Get a grip

Lately I’ve noticed many manufacturers are coming out with thinner replacement grips. Is this an emerging trend? I certainly hope so. Before I began testing a lot of racquets, I never knew how much I liked to feel the bevels of a racquet handle. The bevels are simply the edges that define the handle’s shape.

To further alienate me from the bevels, I’ve long been a fan of overgrips. Generally I liked the feel of them better. I often found replacement grips to get too slick during play. My go-to overgrips have been Wilson Pro Overgrip and Yonex Super Grap. I wrapped them over whatever synthetic grip happened to be on the handle. I had no idea what I was missing.

For me, the light went off when I was playtesting the Wilson KBlade Tour. This racquet comes equipped with a leather grip. Purists might rebuff me for this, but I just can’t get used to playing with a leather grip alone. The grip gets too slick, and I feel like the leather aggravates my callouses. A leather grip with an overgrip? That’s another story entirely. For me, it’s a wonderful mix of feel. I can feel the contours but get a softer, drier grip. However, I don’t always want the added weight of a leather grip.

Here’s where the new generation of synthetic replacement grips comes in handy. The Dunlop Hydramax Pro, Prince ResiPro and Babolat Skin Feel are providing me with nice bevel feel. Another added bonus for me: the grip size feels smaller. I can comfortably play with most 4 3/8 grip size racquets now, and if I choose a 4 1/4 grip, which is my preference, when I add the overgrip, it doesn’t add too much bulk or remove all bevel feel. Ah, I love it when tennis just keeps getting better.

Happy Hitting!

Signum Pro Hyperion 17 String Review

sighyp170-1Signum Pro-Poly Plasma has been a popular polyester string, both with our play testers as well as with members of our Talk Tennis message boards (Editor’s note: It was at the request of our Talk Tennis members that we tried Signum strings and added them to stock). Signum Pro’s Hyperion 17 is one of Signum’s newest co-polyester strings, designed to provide the exceptional playability of Poly Plasma along with some added crispness and comfort.

When stringing Hyperion it felt fairly similar to the Poly Plasma, with a slightly firmer feel. It was relatively easy to string compared to others polys on the market, as it did not tangle much nor was it extremely stiff.

The first impression I had of Hyperion was it made for a lively stringbed and a crisp feel. With this string, the ball explodes off the stringbed, which was a nice surprise as co-polys tend to have more of a dead feel to them. There was also excellent control and the tension was maintained nicely throughout the string life.

The main characteristics that stood out to me while hitting with Hyperion was the crispness and liveliness of the stringbed and the great control I had on all my shots. It was extremely comfortable to hit. I could really feel the ball grab the strings, then be released off the stringbed nicely. Even with the lively feel, I did not lose control, as would normally be the case. I was able to place the ball extremely well, and not lose accuracy, which is what typically happens when I find such a lively feel.

I was not able to generate as much power and pop as I would normally with my regular hybrid string job of Luxilon ALU Power mains with Wilson NXT crosses, nor was I able to generate as much spin. The string still maintained a nice amount of control. However, I like to feel that I have the ability to crack a mid-court ball and put it away, or be able to generate ample spin on a defensive ball so I can take a full swing and still bring it back into the court and I lost a little of both with Hyperion 17.

Overall, I had a nice experience hitting with Hyperion 17. Though the life span was short (I broke it on my third day of hitting), it was a really nice feeling co-poly string. Signum places this string in its performance group of strings, and with its playability, tension maintenance, and control, Hyperion has a lot to offer.


Are your dogs barking? It’s time to listen

Maybe your feet are doing more than barking. I know there are times when mine are screaming.

However, I do my best to limit those occasions, which means good socks hold a spot very close to my heart.

The importance of socks hit me at a young age. You see, as a youngster I once threatened to run away from home. My bluff was called when I reached the front door of our house, and after running to my mom for a hug, she looked in my bag to see what I had packed. Along with a few other random items, I had packed every pair of socks I owned.

So it seems from an early age I’ve been of the opinion, if you’re wearing the right socks for the job, you’ll be all right.

Take tennis for instance. I pay very close attention to my socks when I play. I wear crew socks almost exclusively. Yes, this means I have great tan lines just above my ankles, but for me that’s not the main attraction. Rather, I just love the fit and feel of a good pair of crew socks. My ankles feel naked without them. I also often wear lace-up ankle supports when I play, so having crew socks helps prevent any rubbing around my ankles.

When heading out to play or practice, rarely is one pair of socks enough. Some folks double bag their groceries, I double bag my feet. That’s right, two pairs of socks do the job perfectly. The simple reason is that two pairs of socks provide better blister protection. The outer sock can slide against the inner sock, so there’s less rubbing for the skin to absorb.

Another plus for me is shoe fit. I have skinny feet, so wearing two pairs of socks helps me fill out the width of shoes a bit and gives me a more supportive ride. With two pairs of socks, my feet are less likely to slide around inside the shoes and that also helps me from getting blisters.

There are only two kinds of socks that I don’t double bag, Thorlo Level 3 and Eurosocks Slam Cool socks. Both offer the kind of protection around my heel and under my toes that I usually only get from two pairs of socks. The Eurosocks feature a thinner, more ventilated feel on the top of my foot making them more comfortable and breathable. That makes the Eurosocks my current favorites.

On big tennis days, socks are at the top of my priority list. Before a big match, I’m going to be digging through my sock drawer, looking for my favorite socks. After all, good tennis starts with good footwork, and good footwork comes from happy feet.

Keep your feet happy. Don’t underestimate the importance of good socks.