| By Roman Prokes

The longer you play this sport, the more problems you come across. After servicing racquets for decades, we have learned some great remedies to the everyday problems that players come across. Here are some tips to help diagnose and fix some common problems.

Loose butt cap

Tennis players tend to hold a racquet as low as possible. It allows for a higher range of motion and maneuverability. It’s not uncommon to see players even have a pinky hanging below the bottom of the grip. This puts a tremendous amount of stress on the racquet, which can ultimately loosen the butt cap. When this cap starts to wiggle, you should remove all grip layers until you get to the mold or pallet. Fasten the cap to the end of the racquet and apply staples from a high pressure staple gun. Applying too many staples can damage the handle beneath. If you get down to the pallet or mold and find the handle is corroded or severely damaged, you can have it remolded or have the pallet replaced.

Rattling inside the racquet
Nothing beats the sound of a forehand cracking off the strings or an overhead smash echoing through a building, but this isn’t always the case. Tapping the frame of your racquet can reveal some unwanted noises. This is the result of small particles of the racquet breaking off and falling inside the frame through normal wear. It could be chips of the frame, bits of grommet, granulated clay or other things. What you would need to do is create an opening for the piece to exit. The biggest hole to access is through the butt cap (or trap door on the butt cap). Tilt and tip the racquet until you get the piece to move through the frame and exit. If the piece does not make it through the handle hole, you can take out the grommets and use the string holes as another option.

The grip is too small
Players often get a racquet in which the grip isn’t perfect for them, as stress to the elbow becomes painful for some. Ninety-nine percent of players will add one or more layers of overgrip to the handle. This is a horrible way to fix the problem! Adding overgrips in this manner will severely round out the racquet. The purposeful octagonal handle becomes a round cylinder where switching grips and controlling racquet torque is near impossible. The quick fix is to remove the grips and add a heat sleeve which shrinks to the size of the handle with applied heat to increase the grip one to two sizes. The better fix is to remold or change the pallets to the size of your liking, which gives a professional and factory finished product.

The grip is too big
The opposite can happen as well. Adding to a racquet is typically easier than taking away, and this is no exception. The evolution of the game is favoring smaller grips for added spin and racquet head speed. An oversized grip has to be perfectly shaved down panel by panel exactly even on all eight sides. It’s practically impossible to properly sand this down by hand. At RPNY, we use an industrial machine which is calibrated to the thousandth of a millimeter to evenly shave down all sides flawlessly. Some racquets have handles which cannot be altered this way and others even have pallets, a shell-like plastic grip casing, which can be changed.

Bad string breaks

Players hope they break strings in the sweet spot due to repeated clean hits in the middle of the racquet. However, the string can break almost anywhere on the racquet. Breaks near the outside can be due to poor stringing, string shearing, old string and damaged grommets. When the grommets are damaged, they can cut into the string and damage it, instead of their normal role of adding a layer of buffer between the string and sharp edges of the racquet frame. Players should change entire grommet strips regularly or replace single grommets when one is defective. A knowledgeable stringer will know when to add pads, tubing, pick the correct gauge or other methods to promote proper string life.

Blisters are common side effects to excessive play. They can also occur if grips are not installed correctly. Check to make sure your grip is smooth from top to bottom without severe grooves. Fingers slide into the groves with added contact to the skin for unnecessary friction. Also, check to see that your grip goes from the very edge of the butt cap to the top of the handle. Exposed plastic on the butt cap quickly blisters the palm. The proper wrapping of the grip with the use of some finger tape can go a long way to keeping you on the court.