On a cold and windy Wednesday afternoon in late May, Shabbir Affridi and Nirupan Yoganathan (both Strathfield Sports Club tennis members) rallied it out on court 5 for the 2021 Round Robin Men’s Single title. The final score was as tough as it looked, 2-6, 7-6(7-4), 6-3 in Affridi’s favour.
Affridi, a Division 1-1 Badge player was down a break in the first set and it was 30-40 on his serve to Yoganathan, a younger and fitter player. Affridi’s legs weren’t moving and he started to feel the pressure. Being an all-court player, Affridi chose to stay back at the baseline to counter Yoganathan’s returns. After speaking with Affridi, he said he had to dig deep mentally early in the match especially as he was at the risk of going down 3-0 in the first set.
‘I thought you have nothing to lose. Let’s do it. Let’s do it for Mark Padd’s dad. I also thought about my two kids and that they would be happy to see their father win,’ affirmed Affridi. ‘I told (Mark) that I’m going to win it for your dad as a tribute.’
During the quarterfinal round, Affridi learned about fellow SSC member Mark Padd’s father becoming ill and it further motivated him to keep pushing on. Affridi’s initial motivation came from having played in previous years and never quite accomplishing what he set out to do. In 2019, he was not able to be here and last year, he reached the final but due to a back injury had to retire. This is a classic example of what sheer determination can do if you set your mind to a goal.
‘This year was my redemption year. I wanted to prove that without injury the result would be different.’
With that in mind, Affridi served an ace and went on to hold his serve and broke Yoganathan right back to make the score 2-2 in the first set. For the majority of the match, Yoganathan kept Affridi at the baseline but in the rallies that Affridi could dictate, he would come to the net to try and finish the point. In the third set, Yoganathan suffered a cramp in his arm but declined to postpone when asked by Affridi. And it just wasn’t the same.
At 41 years old, Affridi has been playing social tennis on and off since his twenties and consistently for the last 7 years. But he’s keen to work on the parts of his game in order to improve. He analysed Stan Wawrinka’s one-handed backhand and Pete Sampras’ serve on Youtube.
In the last 6 months, he put in the hard yards during the two or three times he hits at SSC and prioritised on working on his volley and serve technique. And Affridi gives credit where it’s due, thanking Coach Shaun for teaching him to transfer his weight in his legs when he’s serving.
‘I didn’t volley before. I changed my serve completely and now it’s a weapon. It’s something I’ve worked on really hard for 6 months.’ ‘Coach Shaun taught me to use my right leg in my serve at the start.’
Out of a draw of 18 players, Affridi, who uses a HEAD racquet came out on top with a prize of $200 Club Cash. Pretty swell if you ask us.
First things first, a tennis racquet grip size is the circumference of the tennis racquet before you wrap an overgrip over it, which means the size you need will depend on the size of your hand. When choosing your first tennis racquet, you must also test out the grip size. Remember, you can always increase the size with an overgrip.
Most tennis racquets will be available in 4 sizes, unless it is a specific junior or adult sized tennis racquet. Let’s dive right in. You may already have noticed by now that tennis racquet grip sizes are measured in inches.
Tennis Racquet Grip Sizes:
4 ⅛ inches or Grip Size 1: Extra small. This first grip size suits small children.
4 ¼ inches or Grip Size 2: Small. Best suited for children or women with small hands.
4 ⅜ inches or Grip Size 3: Medium. Suitable for women and men depending on their hand size (we’ll explain this below).
4 ½ inches or Grip Size 4: Large. Racquets with this grip size suits men with large hands.
When you have chosen your tennis racquet, hold it in your dominant hand and take a few shadow or air swings. A general rule of thumb we have at Everything Tennis Pro Shop is that it should feel comfortable and that your fingers and palm are not touching.
The tricky part you might be wondering about is how much space there should be between your fingers and palm. The answer is the index finger on your other hand. Take the index finger and place it in between the fingers and palm that’s holding the racquet.
