good job then keep on doing what you are doing!

If you think this issue is important to me, you are correct! It should be important to you!

Written by John Gugel

Comments

  1. Hi John.
    I liked your article because it made valuable points that any qualified racquet technician should adhere to. Sadly, I agree that most customers wouldn’t know what to look for, and many technicians get away with shoddy workmanship. I think customers would appreciate these things being pointed out. I know mine do.

    As an aside, I have just started using the starting clamp method after having used the “starting knot” method for so long and I find myself using it more often now. I am not sure of the advantages of using either, and at some point, Tim stated that he will be addressing that issue in a forthcoming article. I would also appreciate your input. However, I was unaware of the pit falls of using a starting clamp without the “tool” that you speak of. Could you please tell me how I could get one or even make a suitable substitute?

    Respectfully,
    Bob Juliano

  2. Bob, you can order the Offset Tube on http://www.racquetquest.tennis.

    Using a staring clamp up against or close to the racquet frame can create stress on the sting as well as possible scuffing issues.

    To be honest Bob, I always use a starting knot because the one I use works really well, and, the knot tail lays very close to the host string. I do not use a starting knot when a synthetic string would be tying off on natural gut, for example.

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