March 2006 Volume 34 Number 3 $5.

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EXCLUSIVE RACQUET SELECTION GUIDE

Contents
River Forest Tennis Club, River Forest, IL

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INDUSTRY NEWS 7 New travel & instruction
benefits for USTA members

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Tennis sales continue up, says SGMA Las Vegas Fast-String Contest National Public Parks Championships in June River City Athletics acquires Novagrass Cardio Tennis in Australia Deco picked for Virginia indoor facility Wilson gear featured on Showtime series PTR launches “Scholarship Scout” Prince introduces Scream 2 shoe Ashaway adds two new badminton strings Sharapova switches to Prince 03 White frame New Tour Team bag line from Head Gamma offers Private Logo Program

COURT CONSTRUCTION & MAINTENANCE GUIDE 18 Expanding Horizons
Considering adding another court or two? Here’s what you need to know.

8 8 8 10 10 10 12 12 12 13 14

21

Fix the Cracks
Taking care of cracked courts depends on why they cracked in the first place.

24 Keep It Clean
No matter what type of courts you have, regular maintenance is a must.

26 Class Acts
Schools and colleges dominated these RSI/ASBA hard-court facility-of-the-year winners.

FEATURES 29 Racquet Selection Guide
Our exclusive guide to racquets will help you choose the right frames for your customers.

39 Don’t Bust a Gut!
Worried about your first natural gut string job? Two stringing experts take the mystery out of it for you.

DEPARTMENTS 4 Our Serve 16 The Master Pros 41 Stringing Machine Review: Babolat Star 5

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String Playtest: Gamma Zo Pro 16L Ask the Experts Your Serve, by Robin Bateman
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Our Serve
Be a “Hero” in Your Community
(Incorporating Racquet Tech and Tennis Industry)

Publishers David Bone Jeff Williams Editor-in-Chief Crawford Lindsey Editorial Director Peter Francesconi Associate Editor Greg Raven Design/Art Director Kristine Thom Assistant to the Publisher Cari Feliciano Contributing Editors Cynthia Cantrell Rod Cross Kristen Daley Joe Dinoffer Liza Horan Andrew Lavallee James Martin Mark Mason Chris Nicholson Mitch Rustad RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY Corporate Offices 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084 Phone: 760-536-1177 Fax: 760-536-1171 Email: RSI@racquetTECH.com Website: www.racquetTECH.com Office Hours: Mon.-Fri.,8 a.m.-5 p.m. Pacific Time Advertising Director John Hanna 770-650-1102, x.125 john@racquettech.com Apparel Advertising Cynthia Sherman 203-263-5243 cstennisindustry@earthlink.net
Racquet Sports Industry (USPS 347-8300. ISSN 01915851) is published 10 times per year: monthly January through August and combined issues in September/October and November/December by Tennis Industry and USRSA, 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084. Periodicals postage paid at Hurley, NY 12443 and additional mailing offices. March 2006, Volume 34, Number 3 © 2006 by USRSA and Tennis Industry. All rights reserved. Racquet Sports Industry, RSI and logo are trademarks of USRSA. Printed in the U.S.A. Phone advertising: 770-650-1102 x 125. Phone circulation and editorial: 760-536-1177. Yearly subscriptions $25 in the U.S., $40 elsewhere. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Racquet Sports Industry, 330 Main St., Vista, CA 92084.

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he USTA’s Community Tennis Development Workshop once again drew a large, enthusiastic crowd

in early February, this time in Hollywood, Calif. I was among about 650 who registered for the conference, and again, I was amazed and impressed by the dedication of this group of community tennis leaders— many who are volunteers—who came from all over the U.S. seeking ways to promote and develop tennis in their communities..
Over the years, my respect for the people who deliver tennis at the local level has grown immeasurably, thanks in large part to workshops such as the CTDW, but also because of the Tennis Teachers Conference in New York each August, the PTR Symposium in February, the USPTA World Conference in September, and many smaller gatherings. Sometimes, I think we forget that those of us who make our living from tennis—whether as a tennis teaching pro, club or facility owner or manager, tennis retailer, manufacturer, court builder, or, in our case, tennis publisher—owe a tremendous amount to those who don’t make their living from the game. The hard-working volunteers who give their time and effort to increase participation in the sport, to put the sport front and center in their communities, unquestionably help us as we seek to make a living from this sport. The theme of this year’s CTDW was “Heroes Among Us.” Those who gathered in California to seek out ways to grow tennis are all “heroes” in their communities. Now, as tennis participation is on the upswing and momentum continues to gather, we all need join in their quest. These community tennis leaders need our support in every way. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to make contact with your local Community Tennis Association, or school system, or parks program, or USTA district or section, to see how you can help in growing this sport—how you, too, can be a true tennis “hero.”

Peter Francesconi Editorial Director

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RSI is the “official magazine” of the USRSA, TIA, and ASBA

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INDUSTRY NEWS
INFORMATION TO HELP YOU Tennis Sales Continue To Rise, Says SGMA
The latest sales data from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association shows that tennis equipment has continued its upward trend in sales, growing 10 percent in 2005. According to the SGMA, tennis equipment sales reached $244 million last year, and is expected to reach $256 million in ’06. Also SGMA surveys confirm what the most recent TIA/USTA Tennis Participation Study noted, that tennis participation has been strengthening in recent years. These latest SGMA figures are part of a larger survey on sales of sporting goods equipment, sports apparel, and athletic footwear. The SGMA says wholesale numbers for all sporting goods were slightly stronger in 2005 than they were in 2004. In ’04, total sales were $52.2 billion. In ’05, they rose to $55.7 billion—a 6.8 percent jump. Sales for 2006 are projected to reach $59.5 billion, about a 7 percent gain. SGMA President Tom Cove says the renewed popularity in sports brands for both fashion and performance were largely responsible for the surge in sales last year. The sporting goods industry includes sports apparel, athletic footwear, and a wide range of equipment for sports, fitness, and outdoor activities. Wholesale shipments of sports apparel rose by 9 percent to $26.1 billion in 2005. What’s significant is that consumers purchased more units of sports apparel and paid more for them. Athletic footwear shipments were also up by nearly 9 percent to $10.9 billion. Fitness equipment experienced an increase of 6 percent to more than $4 billion. More information is at www.sgma.com.

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USTA Offers Travel, Instruction Benefits

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or the first time, the USTA is partnering with resorts and adult and junior camps to offer exclusive vacation and tennis instruction benefits to USTA members. The perks vary from property to property and may include benefits such as lodging and package discounts, complimentary restringing, free private lesson, and more. “We’re excited about working with our new resort and camp partners to help us build tennis participation,” says Barrie D. Markowitz, the USTA’s senior director of membership. To receive special benefits at these sites, USTA members need to provide their membership number to the resort or camp at the time of booking. As of early February, more than 20 resorts, adult camps, and junior camps in North America have agreed to provide special benefits for USTA members. For help in compiling venues for the program, the USTA approached noted tennistravel expert Roger Cox, the editor of Tennis Resorts Online (www.tennisresortsonline.com). Q At resorts, members will receive at least three of the following: free 30-minute private lesson, discount on pro shop apparel, complimentary racquet grip and restringing, free breakfast for everyone on your reservation, late checkout (if available), or at least 10 percent off room and tennis package rates. Q At adult camps, members will receive at least two of the following: free 30-minute private lesson, complimentary racquet grip and restringing, or at least 10 percent off room and tennis package rates. Q At junior camps, members will receive at

least two of the following: free 30-minute private lesson, complimentary merchandise worth at least $20, at least 10 percent off the package price, or a personalized DVD of an instruction session. For details visit www.usta.com/ membership. The latest list of participating resorts and camps is below.

Q RESORTS: The Buccaneer, St. Croix, USVI; The Colony Beach & Tennis Resort, Longboat Key, Fla.; La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, La Jolla, Calif.; Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Kohala Coast, Hawaii; The Phoenician, Scottsdale, Ariz.; Rancho Valencia Resort, Rancho Santa Fe, Calif.; Sea Pines Resort, Hilton Head, S.C.; Tops’l Beach & Racquet Resort, Destin, Fla. Q ADULT CAMPS: John Newcombe Tennis Ranch, New Braunfels, Texas; new England Tennis Holidays, North Conway, N.H.; New England Tennis Holidays at Inn at Essex, Essex, Vt.; Northstar-atTahoe Tennis Camps, Truckee, Calif.; Peter Kaplan’s Westhampton Beach Tennis Academy, Westhampton, N.Y.; Vic Braden Tennis College/Green Valley Spa, St. George, Utah. Q JUNIOR CAMPS: Four Star Summer Camps, Charlottesville, Va.; Julian Krinsky Summer Camps & Progams, Haverford and Cabrini Colleges, Pa.; Nike Junior Tennis Camps, multiple locations nationwide; Windridge Tennis Camps, Craftsbury Common and Teela-Wooket, Vt.
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Fast-Stringing Championships Set for Las Vegas
hen it comes to stringing racquets, are you unbeatable? Put your skills on the line at the Wilson World Fast-Stringing Championships, where cash and prizes for the fastest stringers total $10,000. The competition will be March 3 to 5 in Las Vegas, during the 2006 Tennis Channel Open (held Feb. 25 to March 5). Online registration is $20; registration on-site is $30. For more information or to register, visit www.tennischannelopen.com or call 888-826-8497.

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River City Athletics LLC Acquires Novagrass International
iver City Athletics LLC of Chattanooga, Tenn., has acquired the assets of Novagrass International Inc. The purchase was completed December 31, 2005. River City Athletics will operate this sports surfacing division as NGI Sports, a division of River City Athletics LLC. NGI Sports will market Nova’Pro Tennis, Novagrasse Golf and NovaTurf Field Sports surfacing systems to the industry. NGI Sports, a division of River City Athletics, is located at 2807 Walker Rd., Chattanooga, Tenn.; phone 423-4995546; fax 423-499-8882; toll free 800-835-0033. Email address is info@ngisports.com.

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Cardio Tennis Applauded Down Under
s the new Cardio Tennis program continues to expand in the U.S., a presentation at the Australian Tennis Conference in Melbourne during the Australian Open drew rave reviews, says PTR Executive Director Dan Santorum, who conducted the on-court Cardio demonstration to more than 250 coaches. “I have presented at the Australian Tennis Conference many times, but this was by far the best reaction I have ever received on any topic,” Santorum says. “At least 40 coaches approached me afterward and wanted to know how they could implement the program. Representatives from New Zealand and South Africa also expressed great interest.” Cardio Tennis was launched in the U.S. at the beginning of 2005, and now, more than 1,000 facilities have signed on to become official Cardio sites. In September, the Tennis Industry Association officially launched Cardio Tennis to consumers at the 2005 US Open. For more information and the latest from a survey of 250 sites, visit www.Partners.CardioTennis.com.

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80th National Public Parks Championships in June
he 80th Annual National Public Parks Tennis Championships will be June 19 to 25 at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Entry deadline for all events is June 5 at 5 p.m. To register, visit www.usta.com/tennislink. For adults, the tournament ID is 100217106; for juniors, 100216906. This year’s event is being held a month earlier than usual so that the USTA will have time to resurface the courts prior to the US Open at the end of August.

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OLN, TTC to Show 2006 Davis Cup
LN and The Tennis Channel will be the domestic television broadcasters for all U.S. Davis Cup action in 2006, the USTA announced just before firstround action. The new agreement began Feb. 10 to 12, with live coverage of the 2006 first-round U.S. vs. Romania tie. For future rounds this year, OLN will provide live coverage of U.S. Davis Cup home ties, to be followed by same-day replays on The Tennis Channel. Scheduling of away tie broadcasts will be contingent on the country of origin.

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Lee Tennis Restructures Sales Force
ee Tennis Products launched an Indoor Clay Court Forum through its website, www.hartru.com, to provide a place for current and prospective indoor clay court owners, managers, and maintenance personnel to share ideas and information. “After two conferences on indoor clay, and multiple site visits, it became clear that people caring for indoor clay courts have unique challenges and want to be able to communicate with one another about those challenges,” says Pat Hanssen of Lee Tennis. The forum features discussion threads on surface compaction, irrigation, humidity, and tools and equipment.

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UVA Picks DecoTurf for Indoor Stadium
ecoTurf has been chosen as the surface for the University of Virginia’s new Indoor Tennis Stadium at the Boar’s Head Sports Club in Charlottesville, Va. DecoSystems, a division of California Products Corp., says the 12 new DecoTurf courts at the facility are the same type and color—US Open Blue—as are the courts at the USTA National Tennis Center. The indoor stadium at the Boar’s Head Sports Club is the centerpiece of a $7.5 million expansion that was completed earlier this year by court builder Howard B. Jones & Sons of Lexington, S.C. DecoTurf also was recently selected for courts at the University of Alabama, the University of Connecticut, and St. John’s University. For more information, visit www.decoturf. com or call 800-DECO 1ST.

USPTA Pros Raise $8.2 Million for Charity
n 2005, USPTA teaching professionals raised $8,197,249 for charity through the association’s Lessons for Life program—-the most ever raised in one year by Lessons for Life since its inception in 1999. “Our goal was $3 million, so our members really worked the charity circuit hard this year,” said Paula Scheb, Lessons for Life chair, director of tennis and fitness at Bonita Bay Club in Bonita Springs, Fla., and a vice president of the USPTA’s national board. “I am just overwhelmed with pride.” A variety of charities benefit each year from the Lessons for Life program. Lessons for Life became USPTA’s national charitable program in 1999. Through this program, the USPTA encourages its members to use tennis as a vehicle to help others through fund-raisers and other activities in their communities. Lessons for Life is officially celebrated in October, but events may be hosted any time during the year. For more information, visit www.uspta.com.

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Wilson Gear Featured on Showtime Series
ilson Racquet Sports is the tennis equipment provider for a featured character on the current season of the Showtime Networks series “The L Word.” The show chronicles the lives and careers of a group of friends living in Los Angeles. Actress Erin Daniels plays professional tennis player Dana Fairbanks on the show, which kicked off its third season this month. Wilson outfitted the character with one of its nCode racquets, the nSix-One 95, and a Wilson Tour bag. The equipment is used by Fairbanks in her tennis scenes, including during a special tournament episode. Wilson also supplied tennis balls and courtside signage and provided gear such as caps, visors, and shirts for the extras seated in the crowd. “We were excited to participate with ‘The L Word’ and provide them with Wilson equipment,” says Jon Muir, Wilson’s director of U.S. sales and marketing. For more on Wilson, visit www.wilsonsports.com or call 773-714-6400.

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New Prince Frames Rank Highly in Sales Data
ccording to data by the Tennis Industry Association/Sports Marketing Surveys, Prince’s O3 Red and O3 Silver racquets ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, in year-to-date dollar share and unit share for 2005. In addition, the O3 Tour and O3 Blue were in the No. 6 and 9 spots, according to the survey. Of the 270-plus racquets included in the survey, the industry report ranks Prince’s O3 Red and O3 Silver as the No. 3 and No. 4 best-selling racquets overall in the pro/specialty market in terms of year-end dollars. Prince’s total racquet line accounted for 21.6 percent of all racquet dollar sales for the year, according to the TIA/SMS report. Prince's O3 racquets accounted for more than a 10 percent share in the fourth quarter. Prince ranked No. 1 in price point dollar sales in the premium racquet segment (racquets retailing for over $200), with a 42 percent share.