If there isn’t enough space for your index finger, then the grip is too small. Likewise if there is more space between your index finger and palm, then the grip is too big.
Alternatively, use a ruler and open your dominant hand with your fingers extended close together. (See image below.) Align the ruler with the bottom crease of your palm and measure to the tip of your ring finger.
It’s okay if you’re in between numbers. Choose the smaller size and use an overgrip. It’s easier to increase the racquet handle size with an overgrip. We actually recommend you to replace your grip regularly as a way to protect the racquet handle’s original grip. Happy hitting!
As the Australian Open 2021 wrapped up, we saw a number of Aussie players making waves through the main draw in both singles and doubles, including Ashleigh Barty making the quarterfinals, Thanasi Kokkinakis bowing out in a five set thriller and Samantha Stosur and partner Matt Ebden claiming the Grand Slam’s mixed doubles runner’s up trophy. And at Everything Tennis pro shop, we have seen a number of junior players come to train and sweat it out and go on to play professional tournaments or receive scholarships to the US college tennis scene.
We were excited to talk to local Aussie tennis player Zoe Tanti. She came up through the ranks of Tennis Australia and has made a name for herself to jet off to Southern Utah University where she is playing Division I college tennis and completing a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science at the same time. Tanti is no stranger to balancing schoolwork and competitive tennis and all that comes with the commitment to train and study day in and day out from a young age.
“From around the age of 11, I was competing in Australian junior tennis tournaments. I remember on weekends when I used to travel to tournaments around NSW with my sisters and parents,” said Tanti.
Images courtesy of Southern Utah Thunderbirds
We all know that nobody is going to hand you titles or accolades on a silver platter. You have to work for it and have the mentality that there is someone working harder so you have to push yourself more. That is the mentality Zoe Tanti carries with her and it’s that mentality that set her up to be nationally ranked in the top 10 for every age group from under 12’s to 16’s.
When asked about her transition from the local school to Meriden: An Anglican School for Girls, she spoke fondly about “being a part of such an amazingly talented team and having the opportunity to work with high quality coaches.”
Perhaps a similar line can be drawn alongside professional WTA and ATP players on tour. From grip size to injury prevention, the appropriate racquet size to the string tension for your racquet vs your game, a competitive tennis player needs to have a support group. Zoe Tanti trained with coaches and hit with like minded Meriden girls at Strathfield Sports Club tennis courts. It’s easy to see that when Tanti trained at SSC, it took pure hard work and some to compete at a high junior level nationally and internationally and then some to be on tour.
Travelling with fellow Meriden girls and coaches to ITF and national tournaments was the norm and she thrived in that mix of athletic and academic environment. During her last year as a junior tennis player (aged 18 and under) she reached a ranking of 145 nationally and 753 in the ITF respectively.
“I enjoyed my time as a junior [tennis] player. Travelling and playing tournaments with my teammates allowed me to make lifelong friends and learn valuable lessons for the next stage in my tennis career.”
“During my high school years I juggled tennis and academics and with the support and help of the [Meriden] school, I believe it helped my transition to the college tennis environment.”
It makes sense that at the time of the interview, Tanti spoke about supporting Kyrgios at the Australian Open because he works hard even if he faces a lot of criticism. There are a lot of younger players who look up to him. “If I were rooting for someone it would be Kyrgios because he works hard and is an inspiration to many players out there. I like how he’s not afraid to be different.”
The biggest takeaway from our conversation with Tanti is that no matter what level of competitive tennis you reach as a tennis player in Australia, working for what you want is at the top of the list and that there is always support for those who are willing to accept it.
Tennis is a demanding sport. If the player is not not using the correct technique during matchplay or training, then they also put their body at risk for common tennis injuries. Common tennis injuries include tennis elbow pain and a rolled or twisted ankle.
We’ve put together a simple injury prevention guide below along with a list of the most common tennis injuries to help maintain your form. Remember to seek professional help for any persisting and/or excruciating pain.
General Injury Prevention Guide
From rolled ankles to tennis elbow pain, you can utilise the following strategies below to help prevent some of those injuries.
