You go out to your local pro shop (or, much to my dismay, online retailer) and buy two racquets of identical make and model, with the same grip and head size and have them strung the exact same way with the same string. You go out and play with both racquets and over time you gravitate to one racquet over the other. Ultimately, you grow to have a close personal relationship with racquet #1, while racquet #2 sit on the sidelines collecting dust.
How is it that we always wind up having a “favorite” racquet?
While all racquets are produced to be identical and go through rigorous quality control during the production process, there are uncontrolled variables in mass production that make each racquet slightly different from the next. In the production of a graphite tennis racquet, graphite fibers are injected into a mold, creating a racquet of a certain weight, shape, flexibility and balance. While the best companies manage this process with absolute control, there are times when this precision process is not 100% accurate. Racquet handles, injected with foam, are also subject to subtle discrepancies, which can alter the weight and balance of the final product, and the finishing processes, such as wrapping the handle or the paint job can be slightly different from one racquet to the next.
In the tennis, as in life, perfection is rarely achieved.
So how do the pros manage to play “perfectly” with 8-12 seemingly different racquets?
The answer lies in the diagnostics and customization process. While each racquet may have slight degrees of difference, those differences can be detected and assessed through the use of professional diagnostic machine. This machine is used to evaluate each racquet’s weight, balance and swing weight. Once each racquet is diagnosed, it is up to the master racquet technician to customize the lesser playing racquet to play like the preferred racquet. Perfection achieved!
There is a reason why you prefer one racquet over another — both racquets are not the same. Meaning the balance or weight of the racquet is slightly different from another. How does this happen? When racquets are being mass produced, sometimes the grips are not wrapped exactly the same way, or the foam pallet received just a tad bit more foam. Certain things during production can cause a slight difference in the way a racquet can play.
How can you fight against this issue? Make sure the shop you get the racquets from has a diagnostic machine that can evaluate the racquets weight, balance and swing weight to insure a perfect match. Now if you already have the racquets, bring it to Courtware Pro Shop and we can evaluate the racquets with our Prince precision tuning center.
To play at the highest level, we have to make sure your equipment preforms at the highest level as well. There nothing worse than having to play an important match with a racquet you have no confidence in.
Gerald Sarmiento is a USRSA Master Racquet Technician of 18 years and co-owner of the Courtware Pro Shops, which operates pro shops at Nassau Racquet & Tennis Club in Skillman, NJ and Warren Health & Racquet in Warren, NJ.