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PTR Launches “Scholarship Scout”
he PTR has launched a service on its website that provides information about college scholarships. Called “Scholarship Scout,” the free service will assist PTR members who are trying to help their students find spots on a college tennis team that offers partial or full tuition scholarships. In addition, college coaches, who regularly contact the PTR looking for players, can now recruit players for their teams by posting openings on Scholarship Scout. “We are excited to introduce this new PTR member benefit to help this nation’s dedicated and hard-working high school and college coaches,” says PTR Executive Director Dan Santorum. Scholarship Scout is posted on the PTR’s website with the NetWorks Jobs Bulletin. Visit www.ptrtennis.org for more information.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

Head District Sales Managers Honored
om Kelley (right), who manages Southern California, was named Head/Penn’s District Sales Manager of the Year for 2005. The company lauded Kelley for going “above and beyond every goal” he had. Also, the company honored Steve Rothstein (far right) as Head/Penn Rookie of the Year. Rothstein is the Midwest District sales manager.

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PBI Presents Awards at Annual Meeting
eter Burwash International (www.pbitennis.com) recently celebrated its 30th anniversary at the company’s annual meeting at the Marriott Rancho Las Palmas Resort & Spa in Rancho Mirage, Calif. In addition to a week of intensive educational activities, both on and off the court, awards were presented, including a “Professional of the Decade, awarded every 10 years. The recipient this time was Rob Smith, the tennis director at The Aberdeen Marina Club in Hong Kong. Other awards were: Q Professional of the Year: Rene Zondag, tennis director at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel in Dubai, United Arab Emirates Q Most Improved Professional: Chris Palmer, tennis director at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center in Stone Mountain, Ga. Q Rookie of the Year: Nathan Jeffery, head pro at The American Club in Hong Kong Q Friend of the Year: Bob Small, formerly v.p. of Marriott Resorts for the West Coast, executive v.p. of Disney Resorts, and retired president and CEO of Fairmont Hotels Q Site of the Year: Caneel Bay, St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

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• Patrick Rafter, Gabriela Sabatini, and Gianni Clerici will be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on July 15 in Newport, R.I.

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Sharapova Switches to Prince 03 White
Maria Sharapova switched to the new Prince O3 White racquet at the Australian Open in January. “It is much faster through the air and allows me to generate more spin and power without losing control,” Sharapova says. “It is a really stable racquet and I feel like I can go for every shot and hit more winners.” Visit www.princetennis.com or call 800283-6647.

• Southern California-based tennis apparel manufacturer Bälle de Mätch has hired Andrew Webb to manage sales in Northern California. For more info on Bälle de Mätch, visit www.balledematch.com. • Amelie Mauresmo donated the autographed Dunlop M-Fil 300
racquet that she used in her winning run to the Australian Open Championship to be auctioned for charity. All proceeds raised through the winning bid will be split among four Sony Ericsson WTA Tour affiliated charities: Habitat for Humanity, First Serve, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and Tennis Against Breast Cancer.

• Phillip Cello is the new director of player development for the
USTA’s Southern Section.

• Susan M Schepici is the new Annual Fund director
for the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Prince Updates Shoe Line With New Scream 2
rince Sports has updated the Scream tennis shoe and now introduces the Scream 2, the latest addition to the QT Series. The new shoe has an advanced performance cushioning system and a new low breathable upper, says the company. The Goodyear Max outsole comes with a six-month wear guarantee. “The Scream 2 was created with a breathable upper and limited molded pieces to keep the weight down to provide maximum fit and comfort,” says Gary Wakley, senior director of footwear and apparel at Prince. “The Scream 2 offers the best in a lighter weight, high-performance shoe, allowing the player to be quick and agile on any surface. Players who liked the original Scream will love the fit, functionality, and technology of the Scream 2.” “Tennis Industry Association research confirms that Prince is creating shoes that make the sport more enjoyable and help propel us in the marketplace,” says Doug Fonte, president of Prince Sports USA. “Our engineers and designers are constantly working to improve the game of tennis for players of all levels.” Three Prince shoes ranked in the top 10 in 2005 year-end dollar share research: the T10, Scream Low, and Fast Court. The Scream 2 offers a low-cut for both men and women and is available in white with light gray accents for women and white with navy or white with red and black accents for men. Suggested retail price is $85. Visit www.princesports.com.

Ashaway Introduces 2 Badminton Strings
shaway Racket Strings has announced two new strings for badminton players, PowerGut 65 and PowerGut 66. Both utilize Ashaway's patented Power Filament Technology, or PFT, to create a unique filament surface layer that reduces string movement and increases durability, says the company. Combined with Ashaway's microfilament core, PowerGut 65 and 66 are each optimized to enhance playability and control at all string tensions. They are available in 10 m sets and 200 m reels, and in power green and power orange as well as exciting new neon orange and neon green colors. For more information, visit www.ashawayusa.com or call 800-556-7260.

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Conybear Wins Wilson Award

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oel Conybear the Wilson Racquet Sports territory manager for eastern New York and Long Island, won the company’s 2005 Jack Kramer Award, which recognizes the territory manager who has exhibited sales excellence and the core values of Wilson in the areas of grassroots and brand impact. “Joel has been a driving force behind Wilson’s eastern New York sales and brand efforts for the past decade,” says Jon Muir, Wilson’s director of sales and marketing. Conybear is a resident of Cold Spring, N.Y.

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INDUSTRY NEWS

SHORT SETS
> USTA members can buy US Open tickets before anyone else through a special
offer available from April 22 to 28. A limited number of promenade seats for every session will be available during this offer on a first-come, first-served basis. To order, have your credit card and USTA membership number ready and call Ticketmaster at 866-OPENTIX, or visit www.usta.com. show “On > The cable TV an award ofCourt with USPTA” received distinction in The Communicator Awards 2005 Video Competition. The award-winning episode, “Rip Your Return …,” aired on The Tennis Channel and won in the category of Instructional Videos for Sale. “On Court” is a 30-minute instructional show featuring USPTA-certified pros. The winning episode featured pro Stan Oley. Episodes are available for purchase at www.uspta.com. Racquet on as > Wilsonsponsor ofSports signed of the the title “The Battle Paddles,” a premier platform event held in January in Cincinnati that brought together the top players of both paddle and platform tennis. Stanford beat Texas 4-0 in the final at the USTA -Intercollegiate Tennis Association National Women's Team Indoor Championships at the University of Wisconsin's A.C. Nielsen Tennis Stadium, held in early February. Prince was the official ball of the 2006 SAP Open, which was played Feb. 13 to 19 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, Calif. The International Tennis Hall of Fame has announced an open call for nominations for the induction Class of 2007. The International Tennis Hall of Fame recognizes and honors both athletes and contributors connected to the sport of tennis. Printable nomination forms, which must be received on or before April 1, are available at www.tennisfame.com. the official ball of several > Penn isthis winter and spring: thetournaments Delray Beach ITC, Pacific Life Open, Nasdaq-100 Open, Bausch & Lomb Championships and the Family Circle Cup.

New Tour Team Bag Line from Head
Head’s new Tour Team Bag Line, which offers MP3 holders, climate control technology, and new colors, is “the ultimate in function,” says the company. Pieces are

available in backpack, combi, supercombi, tennis, and travel styles. Visit www.head.com.

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> >

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Tennis Industry Association
CARDIO TENNIS PASSES 1,000 OFFICIAL SITES

U P D AT E

More than 70 drills and new videos are on www.Partners.CardioTennis.com, along with consumer research glowing with positive reports about Cardio. The 2006 Workshop schedule is being finalized, and marketing and media samples are available to Cardio sites and pros. Web-linked logos, email blasts, and more are available to sites at no charge. TIA Staff and Cardio Tennis Speakers Teams have presented 25 workshops to nearly 700 tennis teachers. The four-hour training sessions include seminars and on-court demonstrations and approaches. More workshops are scheduled for the remainder of 2005, including Michigan in November and Fort Lauderdale in December.

Gamma Offers Private Logo Program
amma launched its Private Logo Program in February, offering a variety of products that clubs, schools, resorts, facilities, and shops can customize with their own logos. Products include men’s and women’s apparel, hats, court towels, wristbands and headbands, balls, windscreens, and more. The company says the Private Logo Program is ideal for clubs and resorts that want to provide their members and guests with a unique experience and personalized products. It is also available to service team apparel and accessory needs of colleges and universities. “In the past, we sourced private logo gear ourselves from various vendors, but found recently that by consolidating this effort through Gamma, we were able to get better quality merchandise while saving time and money,” says Stephen Petersen, the director of Professional Tennis Management at Methodist College. “Our students and graduates have been impressed by the quality Gamma delivers.” “We know the value of our customers’ time,” says Gamma President Matt Ferrari. “The new Private Logo Program provides our customers with an easy, cost-efficient way to personalize products for their club, school, event, or resort.” For more information, call 800-3330337 or email tsr@gammasports.com, or visit www.GammaSports.com.

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TENNIS WELCOME CENTERS RECEIVE RENEWED COMMITMENTS
For 2006, the industry has committed to more racquet and apparel hang tags, ball can logos, ads, and tournament promos. Also, up to $200,000 in Co-op funds is earmarked for TWCs, and targeted newspaper ads will highlight certain markets. The new Tennis Service Representatives will help support registered TWCs.

TENNISCONNECT.ORG TRAFFIC INCREASES TENFOLD
TennisConnect.org increased monthly traffic from 8,000 hits in January 2005 to 80,000 this last January. Pros and members say they’re attracted to the player-match engine, court scheduler, online registration, program calendar and more.

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master pros

Continuing Education
Joe Dinoffer thinks outside the box in creating teaching tools BY KRISTEN DALEY for the tennis court.
f I had an impact in the last dozen years in the tennis industry, it would be in challenging conventional methods of teaching to help pros, coaches. and students alike to teach and learn more effectively, while having more fun.” In PTR/USPTA Master Professional Joe Dinoffer’s own words, that is what he has dedicated his This is the fourth of six installments time, energy, on the teaching pros who hold Master Pro certifications from both the PTR and the USPTA. and passion to. And the product is something to be proud of. His company, Oncourt Offcourt, serves the tennis industry with teaching aids and court equipment, in addition to providing books, videos, and teaching aids for physical education. Involved with the sport since his youth and through college, Dinoffer, 52, was senior vice president of Peter Burwash International for 10 years starting in 1975. He traveled to 50 countries, conducting clinics and playing exhibitions. In 1987, Dinoffer settled in his hometown of Dallas, where he taught tennis for 10 years. His experiences planted the seed for the launch of Oncourt Offcourt (www.oncourtoffcourt.com). “It was a very creative 10 years,” he says, “full of on-court clinical studies and research into how people learn and how to facilitate and speed up the learning process, while emotionally and psychologically creating an environment optimal for learning.” Dinoffer has created 150 teaching aids, the very first known as “The Rope Zone,” a visualization tool used to create on-court tar-

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get areas. “People should create highly visual target areas that players can successfully hit more often than not,” he says. Relying on his experience and expertise, Dinoffer has added court equipment to the Oncourt Offcourt catalog. “When you teach tennis for 30 years, you learn what equipment would be helpful and what equipment can be improved upon that already exists,” he says. The list of Dinoffer’s contributions to the sport seems endless, and includes numerous books and videotapes, in addition to at least 20 speaking appearances a year at industry conferences internationally in English, Spanish, and German. “He is well respected not only in this country, but all over the world,” says Iñaki Balzola, PTR International Director. (Dinoffer also is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.) One very special endeavor keeps him on the court at least 15 hours a week—teaching his 12-year-old daughter Kalindi the sport he has dedicated his life to. “Kalindi is as crazy about tennis as anyone I’ve ever met in my life,” says Dinoffer. The start of Kalindi’s tennis career at 10 years old is chronicled on the 10-episode television series “Fast Lane Tennis,” which has aired on The Tennis Channel and is available on DVD. “She learns exclusively through the use of visual and kinesthetic training aids,” Dinoffer explains. “We use very little verbal learning instruction.” Dinoffer says that he is most passionate about learning and sharing knowledge. “All of us in the industry can continue to improve how we share our love for tennis,” he says. According to Fred Viancos, USPTA director of professional development, there are certain training aids that, if not carried by Oncourt Offcourt, would not be available on

the market today. “Joe has made a huge contribution to the day-to-day teaching of other professionals,” Viancos says. “Retention is the big challenge that the industry faces,” says Dinoffer. “If the teaching pros and coaches can create an atmosphere that will build self-esteem while it improves skills and allows people to have so much fun that they never stop smiling while they’re playing, we will all come out winners. “I think my motivation is to contribute toward that goal.” Q

Making It Fun—And Educational
Here are Joe Dinoffer’s picks as some of the top training and target aids from his company, Oncourt Offcourt: Q Spin Doctor ($29.95): Helps teach topspin and backspin for ground strokes, and spin serves. Q Volley Arrow ($59.95): Foam arrow visually teaches how the racquet angle at contact creates the arc and direction of the ball. Works for forehands and backhands. Q Flex Trainer ($59.95): Helps players of all ages and abilities improve their balance and movement skills, by pulling players into a lower “playing height.” Q Sport Ladder ($79.95): The rounded-top rungs guide athletes to pick up their feet for ideal movement biometrics. Q Airzone ($99.95): A portable air target system that creates primary target areas for improved focus. Q Stoplight Cones ($29.95): Offer hundreds of running and targeting drill and game opportunities. Q Long Lines ($24.95): Guides players to correct court position. They can also be used to create target areas and guide players close in to the net in doubles.

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Expanding Horiz
Y
ou’ve heard the grousing from your members about waiting too long for court time, and the pleas from your pros for more flexibility in scheduling. It’s getting more difficult to accommodate all the different programming needs for your facility. And after much consideration and examining your available space—not to mention your available cash flow—you’ve decided to add another court or two. So what’s next? Well, there are still a lot of questions to be answered and decisions to be made. A tennis court is a complex facility that should be built by an expert who has taken into consideration the needs of the owner, his or her budget, all aspects of the site, legal and zoning issues, and a host of other things. There is indeed a lot to think about, and chances are you’ll need some help to guide you along. So consider this your help manual. cation with the court owner,” says David Marsden of Boston Tennis Court Construction Co. of Hanover, Mass.

For our annual guide, we went right to the source fo Builders Association, for advice on adding courts, fix
Give It Space
“As a court builder, the first qualifying question I ask is, ‘Do you have enough space?’” says Marsden. Space has to be the first consideration. A surprising number of club owners or managers have little or no idea of the actual measurements of a tennis court, or of how much space it takes up. A regulation tennis court is 60 feet wide by 120 feet long. The actual playing area of a doubles court is 36 feet by 78 feet, but additional space is needed once fencing, lighting, seating, and any other structures are taken into consideration. But Marsden says there’s more to take into consideration than just basic measurements. “The fence line for one tennis court is 60 feet by 120 feet, two courts 108 by 120 feet, and three courts 156 by 120 feet, adding 48 feet for each additional court in a battery within the same fence,” Marsden says. “A critical point, however, is that the 120-foot dimension should be on a north-south axis, or as close as possible,” he adds. “This minimizes the sun's impact on play.” Another consideration is space beyond the fence line for slopes and drainage. “This is less critical in an area that is flat and has naturally draining soils,” notes Marsden. “But in a hilly area or on a site that needs underground drainage, more space will be required to perform the perimeter work outside the fence.” Space can vary, however, say some builders. “If you don’t have quite enough space, the court can be built at 55 feet by 110 feet and still be usable,” says John Welborn of Lee Tennis in Charlottesville, Va. Still, say contractors, there are other factors to take into consideration. “Even a single tennis court takes up a bigger footprint than many imagine, 7200 square feet within the fence line as well as a perimeter for drainage, sloping, landscaping, etc., which means a quarter-acre or more in most cases,” says Marsden. Another thing to keep in mind is that installing a tennis court is, in fact, a construction project and is subject to zoning restrictions. Your contractor and your attorney should be able to check with local permitting authorities and make all necessary applications. Make sure you’ve done all research.