Wearing proper tennis shoes is a good place to start to protect your ankles. As your game develops, you can wear two pairs of socks for extra padding.
The size and weight of your tennis racquet should be fitted to your individual physical needs.
After your gear is sorted, pay attention to your technique. When serving, balance your upper body, bend your knees, raise your heels and don’t over arch your back too much. Look into having coaching lessons to help you improve your technique.
Back to basics. Before any physical activity, you should warm up and cool down at the end. This is crucial to maintain the overall wellness of your form and prevent injuries.
Breaks and rest are important. You risk overexerting yourself when you over train or play too much. Recovery is important for improvement in between practices and matches. Overexertion can make you more susceptible to injury.
1. Tennis Elbow
What is it? Tennis elbow pain is the inflammation of the tendons joining the forearm muscles to the outside of the elbow. Similar to golfer’s elbow, but it occurs on the outside of the elbow rather than on the inside. It’s usually quite painful when trying to hit a forehand or serve. You can feel this pain on your elbow in one or both arms.
Causes: In simple words, overuse is a large factor in causing tennis elbow pain. Technique and form is another big factor for tennis players experiencing tennis elbow pain – crucial to putting less stress on the smaller muscles and tendons as well as avoiding overusing your large muscles in the wrong way. Prolonged use of a grip that’s too small can contribute to tennis elbow pain as well as a grip that is too big. If your racquet is too heavy, too large or too small, it will cause unnecessary strain to your arm as you have to make up for the excessive weight of the racquet or vice versa.
Tips: For tennis elbow relief, stretching and hot and/or cold therapy will help and is a good place to start. If you are experiencing tennis elbow pain, even if you’re not sure if it’s tennis elbow, it is important to seek professional help for tennis elbow treatment as soon as possible to reduce your recovery time.
2. Rotator Cuff Tears
What is it? First, the rotator cuff is a group of muscles and tendons that surround the shoulder joint. These muscles and tendons keep the head of your upper arm bone firmly within the socket of the shoulder. When you get a rotator cuff tear, it means that there is a tear in that group of muscles and usually feels like a dull pain.
Causes: As the serve is one of the more demanding and repetitive motions in tennis, it puts the player’s shoulder at increased risk of wear and tear to the soft tissue. Causes include either by repetitive overhead motions over a prolonged period of time or by substantial damage to the muscles.
Tips: The key to strengthening your rotator cuff muscles is to exercise. You can usually use specific exercises to work around the pain rather than making the symptoms worse. As a tennis player, you can build up your shoulder strength with shoulder-specific exercises to reduce your chances of developing rotator cuff injury. Do not hesitate to contact a health professional for your individual needs.
3. Jumper’s Knee
What is it? Jumper’s knee is the overuse of the patellar tendon that attaches the kneecap to the shinbone. Imagine there are microtears underneath the kneecap.
Causes: Since explosive muscle contractions needed for sprinting, jumping and quick changes of directions is a large part of tennis, the motion can put excessive strain on this tendon and cause microscopic tears (injury) to the area underneath the kneecap. Poor flexibility of the quads (your thighs), hamstrings and various foot types can also add to the load on the knee. If you experience any sharp pain under your knees or aching pain after you play, you should definitely seek additional assistance.
Tips: Definitely do not try to play through any pain or you risk making the injury worse. Use cold treatments to cool the area, stretch and strengthen the hamstring and quad muscles. Look into a sports physiotherapist should your pain be excruciating or too painful to move even when not playing tennis. Side note: make sure that your shoes are not worn and offer good support.
4. Ankle Sprains
What is it? A sprained ankle is a stretch or tear in the tough bands of tissue that help hold your ankle bones together. This can cause pain and swelling in the ankle. Bruising can sometimes occur too.
Causes: This happens when you twist your ankle during a sudden change in direction or when your feet lands weirdly after a serve or jump. Tennis is usually a fast-paced game and sudden movements can stretch out or damage one of the ligaments in the ankle.
