Thursday, November 30, 2017

Tennis Myths Busted - Big/Small Grips Are Best

Something we hear fairly often from people in our store goes like this. "I heard a smaller grip won't cause tennis elbow", or, "someone told me a bigger grip is easier on the arm".
Both things are wrong.
Here's the thing. A grip size that is the wrong size, small or big, has the potential to be tougher on the arm. Over the years, the myth about grip size has gone back and forth between big or small being better.  The fact that it goes back and forth gives you an idea that both are wrong.
About ten years ago, we would see guys come in with grips built WAY up. When asked about it, the answer was the same, "it is better for my tennis elbow." No matter how big they made their grip, the tennis elbow never seemed to go away. We're not saying that grip size is the cause of tennis elbow but combined with other factors, can make it worse. 
When a grip is too big or too small, the effect is the same. You will have to squeeze the grip tighter than normal in order to keep the racket from slipping or twisting in your hand. Multiply that by several hours of playing tennis and you're likely to feel it in your arm or hand. Add heat and humidity and it just gets tougher to keep a good grip on your racket.
A properly sized grip allows you to grip the racket firmly, yet without the need to put a death-grip on it to keep it stable. You shouldn't have to squeeze if the size is right. You can see below what the right size grip will look like in your hand.
If you've got more than a finger's width gap between the middle fingers and the base of the thumb, the grip is too big. The above is the desired size.

There should be a pinky-finger width space between the base of the thumb and the middle fingers 
If the fingers and base of the thumb are touching, the grip is too small.

When buying a racket, something to consider is the use of over grip. It will add just about one grip size when added. Many people are now choosing a grip size that is a little small so that when the over grip is added, the size will be right.
If your grip is too small or too large, there are options to get it closer to the right size. There are some limitations to how much bigger or smaller we can make it, but we can get it closer to the right size than it is now. Stop by our Dale Mabry store and we can show you the options available and can show you the right size grip for your hand.

Monday, October 30, 2017

Tennis Myth - Adding Weight to the Head is Always Best

So often, a customer will come in and ask for their racket to be made heavier. The mistake they make is wanting to put all of the weight in the head of the racket. A common myth is that when you add weight to the racket, it should always go on the head.
This is very often the worst way to do it.
Here's the problem. You have a racket that becomes to light for you and you'd like to add weight. No problem, so far. But if the racket is already head heavy and they want the weight added to the head.

You will be making a head heavy racket, even more, head heavy. The racket will become less maneuverable and tougher to generate racket speed with. Think of it this way. How maneuverable is a sledgehammer? Sure, assuming you can swing the thing, there may be power, but with the cost being the loss of maneuverability and stability.

The better option is to add weight in both the head and the handle. Done correctly, you can add weight without changing the balance of the racket.

An even better option if using a head heavy racket is to add the weight in such a way as to make the racket both heavier and less head heavy. There is a reason that the racket companies all do the same thing. As the rackets they make get heavier, they also get more head light. This adds maneuverability and the ability to get racket speed while also making the racket more stable. The more head heavy a racket is, the further from your hand the weight is, making it less stable.

Everyone is different. If you need a racket heavier, stop into our Dale Mabry store and we can show you the best way to add weight to your racket to achieve the feel and performance you are looking for.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

One Way to Make Racquetball Strings Last Longer

For those that play a lot of racquetball, string breakage is a fact of life. Often, it is just lots of use or hitting the ball hard that causes strings to break. But there is one cause that can be largely prevented.
Anyone who has played for any amount of time knows that your racket will eventually make contact with the wall. Over time, this wears on the frame. As you can see in the below pictures, with enough wear, the bumper guard will wear down. This will cause more potential damage to the actual frame, eventually leading to a crack or breakage. But it also harms the string.
String exposed by excessive bumper guard wear.

A new bumper guard protecting the strings from
damage from the wall or other rackets.

The bumper guard's other job is to protect the string. The strings should sit below the edge of the guard so that when the racket scrapes the wall, the guard takes the punishment, not the string. Once the bumper wears down to a certain point, the string is exposed to their surroundings. The same scrape to the wall will now damage the strings. Eventually, the strings will look as if sandpaper had been rubbed on it, and they will break sooner than they should.
There are two ways to stop this kind of string wear, and no, not hitting the wall isn't one of them.
First is to use head protection tape on your racket. When the racket scrapes the wall, the tape takes the punishment. When the tape starts to show excessive wear, pull it off and replace it with a new strip. This will also increase the life of the frame itself.
The other way, assuming that they are available, is to replace the bumper guard. Newer rackets are usually easy to find replacement bumper guards for. The guards can be replaced while being restrung and are the best way to reduce damage to the strings and frame. For an older racket, you'll have to go the head tape route to protect the strings and frame.
If you have any questions on rackets, bumper guards or strings, stop in and we'll help you find the right ones for your game.