Find the Right Partner
The best way to start is by going straight to the source. The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA), the trade organization for athletic facility design and construction, recommends that you locate an experienced industry professional. But don’t just open the phone book and start hunting around under “contractors”; there are all kinds of contractors, with all kinds of specialties. Instead, look under “tennis court builders.” Seek out individuals and companies with sports facility construction experience. Remember, you’re looking for someone who has actual experience with the construction of tennis courts—not just someone who says he can put one in. Do a quick check of athletic facilities in your local area. Talk to other club managers and owners, to school athletic directors and to directors of recreation at nearby municipalities that have recently put in courts. No matter whom you talk to, have a list of questions ready. Who was the contractor? Was it someone they’d recommend? What were the design and construction processes like? Were there any unpleasant surprises? Hidden charges? Unexpected delays? Are they satisfied with the result? Has the contractor been responsive to questions since the project’s completion, or has he been willing to help address any problems that might have cropped up? “My suggestion is to find a court contractor that has good references and a proven track record, is agreeable to build a facility that fits your needs rather than his, and is a trustworthy contractor that keeps open lines of communi-

Who Wants What, Where?
Even if you’ve determined that you have the space, you still need to decide if it’s the right kind of space, and in the right

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zons

or court construction, the American Sports xing cracks, and keeping courts clean.
place. For example, consider the desired player population. Is this a court for beginners? If so, you might want it set off from the courts where your more hardcore members practice and play. Why? For one thing, beginners are self-conscious. They feel awkward practicing their serve and chasing balls across the court in the presence of others. For another, they often can’t control their shots well enough to keep them out of the next court. Having a designated “teaching court” with higher fencing and heavy windscreen will spare your beginners from some embarrassment, your longtime players from some aggravation, and will mean that you won’t have to hear complaints—from both sides. Or maybe you’ve decided that you want the opposite—a court that would be perfect for tournaments, with benches for seating, plenty of places for spectators and room for things like scoreboards, umpires’ chairs, and so forth. Or perhaps you were thinking of a facility to entice your older doubles players, who like to socialize after play. They might want a court with plenty of shaded spaces outside the fence line for tables and chairs. Maybe you just want to add a few more courts to your existing bank, so that you can expand your programming and allow for more court time. Talk to your contractor about your needs, your player population, and your available space. Listen carefully to the recommendations and work together to come to the right conclusion for your facility and your players.

BY MARY HELEN SPRECHER

According to the ASBA’s Buyer’s Guide for Tennis Court Construction, the owner needs to answer some important questions: Q How much can you afford to spend? Developing a budget may be the most difficult step in the construction process. You may have to make some concessions, but in order to make informed choices, you should know what is important to you. Q Do you need a completed facility now, or can you wait a while for landscaping, court amenities and other finishing touches? Q Do you want a first-class facility regardless of cost, or is cost a limiting factor? Q Are you absolutely certain about a given surface, or type of fencing, or specific site? Or are you willing to consider substitutions? Once you see the number of options available in today’s tennis court market, it may be easy to spend far more than you had in mind. Working within a budget involves considering various alternatives and making choices, but choices don't have to mean compromising the end result. Knowledge of which factors are most important to the court you are planning and a desire to seek creative solutions can bring the project in at a reasonable cost.

Surface Considerations
Many factors will affect the cost of your court, including the choice of surface. Different surfaces have different maintenance considerations, and all of these have the potential to impact both the short-term cost (and the cost of installation and materials alone) and the long-term cost (which includes regular maintenance and repairs needed over the duration of the tennis facility’s lifespan).

Can You Afford It?
Once you’ve established the type of facility you want and its location, and once all necessary paperwork is in order, it’s time to create a budget. You may already know how much you have to spend, but you may not be aware of the whole picture.

Tennis Facility at Roxiticus Golf Club

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(Previous articles by the ASBA that have appeared in RSI have dealt with surface selection and maintenance, and more detailed information is available on the ASBA website, www.sportsbuilders.org, as well as in its publications. Those interested in specific detailed information on court surfaces should consider purchasing the ASBA’s book, Tennis Courts: A Construction and Maintenance Manual.) Briefly, tennis players generally group courts into two categories: hard and soft. A hard court is one made of asphalt or concrete, usually covered with an acrylic coating. The coating protects the court from the elements, enhances its appearance, and affects the playing characteristics of the court. Properly installed, hard courts are generally considered to be durable and to require relatively little maintenance. Cushioned hard courts are those courts onto which a resilient layer (or layers) of cushioning material have been applied over the asphalt or concrete. These courts, while reducing impact to joints from running, are more expensive to install (and also to repair) than their uncushioned counterparts. Soft courts, including clay, fast-dry, grass, and sand-filled synthetic turf, find favor among players who like the fact that they cause less of an impact on feet, backs, and legs. They generally provide a cool, glare-free surface. In some areas, fast-dry, clay, and grass courts are less expensive to construct than hard courts, but they require regular care and, for clay and fast-dry courts, annual repair and/or resurfacing. Soft courts are easier to damage, but also easier to repair.

Lighting and Fencing
As club owners know, the two most popular times for nine-to-fivers to work out are in the evening and early in the morning, so good lighting during these darkened periods is essential. A good tennis court contractor who has a working relationship with a particular lighting company should be able to work with you to address any lighting issues, and to suggest the option that best meets your needs. If, for example, the addition to your tennis facilities means that the court is closer to a residential area, your lighting company and contractor can help to head off potential problems, such as those relating to “light trespass” or “light spill”—terms that describe an excess of light that distracts others. “Over the last five years, concerns about the impact of lighting systems on residential areas have increased dramatically,” says Bruce Frasure of LSI Industries, a Cincinnati-based company that manufactures lighting for tennis courts. “To avoid any problems, we encourage potential court owners and their contractors to thoroughly investigate their local lighting ordinances before construction.” The height of fencing surrounding courts is a decision best left up to the owner and pro. But there are several factors you need to consider, including the court surface (the harder the surface, the higher the ball has the potential to bounce), the chance that loose balls will bother or endanger those nearby, the players’ skill levels, and ultimately, the owner’s preference. Another important consideration is whether, and which, amenities and accessories will be needed on the new court. If it’s a soft court, you’ll want equipment like drag brooms, which can be used between games. Hard court? Squeegees will help remove water after a rainstorm. Is it a competition court? Don’t forget a scoreboard and officials’ chairs. Creature comforts might include benches, shade shelters, shoe cleaners, water fountains, and of course, power outlets for soft drink or food vending machines or ball machines.

Site Preparation
The site of the proposed court also has a great deal to do with the final cost. “The biggest variable is the site work [excavation] that is required to prepare and stabilize the ground to receive a tennis court,” says Marsden. “The second biggest variable is the optional items that a court buyer chooses, such as lighting, extent and type of fence enclosure, actual playing surface [cushioned acrylic vs. uncushioned, fast-dry vs. natural clay, sand-filled turf], above-surface vs. sub-surface irrigation, amenities such as shade shelters, ball machines, water coolers, or windscreen,” he adds. “These items can add up quickly, so owners need to define both their wishlist and budget.”

How Long Will It Take?
There isn’t really a hard-and-fast rule on how long it takes to build courts, particularly since construction is weather-dependent. According to Marsden, the total construction time of the facility will vary depending upon the time of year, the surface being built, and, the biggest variable, the site work required. Also affecting construction time is the number of courts and their layout, the weather, and the performance of subcontractors. Typically, a single court or a battery of courts within a common fence will take six to 10 weeks under reasonable circumstances. If a facility breaks up into a series of one or multiple-court batteries, it can take longer. A more complex facility, such as one that requires installation of water and electrical lines, benches or bleachers, sitting areas and other amenities—not to mention one that has its own separate lighting system—might require additional time. To be on the safe side, hold off on those “grand opening” celebrations or that special tournament until your contractor gives you the all-clear sign. Q
The American Sports Builders Association (ASBA) is a non-profit association helping designers, builders, owners, operators, and users understand quality sports facility construction. The ASBA sponsors informative meetings and publishes newsletters, books and technical construction guidelines for athletic facilities including tennis courts. Available at no charge is a listing of all publications offered by the association, as well as the ASBA’s Membership Directory. For information, call 866-501-ASBA (2722) or visit www.sportsbuilders.org.

Ottawa Township HIgh School, Ottawa, IL

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Fix the Cracks
dmit it. Those cracks in your tennis court are getting completely out of hand. So what’s the best course of action? Quite simply, it depends on the reasons for the cracking, and the type of cracking. According to Tennis Courts: A Construction and Maintenance Manual, published by the USTA and the American Sports Builders Association,

Taking care of cracked courts depends on why they cracked in the first place.

BY MARY HELEN SPRECHER

Most tennis court contractors do a fair amount of simple crack-filling, and as a result, are experienced in proper technique. If you elect to do the filling yourself, be sure to use a product recommended specifically for tennis courts; an unsuitable compound may not bond correctly or harden completely, or may soften in the summer heat, allowing players to track it all over the court. The book Tennis Courts: A Construction and Maintenance Manual describes the proper appliCracking of asphalt is caused, at least in part, by the naturcation of tennis court crack filler. al tendency of asphalt to shrink as it weathers and ages. In addiA newer method that may be used by tennis court contion, asphalt loses its flexibility over time, making it more brittle. tractors includes a special fabric that bridges the crack, prePremature or extensive cracking may be caused by poor venting it from coming back in the same location, though the asphalt mix design, by poor site conditions including expansive crack may recur at the boundary of the fabric or extend soils or excessive organic matter in soils resulting in sub-base beyond the original repair. movement, or by poor construction including inadequate “Crack filling is typically performed by cleaning the affectdrainage. Because asphalt is a material that shrinks and becomes ed areas, grinding or sanding all heaving seams, and applicamore brittle as it ages, almost all courts made of asphalt will tion with crack squeegees, caulking guns, or steel trowels, suffer from some type of cracking—either major or minor—at depending on which material is used,” says Franz Fasold of one time or another. Additionally, a court may show more Ace Surfaces-North America of Altamonte Springs, Fla. “After curing, the areas are sanded again to than one type of cracking. A tennis court contractor is the best judge of the type of The ASBA identifies various blend them with the surrounding court levcrack, the seriousness, and the cause. Once types of cracking, including: els. These methods are appropriate when those factors have been identified, a treat- Q Alligatoring: A readily identified pattern no further movement, or only limited ment can be recommended. movement, is expected. These methods of interconnected cracks that vary from “There are a lot of alternatives that can are limited by the extent of the base movea faint surface pattern to full depth be considered, if appropriate,” says David cracks and loose particles of the surfac- ments, especially if vertical shifts can be expected.” Marsden of Boston Tennis Court Construcing material. Q Raveling or Spalling: The progressive tion Co. of Hanover, Mass. loss of material in the surface of the Treatments can be simple—requiring asphalt or concrete slab, usually caused If the court has proper slope and drainage, only an afternoon’s work—or they may be by weathering or traffic abrasion on extremely complex—involving total reconand if cracking is not the result of serious courts with no surface treatment. struction—or they may fall anywhere in structural problems, the contractor also Q Reflection Cracks: Which occur in between. A qualified court contractor can may recommend resurfacing, defined as asphalt, asphalt emulsion, or surface help you find the solution to your problem. putting a new surface on the court. There overlays, and which reflect a crack patare various ways of doing this. The simtern in the pavement structure underplest is by filling the cracks and then neath. putting a new acrylic coating on top of the Crack repair is—as the term suggests—sim- Q Shrinkage Cracks: A random pattern of court in order to create a smooth, unblemply addressing the problem at hand by fillinterconnected cracks, usually forming irregular angles and sharp corners. ished surface. This option maintains the ing the crack. Contractors find that some cracks, such as those that are simply the Q Structural Cracks: Usually due to failure original type of surface as well as the origof the subbase or improper mix design inal feel and playability of the court. result of freeze-thaw cycles and not of any of the asphalt. When contemplating resurfacing, howserious underlying condition, can be treatQ Upheavals and Depressions: Caused by ever, an owner might want a different ed with a crack-filling compound. (A very movements of the sub-base. type of surface, perhaps something softer deep crack may require a full-depth repair, Q Hair-Line Cracks: Usually prevalent over and with different playing characteristics. and the contractor should evaluate such a large areas, even entire courts, and crack to see if it indicates an underlying In this case, a contractor might recomcaused by a variety of things. problem with the court as a whole). mend that once all cracks have been filled

A

Resurfacing

Crack Repair

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and the court recoated, a new surface be installed over the existing court. One popular option is a system of sand-filled turf. This is a system composed of a densely-woven carpet filled with compacted silica sand. A court owner may see this as a reasonable solution, particularly if the site is not easily reachable by heavy construction equipment, or if the owner would like to see the project completed with a minimum of disruption to adjacent courts or facilities. A similar option is to cover the court with interlocking modular tiles. Fred Jones of Utica, N.Y.-based Mateflex says that modular surfaces, produced with a raised-grid design, “allow for installation over imperfect bases, while also allowing rainwater to pass directly through the system and drain off underneath.” The resulting surface is softer than a traditional hard court, but is easy to take care of, requiring only occasional cleaning and allowing for easy repair and replacement, should tiles be damaged. Of course, new surfaces are only as good as the underlying base. Jones notes that resurfacing with one of these systems may not eliminate the need to repair base problems, depending on their severity. Problems such as birdbaths, or depressions in the court, for example, must be addressed prior to putting down tiles, since the tiles will bridge the court’s low spots, affecting ball bounce in those areas. There are other options for resurfacing. These might include urethane rubber roll goods which can be covered with an acrylic surface, as well as various other products. A tennis court contractor can explain the playing characteristics (slide, bounce, speed, etc.) of each surface and help the owner reach an informed decision, should the resurfacing route be taken.

absorbs any movement from the old, cracked court below before it reflects up to the new surface.” The slip sheet is used to separate existing asphalt pavement from newly installed pavement to prevent cracks from recurring. Once the slip-sheet overlay is securely in place, it can be covered either with new asphalt (which is then covered with acrylic coating), or with concrete. It is important to note, however, that this method will raise the elevation of the court. In a post-tensioned concrete overlay, an entirely new concrete slab is installed over the problem court. Because the concrete is reinforced and strengthened with high-tension steel cables, the concrete has higher tensile strength than conventional concrete slabs or asphalt, and may be more resistant to most conditions that may have caused the underlying court to crack in the first place. According to Steve Wright of Trans Texas Tennis Inc. of Olathe, Kan., “It is an ideal system for overlaying asphalt and concrete courts that have structural cracks, poor drainage, or improper slope.” The post-tensioned overlay system eliminates the need to remove the existing pavement, which saves in demolition, hauling, and disposal costs. The method is appropriate in certain circumstances, but will not work for every situation, such as in situations where access for large construction equipment (bulldozers, dump trucks, etc.) is an obstacle, or where underlying soil conditions are questionable because of the presence of fault lines or excessive heaving or settlement. In addition, it is relatively expensive.

Reconstruction
If a court shows signs of severe heaving or depressions, with major amounts of cracking and/or improper slope and drainage, a contractor may recommend a total court reconstruction. According to Marsden, methods include excavation followed by reconstruction of the court, and pulverization followed by reconstruction. In the first option, excavation, the old court material is removed and disposed of before putting down new material. In the second option, the asphalt is pulverized with special equipment and then used to form a new base.