Tips: You can apply an ankle brace, apply ice and/or rest to reduce the swelling and pain. Strengthening ankle exercises is also important and we always recommend professional help for specific ankle stretches/exercises.
5. Back Stress Fracture
What is it? A common back injury in young tennis players where you usually feel the pain in the lower back area. The reason it is common in young adolescent athletes is because their bone structure is still immature and the bony bridge in the lower vertebrae can develop into a fracture and cause a slippage in the lumbar vertebrae.
Causes: In tennis, the main reason for a back stress fracture is the serve. This is due to the nature of the tennis serve where you have to bend backwards with a combined lumbar extension/rotation/side-flexion. But that doesn’t mean you will get it straight away – this happens over a long period of time due to insufficient rest and the bone cannot recover enough from the overload.
Tips: While it is not a treatment for existing back stress fractures, if you experience back pain, core stability exercises can help build up muscles to support your back as well as prevent back injuries in those who are not injured yet. In the early stages of back pain, heat can help reduce the tension and muscle spasm. Rest is always advised until the pain is away and then engage in core strengthening exercises as explained above.
Every child and teenager grows at a different speed. As each junior tennis player goes through their own growth spurt, their tennis racquet should grow with them as a racquet that is too light or heavy will have negative impacts on their swing.
So how do parents and coaches guide junior tennis players on this journey based on their ability, physical development and goals? Let’s explore the two main circumstances in which you would begin the process of upgrading a junior tennis racquet in general and then to an adult size – based on their height or age. At that stage, you can help your junior choose the right tennis string for their 26” junior or 27” adult racquet.
How to transition from a junior racquet to an adult racquet?
The first thing you should know is that a full length adult tennis racquet from Wilson, Head, Babolat or Yonex is 27 inches or roughly 69cm. A general rule of thumb is that any junior tennis player should be at least 12 years old depending on their height and strength before considering the switch from a 26” junior racquet to a 27” adult tennis racquet.
Height of junior tennis player:
A child’s height is a primary factor when choosing the length of the racquet as everyone grows at a different pace and hits a growth spurt at different times. It’s important not to rush the process of switching from a junior racquet to an adult one – the longer the tennis racquet, the tougher it is to train/work with and the more risk of an injury. A big no-no is choosing a racquet that is too heavy. Start light and add lead tape and work your way up (you can’t make a racquet lighter).
Tip: the racquet should not touch the ground when held by the junior tennis player’s side.
As your child holds the butt cap of the tennis racquet, see if their arm is comfortably extended and that the racquet head is not touching the ground. If he/she has to bend their arm to comfortably rest their hand on the handle or their hand doesn’t reach the handle, try another size.
Below is an infographic that outlines a basic guide based on age and height to the length of the tennis racquet.
Age/Height Vs Racquet Length Infographic
Each time your child switches to a larger sized racquet, there will be an adjustment period of getting used to a longer racquet, different sweet spot and contact zone compared to their old racquet. A heavier racquet also comes with a slightly slower swing speed until your junior tennis player adjusts. We would definitely suggest allowing a few weeks for them to get used to the new changes.
Age of junior tennis player:
Junior tennis players between the ages of 2 and 10 should roughly go by the tip mentioned above of standing up straight and holding the bottom of the racquet handle in the palm of their hand. Junior racquets sized between 19 inches (48cm) and 26 inches (66cm) come in different grip sizes and are weighted head heavy to help develop their strokes.
From the age of 12 upwards, your young competitor may have developed their wrist strength and be ready for a full length 27” (69cm) adult size tennis racquet. Again, let us highlight the importance of choosing lighter than heavier first because you can always add lead tape as they continue to grow in strength but you can’t make a racquet lighter. See our range of junior tennis racquets for your developing tennis player.
Bear in mind that longer and heavier racquets require more strength to use. If your junior tennis player does not have the strength, they will compensate by changing their stroke and compromising their technique (using less wrist and lose spin and control). When this happens, the tennis racquet will be closer to their body and he/she will tuck in their arm (losing power in the long run) and risk injury at a tender age.