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tennis Myth - Poly "Lasts" Longer

The number one reason we hear for why people use poly is that it lasts longer.
This assumption is true, but only up to a point.
A poly string is likely to take a longer amount of time to break, but that is only telling half the story. While a string may not break, all strings suffer from tension loss. Given enough time, all strings lose their ability to perform and return energy to the ball. When the strings don't perform to their potential, neither will you.
So what strings should you use?
For those who are likely to break strings in a short amount of time, poly strings are a good option. Chances are, those players are hitting the ball with a good amount of power and can benefit from the added durability and control poly strings offer.
If you are playing more than once a week, and can not break a poly string in under six months, they are probably not a good option. For those players, when you get to six months, a poly string will have lost a good deal of tension. This will result in loss of power, spin potential, and overall performance. True, while they have not broken, they are not "lasting" as long as other options might.
Multifilament strings and even basic synthetic gut strings will lose less tension over the same period of time and will perform better, longer. For players who don't break strings often, these strings will also add power and have a better feel than the stiffer, poly strings.
A good rule of thumb for restringing is to replace your strings as many times in a year as you play in a week. If you play twice a week, this means every six months. For those who do not tend to break strings, the softer, non-poly strings will maintain more of their performance at the six-month mark. For a non-string breaker, this may actually buy you a little more time before the string performance drops to the point of becoming a hindrance to your game.
Again, for those that break strings often, you will likely break the string before the tension loss becomes an issue. For the rest of us, a multifilament will be a more arm-friendly, better performing and very likely, longer lasting option when you re-string.

Stop in and we'll help you pick a string that best fits your needs and your game.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Tennis Myth - Tighter Strings = More Power

We hear it all the time at our tennis store.
“I want more power, so make the strings tighter:”
The problem with that is that tighter strings do not make for more power. I know what some of you are thinking, “(insert pro’s name here) strings with really tight strings, and he hits hard”.
It is not the strings. The person in question already hit the ball with plenty of power, no matter the string tension. Often times, those players string tight for more control, not power.
Here’s a good way of explaining it.
Think of someone standing at the top of a ladder. They drop a bowling ball onto the floor. They repeat the drop, only this time onto a bed.
Which ball bounced higher? Most likely, the one dropped on the bed. Imagine the same test using a trampoline. Bringing it all back to your tennis racket, the more the strings can give (think trampoline), the more energy they will return to the ball. More energy to the ball, more depth, and power on the shots.
There are two ways to increase power and depth. String tension and string type.

String type - the more elastic a string is, the more it will give and return that energy to the ball. This will make hitting the ball deep with less effort easier to do, not to mention that all that give in the string absorbs shock. Players with arm issues will reap the benefits of the reduced shock and added comfort on their arm. The additional give in the string can also increase spin potential.

String tension - A current trend on the tour is the use of a stiff string, strung at a low tension (sometimes as low as 40lbs). This allows for more give in the string, more spin potential, and more power and depth. Reducing the tension on stiff, poly strings can also reduce shock at impact. Some players like the more elastic strings at a slightly higher tension. Tension is the way to fine tune the right string to your needs.

Now, what is the right combination for you?
If power is the main concern, a softer, multifilament string will be a very good way to go. Many players moving from a poly string notice the difference right away in added depth and comfort.
For those who need durability due to strings breakage, a poly string at a lower tension would be a good start. Going all the way down to 40lbs is probably not the way to start, but dropping tension 5lbs or so should be noticeable. There are also poly strings that are softer than others, offering added power and comfort.

Something to keep in mind. As with so many things, there is a balance that must be found. Power and depth are only a good thing up to the point you're hitting too many shots long. There is going to be some trial and error, but usually, a balance can be found between string type and the right tension for you and the string you're using.
One last thing...
If you are in need of power, fresh strings are required. Over time, strings will lose their ability to return energy to the ball. The more you play, the quicker it will lose that ability. A good rule of thumb is to restring as many times in a year as you play in a week. The harder you hit, you may want to increase the frequency of restringing.
Even strings that haven't been used much will lose their pop. After about a year, the difference will be noticeable.

Stop into our store and we can help you select the string and tension that best fits YOUR game and needs. We can see what you have in your racket now and with a few questions, give you some options that will have you hitting the ball with more pop and depth.

