Tennis Industry magazine


Become a Racquet Guru

Add frame fitting, string fitting and racquet customization to your menu of services to elevate your business and reputation.

By Bob Patterson

Racquet stringers come from various paths of learning. Some are self-taught. Others have had a mentor or colleague show them the basics, then — with study and practice — their confidence and skills improve until they have mastered the process. But learning stringing skills is only a small part of the abilities of a true racquet technician.

In the USRSA, we often see stringers who pass the practical portions of the Master Racquet Technician (MRT) exam with perfect scores, but fail miserably on the written part of the exam. They demonstrate their expertise on installing grommets, stringing a racquet, building up a handle and regripping — yet they are not equipped to know the ins and outs of frame and string technology, customer service, manufacturer technologies and customization. It is these additional qualities that will set a stringer apart as an MRT.

While aspiring MRTs may be excellent stringers, they are lacking in a vital area: the ability to help a player choose the best equipment to elevate their performance and enjoyment of the game. As racquet technicians, that should always be our goal, as it is a win-win for everyone involved. When a player follows your advice and sees improvement in their performance and enjoyment of the game, they are likely to play more often, play longer and spread the word. This will translate to more court time for local facilities and more retail sales for your business.

If you are simply a good installer of strings, you are selling yourself short — and shorting your customers. Certification is a method of validating your expertise, but even if certification is not that important to you, you should at least gain the knowledge to provide your customers with the best advice. Making sure every customer has the proper racquet, string and tension ensures that their gear is not holding them back from reaching their highest playing potential. We all know that practice and talent contributes to the overall success of a player. But often, the equipment component is overlooked, especially with recreational players.

Changing Players’ Mindsets

Professional players are meticulous about their equipment. Their string, tension and grips are attended to on a daily basis. So why are recreational players so lackadaisical about their racquets? We often see frames that haven’t been strung in years and grips that are literally in tatters. Most often, players are using frames that are not suited for their game and style of play — they may be too heavy or too light, the head size too large or too small, and the grip size poorly chosen.

As racquet technicians, we need to be the catalysts to change this mindset. Emphasize how important it is to have the correct frame and string and to keep them in top shape. It may not matter to every customer, but changing the habits of even a few clients can result in a noticeable boost to your bottom line.

So how do you fit into this equation? You are in the perfect position to flex your expertise and help customers get and keep their equipment in shape. If a customer is reluctant to buy a new frame — despite, for example, your insistence that they could hit the ball deeper with less effort and more comfort — then suggest they try a softer string set-up. Move them into a multifilament and drop their tension. Once they see what a difference your advice has made, they should be much more receptive to demoing a new frame.

For many racquet technicians, racquet customization is a natural progression and extension of their craft. Once you have a good understanding of racquet technology and how each spec affects power, maneuverability, spin potential and comfort, you can then apply that knowledge into customizing frames for your customer.

Customization may be as simple as matching the weight, balance and swing weight of a players’ racquets so that each of them feels and plays identical, and the player is completely comfortable switching racquets when needed. It may mean taking a frame and adding a little swing weight or torsional stability to meet the player’s needs — or completely changing one or more aspects of the racquet to help the player achieve optimum performance.

Add to Your Menu of Services

As a racquet technician, customization should be one of the services you offer, but only if you have the tools, knowledge and skills to do so. You can start by featuring simple offerings such as racquet matching or tweaks.

Utilizing the Customization Tools on the USRSA website,, will make the job easier. Start experimenting with your own racquets, or those of friends or family. As your abilities improve, add other customization offerings to your menu.

The USRSA will be offering workshops on customization at the USRSA World Conference Oct. 6-9 in Orlando. Led by some of the most well respected racquet technicians in the world, this event is the perfect opportunity to learn new skills and hone existing ones.

No matter where your shop is located in the United States, become the racquet guru of your area — the expert who players seek out for advice and service. As your customers continuously improve as players, you should continuously expand your knowledge to assist their needs.

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About the Author

Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.



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