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Whit's Tennis Tips: Tennis Racquets

May 25, 2008 11:50 AM

Whitney Kraft, Director of Tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, will be answering your questions on the game of tennis in a new column on USTA.com called “Whit’s Tennis Tips.” Whether you're looking for that perfect racquet, having a dispute over scoring a match, or just looking to improve your game, all you have to do is ask Whit.

Click here to send in a question now

To: AskWhit
Subject: Tennis Racquet

I am a tradtional "serve and volley" tennis player and have tennis elbow. I wanted to know what is the best racquet for me? Which one is easier on my arm?

Smith A.

From: AskWhit
Subject: RE: Tennis Racquet

Hi Smith and I am glad you asked.

First, most any racquet can be made more “arm friendly” and even a frame that would be classified as “easy-on-the-arm” could lose those properties if strung with a stiff string, strung too tightly with any string type, or if the grip size was incorrect, or lost its’ tack. Weight and balance factor as well.

Generally speaking equipment guidelines for tennis elbow include:

  • Oversize frame with proper grip-size and weight/balance
  • A soft string at a slightly below recommended tension
  • Keep both strings and grip fresh, by replacing often. White grips are a good idea. The white color shows grime (slippage) and reminds you to change. Otherwise you may not realize that you have to gradually grip tighter and tighter, and that off-center hits are exacerbating torque effects.

Bottom line-You need a qualified racquet technician to help you make frame and string selections, and then, customize them to you. Your teaching pro may offer suggestions on a frame model that suits your game style; but then it is up to your racquet technician to apply this suggestion in making that frame arm-friendly. All the major frame manufactures offer at least one model that would be considered arm-friendly.

Last but not least, arm rehab exercises are required. Biomechanical stroke alterations may also be needed. Don’t become over reliant on anti-inflammatory medications, but do ice any soreness after playing. Have you seen a medical professional trained in treating tennis elbow? If not do so, or you run the risk of turning a simple tendonitis into much more challenging tendonosis.

Get healthy and quick!


To: AskWhit
Subject: Tennis Racquets For Kids

I am interested in getting an opinion on racquets for kids.

My two sons take clinics at a local club and I see little kids choking up on adult oversized racquets and big kids playing with "starter" racquets and everything in between.

My 7 year old plays with a junior racquet and my twelve year old plays with an adult racquet. How do you judge what kind of racquet kids should play with. We play 2-3 times a week. When do the raquets need to be restrung (or replaced)? The pros at our club usually hem and haw over this question.



From: AskWhit
Subject: RE: tennis rackets for kids

Hi Ed and thanks for your question.

Have you heard of QuickStart Tennis? If not, be on the lookout for this iniative to grow the game of tennis amongst youth players 10 years of age and under. The format is designed to match racquet sizes, ball types and court dimensions/net height to the age and size of a youngster.

Often times kids do use too heavy and too long of a racquet. As well the grip of an adult racquet is unmanageable for small hands. One method I like for sizing up a youth player is to have he or she stand with the racquet in hand and let the arm hang naturally by their side. The end of the racquet head should just clear the ground for proper fit.

Stringing is typically not that important for starter racquets until you reach the 25 or 26 inch High Performance frames. At that point they should be restrung 2 to 3 times a year and prevent their exposure to extreme temperatures.

Happy Hitting in the New Year!


To: AskWhit
Subject: Tennis Question

I have a 17 year old daughter that plays tennis, she also has asthma. She very rarely has attacks but of course they come during the most intense matches and at very important tournaments. What is the proper procedures for handling this type of medical emergency. She has only had about 5-6 attacks in her life so they really affect her when they occur. I cannot help but run on the court to make sure that she is OK, the doctor said that these kinds of attacks can be life threatening, so the match is not as important to me as making sure she is ok, but I want to make sure of what her rights are and how to handle this situation. Is it true that she gets one medical break and for 3 minutes?

Thank you so much as this is very important.

Glenda M. (from Kirbyville, Texas)

From: AskWhit
Subject: RE: Tennis Question

Hi Glenda,

Your daughter is entitled to one medical time out for this condition. If this happens numerous times and it cannot be handled during the changeover, she would not be entitled to additional medical time outs.

It would be best to notify the referee prior to a match of the situation so it can be monitored fairly and consistently.

Thanks for your inquiry


To: AskWhit
Subject: Question from USTA League Match

In our third set USTA league doubles match we had to play a "Coleman" tie-breaker. According to the Coleman rules, as I understand them, we are supposed to switch sides after the first point, and then after every 4 points. In other words, we switch when the sum of the score/points is 1, 5, 9, 13, etc.

However, on this one particular night after playing two points we realized that we failed to switch sides after the first point. I pointed out that we are to correct the error immediately, and then proceed as the Coleman was supposed to be played out. We agreed to switch sides immediately to correct the error. However, my opponent, let's call him "Larry", refused to switch back after the 4th point was played because he insisted that he was supposed to serve on the same side throughout the entire Coleman tie-breaker. I told him that feature applies only if your first turn to serve is on the same side you have always been serving, and in this case his point was irrelevant because we are supposed to respect the Coleman rules. My partner and I insisted that we are to switch at 1, 5, 9, 13, etc. but they refused, and insisted that we switch every fourth point but at the score sums of 3, 7, 11, 15, etc.

Was I correct, or was Larry correct?


From: AskWhit
Subject: RE: Question from USTA League Match

Hi Aaron,

The Coman Tiebreak procedure is the same as a regular Match Tiebreak except that ends are changed after the first point, than after every four points, and at the conclusion of the Tiebreak. Yes, it is intended that players in doubles do maintain there serving side that they utilized during the set and in singles the format is meant to provide no one player a 6 point initial sun and or/wind advantage.

In your case, you would have been on track had you switched after the fifth point.

Thanks for your question.




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