Racquets/Strings

Talk about your racquets, your strings, shoes and yes, your balls.
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Racquets/Strings

#16

Post by ponchi101 »

He did, initially. Then he had them made from the manufacturer, who was Snauwaert first, then Wilson.
At that time, there was another manufacturer that also did a super dense pattern, with 50% more string needed. But I forget who was that.
In the picture, you can clearly see Woodforde's pattern is not standard. Counting, you can see it is a 12x16 pattern. His idea was that it gave him more spin. On the other hand, he had to string it to the max, or it would be too much of a catapult.
woodforde.jpg
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We have said it: the golden age of racquet experimentation. Every season somebody came up with a new, wacko idea. Most of those did not survive.
Story about the Ergonom. I was helping with an exhibition in Caracas, the Marlboro Cup (yep, with pretty girls handing out samples, dressed in red and white miniskirts and all). Andres Gomez was one of the participants and somebody had an Ergonom. So Gomez, for fun, asked to hit a few with the racquet. As he had one of the most extreme forehand grips, which whipped way too fast through the contact point, he missed the first ball completely. He clanked the second out of the stadium. He laughed and picked up his Yonex. End of that promotion, right there.
My god, it's full of stars!
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Racquets/Strings

#17

Post by Deuce »

ponchi101 wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:42 pm He did, initially. Then he had them made from the manufacturer, who was Snauwaert first, then Wilson.
At that time, there was another manufacturer that also did a super dense pattern, with 50% more string needed. But I forget who was that.
In the picture, you can clearly see Woodforde's pattern is not standard. Counting, you can see it is a 12x16 pattern. His idea was that it gave him more spin. On the other hand, he had to string it to the max, or it would be too much of a catapult.
Yes - they were made for him with that drill pattern. I just meant that that drill pattern was never commercially available to non-pros.

The dense pattern you're thinking of was probably the Pro-Kennex Micro. They made a few versions of it. String pattern on the original was 22M, 30C. Rather insane. Had to be strung with very thin 19 to 21 gauge string that Kennex made especially for it (or fishing line :D ). A friend of mine had the original Micro, and I hit with it. It was unplayable - was like hitting with a wall of lubricated glass. The ball would just slide on the strings. No bite at all, not surprisingly. It might be barely playable if it were strung at 10 pounds, but the recommended tension (I think it was 35 to 50 pounds) was way too high for this thing. The racquet was just a really bad idea.

ponchi101 wrote: Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:42 pm Story about the Ergonom. I was helping with an exhibition in Caracas, the Marlboro Cup (yep, with pretty girls handing out samples, dressed in red and white miniskirts and all). Andress Gomez was one of the participants and somebody had an Ergonom. So Gomez, for fun, asked to hit a few with the racquet. As he had one of the most extreme forehand grips, which whipped way too fast through the contact point, he missed the first ball completely. He clanked the second out of the stadium. He laughed and picked up his Yonex. End of that promotion, right there.
Great story! Had me laughing. Gomez was probably about the worst player one could get to try the Ergonom, with his extreme grip.
But then I think most pros would have had a hard time with that frame. Something tells me that Connors would have been the one to figure it out, as he had a tendency to play frames that were notoriously difficult to tame.

I never hit with an Ergonom myself. Picked one up in a store once - a racquet store owner I knew was also a collector, and he had one in his store - but it wasn't strung (it must be interesting to string - you can't tell the Mains from the Crosses!).

Here are a few photos from that guy's collection (I guess we should move these posts to the Racquets section now :) )...
The Bergelin, you'll likely recall, was a racquet whose tension one could adjust 'on the fly' (on-court). Interesting idea, but...
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#18

Post by ponchi101 »

The Pro-Kennex Micro indeed. Again, never played with one. They never made it down home.
Connors could have used the Ergonom, with his flat strokes. He could have kept the head oriented in the right direction. And he seldom spun his racquet in his hands, so he had that down pat.
He put some lead tape in his racquet head (when he was playing with the Pro Staff 6.0) but only on one side, so if he spun it, it could end on the "wrong" end.
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#19

Post by Deuce »

The current problems with the volcanic eruption on the island of St. Vincent bring to mind the Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85 sq. in...

There was a mystique about these frames - but only the ones made on the island of St. Vincent. This is largely - if not completely - the result of Pete Sampras apparently insisting that all of his P.S. 6.0 frames be ones made at St. Vincent, and not the more ubiquitous Chicago made ones.
Of course, Sampras is also the player who insisted that Wilson never paint his P.S. 6.0 frames to look like a more modern model because he said he could feel the difference in playability that the different paint created.

