Ashaway Cross and Main: Gearing up for Competition
by USA Racquetball
In my previous column I focused on preparing to return to play as the long pandemic shutdown eased up and allowed racquetball players back on the courts. Now that the national vaccination program has picked up momentum, we can look forward to organized racquetball activities actually taking place again. In fact, recently the LPRT held the Sweet Caroline Open in Greenville, South Carolina, with a star-studded draw.
For upcoming events popping up on local, state, and national calendars, now is the time to make plans to attend. Pick your divisions, find your partners/travel companions and get your racquetball gear ready for some intense competition Gearing up for a season is one thing, but gearing up for serious tournament play is something else.
So, how does one prepare for traveling to a tournament outside of your local region? Aside from the basic logistics like making travel plans and booking lodging at the event, there is nothing more important than preparing your equipment for many hours of competition. Preparing your equipment properly before you leave home takes a big variable out of tournament preparation; you can now allow yourself to focus on fitness and mental stamina as the event begins.
Maria Jose Vargas and Steve Crandall
To prepare your equipment, first make sure you have enough frames to get you through a long event, Most players feel 3 to 5 racquets is about the right number. Then, make sure all frames are strung with your preferred string at your favorite tension by your local stringer. This allows you to enter the tournament confidently with no worries about your racquet/string setups.
Next, check with the tournament organizer to make sure there will be a stringer on site at the tournament. Strings (and even racquets) do break from time to time, so you must be prepared to handle this unexpected situation. Bring a few sets of your string with you, and make sure you know the tension and the stringing pattern used by your hometown stringer on your frames.
Most players will rotate frames at tournaments to keep the performance level of all their frames consistent over the course of the event. You don’t want to use your “favorite” frame exclusively until it suddenly breaks in a tiebreaker, forcing you to switch to a new frame with no previous play on it. Instead, you want to be in a position to confidently go to your bag and take out a new frame, knowing that there will be very little change in your racquet/string performance under pressure.
If you are able to fight your way deep into the draws, you may find your strings loosen up more than you like from so much time on the court. Don’t hesitate to allow the tournament stringer to restring a racquet or two with the strings you provide, at the tension you specify. You need to know you have adequate backup equipment at a moment’s notice.
The bottom line is that confidence in your equipment leads to confidence in your game. The best players always keep their racquets in tip-top shape, including the grips, the grommets, and most importantly the strings. A winning player spends their time on court reacting instantaneously to their opponents’ shots and strategy, not worrying about their equipment and whether or not their strings will survive the match!
Good luck to all competitors as tournament play starts to heat up this summer!