Strings, Gauges & Tensions

So you have decided to play tennis. When you start playing tennis your Dad buys you a cheap racquet just in case you drop the sport sooner than later. As you start improving, the racquet is no longer feasible and you get a decent racquet. This racquet becomes part of you, right weight, balance and feel. You keep improving and you think you need another racquet. Does
your Dad buy a new car every year? No he doesn’t. He keeps his car for many years, change the oil, the tires, fixes whatever is wrong with the car. Tennis is the same way, you keep the racquet because they are very expensive also. You get to restring your racquet, re grip it, replace the grommets and so forth. Then comes the part about which string is best for you when your racquet feels just right. You test different strings and tensions.

Strings come in different compositions and gauges (natural gut, synthetic gut,multi-filament, Polyester, kevlar and nylon to name the top six). Once you have chosen a string, you have to decide which tension is best for you.

Natural gut is the best string and the most expensive because it is made of (animal intestine) and it has the capability to have more resiliency, control, and better tension retention. The only negative is that you cannot let the string get wet because it will lose the tension rapidly. Synthetic gut is the next level of string down, it is a lot cheaper than natural gut and it gives you the feel of real gut. Multi-filament are a combination of nylon, kevlar and poly. It makes the string a lot softer but it doesn’t hold the tension as long. Polyester is the mainstay in college players because it takes a lot to break the string (they hit the ball a lot harder) and it gives them more topspin while keeping control. Kevlar is the stiffest string you will ever find on the market, it really holds the tension. It will take a long time to break this string. It could also cause you to get tennis elbow if you string it real tight. I recommend that you string kevlar with lesser tension. Nylon is the cheapest string there is and it has been around for as long as i can remember and more. Its recommended for entry level tennis players due to its low cost.

The string gauge is the thickness of the string (15, 16, 17 or 18) which will be a factor in choosing a string. A lower number will mean a thicker string (less bounce) and higher number means a thinner string (more bounce).

As you start getting better with your game, you need to figure out which string benefits you in the long term. Then you have to figure out the gauge of the string and then the tension to enhance your game. For instance, those of you who like to hit the ball very hard you’ll need to string it very tight. You might feel that your arm is getting too much workout and you’re getting tired easily. If you would like to get more feel on the ball then string it a little lose, it will give you more length with an easier swing without waisting too much power. Only by testing different strings, gauges and tensions will you be able to figure out which combination is better for you.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic string their racquets with gut on the mains strings and poly on the cross strings. Federer also strings his racquet at 51 lbs on the mains and 49 lbs on the crosses. Djokovic strings his racquet with gut 59 lbs on mains and poly 56 lbs on crosses.