Wrist: strengthening a child’s wrist to use spin on a heavier/longer racquet is doable with wrist-specific drills but it will grow naturally on its own with the proper sized racquet. Valuable lesson time could/should be spent working on more important parts of their game.
Arm tucking: A bent arm forehand is an incredibly difficult habit to break. While it doesn’t mean it’s a bad stroke, it isn’t the best and can lead to injury.
If your racquet is too light or is head-heavy, more shock can be transferred to your arm, wrist, elbow and shoulder on ball contact which can also lead to injury. Our blog page will have more information on how to prevent common tennis injuries.
There are lots of parts to just a tennis racquet. From the type of overgrip that goes over the tennis racquet handle to the shape of your frame and the type of string, each part is fundamental to the overall performance of the tennis racquet. The fundamentals of a tennis racquet definitely plays a vital part to your performance on the tennis court. And with that in mind, tennis strings are more than just ‘strings’. Think about them as the engine to your tennis racquet.
Knowing a bit about tennis string gauge is important when choosing a string for your tennis racquet. When your stringer talks about gauge, he or she is referring to the thickness of the tennis string. You should know that most strings on the market are between 15 gauge (the thickest) and 18 (the thinnest).
Thinner strings offer more playability which gives power and more spin potential while thicker strings offer durability.
The gauges are also available in half-gauges that are identified with an ‘L’ such as 15L and 16L which is short for ‘light’.
Below is a graph that converts the gauge to millimeters for a better understanding.
You’ve got your tennis racquet. You’ve chosen the right tennis string. Now it’s time to marry the two together with a tennis string tension that’s suitable for the racquet and your game style. It’s not as complicated as you may think. We’re here to help you elevate your game and break down the technical details so you know what string tension to tell your stringer the next time you need a restring.
Long story short, you get more control with a higher tension but it also means you get less power. Vise versa, a lower tension provides more power but less control. String tension is the final piece in the racquet-string-tension triad.
Typically a racquet will feature a recommended tension range somewhere near the throat of the racquet. (This range has been determined by the manufacturer as a result of playtesting by real tennis players.)
A beginner tennis player may need more control but a tighter (higher) string tension is only part of the solution. This player also needs a soft stringbed that can absorb the weight of the ball from off-center hits. On the other hand, advanced players swing faster, hit harder and generally have better aim in terms of making contact with the center of their tennis racquet. Hence, the recommendation for advanced tennis players is a tighter string tension.
If you find the information about tennis racquet restring complicated, you can always choose a tension somewhere in the middle (a number) that’s on the throat of your tennis racquet then make any adjustments from there. An important rule of thumb to remember is lower tensions provide more power, tighter tensions provide more control.
We recommend picking a tension 1 or 2 pounds more than the middle of the recommended range on the throat of the racquet as racquet strings lose tension as soon as it’s finished being strung – around 10% or more within the first 24 hours before stabilising for a period of time. When the string tension drops, so does the elasticity of the strings. The player will then have to provide more of their own power for the same results of a freshly strung racquet as a result.
Tip: If you want to maximise your performance, be sure to regularly restring your racquet. The general rule for restringing is at least every 6 months, or as many times in a year as you play in a week. That means if you play 4 days a week, you should be restringing at a minimum of four times a year.
We’ve summarised a list of possible needs below for consideration when your racquet goes for a restring.
Tip: Decrease 1-2 pounds in tension.
Why: Stringbed will deflect more and the ball less which results in returning greater energy to the ball.
Note: The stringbed will eventually become too light, but it’s well below any racquet’s recommended tension range.
Tip: Increase 1-2 pounds in tension.
Why: Stringbed will deflect less and the ball more which results in giving less energy to the ball. The ball won’t fly as far when you hit it.
Note: This is for intermediate and advanced players who hit a lot of long balls and will help to reduce the depth of their shots. Not helpful for beginners who are shanking the ball in every direction.
