Belfast Between The Wars
Northern Whig, Saturday 21st April 1928
Many schoolgirls will be thinking soon about tennis and overhauling their tennis kit.
A tennis racquet which has been put away for the winter often disappoints its owner when brought out again. Strings have broken or frayed, the woodwork looks chipped, the varnish is missing in parts. It is not at all the trusted friend which was put away last autumn.
Most girls know that a coat of gut reviver tightens strings, but do they ever use oil for the frame? A drop of cricket bat oil, rubbed well into the handle and the end of the racquet where it gets knocked against the ground, preserves the frame.
Some girls go to the shop with the idea that they want a racquet of a certain weight. Now tennis stars choose their racquets scientifically. Weight, balance, grip, and material are the main features considered. An ill-chosen racquet is the greatest of all handicaps.
Many players use too heavy a racquet, under the delusion that it enables them to hit the ball extra hard. A good weight for the average woman is 13 ¼ ounces; for a man 14 ¼ ounces is more suitable. The only satisfactory way of deciding what weight racquet suits you is to try backhand strokes with it. Carry the stroke through with several racquets, and notice whether your wrist turns down by the end of the stroke. If it does, the racquet is too heavy for you.
More important than actual weight is balance – the distribution of weight in the racquet. A badly balanced racquet usually has a thin handle. This causes fatigue and occasionally cramp. A well-proportioned racquet should balance about 13in. from the end of the handle. A base line player will require a slightly longer balance point, a net expert a shorter one. A circumference of 5 1/8 in. at the grip is best for the ordinary woman and 5 3/8 in. for a man. For schoolgirls the handle should be on the small side – large ones are conductive to tennis elbow.
Always choose a simply strung racquet. There is no advantage to having one elaborately strung, and its costs more to be re-strung. The average player does not need a high-strung racquet. The gut should be on the thin side as it gives more driving force.
Many a good tennis racquet is spoiled by careless usage. When not it use an airtight cover should be kept over the head and a press fastened over this. Extreme changes of temperature are most harmful.
How many schoolgirls realise the importance of shoes to the tennis girl? Tennis shoes may be any pattern, but they must fit exactly about the heel.
And, talking of feet, do not forget that dancing is a good preparation for tennis. Miss Betty Nuthall, the famous girl tennis player, finds dancing one of the best ways of keeping quick and light on her feet. And any girl who has seen a slow motion tennis film will remember how the players’ feet are constantly on the move, even while awaiting service. If you wish to become school tennis champion next term, your slogan should be: “Improve your footwork!”