Monday, August 28, 2017

MP Tennis Ladder Starts 9.5.17

So, what is the MP Tennis Ladder?
It is a Hillsborough County wide, adult co-ed tennis league open to players of all levels. There are three levels to choose from, and unlike other leagues, you can play as much as you want. There is really no limit to the amount of tennis you can play other than your ability to reach out to other players and set up matches.
The MP Tennis Ladder, as it's name suggests, is a ladder format. You challenge players above you for their spots while accepting challenges from players below. The goal is to finish the season as high up as you can to qualify for the play offs, which are seeded based on the season ending standings.

Players who join by 5pm on Saturday, 9/2 will be included in the blind draw for season starting positions on the ladder. You can still join after 9/2, but will start out on the bottom of your ladder.

You can join the ladder at the link below or stop by our MP Tennis & Sports store at 14845 N. Dale Mabry Hwy.

For more information on the ladder, go to or give us a call at 813-961-8844

Thursday, August 24, 2017

New Babolat Pure Drive Now Available

The new Babolat Pure Drive is now available!
Beyond the great new look, the Pure Drive will make those using older versions very happy.
The new Pure Drive will feature an updated string pattern for a huge sweet spot and maximum power.
It will have the same solid feel players have come to expect from Babolat's Cortex technology for optimum feel and performance.
Players will find the new Pure Drive has the same weight and balance as in the past for a familiar, yet improved feel.
The standard, 10.6 ounce version is now available with more new weights coming in early 2018.

Monday, August 21, 2017

Control...and Where to Get It

One of the most requested things we are asked for at our MP Tennis & Sports store on Dale Mabry Hwy is strings for more control.
We can help, but here's the thing, it depends on what your definition of control is.
First of all, no string is going to do anything for your right/left control. That is a function of your swing and your timing at impact. Depth is another matter.
For many, control is not hitting the ball long all of the time. If you are hitting the ball long frequently, there are several things that could be going on.

  1. Not hitting enough topspin.
  2. A racket that is too powerful.
  3. Strings that are too lively.

We'll skip #1 for a moment and go to #2. If you are using a large, oversize headed racket, it just may be too much racket for you. Large head rackets are designed for players with weaker, shorter swings. Sure, you can put a really stiff string in it or max out the tension, but you'll never really change that the racket may not be ideal for you.
As for #1, topspin can give you much more margin for error. Topspin is a result of taking the right kind of swing. You can use a spin friendly string, but that is only going to help so much. The best thing you can do is take a few lessons with a good pro who can show you how to hit more spin the right way.
The funny thing with strings is so many of the characteristics that help with spin potential also make the string bed more lively. Playing with a string bed that is too lively will help send balls long. The better your technique is for creating topspin, the less likely you are to hit the ball long.
Now, if you hit the ball flatter, a lively string will give you little margin for error where depth is concerned. Going to a firmer string will reduce the trampoline-effect at impact and give you less depth, causing fewer shots to go long.
It is a balancing act. You don't want to go so firm that you can't hit shots deep enough. Find a string and tension that gives you enough depth on well-hit shots, with the fewest number going long. Also, a string that offers too much "control" will reduce the power of your shots, making them easier to return.
There is going to be some trial and error involved. We can show you some options that will offer the best depth control with the least sacrifice of power. Stop in and we'd be glad to help.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Bats. Try Before You Buy!

Now available at our store, our demo program includes bats!
Just stop by our Dale Mabry store and the same demo program that has helped tennis, racquetball and pickleball players find the right equipment for their games, comes to baseball and softball.
Under the program, you pay a fee that allows you to take a bat for up to a week. You can hit it and find out if it is a good fit for your swing. Not the right one, bring it back and try another. If needed, another and another, all for the one time fee.
Once you find the one you like, the demo fee is subtracted from the purchase price of the bat.
Our demo program takes the guess work out of selecting a bat. When you buy, you'll know it is the right one for you.
We're adding new models all the time, so if we don't have the DeMarini or Louisville Slugger bat your looking for, let us know and we'll give you an idea when they'll be in.
For more information on the program, give us a call at 813-961-8844

Monday, August 7, 2017

New Wilson Ultras

Coming 8.15.17 to MP Tennis & Sports, the new Wilson Ultra line of rackets. 
There is going to be four models coming in August, with two more coming in November.
Coming in August are:

  • Ultra 100 CV - a new and improved version of the popular Ultra 100, now with Countervail which reduces arm fatigue and returns more energy back to the ball.
  • Ultra 100L - A lighter version of the Ultra 100 CV, gives the same feel and power for players who need the benefits of less weight.
  • Ultra 100UL - An even lighter version at just over 9 ounces, it's designed for players who want the control/power combination of a 100sq" head with the ease of swing from a light frame.
  • Ultra Tour - It's a heavier version with a slightly smaller, 97sq" head size, giving players with bigger swings added control and feel.