So... here's to the people of St. Vincent - home of the iconic Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85. May they all find safe ground in the midst of this natural disaster.

(Search for 'Vincent' in the link below...)

https://handwiki.org/wiki/Engineering:W ... iginal_6.0

.
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#20

Post by ponchi101 »

I say that he had not been so stubborn sticking to the 6.0/85sqin and sticking to natural gut, he would have won two more slams. He should have gone the way of Agassi, always playing with the latest Head available (once he settled with them).
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#21

Post by Deuce »

I don't think Agassi changed frames very much, if at all, beyond a certain point.
I heard that his Head Radicals were all the same, despite the different paint jobs, and that they were made to play similarly to the Prince Original Graphite.
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#22

Post by ashkor87 »

what is your experience with the vibration dampeners? I always feel their effect is more psychological than real.. anyone find them useful? Do the top players use them?
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#23

Post by Deuce »

ashkor87 wrote: Sun May 30, 2021 6:45 am what is your experience with the vibration dampeners? I always feel their effect is more psychological than real.. anyone find them useful? Do the top players use them?
Don't get me started on this!

Well... I guess it's too late for that... :)

Firstly, yes, many pro players use vibration dampeners (and some even get paid for it!).
Andre Agassi was famous for using a simple rubber band tied around the strings as his vibration dampener.

Yes, it is psychological in the sense that whether you have one on your strings or not, the ball will rebound off the strings in exactly the same manner - it makes absolutely no difference to the tension, or to the way that the racquet or the strings play.
That said, I use one. Because it changes the way that the racquet feels. Some say it 'dampens' the feel. Others say the feeling is more 'muted' with it. I really don't care how the change in feel is described - I play with one because I prefer the way that my racquets feel with one than without one. And anyone who knows me knows that, to me, feel is the most important element of a racquet.

I've been using cable grommets as vibration dampeners for many years - ever since I found one on a court, and my friend the handyman said "It's just a regular cable grommet". Off to the local hardware store I went to buy a package of cable grommets - which are far less expensive than any of the many devices marketed as vibration dampeners.
My very first vibration dampener - a few decades ago - was the 'Donnay Vibrazorb', which was essentially just a 3 coloured piece of foam in a cylinder type shape. Being foam, it eventually disintegrated.

There is a rule about the installation of vibration dampeners - they "may be placed only outside the pattern of crossed strings". That is, between the last cross string (or last main string) and the frame.
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#24

Post by ashkor87 »

yikes! many things I didnt know.. thanks
I prefer the sound of the strings without the dampener, so I hate them...
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#25

Post by ponchi101 »

To me, they do change the feeling of the racquet a lot. It is up to you to decide if for good or for bad. I use one, so I think they are useful, specially for hackers like me that can't find the center of the racquet with the needed frequency.
Remember too that they came into use at a time when the racquet technology was not as good as today; some racquet of the near past were tuning forks. Hit one ball outside the sweet spot of a Wilson Ultra II and your tennis elbow was guaranteed (just an example).
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#26

Post by ashkor87 »

btw if I remember right, Agassi used to add a weight to his racket head, because he wanted a heavier racket, nothing much to do with vibration
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#27

Post by Deuce »

ashkor87 wrote: Sun Jun 06, 2021 3:43 am btw if I remember right, Agassi used to add a weight to his racket head, because he wanted a heavier racket, nothing much to do with vibration
Many players add weight to their racquets - usually in the form of lead tape. This has been happening since the wood racquet era.
Generally speaking, the heavier a racquet is, the less problems with vibration that it will have. This is the same principle that a fully loaded freight car (on a freight train) will be more stable, and bounce around on the tracks less, than an empty freight car. (A conductor once told me that most train derailments are caused by empty freight cars jumping off of the tracks.)

But reducing vibrations is not the main reason that players put weights on their racquets. The main reason is to modify the balance and swingweight of the frame.
Most of the top 100 players or so use frames that are made specifically to their specifications by the racquet companies. This can include custom layups of material, custom head size, custom length, custom drill pattern for the strings, etc. Despite looking the same as the racquets available to the public in stores, they are not, for the most part. There's a lot of deception going on, for the purposes of marketing - and the players are complicit in this deception.

