849 N. Buffalo Dr. Saratoga Springs, UT 84045801-368-3927carl@saratogaspringstennis.com

The Economical Way to Feed Your Tennis Habit

Post 30 of 40

I have to admit that I’m a cheap (or I should say thrifty) person by nature.  I bought the least expensive house in my neighborhood.  I like the low mortgage payment and the good resale value.  And, although my property values have dropped like everyone else’s in this economy, I’m still ahead and not upside down in my mortgage.  I don’t have expensive cars and I drive them until they die.  I love not having car loan payments also.  I don’t wear expensive clothes.  I don’t take expensive vacations, etc., etc., etc.  I think you get the picture.  What I do like is having money in the bank for a rainy day!

This leads me to a question:  How much should you spend on your tennis habit?  Every day I see people on the tennis courts with “cheap” equipment.  You know, those department store tennis racquets you can buy for 10 to 20 bucks and those “tennis shoes” that don’t cost much more than the racquet. Are these people saving money at the expense of a good tennis experience?  Where should you spend money on your game and where should you skimp?

Well, let’s begin with the tennis racquet.  Those cheap, aluminum racquets by Wilson, Head, and Prince that are sold at Wal-Mart, K-Mart, Big 5 Sports, and other big box stores are terrible tennis racquets.  They vibrate, twist and turn, and act like trampolines—no wonder your shots are all over the place.  If you’re going to play tennis, invest in a good racquet.  Unfortunately, the days of the local tennis shop have gone the way of the dinosaur and unless you play at a private club the only viable way to purchase a good racquet these days for a good price in on-line.  There are many reputable on-line tennis companies (Tennis Warehouse, Tennis Express, Midwest Sports.com to name a few) that have a very large assortment of good racquets; and, if you don’t have to have the newest racquet on the market, you can buy previous year models at a large discount.  Another big advantage to these companies is their demo programs.  You can demo from 1 to 4 racquets at a time for as little as $10 – $20.  That cost pays for shipping to you, use of the racquets for up to a week, and return shipping.

You’ll definitely notice the change in your strokes and game with a good tennis racquet.  Many of my high school tennis players start out with “department store” racquets.  I can understand their parent’s reluctance at investing in equipment for a sport they may not continue in, but if they only had a good racquet to begin with it could make all the difference in their tennis experience.  I know they’d learn quicker, play better, and stay with the sport longer if they only had a good tennis racquet.

So, buy a good tennis racquet and your game will love you for it!  Don’t skimp on the racquet!

Next, let’s look at strings.  “Department store” racquets come already strung; you don’t have to worry about getting them strung.  “Good” racquets on the other hand need to be strung.  But, if you purchase your racquet through one of the on-line companies above, they usually throw in the stringing for free.  You can opt for more expensive strings, but the cheaper ones will do you just fine for now.

When it comes time to restring your racquet you may be overwhelmed by all the choices of string out there.  Just remember that even the cheapest string will play better in a good racquet than having a cheap racquet with the most expensive string in it.  Ask your stringer for recommendations.  They are usually experience players and can recommend a string based on your playing style.  But, many times it just comes down to trial and error on your part to find the strings you like the best.

So, buy the cheapest string that you feel plays the best in your racquet.  Skimp a little here!

Now, what about shoes?  I recommend purchasing a good pair of tennis shoes.  You are going to be spending a lot of time on your feet chasing down balls and you want a good supportive shoe that will last for a while.  Good shoes, like good racquets, don’t come cheap—but they are worth it!  Once again, check out the on-line companies for good shoe deals.  Plus, there seem to be more and more shoe “outlet” stores around these days—that’s where I get mine from.

So, buy good shoes; your feet will love you!  Don’t skimp here!

I am thrifty (or is it cheap) when it comes to tennis clothes.  I usually play in shorts from Wal-mart and t-shirts I get from wherever.  As you can tell from the beginning of this post, I’m not a slave to fashion and I don’t think you need to be either.  If you plan on playing league or tournament tennis, you can buy a couple of “outfits” to “look good out there.”  Once again try the on-line companies for their discounted items.  As for me, I try and let my tennis make me look good.

So, play in inexpensive (or cheap) clothes.  I’m not so sure your body will love you for this, but I know your wallet will.  Skimp here!

Let’s see, what else is there.  Oh yes, tennis balls.  Unfortunately, those little yellow fuzzy tennis balls only really last for a few sets of tennis.  I’ve found Costco has great deals on tennis balls, but like everything at Costco, you have to buy them in bulk.  You can always opt for pressureless balls.  These will cost more up front, but last longer.  Some people don’t like the way they play, but if you’re serious about practicing and getting good, these balls offer a great benefit.  I use them for everything but match play.

So, look for the best deal you can find on balls!  I can’t really say skimp or not to skimp on this one!  It’s nice to know that you can still find tennis balls today that cost about as much as they did when I started playing tennis in the 1970’s.  This is one item that hasn’t really increased in cost over time if you can believe that.

I’ve saved the best for last!  That is the best savings for last.  So you think you have to be a member of an exclusive tennis club to become a good player.  Not so!  The Williams sisters played on the public courts of Compton, California where their father had an agreement with the local gang bangers not to bother them.  Their dad taught them from Oscar Wegner’s videos (all of which I have and highly recommend). If they could become #1 in the world from these humble beginnings, anyone could!!!

I am also a product of the public courts.  I am basically self-taught, with a few lessons here and there when a local pro would put on free junior clinics.  Most of what I learned I learned through watching the game, self-study, and working at tennis clubs—oh yes and a lot of practice figuring out this great game.  These two examples just show that where there’s a will there’s a way!

So, do you need a club membership?  No, not really.  Clubs do offer many advantages:  pros, lessons, clinics, etc., but at a serious cost.  I’m trying to offer you the same opportunities in Saratoga Springs through this website and the programs we offer.  Take advantage of our programming and skimp here!

So that’s pretty much it; buy a quality racquet with decent strings, purchase good tennis shoes, wear whatever you like on the court, find the best deal on balls, and play a lot (I mean a lot) of tennis for free at public parks or schools.  I mentioned the Williams sisters earlier; this is how they started out and look where they are now.

See you on the courts!

Carl

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