Tennis players have a lot of excuses for losing a match -- the sun was in my eyes, it was too windy or I just got a new string job. One excuse you can use that's a bit more credible is that your racket is broken. Depending on the severity and type of damage, you may be able to permanently repair your racket. Structural damage, though, such as frame cracks, deep chips or splintering, can rarely be repaired and can compromise your racket's performance as well as yours. Still, broken strings, head guards and butt caps can be repaired or replaced.
You don't need the strength of Hercules to break your racket's frame. Even Nesties can have their rackets fly out of their hands, smash onto the court and crack. Constantly scrapping the frame along the court's surface when you hit low balls can also cause cracks and splintering. It's unlikely that you can repair these types of damage and restore your racket to a new condition. If you’re in a pinch, though, and it's a hairline crack or the splintering is minor, you can try a temporary fix. Apply cyanoacrylate glue, a quick-bonding glue, to the crack or splintered area and let it dry completely. This might hold long enough to get you through your next league match.
A broken string is one of the easiest repairs you can make. This process involves cutting out all the old strings, mounting the racket on a stringing machine and following the recommended tension and string pattern for your racket model. If you're not an experienced racket stringer with your own equipment, you'll have to take your racket to a tennis pro shop that offers a restringing service. If you are breaking strings often, use a thicker gauge string or try a hybrid string. With hybrid strings, you use a durable string for the long strings and a more playable string for the cross strings -- two different types of string.
Broken Head Guard
In addition to splintering, constantly scuffing your racket on the court can wear the racket's head guard enough to where it will break. You can address this by replacing it. Unfortunately, you can only do this when you replace the strings. Once you cut the strings out, remove the old guard with an awl and a pair of pliers, install a new one and restring your racket.
At times the butt cap at the end of the racket's handle will crack or become loose. To repair or replace the cap, you need to unwind and remove the existing grip from the handle. Butt caps are usually attached to the handle with small staples and, with wear and tear, the caps can become loose. Once you remove the staples and butt cap you'll be able to examine the situation. The only way to repair a cracked cap is to replace it. If the cap is in good condition and has only become loose, coat the inside of the cap with strong-bonding glue and restaple it to the handle. After the glue has set, rewrap the handle with a new grip and you're good to go.
- Stringer's Digest 2009; United States Racquet Stringers Association
- Al Bello/Getty Images Sport/Getty Images
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