This was not always the case. In the wood/metal racquet era, and the first couple of generations of graphite frames, the players used pretty much the same frames available to the general public in stores. Some players (those who could afford it) would hire someone to customize the stock frames for them. Warren Bosworth is probably the most well known 'racquet technician' - he was famous for customizing Lendl's frames, among others.
Today, even though the racquets of the top pros come already customized for the player from the racquet company, racquet technicians are a dime a dozen, and they'll do anything from customized stringing to further modifying the frames.

Changing the weight/swingweight/balance of a racquet can make a significant difference. And this is usually done with lead tape at various points in the hoop of the frame. But players will also add weight to the handle area at times. Sometimes, where they place the weight - and how much weight they put - will vary, depending on the court surface, the air temperature, and even the tension of the strings.

I believe the original Wilson Ultra (graphite) was the first racquet to come with weights already added to the hoop of the racquet - 4 small metal weights were riveted to the hoop at 3 o'clock and 9 o'clock. They called this PWS - for Perimeter Weighting System (racquet companies LOVE to make simple things sound complicated - it wasn't a 'system', it was simply a few little weights riveted to the frame - very rudimentary... another example of a racquet company trying to make a simple thing sound 'sophisticated' is Head's CAP grommets - CAP stands for 'Computer Assisted Protection' - but all it is is a bumper that wraps around the frame more than most bumpers, and extends around the entire perimeter of the head - or hoop).
These metal weights on the Ultra would get loose within the rivets with repeated ball striking, and you could eventually hear them rattling around, which was rather annoying.

After that experiment, Wilson began adding 'bulges' to the hoops of most of their frames at 3 and 9 o'clock. This continues on most of their frames until today - still called 'PWS'. I, personally, view this as being just another gimmick, as, because they've been doing it with just about all of their frames, it has become a standard feature, and, even if there is a little added weight there, the bulges are completely unnecessary, and exist only for marketing purposes. Plus, with racquets without 'PWS', anyone can add lead tape in a matter of a couple of minutes.
While much of racquet manufacturing today is complicated, adding weight to alter the balance and swingweight is not exactly rocket science (as proof of this, I've been doing it with my own racquets for many years.)
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Re: Racquets/Strings. The Wilson Clash

#28

Post by ponchi101 »

I was able to hit a little bit these days I spent in Georgia, and I borrowed a demo Wilson Clash for about 15 minutes.
The pro that lent it to me had it in his shop, and I had to refrain from complaining about one thing: he had the poor thing strung with the worst and possibly cheapest strings possible. It was eye opening of how important good strings are. The racquet almost had no feel to it.
But there was even more. I found the racquet to be super soft, almost resembling an old, pure fiberglass frame. It is very soft on the elbow and joints (that was the reason I tried it) but the mushy feel was hard to get used to. I am not sure if it was all due to the terrible strings, but the frame felt spongey, like a trampoline. It is well balanced and light but, if you want to hit big, it does not have enough weight. Again, I am coming out of that elbow injury and the racquet did not feel like it would aggravate it, but I got the feeling that this racquet would be very difficult to put a lot of power on the ball.
I went on line and noticed that no pros use it on tour. Lots of people using the Pro Staffs, the Blades and even the Burns, but none is using the Clash (or I missed it). In short, it needs very good strings and it may be a good racquet for beginners and intermediates, but if you are a bit advanced, the other Wilson lines may be better.
And, at $249, I don't know if it is a good deal.
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Re: Racquets/Strings

#29

Post by Deuce »

When I saw your title 'The Wilson Clash', I thought the post would be about some sort of conflict within Wilson about racquets or strings!

I know nothing about the Clash, but it's good to hear that it's a soft frame, as I have found the huge majority of racquets over the past 15-20 years to be much too stiff and much too light. You say the Clash is light - which is a strike against it in my book, but weight can be added to light frames, at least. But if they're too stiff, nothing can be done to soften them, other than deliberately cracking it :) .

As for your experience with the Clash... string tension is also of extreme importance, of course. String tension, string type, frame stiffness, and frame weight/swingweight are all very personal elements. There is no universal 'right' or 'wrong' - it's just whatever each person feels most comfortable with (and which does not cause elbow/arm/shoulder pain).

Personally, I'm very happy with my combination of 20 to 25 year old models - a blend of Head Prestige Classic 600s, iPrestige Mids, and Pro Tour 280s. I find them all extremely comfortable to hit with, have them strung at different tensions (within a 10 pound range)... and, perhaps best of all, when I hit poorly on a given day, I can rationalize it by telling myself (and anyone else who'll listen) that I hit poorly simply because I chose the wrong racquet to use that day.
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