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Whit's Tennis Tips: String Tension and Juniors

Whitney Kraft, Director of Tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, is here to answer your questions on the game of tennis in his 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
* Please note, due to the volume of emails Whit receives, he is not able to answer every email.

From Bruce
Subject: String Tension

In having my racquet re-strung this winter I was advised to string it with 2 pounds less tension to accommodate the colder weather conditions. The inference is that the strings will tighten more when subjected to lower air temperature. I live in Arizona, so I question whether the temperature difference is so acute between seasons that this step would make any difference in the racquet's performance. What's your advice?


Common stringing advice, but more related to internal ball pressure and rubber properties due to climate induced changes. Humidity also factors in effect to change ball speed and weight, as does altitude. Let's throw in surface types to compound the equation, and you will better understand why pros will tweak their string tensions and sometimes weight/balance of their frames to adjust to the gross situation.

My advice is to find the tension that feels best to you and stick with it.


From Daniel
Subject: Junior Tennis

How would you help a player going from 12's to 14's who is having difficulty with the increased pace that older players are able to hit?


Hi Daniel,

A certified coach can best identify where the most appropriate and viable adjustments might occur. You will be experiencing an on-going series of physiological changes as you mature, and at each stage, and competitive age group, continued structured development should occur.

A good coach, who works with juniors, should be knowledgeable in such physiological considerations as it applies to tennis.

Best of luck,

From Meaghan
Subject: Junior Varsity

Hi Whit,

I am a 14 year old who will be graduating eighth grade and moving to high school soon. I really want to make the Junior Varsity tennis team, and I was wondering what the typical high school player's skill level is. What do I need to have to make the team? I started tennis about a year ago and I have been playing 3x a week or so. I can serve about 55 mph and I hit topspin on my forehand and backhand. I have played matches, but I am not a great player for my age. I was just wondering the typical requirements for a high school player.


Hi Meaghan,

"Nothing ventured, nothing gained"

Please go out and participate and try your best. Hopefully your school has a no-cut policy and includes everyone in the game and team. Keep practicing and seek out the help of a local certified tennis professional for advice and improvement tips.

Have fun,

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