The Three P’s: Alternatives to Tennis

By Chyna Browne

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Tennis is a game we all know and love but recently there have been a few modified alternatives that have been gaining popularity in many circles. Among the most known variations are POP Tennis, Platform Tennis and Pickleball. We will call them the Three P’s. This will serve as a guide to compare and contrast each of these games to help you to pick one that is best for you. Before you run out to try something new, take a moment to familiarize yourself with each of these games.

POP Tennis

POP Tennis is a variation that comes from the 100-year-old game known as paddle tennis. The cost for equipment and court rental is very similar to traditional tennis. Once you have your own stringed racquet, tennis ball, and tennis shoes you’re ready to go. The main differences from regular tennis are their are different court dimensions and smaller racquets. There is Classic POP which plays on a 50′ court, POP 36 plays on 36′ court, and POP 60 plays on a 60′ court. POP Tennis uses the same rules as traditional tennis. The International POP Tennis Association certifies the courts and determines if it is suitable for official POP tennis competition. If you are looking to start an official tournament or league  you might want to check them out first. Finally, if you want to find a player you can go to the official POP Tennis website

or use the My Game Solutions app to find players near you.

pop tennis.jpgPlatform Tennis

Platform tennis is also known as paddle tennis, a game that has been played in America for over a century. Players can enjoy this sport outside in either cold or warm weather and enjoyed by all ages.  It is played at private clubs, backyards, and public facilities. Platform tennis courts are 1/3 smaller than your average tennis courts and the most striking difference is that the courts are surrounded by a 12-foot enclosure.  So if you’re a person that enjoys the traditional format of regular tennis, this will be the best fit for you. The cost for playing platform tennis is also similar to that of regular tennis.  One main difference in the equipment needed is that you use an 18-inch paddle instead of a stringed racquet. Also, you use a depressurized tennis ball instead of the fluorescent yellow ball you normally use in tennis. If you want to find out more information about the game and some upcoming events and tournaments, check out the website.

platform tennis
Pickle Ball

This game follows the basic rules of tennis, however, instead of using a racquet you use a paddle and instead of a tennis ball you use a plastic ball. So this game is kind of a hybrid between regular tennis and platform tennis. Many times, this game is played inside because the court is smallest, and you can often convert an indoor vollleyball or basketball court to make two pickle ball courts. Like the other two variations, pickle ball has its own tournaments.  You can find more information about them here. Of the Three P’s pickle ball is the easiest to pick up and play in a casual environment and can be enjoyed by all ages.  Pickle ball also happens to have the most tournaments, so if you’re interested in making connections with others while having fun you should definitely consider trying this sport.

Golden Village Palms Pickleball

Racquet Stringing for Dummies

You hit a ball hard and mid-rally you hear a pop.  You look down and you have popped a string.  If this is your first time popping a string, you may be confused on the next steps.  Most tennis clubs provide stringing services and the price depends on the club’s service fee and the type of strings you request.  In total, restringing a racquet should cost anywhere between $30-$60 in total.  Below is Tennis Warehouse’s explanation on the various string types and how they affect your game in different ways.

types-of-tennis-string

Nylon

Synthetic gut or nylon? Truth be told, most synthetic guts are made with nylon (sometimes referred to as polyamides). There are different grades of nylon, with varying levels of feel, so don’t be afraid to try different synthetic guts until you find the right fit. All in all, synthetic gut delivers a good combination of playability and durability at a great price. Nylon filaments offer truly impressive comfort and power.

Natural Gut 

The ultimate in playability, feel, and tension maintenance. Often overlooked due to it’s cost, natural gut is the best choice for players with arm problems or those who crave its sublime, comfortable, crisp feel. It used to be the number one choice of ATP and WTA tour players across the world. Now used more in hybrids, combining polyester mains with natural gut crosses (with some players using gut in the mains for more power and feel). Natural gut offers maximum feel and control due to its ultra low stiffness, which provides phenomenal ball “pocketing”.

Polyester

Polyester is a very durable string designed to provide control and durability to players with long, fast strokes. Polyester is the number one choice on the pro tour because it allows advanced ball strikers to maintain surgical control on their fastest, most aggressive strokes. The incredible stroke speed enabled by polyester also translated into categorically higher level of spin, which literally changed the trajectories and angles available to the player. Polyester also served to harness the immense power that came with the graphite era. Due to its high stiffness and relatively low power, polyester is not recommended for beginners or players with arm injuries.

Kevlar

The most durable string available. Kevlar is very stiff and strings up very tight. Therefore, it is usually combined with a soft nylon cross to reduce stringbed stiffness. Ultimately, kevlar hybrids are the least powerful and least comfortable strings currently available. Players trying kevlar hybrids for the first time (from nylon strings) are recommended to reduce tension by 10% to compensate for the added stiffness. Not recommended for beginners or players with arm injuries.

After you choose a string, tension is the next most important component to consider.  Different levels of tension suit different styles of players.  Tennis Warehouse’s explanation on string tension, which is provided below, is a great outline of the varying effects of tension on how players play.

Power

If a player is seeking more power from his racquet, he should try dropping tension a few pounds. The stringbed will deflect more (and the ball less), returning greater energy to the ball. There is a point of diminishing returns where the string bed turns into a butterfly net, but it’s well below any racquet’s recommended tension range.

