Staying on Track…Jacket, that is.

Going back to the 70′s, usually the first thing I think is Disco, man! Polyester, terrycloth, and bell bottoms, baby! When I think of tennis in the 70′s I think of long hair, corralled with a terrycloth headbands, wristbands, tight polos, and short-shorts. Along with all of that, were the sweet track jackets some of the top players wore. Names like Bjorn Borg, Guillermo Vilas, and John McEnroe come to mind.

Fila has gone retro with a few of their track jackets, bringing back a couple of classics:

Nike, a trailblazer in sports fashion, outfits Rafa and Roger with these stylish threads:

Fred Perry continues to offer a classic look with their track jackets,

while the ever fashionable Lacoste keeps pace as well.

These are just a few of our offerings. Click HERE for a selection of all Men’s Tennis outerwear at Tennis Warehouse.

Happy shopping,

Spencer, TW.

I’ll Always Remember My First Time…

…with polyester, that is.

Before I became a playtester for Tennis Warehouse 4 years ago, I played exclusively with an inexpensive synthetic gut. I usually went with something like Prince Synthetic Gut or Gamma Synthetic Gut, though it really didn’t matter. I’d spend about $20 to have my racquet strung, then be back in a couple of weeks with a busted string for another string job. To me, that made the most sense as it was pretty much the least expensive (without resorting to nylon). Natural gut, I’d heard it was great, but that was not an option with the pricing. I mean, come on, why would I pay more than double for string that won’t last any longer? Synthetic gut is a fraction of the price and I’m sure can’t be too far off from natural gut. Heck, they’re both “gut,” right? I’ll stick with the less expensive one, thank you. At this point, my naivete in the tennis industry had limited my product knowledge, and I’d never even heard of polyester string. Polyester leisure suit? Sure. I was kickin’ around in the ’70s, so I’m familiar with that. But tennis string? I don’t think so.

Soon thereafter, I started working for Tennis Warehouse and eventually became a playtester as well as working in the Web Editing Department. I didn’t have much of a choice but to play with different product. Strings included. I was quickly brought up to speed on the vast selection of not only manufacturers, but different types of string within manufacturers. On top of that, all the different gauges. If you’ve had a difficult time trying to choose a racquet that works best for your game, finding the perfect string may even be tougher.

Being sent some sample packs of string from a manufacturer we had yet to carry as a brand, I strung up a couple of racquets with their strings. This was the first time I hit with a polyester, and I immediately noticed something different. The first thing I noticed was the ball pocketing — how the strings seemed to cradle the ball, then spit it out with more spin than I’d been used to. To say I loved this string was an understatement. It changed my whole outlook on string, let alone my tennis game. My control, both depth and direction, seemed to be more locked in. After hitting for a good session and taking good size swipes at the ball with no ill effects of balls flying out, the last thing I noticed was that I NEVER had to straighten the strings! What the heck was this?

It was Polyfibre Hightec, a soft co-poly.

Since then, I haven’t looked back. My preference in string is overwhelmingly polyester. (The leisure suits aren’t bad either!)  I’m lucky that I’ve been able to sample several different brands, gauges and compositions, giving me a great feel for what I like (and what my arm likes, too).

I continue to like Polyfibre string. Not because it was my first, but because they simply offer good playing string.

Spencer, TW.

The Wizard of Boz

What do I know about Warren Bosworth? Before 2006, nothing.

Since I started my employment at Tennis Warehouse, I had heard a little bit about him and subsequently read some things. I’d read that he began customizing racquets for tennis pros in 1972. That he worked with racquet manufacturers to help design better racquets for better players. In the process, he realized that racquets rarely came close to the specs they usually had printed on the frame. By no means could he make a player more talented, but what he could do was make sure their talent had the best utilization of consistency with their racquets.

Before his pioneering of racquet customization, when players needed a new racquet or string job, most times the new offering’s specs would be slightly different than the previous, and thus, have to adjust their game to fit the racquet. With Mr. Bosworth, there no longer was a need for the player to adjust their game to the next racquet because the racquet would play identically to the previous.

Each player has different strengths and weaknesses. Mr. Bosworth tinkered with the racquets until they best fit the needs of the player, maximizing their performance and improving consistency, not to mention boosting confidence.

Warren Bosworth with son Jay

Warren Bosworth with son Jay. Photo credit: Bosworth International.

I was fortunate enough to meet Warren Bosworth back in December of 2006. As an employee of Tennis Warehouse, I attended an ITA convention in Miami. Our President and Director of Marketing attended as well and also had a meeting to see Mr. Bosworth at Bosworth International in Boca Raton.  He asked me if I’d like to join him. Knowing just a little bit about Bosworth International, as well as having that day free, I accepted his invitation without hesitation. Who am I to pass up an opportunity to not only meet a legend, but get to see the inner workings of a racquet customization shop for the best of the best in tennis? The man who worked with names such as Lendl, Connors, Edberg, Navratilova, Courier, Krickstein, etc.? No way I’d pass that up.

No, this is not the part of the story where I’m going to lie or embellish and tell you that Mr. Bosworth took me under his wing and he and I became good friends, because we didn’t. Heck, I couldn’t say for sure that he’d have even remembered who I was, had I seen him again. What I will tell you is that he was extremely nice and hospitable to someone (me), that was only along for the ride. The couple of hours I spent at his facility and the limited conversation I did get to have with him, I’ll always remember. Not because of his reputation or his renown, but because of the link he had with the greatest players in the world and how they relied on him. I not only got to see the racquets in the shop, but was allowed to visit back rooms that warehoused frames upon frames of great players from the past. What a treat. It was compelling to see many of them in various stages of customization. The intricacies involved blew my mind. The most minor of adjustments that a player like me would never notice were significant difference makers to elite tennis players. I mean, come on, how many people get to see such things! I couldn’t help but revisit my childhood years as I wandered by so many players’ racquets.

Nostalgia can be a powerful thing. The players that counted on him for the precision of their racquets were players that I tried to emulate when I was young. Not in a serious manner, mind you, but in a flattering, “I want to play like you, because you’re the best” kind of way. “You came to net and I hit at you, because that’s what Lendl did to McEnroe.” Or, “Did you see the ‘Edberg volley’ I just hit?”. Or, “Was that an open stance inside out forehand for a winner?”, “Yeah, that’s my Jim Courier”. Did these shots look a lot like the pros they were supposed to look like? In reality, not even close. But they were perfect imitations in my mind. And that’s what it was all about. Being in the shoes of the best in the world, one shot at a time. Just like them.

Thank you Mr. Bosworth. Thank you for allowing me to take that wonderful trip, back to some great childhood memories.
Rest in Peace.

Spencer, TW