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Racquet Customization a Growing Trend in Junior and College Tennis
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As if tennis parents, junior and college tennis players didn't have enough expense in buying frames, strings, shoes and high tech apparel, many are choosing to shell out even more cash to have their racquets customized to preferred specifications.

Stringer Randy Gibson does customization work
Randy Gibson, a Bradenton, Florida-based professional stringer and racquet technician, has noticed the trend when it comes to junior players.

"The percentage of junior players having their frames worked with is less than 25% until they approach the last year or so of junior level play," explains Gibson. "The more serious tournament players on the higher national and international levels are developing their acute preferences and the numbers grow from here."

Tour players have been doing this for years - dating back to days of Bobby Riggs and Pancho Gonzalez - but Bjorn Borg brought racquet customization to the forefront when he admitted that he added weight and strung his frame with ultra-tight strings. His Donnay Borg Pro bore little resemblence to the same Donnay model that was flying off shelves here in the U.S. in the late 70s and early 80s.

The trend continues today as most of the top pros in the men's and women's rankings use a customizer from their racquet sponsor or any number of specialists in racquet customizing like Ron Yu, Roman Prokes or Dieter Calle.

Junior and college players are looking for that "edge" says Gibson, and expense appears to be no concern if it results in wins.

"Players tend to have a favorite racquet, and college players are matching up their racquets to make (them identical) as they are not all the same coming from the manufacturer. Manufacturers have a tolerance and rarely are [they] exactly the same. That is where we come to the rescue. More colleges are now budgeting to uniform the player's equipment to have the players prepared to the max."

Gibson says he has worked with juniors as young as seven on their customizing.

"Juniors who do take action are usually educated by their high level coaches. When these players go to a more structured international tournament, they may get an education by a racquet technician. A tournament is not normally when they do their custom work. There is an occasion where a player has that one racquet they love, and if the technician is equipped and time allows they can do some custom matching."

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Page updated on Sunday, October 06, 2019
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