Control

A tighter stringbed deflects less and deforms the ball more, providing less energy than looser strings. This means the ball won’t fly as far when you hit it. Beginners who are shanking the ball in every direction won’t gain any advantage by increasing tension, but intermediate and advanced players who are hitting a lot of long balls will be able to reduce the depth of their shots without changing their swing. It is also generally accepted that spin potential is enhanced with higher tensions, which provides even more control for topspin and slice players.

Here are other considerations for players with different circumstances:

Arm Injuries – lower tensions result in a softer stringbed and a larger sweet spot, reducing the amount of shock and vibration transmitted to the hand and elbow.

Switching Racquets – too many players are stuck on a tension (“I always string my racquet at 60 pounds”) and don’t make allowances when changing racquets. Whether changing head sizes, brands, or buying a new titanium racquet, a player will need to make the corresponding tension change. If 60 pounds was mid-range on his old racquet and the new racquet’s tension range is 50-60 pounds he should start at 55 pounds with the new racquet.

Switching Strings – if a player changes from a soft string (natural gut, synthetic gut, multi) to a poly-based string, we suggest reducing tension 5 to 10 percent to compensate for the higher stiffness. This is more art than science and may require trial and error to get the feel exactly right. When switching to kevlar be advised that this material is much stiffer than nylon synthetics and quite a bit stiffer than most ploy-based strings – so adjust the tension accordingly.

Tennis Style Guide: A Look into Sloane Stephens’ Championship Attire

Do you want to play like a Grand Slam champion?
First you need to look the part!

The right apparel will help you to play like a champion. Making sure you have the right attire isn’t easy. When shopping for tops, you want to make sure you get something secure — this goes for men and women. As for the bottoms we suggest wearing loose-fitting shorts or skirts over compression shorts. Whatever you decide to wear, just make sure that you are styled up and ready to play like a champion.

Here is a closer look at the newest U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens’ outfit from this year’s tournament in Flushing Meadows:

Top: Under Armour Carol Tank 
Bottom: Under Armour Women’s Fall 2-in-1 Short
Racket: Head Graphene XT Radical MP

 

What are They Swinging? A Guide of Racquets Used by the Top ATP/WTA Tour Pros

When you go out to play at your local club, you want to feel like the pros.  The best way to feel like a pro is to use the racquet they use.  In celebration of the U.S. Open, we would like to give you an inside scoop on the racquets some of the top-ranked ATP and WTA Tour men and women use and some pros and cons about each racquet.

Andy Murray – Head Graphene XT Radical Pro– $199.95

andy murray racquet

Pros

  • Light
  • Fast swinging racquet that delivers easy access to power
  • Firm and lively from the baseline
  • Great on serve and volleys

Cons

  • Made for advanced players
  • Swingbed is erratic – not great for control
  • Small sweet spot
  • Uncomfortable to hit with from the baseline

Rafael Nadal –Babolat PLAY Pure Aero– $219

rafa nadal racquet

Pros

  • Good blend of power and spin
  • Large sweet spot
  • Good on serve

Cons

  • Lacks a little feel on returns and volleys
  • Slightly lacking on control

Roger Federer – Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph– $249

roger federer racquet

Pros

  • Solid and stable
  • Gives good control and access to spin
  • Good pocketing

Cons

  • A little stiff
  • Leather grip seems thin

Stan Wawrinka – Yonex VCORE Duel G 97– $209

Stan Wawrinka

Pros

  • Great feel
  • Good volleys
  • Great control
  • Very powerful

Cons

  • Too powerful sometimes
  • Not enough spin
  • Not maneuverable enough

Novak Djokovic – Head Graphene Touch Speed Pro– $219.95

TENNIS-FRA-OPEN-MEN

Pros

  • Good control
  • Good spin
  • Comfortable
  • Great for groundstrokes and returns

Cons

  • Too muted of a feel
  • Underpowered

Karolina Pliskova – Babolat Pure Drive 2015– $199

karolina plistova racquet

Pros

  • Good power, spin, and control
  • Stable feel
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Too light
  • Little too stiff
  • Raised sweet spot turns some off

Simona Halep – Wilson Burn 100 Countervail– $199

simona halep racquet

Pros

  • Good transfer of power
  • Has great feel
  • Good spin and maneuverability

Cons

  • Not great for spin on serves
  • Very stiff, can hurt wrists
  • Not comfortable

Angelique Kerber – Yonex VCORE SV 100– $209

ANGELIQUE KERBER (GER) TENNIS -  - Brisbane International - Queensland Tennis Centre - Brisbane - Queensland - Australia - 2016Pros

  • Good power
  • Easy access to spin
  • Generous sweet spot
  • Forgiving from the baseline

Cons

  • Lacks control
  • Firm
  • Not particularly comfortable

Garbine Muguruza – Babolat Pure Drive– $219

garbine muguruza racquet

Pros

  • Good control and power on the serve
  • Great power and spin
  • Muted sweetspot

Cons

  • Not great feel and control
  • Not great on slices

Elina Svitolina – Wilson Burn 100 Countervail Orange LE– $199

elina svitolina racquet

Pros

  • Easy to use
  • Grants power and depth
  • Good transfer of power
  • Good spin

Cons

  • Not great access to spin on serves
  • Too stiff