Wednesday, July 3, 2013


If you use the summer months to prepare for fall and winter play, then this sweltering summer is the perfect time for you to flirt with new equipment. Racquet, strings, shoes, all are prime targets during this time, and I am taking dead aim at all three.

Even before the summer scorched its way into our little southwest Florida paradise, I had been contemplating a switch from the Wilson Blade Team BLX that I had been using for the past few years. Although I have truly bonded with Kirschbaum strings, particularly their Pro Line II which I used for years, and their Evolution, which I have used over the past 18 months or so, I realized that I might have to experiment with new strings as I sought to find a racquet suitable to be my court mate.

For shoes, I have stuck pretty much to Prince, which I have found to be the most comfortable and suitable for my combination of teaching and playing. However, I have encountered a few Nike models that have been really comfortable as well. In any event, the search is on for the gear I’ll be using for the 2013 – 2014 season.

The Racquets
Jan David assists customer at Tennis R Us
I began my racquet search online with’s demo program, but developed a cordial relationship with Jan (pronounced “Yan”) David of Tennis R Us who allowed me plenty of leeway to do my racquet testing (Thanks a bunch Jan!). With Jan’s help and counsel, I wielded a number of different “sticks” in my search for a racquet that would allow me to generate the kind of power and control that I would need to be competitive when I took to competing again.

Volkl Classic VI
In addition to power and control (i.e., spin), I knew that I needed something that would offer sufficient comfort to compensate for my aging wrist, elbow and shoulder. Although nothing compared to the soft feel of Volkl’s Classic V1, I couldn’t generate the kind of “pop” I wanted with the Volkl, despite trying a variety of strings and tensions. I may just stay with the Volkl for teaching.

Babolat Pure Storm Team GT
Among the racquets I demoed were Dunlop, and Pro Kennex, all with the latest comfort technology, but it wasn’t until I came upon Babolat’s Pure Storm Team GT that I found a stick that felt really good in my hand, and allowed me to generate the levels of spin and power that I was looking for, without causing me discomfort after using it for some time. Unless something wows me between now and the start of season, I believe I’ll be wielding Babolat’s Pure Drive Team GT this coming season.

The Strings
Of course, when you are leaning toward a new racquet, you have to experiment a bit with strings to see just what might be the right combination of racquet and string to give you optimum performance. I have not completed my string research yet, but I do have a few very good candidates, in great part through the generosity and expertise of Mitchell Lvovksy at Genesis.

As I engaged in my search for the right racquet-string combination, I contacted Genesis, because after discussing strategy and technique with Alex Lvovsky at FGCU matches, and watching Lance Lvovsky play on the FGCU Men’s Tennis Team, I realized that the Lvovskys knew tennis from the playing side. As I spoke with Mitchell, I grew confident that they knew tennis from the equipment side as well.

After chatting with Mitchell for some time, we decided that I would try a couple of their more popular strings: Black Magic (17g), and Typhoon (16g), both polyester strings that promise to deliver excellent power and spin. Of the two, I have tried only Black Magic in the Pure Drive Team GT, and of the strings that I have tried (Dunlop Silk 17g; Dunlop Black Widow 17g), Black Magic has delivered the best performance results, along with excellent tension maintenance. The performance testing is not nearly far enough along for me to offer you a definitive review, but it will be in time for season.

At this stage of the game, the multifilament Silk has given me plenty of power and very nice feel, but it hasn’t offered the level of control that I have achieved with the co-poly Black Magic (click here for more on string types). The Genesis Black Magic packs a pretty powerful punch along with great control, but I haven’t found just the right tension that offers the kind of feel I am looking for.  Both strings appear to be arm friendly, but I’ll report more on that when I have put all the strings through their paces.

The Shoes

Prince T9 Roadster
I haven’t found anything I like as much as the Prince T9 Roadster (of course they’re obsolete), but the Nike Zoom series and the inexpensive City Court VII have been very comfortable, good looking shoes. I’m looking for some alternatives for the upcoming season, and with the nice shoe selection at Tennis R Us, I’m confident I’ll find something new for next season. 

My serious gear testing will be on hold until September though. Until then, I’ll be working on my golf game in preparation for the World Amateur Handicap Championship in Myrtle Beach at the end of August. We’ll talk gear in much more detail then. Game, set, match…T. A.

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