Overlays
Often, a court can have severe reflection cracking (indicative of underlying problems), but still have appropriate slope and drainage. In these cases, contractors often suggest that repair be made using an overlay, or slip-sheet overlay. According to Marsden, a slip-sheet overlay is “a thin layer of stone or stone dust placed directly over an old court surface prior to a new asphalt surface being laid. The stone acts as a slip sheet and

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“There are cost differences in excavation versus pulverizing,” Marsden notes, “and the comparative cost of either method will be determined by the size and location of the project. With a smaller project—one or two courts—it is usually cheaper to excavate unless the haul to the asphalt disposal site is long and costly. In the case of three or more courts, it is usually cheaper to pulverize. The reason is the high overhead cost of the pulverizing equipment. It isn't much more money to pulverize six courts than one court. The daily cost of the equipment is not proportional to the area pulverized. But many factors need to be considered before choosing one method over another.” In replacing an asphalt surface, a contractor may recommend the installation of control joints to help delay or deter cracking. By saw-cutting the asphalt under the net and between courts in a multi-court project, the contractor can actually take advantage of the asphalt’s natural tendency to move and shrink according to temperature. The cuts are then filled with a special type of sealant prior to the court being coated with acrylic color. Relief of stress in those areas makes the court less likely to crack elsewhere over its surface.

also ascertain that court owners know that although the soft court will not suffer the same type of cracking problems, it will have specific maintenance needs that should be taken into consideration.

In conclusion…
Doing battle with cracking courts means arming yourself with information about your options. A lot of factors come into play, some on the part of the contractor, some on the part of the court and its owner. “Indicators for successful reconstruction methods are a combination of factors,” says Fasold, “including a history of similar projects, the history of the court builder, use of design and engineering experts who are familiar with sports facility specifics and use of local experts.” Most important, he notes, is the ability of the contractor to “put the search for a successful solution over the opportunity for a quick sale.” Factors relating to the court include the site, the location, the budget, the wishes of the owner, the needs of the players, and more. Knowing your parameters when you meet with your court contractor will make it easier to arrive at the right decision for you and your facility. In terms of crack repair, there are a lot of options and very few absolutes. What works in one installation may not work in another that is a mile—or even a block—away. Cracking may be minor but irritating, or it may be severe enough to cause injury to an unsuspecting player. It may be merely an aesthetic concern or it can signify underlying instability in the court. The only common denominator is the qualified tennis court contractor who can help diagnose the problem and assist the owner or manager in finding the best long-term solution. It is important to note that more often than not, cracks can be expected to recur unless the underlying cause of the cracking is repaired or the most extensive (and expensive) repair methods are employed. “In the end,” says Fasold, “it is our belief that the court will only be as good as the base it is applied on. It is important to put great emphasis in the decision-making process of how to correct the issues at hand up front.” Q
March 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

Court Conversion
Some court owners may decide to explore the option of converting their hard court to one with a fast-dry surface. Since this is technically something that can be done following excavation, it is a form of reconstruction; however, it is more complex, involving the installation of an entirely new type of court, and the possibility of installing ancillary equipment, such as an irrigation system. A court contractor can make recommendations concerning the best method of conversion, but those interested can always learn about the process by checking the ASBA’s Construction Guideline on Conversion of Hard Surface Courts to Fast Dry Tennis Courts. The Guideline provides four different methods of surface replacement including two overlay methods as well as pulverization and excavation; a qualified court contractor can assess the situation and make a recommendation regarding the best choice for a given facility. The contractor should

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Keep It Clean
ousekeeping, cleaning, maintenance—no matter what you call it, the regular process of keeping up a court in order to maintain its appearance and playability is a lot less appealing than playing on it. Still, like changing the oil in your car or replacing the filter in your furnace, it has to be done, and it’s part of the responsibility of being a court owner or manager. According to the American Sports Builders Association, developing and implementing a regular schedule of maintenance is the most important thing you can do to maximize the useful life of any court. Keeping a court clean, preventing misuse and abuse, and repairing minor damage before it worsens is cost-effective, too. Still grimacing? Maybe what you need is a primer to help you through the task.

No matter what type of courts you have, regular maintenance is a must.

BY MARY HELEN SPRECHER

H

Essentially, equipment for cleaning hard courts includes foam sponge rollers or water-absorbent drums, air blowers, soft-bristle push brooms, wet/dry vacuums, and (if approved by your tennis court contractor) a jet sprayer, also known as a water broom.

Cushioned Courts
Those who have cushioned hard courts—concrete or asphalt courts with a layer of cushioned material to help provide a more forgiving playing surface—also will require regular cleaning, such as sweeping or hosing the surface to remove dust, dirt, and debris. However, such courts are more vulnerable to damage from inappropriate use or footwear. Make your walk-through a time to examine the surface very closely. High heels, street shoes, golf shoes, metal racquets, skate boards, inline skates, bicycles, or heavy loads are all the enemies of this type of surface. If damage is evident, contact your contractor immediately to discuss repair options.

Acrylic Courts
Uncushioned courts (asphalt or concrete with an acrylic color coating), require “little daily maintenance,” says David Marsden of Boston Tennis Court Construction in Hanover, Mass. “Most important, keep the court clear of leaves, sticks and debris.” Walk your courts daily and remove any debris or litter. If courts are near or shaded by trees, make sure any fallen leaves are swept away immediately. Rotting leaves—particularly those that sit in one place too long—cause slippery spots that can be dangerous to players. And if left in place, leaves can stain or degrade the surface. Hose away any debris on the court surface, and if necessary, dry the area with a blower. If there are stains on your court, try removing them by scrubbing with warm water and a soft brush. If the stains remain, call your tennis court contractor and ask for recommendations. Different problems require different treatments. Check the fenceline around the courts as well, advises Marsden. “A regular maintenance regimen should include keeping the low side of the court—both inside the fence and outside—free of any build-up that could impede water drainage,” he says. Examine the surface of the court and the area around your net and fence posts. Do you see cracks? If so, give your contractor a call. Like carpets in a home, tennis courts have “high traffic” areas. These are areas that show wear sooner than others. The baseline of the court, for example, will wear more quickly than the service box. Ditto the entrances to the court. Excessive wear can indicate that it is time to have the court resurfaced, so contact your contractor and ask for an opinion.

Modular Surfaces
Some of the most easily maintained courts are those with modular surfaces (generally, those made of interlocking tiles composed of polypropylene and rubber) that are put into place over a base of asphalt or concrete. Sweep or rinse the tiles to keep them clean. Damaged tiles can be pried up and replaced quickly. The integrity of the court, however, will depend on the planarity of the surface beneath it. If there is a dip in the asphalt or concrete, the tiles will bridge the spot, creating a “dead” area that will affect ball bounce .

Fast-Dry Courts

For those who have soft courts—those made of granular, fastdry material—a regular maintenance schedule can mean a playable, enjoyable court. Randy Futty of Lee Tennis Products in Charlottesville, Va., recommends documenting maintenance work, indicating who did what on what date. Keeping to that schedule helps identify and correct potential problems—preventive maintenance, in other words. Seasonal reconditioning of courts begins with patching and top-dressing (the process of adding new surfacing material to courts). This is necessary because the smaller particles of surfacing material (termed “fines”) will be lost from the court over time through rain, wind, and regular play. Make sure to remove any line tapes that might remain on the court. Any depressions in the court should be repaired prior to top-dressing. Remove and discard any old surfacing material

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that has become loose and dry, or “dead.” In top-dressing, 1-1/2 to 4 tons of material should be used for a single court. “On a daily basis during the playing season, you have to brush, water, and roll the courts regularly,” Marsden says. “Probably biweekly or monthly, you’ll need to inspect line tapes to make sure they’re not lifting in any areas. Check the court for low areas.” A fast-dry court requires line sweepers and drag brooms that can be used following each match. Rollers (for compacting the material) also are required. Subsurface watering systems, which keep the court moist from underground, will save water, and can be set on automated timers.

Synthetic Turf
If your courts are of the sand-filled synthetic turf variety, you’ll be relieved to know there’s very little maintenance. Cleaning the surface of debris, such as leaves, sticks, etc. goes a long way toward keeping a turf court free of stains. In your regular walk-throughs, always keep an eye out for standing water. Wet turf can be as slippery as ice, particularly if algae is present. If the court isn’t level, or if it isn’t draining properly, consult your contractor. Algae is easily dispatched using salt; simply water the area in question and spread salt over it. Within a few days, the algae will turn a telltale dark brown color, indicating it is dead. A mild bleach solution (one gallon of water to one cup of bleach) will work as well. Be certain to remove the killed algae with a soft brush and a good scrub or it will provide a medium for new growth. Over time, the coarser particles of sand will migrate to the top of the turf, making it slippery. When that happens, the lost sand needs to be replaced, and the court groomed to bring it back to playing condition. ASBA recommends that the fibers of the turf that are exposed above the sand be between 1/16 and 1/8 of an inch (2 mm to 3 mm).

Other Equipment
The net is an often-overlooked piece of equipment in terms of maintenance. Check it regularly for holes, tears and frayed areas, and make repairs as necessary. (New cables and headbands are available.)

Nets also suffer from abuse, often from players overtightening them. If courts are in an area where players cannot be supervised, consider using a net with an internal wind mechanism, which allows your pro to set the net to the correct tension, and then remove the handle. Windscreens are meant to help moderate wind and provide a background to see the ball. Keep windscreens in good shape by hosing them down and repairing any tears immediately. If your court is in an area known for heavy winds, secure the windscreens to the fence with polypropylene tie wraps, rather than lacing. The wraps will break away cleanly in a heavy wind, protecting the fence. If extreme winds are predicted, windscreens should be taken down since they will catch the wind like a sail and may bend the fence. Lighting is an item that shouldn’t be overlooked either. Measure the light levels in your facility every six months or so, using a light meter. Take readings of the horizontal and vertical illumination 36 inches above the court surface, holding the light meter with the photo-sensitive cell facing upward and toward the baseline. Cleaning fixtures regularly will help extend the lamp life, and will make the lights look brighter. The jury’s still out on whether lights should be kept on constantly, or set on a switch that players can activate. On one hand, frequently switching the lights on and off decreases lamp life in highintensity discharge (HID) fixtures; on the other, constant burning will drive up energy costs. According to Tennis Courts: A Construction and Maintenance Manual, “As a compromise, if the lights are turned off any time the court will not be in use for two hours or more, the savings in electricity will generally offset any reduced lamp life.” Listen to your players’ comments. If you hear someone say that a court feels slippery, that a net is damaged or that a light is out, don’t wait for another member to second that motion. Get out there and investigate immediately. In all cases, the upkeep of your players’ happiness and well-being is the most important job on your maintenance schedule—no matter what kind of surface you have. Q

Tennis Facility at Roxiticus Golf Club
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Class Acts
O

Schools and colleges dominate these hard-court award winners.
f the eight outdoor hard-court winners of the Racquet Sports Industry/American Sports Builders Association 2005 Facility-of-theYear Awards, seven of them are at colleges or other schools. That may speak to the belief, particularly current nowadays, that tennis courts at educational institutions are for more than just students; the courts attract players from the surrounding communities. Indeed, one of the winners here, the Ottawa (Ill.) Township High School, with its eight new courts, reports that since the new facility was built, the courts are constantly busy—both with students and community members. As possible further support for schools and colleges as centers for community tennis is the fact that seven of these winners listed their projects as “new” construction. However, the eighth, the Vanderbilt University outdoor complex in Nashville, Tenn., while technically an “upgrade,” essentially is new, with six courts replacing the five existing courts. Many of these winners are concerned with player comfort—nearly all made sure that there is seating for players either between or beside the courts. And many also accommodate spectators, with viewing areas and even “stadium” courts. Two facilities (Vanderbilt and the University of Alabama) installed TV quality lighting at their facilities, and Alabama even put in an electronic scoreboard. Whether for their schools’ varsity teams, intramural programs, or the community at large, these winners are helping to enroll more players in the sport. —Peter Francesconi

Chippewa Resort
Manitowish Waters, Wis. (Nominated by Munson Inc., Glendale, Wis.) Number of Courts: 1 (acrylic) General Contractor: Munson Armstrong Paving Div., Munson Inc. Surface: Plexipave/California Products Corp. Nets, Net Posts: Douglas Sports Fencing: Munson Fence Div.

For details on the 2006 Outstanding Tennis Facility Awards, contact the ASBA at 866-501-ASBA or info@sportsbuilders.org.

26 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

University of Hawaii at Manoa Tennis Complex
Honolulu, Hawaii (Nominated by Applied Surfacing Technology, Honolulu) Number of Courts: 12 (acrylic) Specialty Contractor: Applied Surfacing Technology Surface: Laykold/Advanced Polymer Technology Nets, Net Posts, Center Straps: BP International Windscreens: M. Putterman

St. George’s Senior Boy’s School Tennis Facility
Vancouver, B.C. (Nominated by Ocean Marker Sport Surfaces USA, Bellingham, Wash.) Number of Courts: 4 (cushioned) Specialty Contractor: Ocean Marker Sport Surfaces Supplier: Degussa Construction Chemicals Surface: Rebound Ace Trench Drain: ACO Polymer Products

University of Alabama Outdoor Tennis Facility
Tuscaloosa, Ala. (Nominated by Lower Bros. Co., Birmingham, Ala.) Number of Courts: 12 (cushioned acrylic) Specialty Contractor: Lower Bros. Co. Surface: DecoTurf II/California Products Corp. Nets: J.A. Cissel

March 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

27

Vanderbilt University Outdoor Tennis Facility
Nashville, Tenn. (Nominated by Lower Bros. Co., Birmingham, Ala.) Number of Courts: 6 (cushioned acrylic) Specialty Contractor: Lower Bros. Co. Surface: Plexicushion/California Products Corp. Nets, Net Posts: J.A. Cissel

Sacred Heart Schools Tennis Facility
Atherton, Calif. (Nominated by Beals Alliance Inc., Santa Clara, Calif.) Number of Courts: 8 (acrylic) Architect/Engineer: Beals Alliance General Contractor: Jensen Corp. Specialty Contractor: Saviano Co. Surface: Deco Systems/California Products Corp. Nets: Edwards Sports Net Posts: UTI

Sandhills Community College Athletic Complex
Pinehurst, N.C. (Nominated by Court One, Youngsville, N.C.) Number of Courts: 4 (acrylic) General Contractor: Court One Surface: Advanced Polymer Technology Nets, Net Posts: J.A. Cissel Windscreens: M. Putterman Center Straps, Trash Cans: BP International

Ottawa Township High School Tennis Courts
Ottawa, Ill. (Nominated by Global Sports & Tennis Design Group, Fair Haven, N.J.) Number of Courts: 8 Architect/Engineer: Global Sports & Tennis Design Group General Contractor: Bovis Lend Lease Specialty Contractor: U.S. Tennis Court Construction Co. Surface: Court Master Lighting: Courtsider Sports Lighting Nets, Net Posts: Douglas Industries Windscreens: M. Putterman

28 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

2006 Racquet Selection Map

by Crawford Lindsey

Our exclusive guide to help your customers find the perfect frame for their game.

