The cost of the game

A couple of weeks ago, just before the start of USTA League Tennis, I restrung my racket at a lower tension, a decision that probably nudged me to victory last Saturday.

I string my racket about four times a year, $35 a pop. That’s $140 a year for a Head Liquidmetal Radical that cost $69. I like to tell people that, despite its country club pedigree and rich kid reputation, tennis is one of the cheapest sports you can play, much less expensive than sports with blue collar reps such as ice hockey. You can buy a decent prestrung racket for maybe $50 and a can of balls for $2. Find a court at your local park or high school, and play until you collapse. For free.

For the serious recreational player, of course, the costs can be higher. I try to keep my costs on the low side, but I probably drop $1,200 to $1,300 a year on the game. An itemized list of my expenses:

A year of expenses on the rec tour
Four string jobs $140
Two pairs of shoes $180
Off-the-shelf orthotics $70
Grips $10
Two hats $40
Four pairs of Thorlo socks $48
Indoor court time (5:30 a.m. tennis. Yikes!) $400
Y membership (spring and summer) $360
One shirt $40
One pair of shorts $35
Total $1,288

Toss in lessons, string your rackets more frequently, and the costs will climb higher. When I evaluate my own spending, however, the game still seems like a great value, supporting an extraordinary level of obsession for every dollar spent.

–A. Clarke


2 responses to “The cost of the game

  1. “One shirt” and “One pair of shorts” for a year of tennis…

    I play in Florida…I’m 57, a very good 3.5 player just on the verge of 4.0. I play 3-4 times a week and there’s no way I get by on that little clothing…right now I have 3 pair of shorts and 13-15 shirts.

    Yes, not all is essential…but, I like having a variety of clothing, but simply to avoid laundry every day, I have to have at least 2 pairs of shorts and a few shirts…

    • You’re right. I think what I meant was that I’ll buy one new shirt and pair of shorts a year. Added to clothing I’ve bought in previous years, my wardrobe’s a little more extensive. Sounds like you’ve got a good playing set-up in Florida. Best of luck.


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