Here is a question we get asked all of the time: pros hit harder than I do, so why don’t I ever see them break their strings?
Actually, if you watch a lot of pro tennis, you will see professional tennis players break their strings, too. However, it doesn’t happen that often because they rarely play more than an hour before changing their strings. In an average 3 hour match, most of the top 20 professional tennis players will change their racquets five to ten times.
Recreational players tend to play a lot longer on the same set of strings than a pro ever would. Poly strings tend to go completely dead after about four hours of play. Good quality multifilaments will last about eight hours before they go dead. And natural gut, the King of Strings, will stand up to about 20 hours of play or so before losing its life. That doesn’t matter to most recreational players, though. Most, in fact, will keep right on playing until something breaks — either string or frame.
Given the price of sting and labour, this is not surprising. Professional tennis player change racquets every hour (or less) because somebody else is paying to string them. If they were paying for their own strings and labour, we would undoubtedly see more strings breaking during professional tennis matches.
So how often should recreational players be changing their strings?
The answer to this question depends on what the recreational player in question wants to get out of their strings. If their goal is maximum performance, they will change poly after four hours of play, multifilament after 8 hours and natural gut after 20 hours. If keeping costs to a minimum is their goal, then they will play as long as they can, usually until something breaks.
As racquet stringers, we chuckle when we hear players say this (which they often do): “It takes a week or two to break new strings in.” We chuckle because we understand that what they are really saying is: “I am not used to playing with good string. I’m used to playing with dead string. So when I get my racquet back with new strings in it, I don’t like. A week later, once the strings are dead, it feels normal to me. That’s when I like it.”
We also wince inwardly when players who have been practicing for a tournament for weeks with dead strings bring their racquets in to be restrung the day before the tournament. We wince because we know exactly what is going to happen. Why would you want a brand new, lively string bed for a tournament when you have been playing with a dead one for months?
So keep all of this the next time you watch a pro tennis match. When you see them unwrapping a new racquet between points, remember why they are doing it. As professionals with hundreds of thousands of dollars on the line with every ranking point won or lost, it is essential for them to have consistency in their corner. When you have big money riding on every swing of the racquet, the last thing you want is to have a string break.
The following questions may appear on tests related to this article. Use them to test your reading comprehension and prepare for the CERTIFIED EXPERTS TEST – RACQUET SERVICE.