All four will be available to demo at our Dale Mabry store so you'll be able to find the version that best fits your game.

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Arm Pain? It Could Be Your String.

Here at our MP Tennis & Sports store, we have seen an increase in people coming in and needing to change from poly strings.  The most often heard reason is arm issues. For many players, a full bed of poly string is just too stiff, even when strung at a low tension.
When using a full bed of poly, you have to hit hard enough to make the string give at impact. The more a string gives, the more it does two things. One, it absorbs the impact, making it easier on the arm. The other thing is that the more a string gives, the more energy it will return to the ball (think trampoline).
The main reasons people choose a poly in the first place is control and durability. Poly strings will, for most people, last longer (won't break), but will, over time, lose tension. Once the string has lost enough tension, the performance will decrease, making them even harder to generate power and spin.
For some, the control aspect is about not hitting the ball long. Many players don't hit the ball long as often with poly strings but sacrifice power and depth to do so. When the power goes down, you have to swing harder, which adds to the potential of arm trouble.
So, you've been using poly but it is hurting your arm. Now what?
There are several options.
1. Try a hybrid of poly and a softer string. This will add performance without sacrificing much durability. For most, polys on the mains and the softer string in the crosses will ease the arm issues while still giving a stiffer feel (for those who like that feel).
2. A "synthetic gut" string is a middle ground string that doesn't last like the polys but offers less spring than the softer multifilament strings.
3. For those with real arm issues, a multifilament string will offer more power and shock absorption.  Both things will stress off the arm and give a more comfortable feel. You will also find less of a need to have to "kill the ball", by letting the strings do some of the work and stress from your arm.
4. For those who feel they need a poly, there are some newer, slightly softer poly strings. While not as easy on the arm as the other options, it will be an improvement over most poly strings.

If you are feeling the impact of every shot in your arm, stop by our Dale Mabry store and we can give you some options to have you playing more comfortable, and hopefully, better tennis.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

New Head Extreme Rackets at MP Tennis & Sports

Now available at MP Tennis & Sports at our Dale Mabry Store is Head's new Graphene Touch Extreme rackets. There are two rackets in the new Extreme series, the MP and the Lite. Both feature the same Graphene Touch technology which gives players a great feeling racket with the perfect combination of power and comfort. They also have Head's '360 Spin Grommets' that allow the the strings added ability to move for greater power and snap back for increased spin potential.
Head has given the new Extremes a more conventional head shape. In past versions, the head shape was very round, which some players found difficult to get used to. The new, oval shape is more common and gives the Extremes a more conventional look and feel.
The MP version has enough weight for the big hitters and plenty of spin potential and is a great choice for aggressive base line hitters.
The Lite is, like it's name says, a lighter option for players who want the performance but need less weight for more racket speed and maneuverability.
In the short time they have been out, the feedback on the new Extremes has been very positive. People who have tried the demos have like the power/control mix and have commented about the very solid feel.
If you'd like to try them, stop by our Dale Mabry store and start our demo program. You can call us at 813-961-8844 if you have any questions.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Beating the Heat on the Court

Not sure about where you're at, but here in Tampa, it is HOT!
Playing tennis in Tampa this time of year creates several issues for those willing to take on the heat.
One of the biggest problems is worn out grips. When you are sweating buckets, your hands and grip are going to get wet. If you are using a worn out grip, it's even worse. Here at MP Tennis & Sports, we often see rackets that have broken after slipping out of someone's hand and sent slamming into the court. A new grip or overgrip will help this problem quite a bit. For those who sweat a lot, something like a tacky-towel or grip enhancement gel can increase your ability to keep the racket from slipping.
Another problem is what to do with your racket when not on the court. Just about the worse thing you can do is leave it in your car all day. I won't go into how hot it can get in a car, in Florida, in summer, but it is very hot. 
The heat can damage your frame and cause your string to lose tension prematurely. Both things will reduce the performance and how well you play. Keep your racket inside whenever possible, or at the very least, have them in a bag with a thermal protective pocket for the rackets. 
Doing these things will help increase your racket's life span and have you playing better tennis.
Come into MP Tennis & Sports and we can help you select the right grips and even put them on while you wait. Stop by our store at 14845 N. Dale Mabry Hwy in Tampa and we'd be happy to help.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Big Things Coming to MP Tennis...& Sports!

