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How to Choose Tennis String

Thick vs. Thin String

A string's guage is a measure of its diameter, or thickness. Tennis strings range from 15 gauge (the thickest) to19 gauge (the thinnest). An “L” placed after the gauge number means that it's “light,” or slightly thinner than the number shown.

Thicker strings provide you with more durability but less feel on your shots. By contrast, a thinner string gives you extra feedback and bites into the ball for more spin and control, but it also breaks more quickly. Strings move and shift when you hit the ball, sawing against each other and creating tiny notches. When these notches get deep enough, the strings break. The thicker the string, of course, the longer it will take to saw through and the longer the string will last.

If changing the gauge doesn't solve your durability problem, you may need to switch to a hybrid string like Kevlar (the stuff used to make bulletproof vests) in the main (up-and-down) strings, which usually break first, and a synthetic in the cross strings. The supertough mains will add life, while the softer crosses will provide some feel.

Another option for string-breakers is to use polyester strings. One of the more popular choices on the ATP tour, polyester string is almost as durable as Kevlar, but it doesn't feel nearly as harsh. Plus, it's less expensive than Kevlar, and though it will lose its tension more quickly than other strings, the latest generation of polyester strings are designed to maintain tension better than ever. Keep in mind, though, that polyester strings tend to take a little power away from your shots. So you'll probably find that you have to swing harder to generate pace. This isn't a problem for advanced players, who like to rip the ball, but it's a disadvantage for beginners and intermediates who have short to medium strokes.

"At the end of the day, just remember to put some thought into your strings,” says David Bone, executive director of the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association (USRSA). “It'll make you a better player."

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