Blog Image 1

THE OPEN AND CLOSED CASE FOR THE STRING PATTERN THAT BEST SUITS YOUR GAME

And here’s how one player rose to the national ranks using both — an open pattern for singles and a closed pattern for doubles.

We’re often asked why we offer two different string patterns — a 16x19 “open” patten and an 18x20 “closed” (or “dense”) pattern in our Pro One 97 models?

The simple answer: It depends on what best complements your particular playing style.

If you’re a baseline basher with the modern open-stance who uses a lot of spin and plays mostly singles, go for the 16x19 because the bigger spaces between the main and cross strings will “bite” the ball harder and produce more revolutions per hit.

But the closed pattern will give you a little more firmness and provide more feedback when you’re directing a shot at net if you mainly play two-up-at-net doubles. The 18x20 is also usually preferred if you hit flat and spin is something you’d rather leave to the politicians, particularly if you hit in a closed-stance like the flat hitters of old in the Connors-McEnroe-Navratilova-Evert era.

Rick Sanford, a USTA national tournament player from Ocala, Florida, uses two two racquets — one for singles, the 16x19 Donnay X-Dual Silver; the other for doubles, the 18x20 Donnay X-Dual Platinum. Both frames are thin bodies that he says gives him an aerodynamic advantage that helps him create more spin in singles and maneuverability around the net.

“In doubles I always play two-up-at-net and I’m a decent volleyer and the 18x20 gives me a little more precision,” he says. But I can generate much more spin with less racquet speed with the 16x19.”

Most of his success is in singles where he’s ranked #8 in Florida and #52 nationally in the age-50’s USTA tournament category where Rick uses more spin on the courts than Kellyanne Conway uses on cable news shows.

There’s his Rafa-like low-to-high loopy topspin from his forehand and two-handed backhands that forces his opponents to awkwardly try to take at the shoulder.

Then he’ll change things up by hitting a devastating high-to-low one-handed backhand slice that either makes the ball skid to his opponents’ shoe tops or simply becomes a drop shot that drops dead on the court. He’s even accomplished the nirvana of all drop shots on more than one occasion — the one that hits the opponents’ shallow court and then spins backward to his side of the net where the opponent bellyflops over the net trying to get it and fails “and I catch it in my hand.”

He even has a side-spin serve that bounces and breaks away from a right-handed opponent or jams a lefty to the body. “Not very nice, but really effective,” he laughs.

Rick didn’t earn his spin doctorate playing tennis — he’s only been playing the game since 1992— but as baseball pitcher,  starting in Little League and eventually becoming the mound ace at Oswego State University of New York, he mastered all sorts of spin — from the curve to the slider to the sinker. 

He applied those pitching skills to tennis as a late-bloomer to the sport. As you might say to Rick, it’s all in the wrist even though he uses a bulky 4 5/8-inch grip.

“I’ve beaten players who look better than me on paper, but I’ve outsmarted them and used the spins that I developed as a pitcher,” is how he explains his success in singles.

“Frankly, without the spin I don’t think I’d be very good.”

Neither, of course would be the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw or the ATP’s Rafael Nadal.