Today I hand pulled tension on my racquet. I mounted it on the stringing machine, but only used my hand to pull the string tight.
I could tell you I gave the string a 5lbs pull, but who am I kidding, I have no idea what tension I was achieving, I was just trying my best to pull with the same force each time.
As I was not actually looking to achieve a tight tension, I literally just used my hand to pull the string through. Traditionally, the string would have been wrapped around a wooden dowel, so it could be gripped easily and comfortably before being pulled to a tighter tension.
Pulling with my bare hand was not comfortable. With only 3 cross strings left I was praying for the end. To stop the string digging into my hands I used a cloth at times, but it was tough to still get a good grip on the string unless I wrapped the string around my hand.
One thing to note about all the low-tension racquets I’ve now tried (hand pulled, 10lbs, 20lbs, 30lbs), stringing the crosses is more work. When installing the cross strings, the main strings move around more, making weaving more difficult.
Right off the machine, the hand pulled racquet felt similar to the 10lbs racquet when just tapping it against my hand. The same vibration I experienced at 10lbs was also felt with the hand-pulled racquet.
On court the racquet felt very playable and very similar to how the 10lbs racquet felt. I was able to hit all my usual shots and everything from groundstrokes to serves was working well. Again, I was not quite as confident as I was with the 30lbs racquet, which was the same experience I had with the 10lbs racquet. I think I could get used to the feel of this extremely low tension, but the vibration I was feeling bothers me so I don’t want to go down that road.
Again I sought the consult of the TW Professor. He reckons the vibration could be taken care of with weight added at the racquet tip and maybe some in the throat. I like the weight and balance of my racquets as is, and I’m not willing to modify them to make the tension work.
At this point, I’m definitely a fan of the 30lbs racquet. After hitting it for a week, the sensation of the deep pocketing at impact feels pretty normal now. I feel like I’m hitting all my regular shots, but getting a little more zip on serves and more spin everywhere. I’ll try my next two racquets at 35lbs and 26lbs and start dialing in my preferred tension from there.
I’m not going to abandon higher tensions, but I’m enjoying the low tensions so much that I’m going to stick with them for a while. On reviews we string our playtest racquets at mid tension with a co-poly and go up a few pounds with a multi, so I’ll still be doing plenty of higher tension hitting.
Tomorrow, I’m taking the day off from hitting. My body needs a rest from all the string testing, racquet and shoe testing and hitting during video shoots. As far as hand pulling tension on a racquet, I’m done. The racquet felt the same as it did at 10lbs and it was so much easier to string using the machine’s tension head (and much less painful) than using my hand.