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Posts Tagged ‘String Modification’

PostHeaderIcon “Ask Marla” #5 – My String Tension Feels Too Tight

Ask Marla

This week’s question deals with strings, and what you can do if your string job isn’t quite working out the way you hoped it would.

Question: The poundage on my new stringing feels too tight. Is there a way that I can get my strings to loosen besides just hitting with them and suffering through the initial “ick” feeling?

Answer:  There isn’t a lot you can do to immediately loosen the tension on your strings. It’s not recommended, but you can try standing on your racquet’s string bed after laying it on a flat surface. Don’t bounce on it, just apply a few seconds of steady pressure with your foot! Many frames can withstand that pressure, and it might solve your problem. Unfortunately, the best answer is to hit with it and let the strings relax. If you’re very unhappy and the tension really becomes an issue with your game, work with your stringer to see what arrangements can be made for a restringing.

(SFTF Note: String modifications, or string mods as many call them, aren’t talked about a lot in tennis. However, more people than you’d ever suspect have tried various tricks to make an unhappy string job become a little more playable before “throwing in the towel” with a restringing. Unfortunately, the sad fact for most string mods is that they only offer temporary relief at best, and severely decrease string life.
Check out my experience with the black version of Wilson’s NXT strings, and the string modification via emery board I tried in order to compensate for my unhappiness with them.)

Thanks Marla!
Got a tennis question, but no one to ask?
Send it via email or tweet for “Ask Marla”, a (hopefully) weekly (or biweekly) question-and-answer with Marla Reid of San Francisco’s City Racquet Shop.


About Marla Reid

Marla Reid is a respected tennis pro/coach in the San Francisco Bay Area. She’s coached nationally-ranked teams and players at Occidental College, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, University of Kansas, and Florida Tech, and has over 15 years of experience at the NCAA Division I, II, and III levels. Marla has an M.A. in Exercise Physiology, and is a seasoned racquet stringer.

About City Racquet Shop

City Racquet Shop offers, superior products/services, outstanding customer service, and a community-oriented destination for tennis players to shop, hang out and talk about tennis.

City Racquet Shop online: www.cityracquetshop.com
City Racquet Shop on Yelp: http://www.yelp.com/biz/city-racquet-shop-san-francisco
City Racquet Shop on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cityracquetshop

PostHeaderIcon Tennis String Talk: String Modifications, Or Why NXT Black Strings and Emery Boards Don’t Mix


The broken “modified” strings

(Unpublished accompaniment to my earlier string review on the Wilson NXT “black” strings. 3/11/2012)

In a previous piece, I gave my impressions of the new Wilson NXT 17g “black” strings after having two racquets re-strung with this variant. If you’re a fan of the animated series “Family Guy”, you will appreciate my next reference. In the words of Peter Griffin, “I don’t very much care for these strings. I say good day to you sir”.

I’d find it difficult to recommend these strings for anyone with a game like mine. Whatever gains you might make in terms of longer string life, you pay for with a dramatic offset in loss in topspin, control and feel.

Since I was unwilling to pay for new strings so soon after stringing, I tried some string modification by using an emery board to wear down the black coating. The hope was that I regain the lost feel and control by wearing down the slick coating. I lightly rubbed, so as not to damage the strings. The rubbing was too light, however, and didn’t make much of a difference in the string’s playability.

My second attempt was more robust. My strings got a full mani/pedi this time, as I made sure that every applicable ball-facing surface around the sweet spot was rubbed by the emery board. My next hit ended quickly in disappointment, as both sets of strings broke within the first 15 minutes.

This experiment turned out to be a total bust! Each modified set lasted less than two weeks (3 hits).  I take full responsibility for the shortened string life, since the second attempt clearly damaged/weakened the strings. But it was a risk I was willing to take with racquets that felt unplayable.

I got both restrung: one with the regular “natural” Wilson NXT 17g at 58 pounds, and the other with Wilson Stamina 17g at 60. As I was paying, another patron came in for a re-stringing; coincidentally, because of broken Wilson NXT black strings (16g).

Surprisingly, his strings lasted only two weeks – and with no mods. His game was a lot like mine i.e. baseliner with heavy topspin who also found the black coating difficult in terms of feel and ball control.  Before meeting him, I was certain that mine would have lasted at least 5 more weeks without the emery board intervention. Afterward, I realized that maybe they would have broken anyway.

Wilson, you have a great string with the “natural” NXT. Please don’t change it!

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