Tag Archives for " strings "

1 TFP 050: Babolat Racquet and Strings Review with Allan Iverson

TFP 050: Babolat Racquet and Strings Review with Allan Iverson

On today’s episode I spoke with Allan Iverson, Babolat’s Sales Representative in Southern California and the 2014 Tennis Industry Sales Rep of the Year.  Allan and I discussed the history of Babolat, the best approach to choosing racquets and strings, and improvements in tennis technology over the past few decades.  

In addition to his job with Babolat, Allan is also a USPTA P-1 teaching pro with more than two decades of experience.  In 2012, he was Babolat’s National Salesperson of the Year.  Allan travels far and wide, including a recent trip to China, to help enrich the tennis industry’s knowledge about the latest products that Babolat has to offer.  He has become such a wealth of information that one of Allan’s bosses recently said “his knowledge of the brand is better than anybody I have worked with.”  Allan is no slouch on the court either; he played number one at his high school and all 4 years at Christ College of Irvine.

I hope you enjoy my interview with Allan!  If you have an interest in racquets, strings (which tennis player doesn’t?), and tennis products in general, you will really like this episode. Choosing the right equipment for your game is crucial, and whether or not you go with Babolat products, you will learn a ton from Allan about what is available and how to determine what is best for your game.  I use Babolat racquets and strings and highly recommend them.  There are a ton of choices out there, and this episode will help you narrow down the playing field.  Thanks for listening!

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [3:35] How Allan became a highly respected sales rep for Babolat
  • [5:20] The farthest that he has ever traveled to promote the Babolat brand
  • [6:46] Allan’s favorite thing about being a Babolat sales manager?
  • [7:56] What are 3 things most of the world doesn’t know about Allan?
  • [9:30] When, where and how was Babolat founded?
  • [12:47] What was Babolat’s first breakthrough product?
  • [14:22] Which pro has done the most to further Babolat’s brand out of all the players, past and present, on the tour?
  • [17:33] What is Babolat’s most successful racquet line of all time?
  • [19:24] The difference between the European and American approach of making products
  • [21:29] Longest tenured pro with Babolat
  • [22:27] Tips for playtesting racquets and racquets in Babolat’s line that players should demo
  • [25:31] What does the VS stand for in the VS Aero Pro line of racquets?
  • [26:56] The new iteration of the Pure Control
  • [28:03] What does the 16×20 string pattern do to a racquet’s feel/power/control?
  • [29:19] What types of racquets in Babolat’s line are best suited for certain types of players?
  • [31:17] The Pure Strike racquet that Dominic Thiem uses
  • [32:04] Pure Aero VS racquet review
  • [34:03] Allan’s take on the racquet
  • [34:50] Pure Strike 100 racquet review
  • [36:48] Allan’s take on the Pure Strike
  • [38:34] Pure Strike Team 100 racquet review
  • [41:01] What racquets would Allan recommend our audience try, being that most of our audience is between a 3.5-4.5 NTRP level
  • [42:04] The racquet that Allan uses
  • [43:19] How much has the Pure Aero changed since it first came on the market?
  • [46:59] How long do frames normally “last” for before they decline in performance and the one thing that wears out your racquet the most
  • [50:57] RPM Blast Rough strings review
  • [52:23] Allan’s insight on RPM Blast Rough
  • [55:23] Does color of string make a difference in the string’s performance, and the process of making different types of strings
  • [57:36] Hybrid – RPM Blast / VS Touch strings review
  • [1:01:33] Full vs half poly in the Aero Pro
  • [1:03:44] Stringing with electric machines and other string choices
  • [1:07:26] Best practices for stringing racquets
  • [1:10:32] What string does Allan recommend 3.5-4.5 NTRP level players use, and how does this recommendation vary with other parameters (age, type of player, etc)?
  • [1:11:47] How do we choose between 15L, 16, 17, and 18 gauge string?
  • [1:13:27] Why Nadal plays with 15L gauge string.
  • [1:14:18] What’s one thing about strings that players get wrong when choosing them
  • [1:15:15] If Allan had to choose one racquet to represent the Babolat brand, which one would it be?
  • [1:18:29] Babolat’s new solar powered bag that they haven’t been able to get into the U.S yet
  • [1:19:28] What wearable technology does Babolat have for tennis players?
  • [1:21:33] What is the new Babolat App and what are its features?
  • [1:25:05] Where can we get the Babolat App?
  • [1:26:21] What racquet models are compatible with connecting with the Babolat app?
  • [1:27:59] What sources would you recommend to our audience to enhance their knowledge of tennis racquets and strings?
  • [1:29:54] One piece of advice for the audience on how we can improve our tennis games (racquet/string related).
  • [1:32:43] Types of grips (i.e. replacement grips vs overgrips, tacky vs absorbent, thin vs thick, etc.) that we can use
  • [1:35:09] Where can we follow Allan and Babolat?