Since 1998, MP Tennis served the Tampa tennis community with equipment from the top brands in the sport and professional service to help our customers select the right things for them. We take pride in helping people play better tennis, and though our league, The MP Tennis Ladder, more tennis.
Over the years we have applied the same formula of service and selection to racquetball and pickleball. 
Now, in late summer 2017, we will be adding new sports to our store. Baseball and softball.
We will offer brands like Wilson, Louisville Slugger, DeMarini and EvoShield and will offer the same level of service to help players pick the best product for them.
Check out our website at for updates on when the new bats, gloves and more will be available.
We are still MP Tennis, only now it's, 
MP Tennis & Sports.

Friday, June 2, 2017

A "softer" Poly Option

So you break strings pretty quick, but still want something that is fairly easy on the arm? There are some options for you now days.
First of all, poly strings have become popular due to its durability, but for many, it comes with a cost. Poly strings are generally very stiff, which creates a tight, unforgiving feel to the string bed. While some players do hit with enough power to make poly strings give, most players do not. This inability to make the string give enough at impact creates more shock to the arm.
A possible answer for players who like the durability of poly, but not the extra shock is a new breed of polys designed to be “softer” and easier on the arm (note - most non-polys will be softer than the softest poly).
Here are a few of this new breed of poly strings that offer a better feel and extra pop.
  • Luxilon Element - The Element is different in construction than most polys. Rather than being a solid core, it has what Luxilon calls “multi-mono”, which is several strands forming the core of the string. This gives Element more elasticity which increases ball-pocketing, power and gives it a better, less shocking feel.
  • Luxilon 4G Soft -  This is a softer version of their 4G strings, which hold tension better than the average poly string. It still has great control, but is a more arm-friendly option than the standard 4G strings.
  • Babolat RPM Team - The RPM Team has the same exterior features of RPM Blast, but the core of the string is made differently to add flexibility. This allows for more give at impact, which absorbs the shock better and is easier on the arm, without sacrificing durability.

One thing to keep in mind with poly strings. While the do break less often, they generally do not hold tension as well as other string construction. If you get to the one-year mark on a set of poly, chances are, the performance has diminished, robbing you of power and feel. It is still a good idea to change your strings as many times in a year as you play in a week.

Come in and we can help you choose the string and tension that will best fit your game.  

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New Rackets from Head

Coming in May, Head has two new racket that promise power, without sacrificing control. The MXG rackets have a unique throat design that adds stability for powerful, under control shots.
The MXG will come in two models, the MXG-3 and MXG-5. The MXG-3 has a 100sq" head size and the MXG-5 has a 105sq" head size for added power and a larger sweet spot.
They will be available 5.5.17.

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Tennis Balls....What's the Difference?

You only need two things to play tennis once you get to the courts. A racket and tennis balls. There is a lot of attention paid to the rackets, but how do you know if you're using the right tennis balls?

The first thing to ask is what kind of court are you going to be playing on. For most of us, there are two potential options, hard court or clay court. While there are other things to consider such as playing in high altitude, we're going to focus on the two most likely answers.

Tennis balls come in regular duty and extra duty. This refers to the amount of felt on the balls. For playing on a hard court, the extra duty, with its additional felt, will hold up better on the harder, abrasive court surface. On clay courts, the regular duty works best due to less felt on the ball that can pick up clay during play, causing the balls to feel heavier. On watered clay courts, you may notice it even more. Also, with less felt, the regular duty will tend to "get fuzzy" less than the extra duty.
Both types are available in most types of balls such as Wilson US Open balls or Pro Penn Marathon balls.

When selecting tennis balls, you do get what you pay for. There are some low cost balls available at grocery stores, drug stores and non-sporting goods big-box stores. Often, these balls will lose their bounce faster than the higher end balls. The biggest thing to look for is if the ball is USTA approved. Any ball that is will feature this information on the can. The fact that the balls are approved for tournament use lets you know that they will hold up better than the non-approved ones.

As for which type/brand to use, that is something you will have to figure out for yourself. If you get a can or USTA approved balls, for use on the courts you play on, you should find they perform well. That said, ask any tennis player and he/she will have a brand and type they prefer. Try some different balls and see what you think. Like everything else in tennis, it's all individual.

One last thing about tennis balls.
There is a myth about balls that says the number on the ball means something.
The only thing the numbers are for is to make it easier to know your tennis balls from others. If you have a can of #1's and the people on the next court are using #2's, you know whose are whose.