Tip: Lower tension.
Why: Makes for a softer stringbed and a larger sweet spot to reduce the amount of shock and vibration transferred to the hand and elbow.
Note: No lower than the recommended range on the throat of your racquet. Also loses control for more topspin and slice shots.
Tip: Change tension according to the new racquet’s recommended range and start from the middle.
Why: Different tennis racquets will have slightly different head sizes and different brands will have slightly different head shapes. If using the same string, a player should still correspond to the new racquet’s tension range.
Note: If possible, stick to the same string so all the components of the racquet-string-tension triad so the change is not complete and not hurting your wallet too much.
Veteran player? No problem. Competitive junior? Okay. Social competitor? We’re listening. What about a beginner? Don’t sweat it. Every player’s style and level of tennis is different and so will have different tennis restringing needs.
Did you know that a tennis racquet’s frame will suit a particular type of tennis string? Let us break down the basics of tennis restringing and what’s available at Everything Tennis pro shop.
Types of Tennis Strings
Recommended for: light racquets (under 300 grams)
Benefits: power, durability, comfort and feel
Disadvantages: less control, loses tension quicker than natural gut strings, less durability for big hitters
If you’re looking for power and would like to have sharper and more aggressive shots, a multifilament string is ideal. Multifilament strings tend to produce more power and comfort than solid-core or synthetic gut strings. It’s usually a preferred choice for players with tender arms and elbows. Multifilament strings are designed to mimic the performance of natural gut strings but at a lower price. Not recommended for string breakers.
Recommended for: experienced players, heavy racquet (more than 300 grams)
Benefits: control, durability, spin
Disadvantages: less power, loses tension quicker, not for undeveloped forearm growth (juniors)
For those who want more control and need to channel their power, a monofilament string will work but is more demanding on the forearm. Monofilament strings tend to exhibit greater durability than synthetic gut or multifilament strings of the same material, but have less power and comfort. The most common type of monofilament, co-polyester strings are for players seeking durability, control, and spin. The lower elasticity of these strings requires full, fast swings to maximize their performance and is commonly used by intermediate and advanced players. A stiff string is usually not recommended for junior players who haven’t fully developed.
Recommended for: all ability and advanced players
Benefits: comfort, power, feel and tension longevity
Disadvantages: expensive, not as durable
The is the top-of-the-line tennis string, providing long tension maintenance and control. Natural Gut strings are used by both club players and pros as no other string produces the tension maintenance and power that natural gut can. As well as being very elastic (which provides power), natural gut string gives a plush feel at ball contact. The string itself stretches and returns to its original form better than synthetic strings.
Recommended for: beginners
Benefits: Holds tension well (durable), playability, affordable
Disadvantages: Not if you break your strings easily
Most synthetic guts are made with nylon (also referred to as polyamides). There are different grades of nylon with varying levels of feel. Synthetic gut strings deliver a good combination of playability and durability at a very reasonable price.
Recommended: Professional tennis players want to limit the power of the natural gut string in the mains and get more spin with control in the crosses.
Benefits: Cost effectiveness for recreational players who choose an expensive string (natural gut).
Disadvantages: Playability not the same as full use of natural gut.
When a racquet is strung with two different string materials (one vertical, one horizontal), it is hybrid stringing. It may seem as if the player is getting the best of both strings, but about 80% of the playability comes from the mains (the strings from top to bottom) and 20% of the durability comes from the crosses (the strings from left to right). Hybrid stringing is popular with professional players choosing a strong, endurance-type string in the mains, and pairing it with a softer string in the crosses such as a natural gut or a multifilament.
Knowing the nitty gritty details of the type of tennis string available is not vital but a rough understanding of what your needs are as a tennis player will help you navigate your way through the range of tennis strings available in the Australian tennis string market. We stock all four types of tennis strings in our Strathfield pro shop as well as online and we’re here to help when it comes to restringing your tennis racquet for the first time (and there will be, trust us) and the many times afterwards.
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