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Links Mentioned in the Show


Babolat Pop Sensor

Babolat App

Pure Aero VS

Pure Strike 100

RPM Blast Rough

Hybrid – VS Gut / RPM Blast 

United States Racquet Stringers Association 

The Tennis Files Podcast Ep. 18 – How to Choose the Right Strings for Your Tennis Game

Tennis Technique Summit

Note: Some of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking them, I make Eleventy-Billion dollars a small commission that helps support the podcast. Thanks either way! 🙂

If you enjoyed my interview with Allan, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success below! Thanks for listening!

TFP 038: How to Choose a Racquet with Wilson Sales Manager Preston Lemon

TFP 038: How to Choose a Racquet with Wilson Sales Manager Preston Lemon

On today’s episode, I had the pleasure of speaking with Preston Lemon, a Territory Sales Manager for Wilson Sporting Goods Co. in the Mid-Atlantic Region. Preston, a former college tennis player at Virginia Tech, joined me on the podcast to give you some fantastic tips on how to choose the best tennis racquet for your game.

Afterwards, we examined 6 of Wilson’s newest racquets on the market: the Blade 18×20 Countervail, Blade 16×19 Countervail, Blade 98S (Spin) Countervail, Pro Staff 97, Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph, and the Ultra 100.

Preston and I spoke about each racquet’s specs and then discussed our experiences playing with them. Preston was kind enough to send me the six racquets above to playtest, and I have really enjoyed hitting with Wilson’s latest sticks.

In addition to the racquets, Preston also sent me several packets of Luxilon 4g string 125mm and Wilson Revolve 16g strings.  We gave our thoughts on the 4g and Revolve as well.

I really appreciate Preston coming onto the show, and for sending me the latest Wilson racquets and strings to playtest.  Preston has been a pleasure to work with, and I can only hope that the majority of racquet reps are as good as he is at what he does!

Tune in to Episode 38 of The Tennis Files Podcast to enhance your knowledge about racquets and find out which one of them is our hands down favorite!  This episode will help you learn how to choose the best racquet for your game, and whether one of Wilson’s racquets may be right for you.

Here’s a short video of me hitting with the 18×20 Blade:

Time-Stamped Show Notes

  • [2:49] How Preston became a Sales Manager for Wilson
  • [4:49] What Preston loves the most about being a Wilson Rep
  • [5:59] Three things most of the world doesn’t know about Preston
  • [8:03] How should players approach choosing the right racquet for their game?
  • [9:53] Ideal racquets based on your style of play (baseliners, serve-and-volleyers, etc.)
  • [12:16] What does flex mean in a tennis racquet?
  • [14:07] The impact of weight in a tennis racquet
  • [14:38] Should beginners use a bigger head size?
  • [16:00] Heady-heavy vs head light racquets
  • [17:53] How much do strings affect the playability of a racquet?
  • [19:50] Blade 18×20 Countervail review
  • [24:02] How does the new Blade compare with the older version?
  • [24:37] Countervail technology in the new Blade racquets
  • [26:21] Blade 16×19 Countervail review
  • [29:10] Blade 98S (Spin) Countervail review
  • [32:49] Pro Staff 97 review
  • [38:25] Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph review
  • [42:58] Ultra 100 review
  • [46:44] Other racquets in Wilson’s lineup
  • [48:24] A funny story about receiving the racquets
  • [49:13] Wilson’s relationship with Luxilon
  • [49:55] Luxilon 4g string 125mm review
  • [53:56] Wilson Revolve 16g string review
  • [55:49] Resources to enhance your knowledge about racquets and strings
  • [57:20] One key tip to help you improve your tennis game
  • [58:43] Where can we follow Wilson’s products

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Links Mentioned in the Show

Blade 18×20 Countervail

Blade 16×19 Countervail 

Blade 98S (Spin) Countervail

Pro Staff 97

Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph

Ultra 100

Luxilon 4g string 125mm

Wilson Revolve 16g string

Wilson Homepage

Wilson’s Twitter (@wilsontennis), Instagram, and Facebook pages

Note: Several of the links above are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase after clicking, I make a small commission. Thanks either way!

If you enjoyed my interview about racquets with Preston, subscribe to The Tennis Files Podcast in iTunes or your favorite podcast app!

For more tips on how to improve your game, download a free copy of my eBook, The Building Blocks of Tennis Success eBook below! Thanks for listening!

2 TFP 018: How to Choose the Right Strings for Your Game with Tim Strawn

TFP 018: How to Choose The Right Strings for Your Tennis Game with Tim Strawn

Today’s guest on The Tennis Files Podcast is master racquet technician Tim Strawn. Tim is the Executive Director of The International Alliance of Racquet Technicians. He has an extensive amount of stringing and racquet knowledge, and has strung racquets at some of the best professional tournaments in the world, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, and the Sony Ericsson Open.

Tim created the grandslamstringers.com website and message board, which evolved into the International Alliance of Racquet Technicians. He also put together the annual IART Symposium to bring all those currently working or interested in the racquet and string industry together to enhance their knowledge and expertise. Tim was also the Racquet Sports Industry’s 2007 Stringer of the Year.

Tim was kind enough to tell us how we can choose the right strings to suit our racquet and our tennis game. He went into detail about the different types of strings, the right tension and gauge to have them strung, and common pitfalls that stringers and players make when stringing their racquets. This episode is a must listen for anyone who wants to optimize their string setup and play better tennis.

On this episode, you will learn:

  • The 5 types of tennis strings
  • The effects of tension and string thickness on your game
  • Why the 10% rule doesn’t work for polyester strings
  • The role of racquet technicians and how they can help your game
  • How stringing works at the biggest professional tournaments in the world
  • Tim’s favorite polyester, synthetic gut, natural gut, and multifilament strings
  • What strings and tensions the pros use in their racquets
  • How to take better care of your racquets
  • Common mistakes that novice stringers make
  • How to tell if your racquet was strung incorrectly

and more.

I learned a lot from Tim about how I can tweak my string setup to produce better results on the court, and I know you will too. Thanks for listening!

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Links Mentioned in This Episode

The International Alliance of Racquet Technicians

IART Symposium

IART Facebook Page

Volkl Cyclone Tour – my current polyester string of choice, and one of the best priced polyesters out there (only 8.99 a pack). (Note: This is an affiliate link, so I make a small commission if you click on it and make a purchase. Thanks! 🙂 ]

If you learned something useful from my episode with Tim, share this episode with a friend using the share buttons above or below this post!

3 Broken Piggy Bank - Tennis on a Budget

Tennis on a Budget: 13 Ways to Save Money

Tennis is expensive. Racquets, strings, grips, tennis balls, and shoes are just some of the things we have to keep buying to play the game we love.

