Stringing at NCAA Division I Championships

Greetings from the Country Inn and Suites, Athens, Georgia where I am part of the Game.Set.Match Tennis stringing team for the NCAA Division I Championships. There are 32 teams competing here (16 men’s 16 women’s) and right now we are stringing for 10 of them.

On the men’s side, we have lined up Virginia (1), USC (5), Baylor (7), and Duke (16), and have a couple more prospects. On the women’s side, Baylor (1), North Carolina (2), Clemson (9), Duke (10), Miami (11), and Florida State (15).

I arrived around noon on Wednesday the 19th. Jay Lewandowski (owner of Game.Set.Match) and Ken Kigongo already had their Babolat Star 5s up and running.

I got mine out of the car and by the time I got it set up the rackets were flooding in, notably with 18 rackets from Virginia (15 Babolat Pure Drives or Pure Drive Roddicks!).

As Jay was running around picking up rackets, Ken and I were grinding away at our machines. By the time we wrapped up at 11:30pm, I had strung 21 rackets (see stringing log below).

In terms of string, of my 20 rackets, only 4 were hybrids and only one had no polyester string in it (female player from UNC). So, 3/4 of the rackets were all-poly. By far the most popular string was Luxilon Big Banger Alu 125. Pacific Poly Force and Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour also were strong, and we saw a little bit of Solinco (showing that their hard work cultivating college customers is paying off some).

In terms of rackets, Babolat was the dominant racket in our stringing room. We saw many Pure Drives, Pure Drive Roddicks, and Pure Drive + in both the regular and Roddick versions. Many European players seem to favor Head frames — in our case Radicals and Extremes (surprisingly did not see any Prestiges). We did a few Princes, but they have clearly lost market share compared to 20 years ago. For someone who deals in smaller market share brands, I was happy to see a smattering of smaller companies like Yonex and Tecnifibre.

In terms of tensions, mid- to high-50s was the norm, with some players pushing into the low 60s. No one strung in the low 50s much less the 40s. The lowest tension I strung was one Pure Drive Roddick + with Luxilon Alu at 54#. The tightest racket I strung by far was a Prince Tour Diablo with all Pacific Poly Force Xtreme at 68#. My arm hurts just looking at it.

At the end of the day, I was able to look back with satisfaction at the fruits of my labor.

My day 1 stringing log:

UVa Men-

  • Babolat Pure Drive Roddick, Pacific Poly Force Xtreme/Pacific Power Line @ 59#
  • Tecnifibre T-Fight 320, Luxilon BB Alu/Pacific Power Line @ 56#
  • Babolat Pure Drive, Luxilon BB Alu @ 56#
  • Babolat Pure Drive Roddick +, Luxilon BB Alu @ 56#
  • Babolat Pure Drive Roddick +, Luxilon BB Alu @ 54#
  • Head YouTek Radical MP, Luxilon BB Original @ 61#
  • Head YouTek Radical MP, Luxilon BB Original @ 61#
  • Babolat Pure Drive Roddick +, Luxilon BB Alu @ 55#
  • Babolat Pure Drive Roddick +, Luxilon BB Alu @ 55#

Baylor Men –

  • Head Liquidmetal Radical MP, Luxilon BB Alu @ 27kg/26kg
  • Head Microgel Radical MP, Pacific Poly Force Xtreme @ 59#
  • Head Microgel Extreme Pro, Pacific Poly Force Xtreme @ 26kg/25kg
  • Prince Tour Diablo, Pacific Poly Force Xtreme @ 68#
  • Prince Tour Diablo, Pacific Poly Force Xtreme @ 68#
  • Tecnifibre T-Fight 295, Solinco Tour Bite @ 59#
  • Tecnifibre T-Fight 295, Solinco Tour Bite @ 59#

Misc. Women –

  • Yonex RQiS 2 Tour, Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour @ 58# (Miami)
  • Prince 03 Speedport Black LB, Babolat Pro Hurricane/VS Touch @ 65# (Duke)
  • Prince 03 Speedport Black LB, Babolat Pro Hurricane/VS Touch @ 65# (Duke)
  • Wilson [K]Six-Two, Wilson NXT Max @ 55# (UNC)
  • Head Microgel Extreme Pro, Solinco Tour Bite 17g @ 56# (Baylor)

Cory Parr Pro Transition Blog #4 – Changing Equipment

Hey, everyone. I’m in Joplin, Missouri for the $10K Futures event here this week. I’m excited to be here because I’ve been off for a couple of weeks. My tournament in Pittsburgh ended quickly, since I didn’t play the doubles and lost in the first round of the singles to Blake Strode. I got a wildcard into the main draw for singles and am playing doubles with my old teammate Todd Paul. Last year, my Wake Forest doubles partner Steve Forman and I won the doubles, so hopefully I can repeat with a new partner.

While I’m here, I thought I would talk a little bit about changing equipment. About a month before the end of my college season, my assistant coach at Wake Forest Chris Brandi convinced me that to be effective on the pro tour I would need to change rackets. Since I was 12 years old, I have used the oversize Head Radical. I can’t even remember what all models I used, but I just got the new model each time it came out — the Intelligence, the Flexpoint, and the Microgel. So I am really comfortable with that racket. With the oversize head (107 square inches) I feel like I really serve and return well. But coach thought my groundstrokes and volleys could be better with a smaller head size, especially playing against more pace and spin on tour.

So, I started trying different midplus rackets: Babolat Pure Drive, Pure Drive Roddick, AeroPro Drive, and AeroStorm, Yonex RDiS 300 and RQiS 2 Tour, and Head MicroGel Radical Pro and Microgel Extreme. All of these rackets did some things well, but none of them felt quite right across all the strokes. Then when I was home in New York for a weekend, my coach gave me demos of the new Head YouTek Radicals, the Midplus and the Pro. They were just being released during Wimbledon and I couldn’t even get one in North Carolina.

I liked the rackets because they had the same basic feel as the other Radicals I used but also allowed me to spin the ball more and absorb pace, while the oversize was kind of like a backboard and my ball would come back really flat against a heavy ball.

I had to choose between the Midplus and the Pro, though. They both did certain things well. I asked my coach in New York what he thought and he said these are the most important things: (1) serve, (2) return, and (3) groundstrokes. He told me I was never going to be John McEnroe so how the racket volleyed was less important. Looking at those three strokes, the YouTek Radical Pro turned out to be the better of the two for me. It’s about an ounce heavier than my Microgel Radical OS plus it has a more open string pattern (16×19 compared to 18×20), so it is quite a bit different from what I am used to. But I think it is alot better for the pro game.

That’s all for now.