The Racquet Selector Map is a great tool for making “broad stroke” determinations about racquet characteristics. But there are a few subtle nuances hidden or unexplained by its basic layout. Awareness of these nuances will better enable you to assist your customer in choosing a new racquet. But first, we must make two clarifications about the Power Formula and its use in the map.
1. Power/Control (columns). (formula = length index x headsize x flex x swingweight) ÷ 1000. Length index calculation: 27" = 1.0, 27.5" = 1.05; 28" = 1.1, etc. 2. Maneuverability (rows). RDC (Babolat Racquet Diagnostic Center) swingweight units. 3. Racquet ID. The number in the grid correlates to the accompanying racquet list. 4. Headsize. Midsize and midplus (≤104 sq. in.) have no indicator. Oversize (105 -117 sq. in.) = •. Superoversize (≥ 118 sq. in.) = :. 5. Length. x = extended length. Standard length (27") racquets have no indicator. 6. Flex (RDC). a = < 60; b = 60-64; c = 65-69; d = 70-74; e = > 74. The higher the number, the stiffer the racquet. 7. Company. Coded by number and color. See accompanying racquet list on the following pages.

RACQUET SELECTION MAP KEY
8. Racquet Quadrants and the Center of the Racquet Universe. The center of the racquet universe is located at the intersection of the two red lines. Approximately half the racquets lie to the right and left, and half above and below these lines. The lines divide the racquet universe into four color-coded quadrants – clockwise from top left: (1) quick power, (2) quick control, (3) stable control, (4) stable power. These characterizations provide a general vocabulary for comparing racquets. 9. Racquet Finder List. The racquet list accompanying the map identifies each racquet and gives additional information. The map provides specific (very narrow ranges, anyway) swingweight, flex and power statistics, and general size and length characteristics. The racquet list specifies the length and size and further specifies weight, balance, and price.

story continues on page 37

How To Use It 1. Ask questions. What are you looking for that your current racquet does not provide? What do you like most and least about your current racquet? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your game? 2. Locate current racquet on map. If the racquet is not in the list, take measurements. 3. Locating potential racquets. Depending on the answers to the above questions, draw an imaginary arrow (a wide or skinny one) from your present racquet in the desired direction for power and maneuverability. 4. Narrowing the field. Shrink the choices using the length, headsize, and flex codes to match customer preferences. 5. Selecting racquet demos. Once the choices are narrowed, locate the racquets by number in the racquet list.
March 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

29

30 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

RACQUETS AS OF JANUARY 2006
Racquet Headsize (in2) Length (in.) Weight (gm) Balance (cm) Balance Flex Swingweight Power (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula Retail Price

AVERY AVERY 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 Avery Avery Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Babolat Bancroft Bancroft Bancroft Bancroft Bancroft Bancroft Blackburne Dunlop Dunlop Dunlop Dunlop Dunlop Dunlop Dunlop Dunlop Fischer Fischer Fischer M3 (72 Holes) M5 Aeropro Control Aeropro Control + Aeropro Drive Aeropro Drive + Drive Z Lite Drive Z Max Drive Z Tour Pure Control Pure Control + Pure Drive OS Team Pure Drive + Team Pure Drive Team Pure Storm MP Team Pure Storm Team Soft Drive VS NCT Drive VS NCT Power VS NCT Tour ACE Advantage ACE Tour ACE Tour + Vapor 260 Vapor 270 Vapor 280 Double Strung 107 M Fil 200 M Fil 200 Plus M Fil 300 M Fil 4 Hundred M Fil 500 M Fil 6 Hundred M Fil 700 M Fil Lady G M GDS Rally M GDS Vision FT M Pro No. One 105 95 110 98 98 100 100 100 107 100 98 98 110 100 100 102 98 104 110 118 100 107 98 98 107 115 107 107 95 98 100 105 108 110 108 102 102 105 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.20 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.50 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.88 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.50 28.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.25 27.25 27.50 27.50 27.50 27.38 27.00 346 349 343 332 324 322 274 272 298 346 345 289 313 317 298 311 284 271 264 294 270 307 323 270 277 278 292 346 309 298 279 278 268 277 295 335 31.00 31.25 32.25 32.25 33.75 33.75 36.00 37.00 34.75 31.75 32.25 35.00 33.50 33.00 34.50 33.75 34.50 36.25 37.50 34.00 34.50 33.50 33.75 38.25 38.50 38.00 36.75 32.75 35.00 34.25 34.75 35.25 35.50 35.00 34.00 32.00

800-758-9467 • www.tomavery.com 12.20 12.30 12.70 12.70 13.29 13.29 14.17 14.57 13.68 12.50 12.70 13.78 13.19 12.99 13.58 13.29 13.58 14.27 14.76 13.39 13.58 13.19 13.29 15.06 15.16 14.96 14.47 12.89 13.78 13.48 13.68 13.88 13.98 13.78 13.39 12.60 62 59 71 72 69 71 68 68 74 69 69 72 73 71 68 64 69 72 70 71 57 67 70 66 82 80 68 58 63 70 68 69 67 69 65 58 307 323 341 325 337 338 306 321 316 334 335 320 322 313 313 320 299 303 319 292 279 304 319 290 329 345 341 337 308 299 293 296 294 291 291 318 1808 2096 2373 2408 2325 2520 2081 2382 2338 2259 2379 2661 2468 2222 2171 2007 2146 2520 2865 2073 1702 1996 2188 2150 3413 2953 2481 1857 1902 2145 2144 2316 2275 2277 2002 1937 $179 $179 $179 $179 $179 $179 $169 $169 $169 $179 $179 $179 $179 $179 $179 $179 $119 $189 $189 $189 $195 $195 $195 $145 $145 $145 $199 $99 $99 $99 $149 $119 $159 $129 $149 $160 $160 $180

BABOLAT BABOLAT

877-316-9435 • www.babolat.com

BANCROFT BANCROFT

800-779-0807 • www.bancroftsports.com

BLACKBURNE BLACKBURNE DUNLOP CUNLOP

781-729-3891 • www.blackburneds.com 800-277-8000 • www.dunlopsports.com Racquet sample not available for measure at press time

FISCHER FISCHER

800-333-0337 • www.fischertennisusa.com Racquet sample not available for measure at press time

March 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

31

Racquet

Headsize (in2)

Length (in.)

Weight (gm)

Balance (cm)

Balance Flex Swingweight Power (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula

Retail Price

FISCHER CONT FISCHER continued 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 Fischer Fischer Fischer Fischer Fischer Fischer Fischer Fischer Fischer Gamma Gamma Gamma Gamma Gamma Gamma Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head Head PowerAngle PowerAngle PowerAngle PowerAngle PowerAngle PowerAngle PowerAngle PowerAngle Prince Prince M Pro No. One 98 M Pro No. One 98 SL M Twin Tec Motion Pro No. One Pro No. One FT Pro Tour Pro Tour Extreme FT Strike Ti. Twin Tec 1250 FTi IPEX 2.0 SOS IPEX 3.0 OS IPEX 5.0 MP IPEX 5.0 OS IPEX 7.0 MP IPEX 7.0 OS Flexpoint 10 Flexpoint 4 Flexpoint 6 MP Flexpoint 6 OS Flexpoint Fire Flexpoint Heat Flexpoint Instinct Flexpoint prestige Mid Flexpoint prestige MP Flexpoint prestige XL MP Flexpoint Radical MP Flexpoint Radical OS Flexpoint Radical Tour MP Liquidmetal 1 110 Protector MP Protector OS Power 102 (Light Blue) Power 102 (Navy Blue) Power 102 (Yellow) Power 115 (Light Blue) Power 115 (Red) Power 115 (Yellow) Power 98 Power 98/K Air Freak Midplus Air Freak Oversize 98 98 112 98 98 100 95 102 118 137 116 96 109 98 107 121 107 102 112 102 102 100 93 98 98 98 107 100 110 102 115 102 102 102 115 115 115 98 98 100 110 27.00 27.63 27.00 27.40 27.00 27.25 27.38 27.75 337 278 334 309 312 340 277 272 32.25 36.00 32.00 33.25 33.75 32.00 34.75 36.00

800-333-0337 • www.fischertennisusa.com 12.70 14.17 12.60 13.09 13.29 12.60 13.68 14.17 56 70 64 63 59 62 63 63 312 307 308 297 307 301 284 297 1712 2557 1932 1907 1811 1817 1893 2373 $180 $180 $210 $149 $180 $140 $170 $99 $240 Racquet sample not available for measure at press time

GAMMA GAMMA

800-333-0337 • www.gammasports.com Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time 800-289-7366 • www.head.com 27.50 27.33 27.38 27.38 27.33 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.38 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.38 27.38 27.63 27.38 27.38 27.38 27.38 27.25 27.38 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 259 281 294 279 294 297 308 345 338 342 312 318 342 258 282 283 274 272 274 268 262 268 322 326 305 287 38.00 35.50 35.75 37.25 34.75 34.50 33.00 32.00 32.38 33.13 33.75 33.50 32.50 37.50 36.75 38.00 36.50 37.00 36.50 37.25 37.25 37.25 30.50 30.75 34.00 34.25 14.96 13.98 14.07 14.67 13.68 13.58 12.99 12.60 12.75 13.04 13.29 13.19 12.80 14.76 14.47 14.96 14.37 14.57 14.37 14.67 14.67 14.67 12.01 12.11 13.39 13.48 69 67 68 64 63 66 65 67 66 67 65 59 60 65 66 64 72 73 72 74 73 74 63 64 71 70 316 309 324 321 317 304 308 312 315 333 324 330 318 306 320 340 314 315 314 318 309 318 289 289 317 298 2770 2288 2332 2387 2104 2047 2002 1944 2037 2268 2064 2083 1908 2270 2235 2659 2392 2433 2392 2808 2659 2808 1784 1813 2251 2295 $275 $225 $250 $250 $150 $140 $180 $225 $225 $225 $200 $200 $200 $120 $300 $300 $199 $199 $199 $199 $199 $199 $199 $199 $120 $120

HEAD HEAD

POWER ANGLE POWERANGLE

877-769-3721 • www.powerangle.net

PRINCE PRINCE

800-283-6647 • www.princetennis.com

32 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

Racquet

Headsize (in2)

Length (in.)

Weight (gm)

Balance (cm)

Balance Flex Swingweight Power (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula

Retail Price

80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122

Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Prince Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Pro Kennex Slazenger

Air Vanquish Midplus Air Vanquish Oversize Diablo XP MP Diablo XP OS O3 Blue O3 Hornet Hybrid Midplus O3 Hornet Hybrid Oversize O3 Pink OS O3 Red MP O3 Shark Hybrid Midplus O3 Shark Hybrid Oversize O3 Silver OS O3 Tour 100 O3 Tour MS O3 Tour OS O3 White MP Shark DB Midplus Shark DB Oversize Shark MP Shark MP LB Shark OS Tour Diablo Mid Tour Diablo MP Core 1 No. 06 Core 1 No. 10 Ki 10 (Kinetic Ionic 10) Ki 10 PSE (Kinetic Ionic 10 PSE) Ki 15 (Kinetic Ionic 15) Ki 15 PSE (Kinetic Ionic 15 PSE) Ki 20 (Kinetic Ionic 20) Ki 20 PSE Ki 30 (Kinetic Ionic 30) Ki 5 (Kinetic Ionic 5) Ki 5 PSE (Kinetic Ionic 5 PSE) Ki 5x (Kinetic Ionic 5x) Kinetic Pro 15g Light Kinetic Pro 5g Kinetic Pro 7g Type C 93 Redondo Edition Type C 98 Redondo Edition Type R Type S Pro X1

100 110 96 110 110 100 110 118 105 100 110 118 100 95 107 100 100 110 100 100 110 93 100 95 102 100 100 105 105 110 110 117 100 100 100 105 100 100 93 98 100 100 95

27.00 27.00 27.50 28.00 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.25 27.00 27.50 27.75 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.63 27.50 27.00 27.25 27.13 27.25 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.25 27.50 27.38 27.38 27.00 27.13 27.63 27.50 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00

308 285 326 299 281 302 283 266 294 314 295 270 324 338 316 315 301 290 330 315 293 340 314 339 310 311 323 280 325 271 297 270 324 370 335 272 334 342 331 342 328 324 336

33.75 35.00 33.00 35.25 34.25 34.25 35.00 37.25 34.50 33.75 35.00 37.50 32.25 31.75 34.00 33.25 34.50 34.50 33.00 33.75 35.00 32.00 32.00 31.75 33.75 33.50 33.00 35.25 32.75 35.75 34.50 35.00 32.25 32.00 34.00 35.00 31.50 32.00 32.00 31.00 33.25 33.00 32.00

13.29 13.78 12.99 13.88 13.48 13.48 13.78 14.67 13.58 13.29 13.78 14.76 12.70 12.50 13.39 13.09 13.58 13.58 12.99 13.29 13.78 12.60 12.60 12.50 13.29 13.19 12.99 13.88 12.89 14.07 13.58 13.78 12.70 12.60 13.39 13.78 12.40 12.60 12.60 12.20 13.09 12.99 12.60

70 73 69 69 65 72 71 75 73 66 67 78 61 65 66 67 68 71 70 63 71 67 63 61 68 68 62 70 71 69 67 73 63 67 68 65 62 65 57 56 56 66 67

315 295 325 326 295 314 305 311 312 322 323 320 312 315 321 317 308 299 320 320 319 310 298 317 311 305 311 312 317 309 321 299 309 335 349 300 314 332 310 314 315 312 305

2205 2369 2260 2722 2215 2261 2382 2890 2451 2125 2500 3166 1903 1945 2380 2124 2094 2452 2240 2142 2616 1932 1924 1860 2211 2074 1928 2408 2422 2463 2454 2650 1947 2273 2522 2150 1947 2266 1643 1723 1764 2059 1941

$150 $150 $190 $190 $280 $190 $190 $300 $250 $200 $200 $300 $220 $220 $220 $220 $200 $200 $190 $190 $190 $170 $170 $160 $170 $180 $180 $190 $190 $210 $210 $250 $180 $180 $180 $150 $150 $150 $170 $170 $160 $160 $180

PRO KENNEX PROKENNEX

760-804-8322 • www.prokennex.com

SLAZENGER SLAZENGER

800-277-8000 • www.slazenger.com

March 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

33

Racquet

Headsize (in2)

Length (in.)

Weight (gm)

Balance (cm)

Balance Flex Swingweight Power (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula

Retail Price

TECNIFIBRE TECNIFIBRE 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 Tecnifibre Tecnifibre Tecnifibre Tecnifibre Tecnifibre Tecnifibre Tecnifibre Vantage Vantage Vantage Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl T Feel 275 XL T Feel 290 XL T Feel 305 T Feel 305 XL T Fight 315 T Fight 325 T Flash 290 VT001 VT002 VT003 Boris Becker 1 Boris Becker 10 Boris Becker 5 C10 Pro Catapult 1 (with FIRE) (Generation II) Catapult 2 (Generation II) Catapult 4 Gen II Catapult 8 V-Engine DNX 10 107 102 98 98 98 98 100 90 95 100 110 100 102 98 120 115 105 100 98 27.50 27.50 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.40 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.25 27.25 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.75 28.00 27.50 27.25 27.00 294 297 321 316 334 345 308 338 334 306 269 306 276 348 261 269 289 307 338 36.00 35.00 33.25 35.00 33.00 32.50 33.75 32.50 32.00 34.75 36.50 34.25 34.50 31.50 36.50 37.25 34.25 33.50 32.00

877-332-0825 • www.tecnifibre.com 14.17 13.78 13.09 13.78 12.99 12.80 13.29 12.80 12.60 13.68 14.37 13.48 13.58 12.40 14.37 14.67 13.48 13.19 12.60 65 72 68 70 65 60 69 63 61 61 65 67 62 56 72 70 69 64 64 323 325 315 342 318 327 312 321 323 324 304 314 282 321 311 324 304 301 314 2359 2506 2099 2463 2026 2000 2153 1820 1872 2026 2228 2209 1783 1762 2889 2869 2313 1975 1969 $190 $190 $170 $170 $170 $170 $170 $221 $221 $221 $160 $160 $130 $190 $270 $240 $190 $190 $190

VANTAGE VANTAGE

+44 (0)1753 621177 • www.vantagetennis.com

VOLKL VOLKL

800-264-4579 • www.volkl.com

34 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

Racquet

Headsize (in2)

Length (in.)