Below are my 10 tips for playing tennis on a budget. Because we need money to pay the rent too.

1. Buy a Stringing Machine 

You can save hundreds of dollars per year by purchasing a stringing machine. Stringing is not difficult to learn. Once you figure out how to weave strings and tie a knot, you are golden.

Right now, you probably spend at least $25 bucks per string job. Let’s estimate that you string 2 racquets per month. Your total racquet-stringing costs are $600 a year ($25 x 2 x 12).

Instead, you can buy a $180 stringing machine and a couple reels of string ($160/reel) which will cost you $500 total. You will break even in less than a year!

After that, you will start saving good money, because you will only pay for the cost of the string, which is $10 per racquet for a $160 reel. That’s a $15 savings on every racquet you string!

24 string jobs (1 year) x $15 means you will save $360 per year! That’s a lot of money. And the more frequently you need to string racquets, the more money you will save. String for your friends to make extra income!

2. Purchase Older Model Racquets

When a premium racquet first hits the market, it will be in the $200-300 range. Then a few years go by, and an updated model comes out. What happens then? The price of the older model will take a nose-dive to make room for the newer one.

All that matters is that you like the racquet and it suits your game. So if you want to save money on racquets, try finding some older model racquets on sale, demo them, and see which ones you like.

You don’t need the latest model racquet to play great tennis. The same principle works for clothes, shoes, and other tennis products, too.

3. Buy Shoes with a 6-Month Warranty

Most of the big brands make fantastic shoes with 6-month warranties. If you can wear out these shoes within 6-months, you get a free pair!

Great tennis shoes that I have used with a 6-month warranty are: Adidas Barricade V, Asics Gel Resolution 5 (newest model = Gel Resolution 6), and the Nike Zoom Cage 2.

The Gel Resolution model has been the lightest and most favorite pair of shoes that I have used in this category.  Shoes with 6-month warranties tend to be a bit heavier because they are more durable. However, these shoes are getting lighter thanks to advances in shoe technology. 

The extra weight can be a good thing, because these shoes are usually more stable than their lighter counterparts. And you will get used to the weight, if you notice a difference, after a couple hitting sessions.

If you want to save money on shoes, buy a pair with a warranty and enjoy two pairs for the price of one! Just remember to keep the receipt and the warranty card included in the box, and don’t forget to send the shoes back before the 6-month deadline!

4. Use Cheaper Strings

You can probably find cheaper alternatives to the strings that you use. If you like your current strings but wouldn’t mind saving some money, there are tons of similar strings on the market that you should try.

For example, I used to play with Babolat RPM Blast, but switched to another polyester string called Volkl Cyclone which costs half as much! Since money isn’t growing out of my pockets, and Cyclone plays similar to RPM, I happily made the change. Now I play with the Tour version of Cyclone because it feels a bit softer.

You can search for cheaper strings at places like Tennis Express, Holabird Sports, or other tennis shops. There are a ton of tennis strings on the market, but you can filter for type, gauge, brand, and more on the websites above to help find what strings will suit you best.

5. Buy in Bulk 

Purchase as many products as you can in bulk to save money. For example, one can of tennis balls costs $3 to $4 bucks. Instead, you can get 24-cans of tennis balls for $60. You will save between $12 to $36 dollars per 24 cans!

Buy tennis strings in reels. One pack of Babolat RPM Blast costs $18. Instead, you can buy a reel of Babolat RPM Blast, which will string about 16 racquets, and costs $245 bucks.  

Since buying 16 individual packs at $18 each costs $288, this means you will save $33 bucks ($288-$245) if you buy a reel. Believe me, it (reely) adds up!

You should also buy grips in bulk (30 or 60 packs). Everyone buys in bulk to save on groceries and other products, so why not buy in bulk for tennis, too? 

