Since 1992, Woody Schneider has helped newbies and professionals alike as the owner of the pro shop NYC Racquet Sports.
Schneider, 62, started playing tennis relatively late in the game, at the age of 22 — but still remembers what it was like to buy his first racket.
“I was intimidated, I was nervous,” Schneider recalls.
He keeps that in mind when helping his customers.
“People are probably already intimidated about the art of picking out a racket,” Schneider says. “It will be simple, as long as they come to a person that knows what they’re talking about.”
Picking up the sport? Here’s what you might expect buying your first racket.
What to spend
You could buy an aluminum racket for around $40. But for better quality, Schneider recommends springing for a graphite racket, which can cost anywhere from $125 to $250. “The aluminum rackets are not firm enough, they tend to vibrate,” whereas a graphite racket is more solid, he says. “Once you’ve got a proper racket that can last you decades, you don’t have to upgrade.”
The racket you get will be influenced by your physical strength and the way you hit the ball. “If it’s a big, strong person, we usually give them a racket with more weight in it,” Schneider says. “If it’s someone who does not swing with a lot of aggression, we may make the racket lighter for them.” A novice may also benefit from an oversized racket that’s easier to play with, he says.
A cheap racket will likely come pre-strung. But Schneider strings on-site, tailored to the buyer. “We don’t decide what string and what tension until we pick out the racket,” he says. “I take the stringing as seriously as the racket choice.” The player’s experience, strength and swing style will influence the stringing.
With a high-quality racket, you can be set for your playing career. But you should expect to get new strings and a new grip on the handle about once a year, Schneider says. At his store, which has two locations in midtown and one at the National Tennis Center in Flushing, stringing can cost anywhere from $32 to $45, while a replacement grip is $12 and an overgrip $3.