Weight (gm)

Balance (cm)

Balance Flex Swingweight Power (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula

Retail Price

142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161

Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Volkl Weed Weed Weed Weed Weed Weed Weed Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson

DNX 3 DNX 8 DNX V1 MP DNX V1 OS Tour 10 MP Gen II Tour 10 V Engine Mid V1 Classic EXT 135 Blue EXT 135 Green EXT 135 Pink EXT 135 Tour X-ONE25 (27 1/2) X-ONE25 (28 1/2) Z-One 35 H Cyclone H Rival 112 H Rival 96 H1 Outer Edge 135 n1 n1 Force

110 100 102 110 98 93 102 135 135 135 135 125 125

27.75 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.13 27.00 28.25 28.25 28.25 28.25 27.50 28.50

280 312 302 297 339 336 313

35.25 33.50 33.50 34.00 32.25 32.00 33.50

13.88 13.19 13.19 13.39 12.70 12.60 13.19

66 70 69 68 64 60 68

315 317 301 302 322 308 320

2458 2219 2118 2372 2020 1740 2220

$240 $170 $220 $220 $180 $180 $200 $250 $250 $250 $250

WEED WEED

800-933-3758 • www.weedusa.com Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time Racquet sample not available for measure at press time 269 269 36.25 38.25 14.27 15.06 69 69 311 360 2816 3571

$209 $209 $250

Racquet sample not available for measure at press time 115 112 96 135 115 125 27.90 27.50 27.50 28.50 27.90 27.75 251 256 285 253 256 267 38.75 38.50 36.25 39.25 38.75 40.00 15.26 15.16 14.27 15.45 15.26 15.75 75 70 72 75 75 74 315 317 323 328.5 323 347 2961 2610 2344 3825 3037 3450

WILSON WILSON

773-714-6400 • www.wilsonsports.com $160 $150 $150 $180 $300 $300

March 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

35

Racquet

Headsize (in2)

Length (in.)

Weight (gm)

Balance (cm)

Balance Flex Swingweight (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2

Power Formula

Retail Price

WILSON continued WILSON CONT. 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Wilson Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex n3 n4 Midplus (101) n4 Oversize (111) n5 (110) n5 (98) n5 Force 110 n5 Force 98 n6 (110) n6 (95) nBlade 106 nBlade 98 nFury 100 nFury 110 nPro 98 nPro Open nPro Open X nPro Surge nPro Surge X nPS 95 nSix One 95 (68 holes) nSix One Tour nSix Two 100 nSix Two 113 nTour 105 nTour 95 nVision Pro Staff Blitz Triad 5 OS 110 (T5) W2 Black Whisper W2 Blue Shadow W2 Spicy Ruby W4 Cobalt Storm W4 Red Fury W4 Savage Lime W4 Savage Sapphire W6 Blue Steel W6 Wild Crimson NSRQ 5 NSRQ 7 (100) NSRQ 7 (110) NSRQ 8 RDS 001 90 RDS 001 98 RDS 300 100 115 101 111 110 98 110 98 110 95 106 98 100 110 98 100 100 100 100 95 95 90 100 110 105 95 103 100 110 117 117 117 107 107 107 107 97 97 105 100 110 110 90 98 100 27.50 27.50 27.50 27.25 27.25 27.25 27.25 27.00 27.25 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.25 27.25 27.25 27.00 27.38 27.50 27.50 27.50 27.25 27.25 27.25 27.25 27.00 27.00 27.50 27.50 27.50 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.25 273 273 270 272 278 286 276 269 308 315 285 271 311 311 316 313 304 298 347 354 295 290 297 305 277 280 271 273 270 273 267 272 271 272 299 297 289 300 288 272 344 309 312 38.00 36.75 37.50 37.25 37.50 37.50 37.50 37.50 33.25 33.25 33.75 35.50 33.25 32.50 33.50 33.25 33.25 34.25 32.00 32.00 33.00 34.50 35.50 35.50 36.50 35.50 36.00 37.75 37.75 37.25 36.50 36.25 36.75 36.25 35.25 35.25 35.00 33.00 35.75 37.00 31.75 31.75 32.75

773-714-6400 • www.wilsonsports.com 14.96 14.47 14.76 14.67 14.76 14.76 14.76 14.76 13.09 13.09 13.29 13.98 13.09 12.80 13.19 13.09 13.09 13.48 12.60 12.60 12.99 13.58 13.98 13.98 14.37 13.98 14.17 14.86 14.86 14.67 14.37 14.27 14.47 14.27 13.88 13.88 13.78 12.99 14.07 14.57 12.50 12.50 12.89 50 67 69 60 63 56 56 65 61 59 48 70 70 69 68 59 63 59 68 66 67 70 67 63 63 58 70 66 65 65 66 67 67 67 59 60 323 317 324 299 312 329 312 322 314 329 297 304 304 294 319 305 315 315 329 325 298 321 334 340 316 304 287 326 318 319 304 307 311 305 327 322 1950 2252 2606 2023 1974 2077 1755 1988 2081 1902 1426 2458 2085 2029 2278 1800 2084 1766 2125 1931 1997 2595 2408 2086 2102 1763 2294 2643 2539 2547 2201 2256 2285 2241 1871 1874 $270 $240 $240 $219 $219 $240 $240 $180 $180 $200 $200 $120 $120 $200 $200 $200 $180 $180 $140 $200 $200 $190 $190 $180 $180 $150 $120 $100 $270 $270 $270 $230 $230 $230 $230 $200 $200

Racquet sample not available for measure at press time

YONEX YONEX

310-793-3800 • www.yonex.com 68 316 2369 $219 66 65 74 65 66 69 303 326 313 320 309 306 2100 2447 2675 1872 1999 2164 $259 $259 $279 -

36 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

Racquet

Headsize (in2)

Length (in.)

Weight (gm)

Balance (cm)

Balance Flex Swingweight Power (in.) (RDC) kg x cm2 Formula

Retail Price

206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213

Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex Yonex

RDX 300 MP RDX 300 Super Mid RDX 500 HD RDX 500 Mid RDX 500 MP Ultimum RD Ti 80 Ultimum RQ Ti 210m Ultimum RQ Ti 260m

98 103 98 90 98 98 102 98

27.25 27.50 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00 27.00

311 296 333 331 322 318 258 264

33.25 34.00 32.25 32.50 32.50 31.75 36.00 37.00

13.09 13.39 12.70 12.80 12.80 12.50 14.17 14.57

70 68 61 62 64 60 73 76

307 305 313 312 306 290 281 298

2159 2243 1871 1741 1919 1705 2092 2220

$189 $189 $199 $199 $199 $179 $119 $139

continued from page 29

The Power Formula
First, it must be understood that the “power formula” is not a scientific or mathematical value, but only a convenient numeric representation of tendencies relating the role of headsize, length, flex, and swingweight to the feeling of power of the racquet. Second, the power formula best describes the relative size of the power area compared to another racquet, not the relative maximum velocity the racquet can generate. For example, racquet 111 at 2600/295 and racquet 69 at 2600/340 might have about the same size sweetspot, but the latter racquet will probably be more powerful in terms of maximum ball velocity, even though they have the same “power rating.” Why is this?

are equally as powerful in the sweetspot, even though they have different power ratings. And within a given power rating column, the racquet with the highest swingweight will have the greatest sweetspot power, even though they all have the same power rating.

Sweet Area Power
As soon as you stray from the sweetspot, the bigger, stiffer racquets will lose a smaller percentage of the innate sweetspot power available to them. These racquets tend to bend and twist less, therefore losing less energy to nonproductive racquet reactions. Larger racquet heads move the weight of the frame farther from the racquet’s long axis, and it is the distance from the axis that is more influential in preventing twisting than is the amount of weight, though adding more weight at any given distance from the axis also increases resistance to bending and twisting. So, biggerheaded, lower swingweight racquets can become more powerful than smaller-headed, higher swingweight racquets on off-center hits. The farther you hit off-center, the more pronounced the effect. Therefore, what you experience as the racquet’s power is a combination of the ultimate power and the average power over an impact area.

Sweetspot Power
In the sweetspot (the spot in the middle of the racquet about 16 cm from the tip), all racquets with the same swingweight will generate the same ball velocity at the same swing speed, stringbed stiffness being equal (see February 2006 article by Rod Cross for detailed explanation). Racquets with a higher swingweight will generate higher ball velocities for the same swing speed. The racquet does not bend and vibrate on a sweetspot impact, so flex has no influence and headsize only comes into play on off-center hits—larger headsizes generally offering more resistance to twisting. Thus, all racquets in a given row with the same swingweight

Combined Power
First, let’s number the quadrants of the map clockwise 1, 2, 3, and 4 from the upper right quadrant. Then we will define

Characterization of Power—Magnitude, Area, and Control
Quadrant Quadrant Sweetspot Peripheral Characteristics Power Power
Small d, small w Small d, big w Big d, small w Big d, big w Low High Low High Low Medium Medium High

Sweet Area Size
Small Medium Medium Large

Rebound Angle Control
Low Medium Medium High

Rebound Distance Control
High Medium Medium Low

1: Quick Control 2: Stable Control 3: Quick Power 4: Stable Power

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two “generalized” variables: d represents the average distance from the long axis to the hoop of the head and w the average amount of weight located at that distance. We can then make the following generalizations about the racquets in each quadrant relative to the others. The table assumes that as you go down a column, there is more weight in the head of the frame, and as you go to the left in a row, the head gets larger and the racquet gets longer and stiffer. There are exceptions, but in general, this is true. The assumptions in the last two columns describing control are these: the less the racquet twists, the more true the rebound, and the more the twist, the less the rebound velocity, providing a built-in safety valve against hitting too long. This latter point is a rather perverse view of control in that it defines hitting long as “out of control,” but feeding your opponent short meatballs is considered “in-control” because it at least is not an outright loss of a point. But this reasoning is congruent with the prevailing view held by many that a racquet’s intrinsic power and control are inversely related.

Power, Maneuverability, and Swing Speed
Swingweight is not just about power. It is also a measure of maneuverability. But it is an inverse relationship. Lower swingweight means more maneuverability and less intrinsic power, and higher swingweight means less maneuverability and more intrinsic power. But, in theory, because you can swing a more maneuverable racquet faster, you can make up for less intrinsic power by increasing the extrinsic power—i.e., by swinging faster. For this reason, the Racquet Selection Map shows all racquets in the same column as being equally as powerful—low swingweight but fast swing speed being considered as equivalent to high swingweight (built-in power) and lower swing speed. This would seem a logical argument when explaining racquets to customers, but experiments have shown that lower swingweights don’t necessarily mean that the swing speed will increase, and further that, in most cases, using racquets within the range of swingweights in the marketplace, the player can choose to swing at whatever speed he/she chooses, independent of a particular swingweight (see the book Technical Tennis for more explanation). Using swing speed to affect power is more a matter of choice than it is about a necessary mathematical relationship between swingweight and swing speed.

Conclusion
The Racquet Selection Map is a great tool for quickly comparing racquets on maneuverability, power, and control. However, further differentiating the racquets by the probable size of the sweet area, the magnitude of the power of the sweetspot, and the unlikely affect of swingweight on swing speed, you can better pinpoint the difference between any two racquets and help your customer or student make an intelligent decision on which racquets to demo in their quest for a new frame.

38 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

Don’t Bust a Gut!
Worried about your first natural gut string job? Two stringing experts take the mystery out of it for you.

BY RICHARD PARNELL AND TIM STRAWN, WWW.GRANDSLAMSTRINGERS.COM

orking with natural gut string can be a bit daunting, especially for stringers who have never done so. There’s an “aura” around natural gut, and of course the higher price can make some stringers hesitant. However, armed with some basic information, anyone can gain the confidence needed to get the job done. In our years as professional stringers for www.grandslamstringers.com, we’ve come up with the following tips and techniques for stringing with natural gut.

W

Something basic but often overlooked: Measure twice, string once. Verify that the package contains the length of string you’re expecting, and that this much string is sufficient for the job at hand.

Clamping the Frame
Because gut is more susceptible to damage from clamp slippage, you want to make certain it doesn’t happen, especially on the difficult first pull. One safe way is to mount a starting clamp immediately behind the machine clamp to increase the clamping force. Don’t use a starting clamp on the outside of the racquet, as this can stress the string. You can still use a starting clamp outside the frame when using an around-the-world (ATW) pattern, many of which require such clamping while finishing up the short side. But there is more strain on the first pull, so you have to be extra careful there.

Preparation
Check the grommets and replace or repair those that need attention. Damaged grommets can wreak havoc on a new set of natural gut. You can repair damaged grommets by using a slightly heated awl to reshape and remold the tube of the grommet. If you use this method, follow up by using a piece of heavier gauge nylon string, lubricated with paraffin wax, to burnish any rough edges. You can also replace individual grommets or the entire bumper/grommet set if necessary. Clean your clamps with denatured alcohol and an old toothbrush. After the alcohol bath, use a can of compressed air to blow out excess alcohol and debris from inside the jaws of your clamps and to thoroughly dry the clamps. Clamp cleanliness cannot be emphasized enough, especially with natural gut. Adjust your clamps prior to starting to avoid slippage that can damage the string. Take the end of the actual string you’re using and insert it into the clamp and begin to close the jaw. If you feel too much resistance, adjust your clamp slightly and retest. You want the clamp snug but not tight to the point of crushing the string.

Preparing the String
After removing the gut from the package, carefully cut the band that holds the coil together and slip the coil over your forearm up near your elbow. Release the string and let the coil equalize. After this initial equalization, it is much easier to uncoil the string. Natural gut kinks easily, so be careful when handling it. Kinking is most likely to occur during the unwinding of the coil, and it creates weak spots in the string. Take your time when uncoiling gut, and give yourself enough room, not only so the string can uncoil, but also so you don’t pinch, crease, or cut the string by stepping on it. Because of changes in manufacturing techniques, prestretching natural gut is no longer mandatory. If your cusMarch 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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tomer wants you to pre-stretch the gut, use two people to stretch the entire length of the string in a straight line, as opposed to wrapping the string around a pole or door handle so one person can pull on both ends. You can use starting clamps to hold the ends, or cut sections of broom handle or closet rod and drill a small hole in the middle for the string, and then use a starting clamp. If you use starting clamps alone, hold them firmly, but do not squeeze the handles as this opens the jaws and releases the string. Turn your back to the taut portion of the string so that if it does snap, it can't hit you in the face. Apply about 40 pounds of pull across the entire length of the string, and hold it for 15 to 30 seconds.

