Finding solace in the tennis mecca that is Tennis Warehouse, hidden away on the Central Coast in California, there’s a new name being born in the world of tennis racquet customization. Let me introduce you to Paul Reed, who in his ten years of working for Tennis Warehouse has customized thousands of racquets for players of all levels, from professionals to recreational players. During that time, Paul has learned from each individual experience and fine tuned his own methods. He combines time-tested standard customizing techniques with his own unique procedures that he has developed himself through extensive experimentation to produce as fine a customized racquet as possible.
Paul’s process starts with his philosophy, where he treats every racquet as if it were his own, maintaining the integrity and consistency between all the racquets that the player wants customized. He also stresses the importance of open communication with the player, with constant feedback during the process in order to get the racquets feeling just right.
The customizing process sets out to accomplish two major goals. “I like to think that a racquet can be built to a set of specs that benefits the individual, complementing their natural stroke style,” Paul says. “When the perfect spec is reached, the player gets optimal racquet head acceleration, delivering maximum velocity on the ball.” Player have to make no alterations to their natural swing with the perfectly customized racquet.
The second major goal Paul strives to achieve is maintaining consistency between all of a player’s racquets to make sure each racquet in a player’s bag is identical. That way, when a player is getting a new racquet out of the bag when they break a string or want to rotate to a dry overgrip, “you’re just grabbing the same racquet,” Paul said. “I tell people it’s just one less thing to think about. When you have your racquets strung exactly the same and the specs perfectly match, you know all your racquets will play exactly the same.”
One of Paul’s unique and innovative methods is his tail-weighting technique that utilizes a tungsten putty, instead of the typical lead tape or lead pellets, to apply weight in the handle. The standard method of tail-weighting involves removing the buttcap, inserting strips of lead tape or lead pellets into the handle, and then stuffing it with cotton balls to prevent the added lead from moving around during play. However, Paul found a crucial issue in using this standard method for years. He found that as time went on, the lead would sometimes move around in the handle, altering the weight and balance of the racquet and also creating a “rattling” sensation when hitting.
Paul solved this problem by employing the use of a tungsten putty, typically used for fishing, to add weight to the handle instead. First and foremost, the tungsten is denser than lead, non-toxic, pliable and easy to work with. It can also easily be molded to fit the shape of the handle. Furthermore, it allows him to place the weight at the end of the handle, instead of distributing it throughout the handle with the lead pellets and cotton. By doing this, it makes the racquet much easier to work with as Paul works with players to achieve their desired specs.
I recently have been working with Paul on customizing an old Head Microgel Radical MP that I used in college. He first replaced the bumper guard and original grip, making it look virtually brand new, and then he went to work. I gave him my favorite racquet of all time, a Yonex RDX 500 Mid, and I wanted the as many of the specs of the Radical as possible to be identical with the Yonex. From there, I’d go out and hit with it, provide feedback to Paul as to how it felt and what further alterations we could make to arrive at the perfect feeling racquet.
Paul was precise in his measurements down to the hundredth of an ounce in weight and the millimeter in balance point. He applied 0.8oz of weight all through the racquet, using lead tape under the bumper guard and in the throat and tungsten putty in the handle. What resulted was a perfect match to my Yonex racquet (12.2oz, 7.5 pts HL). I playtested the racquet and it felt awesome, and now the only thing that Paul and I are working on is maneuvering the lead tape in the throat to provide the perfect pivot point to the racquet. After a couple more hits, we’ll nail that down and the racquet will truly be perfect!
Here is another interesting story involving touring pro Igor Kunitsyn and local legends Andre Dome and Allen Fox that Paul provided me about his customization process:
“About 5 years ago Allen Fox arranged for Andre Dome to hit with Igor Kunitsyn, a top 100 ATP player Allen coaches. After trading groundstroke games and what not, Andre asked him if he could try his ‘weighted up’ racquet. He liked it so much he came to me and asked me to build him one. Without access to Igor’s racquets or specs, I remembered that we had one of Goran Ivanisevic’s Head Prestige mids that we came across when we acquired the Bosworth collection racquets that was customized to spec for Goran. It was similar to Andre’s racquet (Head Prestige MP) so, after getting permission from the powers that be, Andre was able to try it out. I figured it would be a little too heavy for him, so I told him to be careful not to injure himself. It ultimately was too heavy, but it allowed me to determine a terminal reference point for static weight. Then based on seeing his stroke style throughout the years (since age 5) I was able to figure out what I felt were optimal specs targeting swingweight, static weight and balance point. Well, the first racquet I customized worked out for him and I’ve been working with his racquets ever since. He seems to have put in a lot of hard work over the years in the area of strength and conditioning which seems to have helped out getting that racquet around.”
If you want to learn more about our racquet matching or customizing service, please call our customer service line at (800) 883-6647. Paul’s prices are extremely competitive compared to others in the industry. Thanks for reading!