6. Search for Coupon Codes

Perform a quick google search for coupons on the tennis shop you are buying from. You can often find coupon codes that you can input in your shopping cart that will take off a percentage from your total bill. Just search for “[name of tennis shop] coupon code.” It’ll take you less than a minute, and you can save a few bucks. 

7. Save Old Tennis Balls

If you open a fresh can of tennis balls and use it for one practice session, chances are it is still good enough to use again. And even if the balls lose some bounce, you can still use them for other things like practicing your serve or placing balls on the court as targets or for footwork drills.

I recommend you buy a ball hopper to store and pick up balls. I use this one, which holds 75 balls and is pretty inexpensive ($25). Buy your tennis balls in bulk and you’ll have enough for one!

8. Play Tennis Outdoors When Possible

Playing indoors costs anywhere from $20 to $40 an hour. Not that cheap. I recommend that you play outdoors if possible to save money.

Most outdoor courts are free. You can use tennismaps.com to easily find public (or private) tennis courts in your area. If it’s a little chilly, layer up! Or invest the $20 you just saved towards a sweatshirt!

9. Indoor Tennis: Early Bird and Splitting Court Costs

If you have to play tennis indoors, there are a couple things you can do to save money.

First, if you can, play tennis during the non-peak or early bird hours.  The cheapest time to play is usually first thing in the morning (~6am), followed by weekdays during work hours. The most expensive times to play are after work or on the weekend.

Second, make sure to split the court costs with a friend. And if you play doubles, the cost can be divided by 4. That makes playing tennis pretty cheap!

Bonus Tip: Sometimes, tennis clubs don’t mind if you play past the time you booked, as long as you paid for an hour. So keep playing and see if they say anything! If they are strict about court times or you see an employee scowling at you, you may want to get off the court! Find a court online that will be empty after your time slot to facilitate this strategy.

10. Ask for a Discount on Lessons

Ask your coach for a discount if you take multiple lessons. A coach will only list an hourly rate. However, if you are willing to commit to 5 or 10 lessons, sometimes the instructor will cut you a deal. This is great for both parties: you save some money, and the coach has guaranteed income coming his or her way. It won’t always work, but it has for several of my friends. “If you don’t ask, you won’t get.”

11. Re-Use Grips

If you want to save a few bucks, and don’t believe in wasting a perfectly good grip, then try re-using your tennis grips!

When one side of your tennis grip is no longer usable, take it off the handle and turn it over to the other side. If that side isn’t worn or damp, you can use the grip again!

I have done this successfully with all of my favorite overgrips: Yonex Super Grap, Wilson Pro OvergripBabolat Pro Tour Overgrip, and Tourna Grip

Will you score style points and be invited to the next “I am the 1% meeting?” Probably not. But if you want to save money and don’t have an extra grip in your bag, re-using the backside of a tennis grip might do the trick.

12. Use a Rubber Band as a Vibration Dampener

Vibration dampeners come in a lot of cool varieties, but there’s no need to pay for one. Instead, tie a rubber band to the same spot of the stringbed where you would place a vibration dampener. If you don’t believe me, google search Andre Agassi. He used rubber bands and he did pretty well. Throw a bunch of them in your bag, and you are all set to go! Boom, more money in the bank!

13. Practice More Efficiently

Don’t waste your time or money on training that doesn’t help your game. If you take private or group lessons, tell your coach what you want to work on to maximize the value of your investment. Arranging practices with tough players who want to improve is the cheapest way to train effectively (cost = $0).

Be smart about your training, and your wallet will thank you for it.

Note: The product links above are affiliate links, which means that if you make a purchase after clicking on a link, I make a small commission. If you do, I really appreciate it! And if not, I appreciate you too 🙂

If you have any other ideas about how to play tennis on a budget, I would love to hear about them. Let me know by leaving a comment!

For more tips on how to improve your tennis game, get a free copy of my eBook: The Building Blocks of Tennis Success by subscribing to my free newsletter below!