Other Tips
Use leather power pads at severe turns where the mains first exit to the side of the frame, especially with thinner gauge strings. Manufacturers are now designing grommet strips with raised ridges in these areas, but not every racquet has them. Some natural gut strings have more slippery coatings than others. If it’s really bad, wipe off the excess residue with a soft cloth prior to installing the string. In tournament situations where there’s a lot of traffic in the stringing room, it’s a good idea to pre-weave the main strings to get some of the string up off of the floor and out of harm’s way. Many people are not aware that today quality natural gut strings are coated. Unlike the days of old, there’s no need to be as worried about moisture. Today’s natural gut strings are more durable and modern coatings have played a big role here. Dirt and grit are natural enemies of gut. It’s a good idea to clean the string after each use with a soft cloth lightly coated with baby oil. Small particles of dirt can cause pits and cracks that degrade the string and eventually result in premature breaking. You can also apply a light coat of pure carnauba wax to protect the string after cleaning. Use additional reinforcement at high-stress areas. Outer main strings have much sharper angles where the string exits the grommet, so use some Teflon or nylon tubing here. If the fit is tight, just open up the hole with a lubricated blunt-tipped awl prior to installation. Don’t stretch the tubing; you’re weakening the tubing and defeating the purpose of using it in the first place. String savers can go a long way in extending the life of any string, especially an expensive piece of natural gut. Many people are of the impression that string savers have an adverse affect on the racquet’s performance, but this is open to debate. The slight increase in tension that may result from the use of string savers can certainly be compensated for during the installation process if need be. Many touring professionals use string savers, which might provide some comfort to your customers concerned about their affect on play. Natural gut responds better at higher tensions because of its superior elasticity, and hard-hitting players will benefit more when using gut. It comes highly recommended for players with elbow or shoulder problems, but be warned when recommending gut to lower NTRP rated players. Natural gut has lower “knot break” strength (threshold) than standard synthetics. This is the string’s ability to resist angular forces, which is exactly what you have when a player frames a ball. Because this is more likely to occur with a less advanced player, you may find yourself struggling to explain to your 2.5 player with arm problems just why his expensive string only lasted two hours!

Weaving
Weaving the crosses demands extra care. Your primary focus is to keep friction to a minimum. Waxing the main strings used to be standard procedure, but this process is seldom used these days. Modern coatings and weaving one cross string ahead will adequately reduce friction and allow for a much smoother weave. If you are using a basic ATW pattern, you will have an exaggerated hard weave on the very last string because at least one bottom cross is already installed. If you attempt to make the last weave in one motion and pull the entire tail of the string through, there’s a good chance of severely damaging that piece of string. To avoid this, measure off just enough string to weave the last cross and reach the tension head after weaving the nextto-the-last cross. Insert the tip of the string into the grommet hole and pull the entire length of string through that hole. Form a small loop and weave under one main, pulling all the string completely through, as if you were sewing. Repeat this process until the entire cross string is woven. This technique will keep the natural twist of the string in place and will reduce friction, keeping the string intact. The sewing technique also works well when you have a cross string that immediately encounters a main string as the cross exits the frame. Abandon the traditional practice of holding the loose end of the string while pulling the rest of the cross string over the mains. All strings will twist and curl as they’re being pulled over the mains and holding the end only compounds this problem pull after pull. Once you’ve completed weaving the cross string, insert the end into the exit grommet and let it hang free as you pull the remainder of the string through the hole. Forget about speed; protect the string. Avoid unraveling your natural gut during installation by paying close attention to the natural twist in the string. Natural gut is made up of several individual strands of beef intestine (or sheep—not cat!) and those strands are then twisted together to form the string. You’ll notice that the string remains firm and intact while installing the mains but can unravel once you begin to weave the crosses. As you move down the face of the racquet the end of the string becomes more and more worn, making it even more susceptible to unraveling or kinking. Be careful not to over-twist the gut in either direction when you handle it.

Conclusion
Even armed with these pointers, it’s normal to approach your first natural gut string job with some trepidation. However, if you are cautious and pay attention to the basics, you should do just fine. Of course, after you play with natural gut for the first time, you should find it is worth the extra effort. Q

40 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

stringing machine Babolat Star 5
If you visit the stringing room of most major tournaments, you’ll find that with few exceptions, Babolat machines are the mainstay of the tour stringer. Rugged and reliable, with excellent mounting, clamping, and tensioning, a stringer could hardly ask for more.
In the summer of 2000, Babolat discontinued the manufacture of the de facto standard of the professional stringer, the Star 4, and replaced it with the even more capable Sensor line. Unfortunately, the Star 4 was portable, while the Sensor is just too much machine. As a result, touring stringers have been hanging onto their aging Star 4s despite the advances in stringing machine technology exemplified by the Sensor. With the introduction of the Star 5, Babolat has retained the best features of the Sensor and made some improvements, while trimming the weight and the price of its entry-level machine. The 120-pound Star 5 sells for $3,000 with a three-year warranty, and an optional five-year warranty is $200 more. The price includes a cover, spare parts, and assembly wrenches. Clearly, the Star 5 is a serious effort by Babolat to make an exceptionally competent true constant-pull stringing machine available to serious stringers at a price that is almost too low to resist.

REVIEW

Star 5 is also equipped with rubber feet, so it can be set on a bench or other flat surface. In this configuration, the stringbed is 16 inches above the work surface. If you are going to use the stand, you assemble it first. Babolat recommends that you level it, using the screw adjusters located at the ends of two of the legs. However, the placement of the adjustment screws means that not every floor can be accommodated. As with the Sensor, the power cord runs through the center of the stand. The legs are welded to the lower section of the stand.

COMPONENT WEIGHT (LBS.) Base 31 Machine 89 Tension head—24 pounds Clamp plate w/ clamps—34 pounds Shell—31 pounds Total 120
The stand is infinitely adjustable so that the height of the stringbed is between 41 inches and 52 inches above the floor. Here again, you will find it very helpful to have one person hold the machine while the other works the Allen wrench on the height-adjustment screw. The telescoping section of the stand is “crimped” in such a way that the depth of the adjustment screw is matched to the depth of the crimp. This ensures that once the adjustment screw is tightened, the two sections of the stand form a solid unit. The Allen screw is encased in a housing that, unlike the lever found on previous machines, seems incapable of catching string.

ASSEMBLY
Our Star 5 arrived in one 141-pound box. The unpacking and assembly instructions were right on top, as were the assembly tools. The directions are straightforward, and it took less than 15 minutes to go from the box to a functioning stringing machine. The instructions do recommend that you have two persons available to lift the unit onto the stand, and it’s a good idea to have someone else available, if for no other reason than that the unit’s shell is a thin plastic that is not fully supported around the edges. It is also useful to have someone to balance the machine atop the stand while the other person installs the bolts that hold the machine to the stand. The stand isn’t necessary, however, as the

PROS
Once assembled, we turned the unit on and took some time to familiarize ourselves with the Star 5 “Navigator,” which consists of an LCD read-out and three flush-mounted buttons, labeled “S” (for Shift), “+”, and “-”. Through the Navigator, the operator can set the reference tension (from 11 to 88 pounds in half-pound increments), lock the machine, set pounds or kilograms, add over-tension for knots (from .5 to 11 pounds, in half-pound

increments), activate the “knot” function (one pull per activation), set the amount of pre-stretch (5, 10, 15, or 20 percent of the reference tension), turn the tension buzzer on and off, and select from among English, French, German, Spanish, and Italian for the display. You can also check the version number, the number of pulls, a calculated number of racquets strung (based on the number of pulls), the length of time in hours the machine has been on, the serial number of the machine, and the Star 5’s status. If you choose kilograms, the tension range is 5 to 40 kilograms, adjustable in one-tenth kilo increments. You also use the Navigator to turn off the welcome message, which we did before proceeding to check the calibration, which was right on. Subsequent checks showed excellent calibration maintenance. The Star 5 has the familiar Babolat 6point mounting system, which Babolat refers to as a 10-point mounting system because the “V” of each of the four droparm side supports touches the frame in two places. The shafts of the “billiards,” which is what Babolat calls the frame supports at 6 and 12 o’clock, glide in and out of the towers on bronze bushings. If you’ve ever used a Star 3, Star 4, or Sensor, the mounting system will hold no surprises. The adjustment knobs for the side support arms are easy to operate, making it a snap to mount the frame properly. Once mounted, if the frame is properly strung, there is no difficulty removing the racquet from the machine. Best of all, the side support arms seem never to get in the way of the stringing process. Even
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stringing machine
CONTINUED

REVIEW
total weight of the machine for easier cartage. In either event, removing the traction unit requires nothing more than unplugging the power cord and loosening two screws. The traction unit then slides out the side of the machine. For those who will be traveling with the Star 5, it is worth noting that the machine runs on 100-120 volts, or 220-240 volts. There is a voltage selector on the underside of the traction unit, which is also where you switch the fuse to match the line voltage.

stringers accustomed to using a machine with 2- or 4-point mounting should have no trouble converting to the Star 5’s 6point system. One of the first racquets we strung was one that is infamous for being shorter with strings than without. As with other Babolat machines before it, the Star 5 provided such good support that the finished length of the racquet was within 3/32-inches of the unstrung length. The Star 5 double-action clamps are standard in every way except their implementation. The string clamp is identical to the three-tooth clamps found on the Sensor. The clamp heads appear bulky but are profiled to fit into tight spaces. The clamping faces are coated with tungsten carbide, and the clamping force is easily adjustable without tools, thanks to an oversize adjustment knob on the side of the clamp. As a test, we reduced the clamping force adjustment and pulled tension on a string. The slippage scarred the coating lightly but did not shred the surface. This may not be the case for every string, but we had no problems with slippage when the clamps were adjusted properly, and saw no damage aside from some slight bruising on delicate strings. The string clamp slides over the post of the base clamp (as on the Sensor), and at the bottom of the base clamp post there is a rubber O-ring for cushioning. The clamp bases slide almost effortlessly across the surface of the anodized aluminum turntable, making the Star 5 even smoother in this regard than the Sensor. The circular track on which they run is similar to the system found on the Sensor and other highend Babolat machines. If you are accustomed to “straight-track” clamp motion, the only place where you have to think about what you are doing is when “reversing” the clamps halfway through the crosses; because the clamps don’t clear the frame, there is only one way to turn each clamp to re-orient it to complete the crosses. The turntable offers 360-degree rotation, which turns easily with just enough drag to prevent undesired movement. The method for locking the clamp bases is quite different from any other Babolat machine. The Star 5 has what Babolat calls an ergonomic locking knob. Turning the knob approximately 60 degrees locks the

base solidly to the turntable. It took about a dozen racquets for the clamps on our unit to feel broken in. Stringing times were just as low as with other, more familiar stringing machines, from the first frame. The linear-pull tension head has the “start” button mounted immediately behind and below the jaws of the tension head. The start button itself is a “capacitive” type switch, which means there are no moving parts: As soon as you touch the button, it senses the contact. We found that even with a piece of string blocking direct access to the button, the start switch responded perfectly. Of all the advanced features of the Star 5, without a doubt the most advanced is the tensioning program. While there is no manual setting for pull speed, the Star 5 (as

CONS
The turntable lock lever is mounted on the front as it is on the Sensor, but recessed so that there is much less chance to snag the string. The location is fine, but the round knob doesn’t afford as much leverage as the old lever. Also, access to the knob is partially obscured by the shroud of the machine, making it more difficult to immobilize the turntable when stringing “problem” racquets such as the larger Prince O3s, Wilsons with PowerHoles, and the Wilson T2000 series, especially if the Star 5 is mounted on a table or bench. Fortunately, Prince provides a “boomerang” tool for the O3 series of racquets, which eliminates the need of locking the turntable on by far the most common of these frames. The rigid turntable and fixed-towers of the Star 5 (and its predecessors) do offer a stable base for the mounting system. We found only one frame—the throatless Head Ti.S7—that needed an adapter, and the Star 5 is hardly alone in this category. The Star 5 mounted even the Gamma Big Bubba, Wilson Hyper Hammer 3.3 “The Limits,” and the Head i.160 squash frames with no problems. However the stock Star 5 will not mount small-headed racquets such as woodies and the Wilson T2000 series. If this is an important part of your business, you will need the optional badminton adapter kit at $450. Even some frames that mount fine still present problems, such as the Blackburne DS 107, which requires the removal of the machine clamps so that you can use floating clamps top and bottom, and racquetball frames that have the top cross so high that they are out of the reach of the Star 5 clamps. Speaking of the clamps, we found that the three-tooth clamps are easier to fit

with the Sensor) automatically adjusts the pull speed based on the string you are using, with no user intervention. The LCD display always keeps you informed on your settings, even to the point of giving you instantaneous read-outs on the tension during a pull. The Star 5 continuously adjusts the pulling force to compensate for string elongation. One much-appreciated feature of the Star 5 is the return of the nosecone (or diabolo). Besides reducing the clamping force needed by the tension jaws, the nosecone also helps the operator position the string into the tension jaws the same way each time. As a result, the Star 5 is very gentle on delicate strings. We experienced no string scarring or marking due to the tension jaws. The entire traction unit assembly detaches from the machine base quickly and easily. It is no doubt designed this way to make maintenance and repairs more straightforward, but it might also make it easier for traveling stringers to break up the

42 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

between the strings of most racquets. However, on exceptionally tight stringbeds, the more gradual angle of the sides of the teeth on the Star 5 clamp makes it more difficult to force the clamp up into position against the resistance of previously installed strings. The small tool tray of the Star 5 disappointed us. Granted, extra tool trays mean the machine must be larger, and create more chances to catch string. Still, even with small pliers, small cutters, a starting clamp, and two awls, the tool tray was too full by half. If you use a stringing apron, or have a bench near your stringing machine that you can use for tool storage, this won’t affect you. The user’s manual, which is otherwise complete, does not contain the procedure for calibrating the machine. In normal use, re-calibration might not be called for, but if you intend to travel with the Star 5, you might very well need to adjust the calibration at a tournament site, when Babolat is closed for the day.

