A new slingshot

“I need more power.” I handed my stick to the stringer. I’d moved from indoors to outdoors, and my shots had lost their sting.

“Depth,” he said. “People say power, but you mean depth. How much deeper do you want to hit the ball? Same swing,” he gestured, hands swinging wildly, correcting me in Italian-accented English.

“A foot, I guess.”

He whistled, shook his head, as if I had asked him to perform a miracle. He explained that a one-pound reduction in the string tension would add one inch to the ball’s flight. If I wanted to put another foot on the ball, I’d be playing with a fishing net. We decided to take it down five pounds, stringing my Head Liquidmetal Radical at 53 on the mains, 55 on the crosses.

I tested my newly strung weapon at practice tonight. The difference was immediately apparent, though I’m not sure about the stringer’s one-pound, one-inch calculus. Balls that were landing just beyond the service box a week ago were skidding off the baseline. I had both more power (depth) and control, contrary to the expected tradeoff. It was as if I were cupping the ball, holding it on my strings, lining up my shot, then launching it at my target, as if from a slingshot.

My first match is Saturday. The weather is still unpredictable, occasional cold snaps and gusty winds complicating my transition to the outdoor asphalt. My opponent will be in the same boat. I’ll be counting on my stringer’s expertise to give me an edge.

–A. Clarke

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One response to “A new slingshot

  1. Pingback: The cost of the game « The Eastern Forehand

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