CONCLUSION
Although we’ve been using a Babolat Star 3 for years as our “reference” machine for stringing playtest racquets and other inhouse stringing chores where we need the year-in and year-out reliability for which Babolat machines are famous, it took about seven minutes to feel comfortable on the Star 5, and after a couple of frames, the Star 5 feels better in every way than our old Star 3. Although our Star 3 has strung racquets for everything from photo shoots to tournaments such as the Pacific Life Open and the Acura Classic, the arrival of the Star 5 means our little Star 3 can now relax, until the odd wood racquet or T2000 wanders by. And yet, even though it’s bigger, heavier, and much more sophisticated than our Star 3, the Star 5 still feels like a lean, mean, stringing machine, at least, compared to the Babolat Sensor. If these machines were cars, the Star 5 would be the Porsche 356 Speedster, and the Sensor the Porsche 356 Carrera: The first, relatively inexpensive but capable in every way, with qualities that grow on you over time; the latter, more expensive, but worth every penny. It seems that the only question is whether Babolat can make enough of the Star 5 to meet the demand that’s certain to come. Q
For the complete review, see www.racquettech.com

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string Gamma Zo Pro 16L
Gamma Zo Pro is a hybrid set made up of Zo Power for the mains and Live Wire Professional for the crosses. According to Gamma, Zo Power is an ultra playable 16Lgauge polymer alloy featuring Gamma’s TNT2® Technology, for players who prefer greater power with pinpoint control without sacrificing durability or comfort. Gamma Zo Power is a co-extrusion fiber, which means it is a monofilament comprised of two materials, one in the center and a second that encases or coats the center filament. In Zo Power, the center is a high elasticity core, which is encased in a wear-resistant surface.
In the crosses, Professional features what Gamma calls Live Wire Multifilament Technology. Professional features an advanced string construction that incorporates 50 percent more iso-elastic fibers, NCP tension fibers for longer tension maintenance, and new PEEK abrasion resistant fibers woven into the outer wraps for enhanced durability. This unique construction, combined with Gamma’s exclusive Advanced Irradiation Process, is said to provide a crisp, solid feel. Gamma tells us it designed Zo Pro for players looking for a softer feel than is generally found in an all-polyester string bed, but with more durability and stiffness than that generally found in an all-nylon string bed. Zo Pro is available in 16L/16 in silver/natural. It is priced from $18.50. For more information or to order, contact Gamma at 800-333-0337, or visit Gamma on-line at www.gammasports.com. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself. stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 61 RDC units, representing an 8 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. Zo Pro added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame. The string was tested for five weeks by 31 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 5.5. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 24.9. We instructed the members of our playtest team to install the “silver” (poly) string in the mains and the “natural-color” (nylon) string in the crosses. The Zo Power is about as easy to string as other modern polys, and of course, having it only for the mains is very nice. The Gamma Professional is always a pleasure to use, as its flexibility makes it feel nimble when weaving the crosses. Even though the Zo Power is a stiff 16L and the Professional is a supple 16, the Zo Power feels much thinner than the Professional, and this is borne out by the measurements. This difference in gauge impressed some playtesters, who were happy to have thin mains for spin. No playtester broke a sample during stringing, 11 reported problems with coil memory, 5 reported problems tying knots, and 3 reported friction burn. Professional isn’t normally considered a durability string, yet combined with Zo Power, our playtesters gave it high marks in this category. Likewise, playability and tension holding are not normally attributes of a poly, but here Professional complements Zo Power. Zo Pro did receive only average ratings for Power, but this might be a good thing for such a string. EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings) Number of testers who said it was: much easier 1 somewhat easier 3 about as easy 22 not quite as easy 5 not nearly as easy 0

PLAYTEST

OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often) Number of testers who said it was: much better 1 somewhat better 7 about as playable 5 not quite as playable 14 not nearly as playable 4

OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge) Number of testers who said it was: much better 0 somewhat better 19 about as durable 6 not quite as durable 6 not nearly as durable 0

ON THE COURT
Gamma Zo Pro scored well above average for Durability, Control, and Spin Potential. In fact, Durability rated exceptionally well with our playtesters both compared against other strings of similar gauge, and as an absolute rating. It also scored above average for Playability, Tension Holding, and Resistance to Movement. These ratings seem to indicate that Zo Power and Professional work well together in this configuration. Whatever its other merits,

IN THE LAB
We tested the 16L/16-gauge Zo Pro. The coils measured 23 feet 5 inches for the mains and 21 feet 11 inches for the crosses. The diameters measured 1.24-1.25 mm for the mains and 1.32-1.34 mm for the crosses prior to stringing, and 1.20-1.22 mm for the mains and 1.27-1.28 mm for the crosses after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 66 RDC units immediately after

RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best) Playability Durability Power Control Comfort Touch/Feel Spin Potential Holding Tension Resistance to Movement 3.3 3.9 3.0 3.6 3.1 2.7 3.3 3.3 3.2

44 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

TESTERS

I like this string very much. The only drawback is the movement of the strings; I had to readjust after each point. However, I liked both the feel and the pop of these strings. 5.5 male all-court player using Head Radical Tour MP strung at 65/62 pounds CP (Luxilon Timo / synthetic gut 18/17)

my personal preference. Would definitely recommend the string for anyone seeking durability with a strong baseline game. 3.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Prestige MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Head PPS 17)

TALK

I liked this version of the poly/multifilament mix better than a poly/gut mix I tried. The poly really had nice bite—nice and thin; and the multi maintains tension and was nice and soft. Felt like this combo was every bit as good as the gut mixes (for less cost I assume). Perhaps a coating could prevent immediate fraying/peeling. 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson Pro Staff 7.5 strung at 72 pounds LO (Luxilon/VS Tonic 17/16)

The sample strung up tighter than expected and stayed that way throughout test, never seeming to lose any tension. Spin is excellent, as is slice underspin. I feel I can drive backhand slice approaches better with this string complement crosses. This string is great. I than with any other I’ve tested. Touch and feel shots are still below average love the stiff mains and soft crosses. as with most poly hybrids. I would Great combination. I would buy this string 2-3 lbs. lower next time to see if playability would improve without sacstring. I love that companies are doing rificing the excellent bite. hybrids.” 4.5 male all-court player using 4.0 male all-court player using Völkl V1 Classic MP strung at 58 pounds CP Wilson nPro Surge strung at 59 pounds LO (BDE Performance 16)

“ “Great String. Mains

After 33 hours of playing there is Gut 17) absolutely no notching of the mains. The crosses are starting to fray and the end is near. A great string combo; very similar to my set-up. A good string for big hitters. 3.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 56/62 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger/Gamma TNT 16)

(Wilson Polylast/Wilson Extreme Synthetic
This hybrid surprised me since I use natural gut normally; but, once I got used it, I really liked it. Great control— able to swing out. The thin poly in the mains was able to generate a fair amount of spin. This string is fairly comfortable since I strung it down 5-6 lbs. from usual tension. I think this is a very good combination. 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.0 strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat VS Natural Gut 17)

Very nice string from the baseline. Great feel on hard groundstrokes. Was able to hit with confidence. A little firm from the rest of the court for
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

For the rest of the tester comments, USRSA members can visit RacquetTECH.com.

Five members of the team broke Zo Pro during the playtest period, one each after 5, 10, 16, 18, and 25 hours of testing.

offering a free set to the first 500 USRSA members who fill out and return the coupon. —Greg Raven Q

CONCLUSION
Hybrid strings such as Gamma Zo Pro attempt to square the circle by giving players a combination of strings that will stand up to a lot of abuse, while still providing a semblance of playability, comfort, or both. Considering the prima facie difficulties inherent in such an undertaking, it’s a minor miracle that hybrids work as well as they do. As noted above, Zo Pro did not rate highly in the Power category with our playtest team. This, however, might make Zo Pro the right choice for two disparate target consumers: big hitters, and players using super oversize frames. Each needs durability, control, and (typically) spin from a string. There might be some in these categories who can control a powerful string, but most seem to prefer to provide power via racquet head speed or racquet head size. Gamma Zo Pro allows either of them to do just that. If you think that Zo Pro might be for you, Gamma is

Gamma has generously offered to send a free set of Zo Pro 16L to the first 500 USRSA members who request it. To get your free set, just cut out (or copy) this coupon and mail it to: USRSA, Attn: Gamma Zo Pro 16L String Offer, 330 Main Street, Vista, CA 92084 or fax to 760-536-1171 Offer expires March 15th, 2006 One set of free string per USRSA membership in the US Offer only available to the first 500 USRSA members

FREE PLAYTEST STRING PROGRAM

FREE! Gamma Zo Pro 16L! Offer expires March 15th 2006
Name: USRSA Member number: Phone: Email:
If you print your email clearly, we will notify you when your sample will be sent.

March 2006 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY

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ask
Q A

the EXPERTS

Your Equipment Hotline
MOMENTUM VS. ACCELERATION
A LOT OF TENNIS EXPERTS TALK about acceleration on your swing, but I thought the whole point was to have more momentum. Since when did acceleration become more important? YOU ARE CORRECT IN THINKING that momentum is important. It is baffling why so many professional tennis instructors focus on acceleration, some even going so far as to imply that you should wait until you feel the ball on the strings before accelerating your racquet. Considering the fact that the ball is on the strings for only 4 to 10 milliseconds—far less time than the 30 milliseconds or more your body needs to recruit the muscles in such a way as to react to the impact—this is clearly impossible. Furthermore, the rate of racquet acceleration before impact has virtually nothing to do with what happens during impact. Before proceeding, let’s define our terms. Momentum is “mass times velocity.” Mass can be thought of as the weight of the object, although for a tennis racquet, not all the mass is available at the point of impact. Velocity is the speed of the object. Acceleration is the change in velocity over a period of time (in tennis, this period of time is usually the 4 to 10 milliseconds the ball is on the strings, also known as the time of impact). Using these definitions, you can see that a heavier racquet traveling the same speed as a lighter racquet will have more momentum, as will any racquet the faster it is swung. Tennis balls are supposed to be about the same weight, but even here, a faster-moving tennis ball will have greater momentum than a slower-moving one. It’s possible the confusion arises because when two objects having momentum (such as a tennis ball and a racquet) collide, the impact creates impact-momentum change. This change is best described by a different equation, which is also known as Newton’s Second Law of Motion: Force equals mass times acceleration. Because most so-called tennis experts misunderstand the terms involved in this seemingly simple equation, you will find some wacky recommendations that misuse these terms. For example, at least one noted tennis expert advises players to put more force on the ball by accelerating the tennis racquet through the swing. As stated above, however, “acceleration” in the equation does not refer to any acceleration that you impart to the racquet prior to impact. It refers only to the changes in the velocities of the ball and racquet during the 4 to 10 millisecond impact: The racquet (which is heavy relative to the ball) decelerates a little, while the ball changes directions completely (on a groundstroke, it decelerates to zero, and then accelerates in another direction entirely). In a straight-on impact, only the speed and mass at impact bear on the result, which clearly shows that momentum should be the center of any such discussion, not acceleration. The “force” in the equation is a calculat-

46 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006

ed amount, which you determine by looking at the mass of each object in the collision (in our case, the mass of the racquet at the point of impact, and the ball), and the change of velocity during the impact (also known as acceleration). Thus, it is also incorrect to advise players to use more “force,” as one industryleading expert repeatedly advises. Another way of looking at this is that before and after the impact, the ball exerts no force on the racquet, and neither does the racquet exert any force on the ball, regardless of wind-up, follow-through, or how quickly you are accelerating the racquet. Therefore, unless you are dealing in-depth with the physics of the collision between the ball and racquet, “momentum” is the better term to use with your students. For in-depth examinations of this and other tennis-related physics, see The Physics and Technology of Tennis, by Howard Brody, Rod Cross, and Crawford Lindsey (published by Racquet Tech Publishing).

tern, while players in the U.S. prefer the more open string pattern. As far as we can tell, Wilson-sponsored pros show some favoritism to the version sold in their area while growing up, but there have been some notable exceptions, which is to say that neither is clearly superior to the other, so it still comes down to personal preference. This is especially true for playability. Spin potential will be about the same for either configuration, as spin is mostly due to the angle of the racquet face to the path of the ball on impact. Control should be better with the more dense string pattern, as the strings deflect less, all other factors being the same.

Power, however, will be reduced, for the same reason. For fuller discussions of these (and other) issues, see the latest book from Racquet Tech Publishing, Technical Tennis, which has a great explanation of factors that influence spin. The one characteristic about which you didn’t ask—durability—will be quite different, as the more dense string pattern will enable strings to last much longer before breaking. —Greg Raven Q
We welcome your questions. Please send them to Racquet Sports Industry, 330 Main St., Vista, CA, 92084; fax: 760-536-1171; email: greg@racquettech.com.

UNDERSTANDING THE STRING SELECTOR MAP

Q A

IN THE STIFFNESS COLUMN OF THE String Selector Map, if string A has a stiffness of 237 lbs/in. as compared to string B, which has a stiffness of 226 lbs/in., am I correct in assuming that string A is more stiff than string B? YES. WE DERIVE THE STIFFNESS value after measuring the amount of force created at impact to stretch the string. Lower values represent softer strings and lower impact forces. Higher values represent stiffer strings and higher impact forces.

STRING-BED DENSITY

Q A

I’VE NOTICED THAT THE WILSON nSixOne 95 comes with a choice of string patterns—16x18 and 18x20. Could you tell me the purpose of this and what the difference means with regards to playability, spin, control, and power? Which do the pros use? THE “6.1” RACQUET HAS BEEN available in two string-bed configurations for many years, going back at least as far as the Pro Staff Classic 6.1 95. However, the version with the 16x18 string bed has until fairly recently been the only one available in the U.S., and the version with the 18x20 string bed has been available only in Europe. Wilson informs us that the reason for this is that European players prefer the more dense string pat-

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Your Serve
Step Outside the Lines
A city tennis coordinator says reaching out to schools with an introductory “Tennis Day” BY ROBIN BATEMAN can bring exciting returns.

I

f you want fresh ideas on how to reach out and grab new participants into the game, picture this: Inside the school gym, a crowd of energetic third-graders forms two lines. They’re waiting eagerly for the coach to feed them tennis balls. Once the first ball is hit, the line erupts with cheers. Kids are hopping around excitedly, cheering on their classmates, itching to swing their racquets at the ball. Some even practice their strokes while waiting in line. Thirty minutes ago, these same third-graders entered the gym with boundless energy, skipping and running, arms flailing in every direction. “Yeeesssss!” some of them exclaimed as they realized what was on the P.E. agenda for the day. “Tennis!” Excitement filled their voices. Then they received quick instruction on the proper grip and forehand ground-stroke motion, and it was off to hit balls. This is “Tennis Day” in physical education class, a variation of the USTA School Tennis program. Often, this program is executed through school assembly, with only a few students actually picking up a racquet. But in Bibb County, Ga., the approach is different. Tennis Day is implemented at each individual school. Tennis instructors visit elementary schools during regularly scheduled P.E. classes to introduce the game of tennis. With this slant on USTA School Tennis, everyone gets to pick up a racquet and hit balls over the net. The altered program first arrived on the scene five years ago and is sponsored by the Macon-Bibb County Parks and Recreation Department. City of Macon Tennis Manager/Pro Carl Hodge and the Bibb County Public School System Athletic Director Raynett Evans worked together to kick off the first Tennis Day during the winter months

of 2000. Back then, only public schools were targeted. Today, tennis instructors also visit private schools. The program is designed with convenience in mind. By bringing the equipment, instructors, and enthusiasm directly into the schools, children are exposed to the game without having to schedule court time, find an instructor, or purchase tennis equipment. P.E. teachers need not know how to give a tennis lesson. Some of the program’s goals include introducing tennis to as many children as possible, showing students that tennis is for everyone, and demonstrating that tennis is fun! Instructors bring portable tennis nets, racquets, and tennis balls along with a curriculum. They stay the entire day at one school, giving all students an opportunity to wrap their fingers around a racquet and hit a ball over the net. Before the end of each class, interested students can sign up to receive additional information about existing programs. And this is your big chance. You’ve created an atmosphere of fun and excitement; now provide them with catchy fliers for your follow-up programs. If you are looking for ways to spruce up the way you introduce tennis to new juniors, increase your junior participation, or just expose more kids to the game, this method works. You can’t overlook the statistics on participation from the inception of this varied approach to the program. In fact, since the launching of the first Tennis Day five years ago, 34 schools have been visited. And more than 10,000 students have been taught tennis each year. At least 1,300 students have played Ralleyball. More than 400 players have continued on to participate in other programs such as Player Development or Summer Camp tennis instruction. Also, a core group of junior players has developed

out of the Tennis Day program. Currently, these players compete for their high school tennis teams as well as in USTA sanctioned tournaments at the local level (Middle Georgia area), state level, and even Regions. While some programs are ongoing, Tennis Day only happens once or twice a year. This helps to guarantee excitement. Now, P.E. teachers contact us asking, “When are you going to come out and teach tennis? The kids love you guys!” Instruction doesn’t have to happen only inside the lines! Get out and step up your approach to introductory programs. You, and the community, will be amazed at the short- and long-term success. Q

Robin Bateman is the site coordinator for the Tattnall Tennis Center in Macon, Ga., where she coordinates tennis programs and leagues, is a tournament director, serves as a team captain, and assists junior teams competing at district, regional, and section events.

We welcome your opinions. Please email comments to rsi@racquetTECH.com or fax them to 760-536-1171.

48 RACQUET SPORTS INDUSTRY March 2006