Jack Huzcek On The Game and On Stringing
"Consistency Is Key"
By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings
I recently caught up with Jack Huczek, who is blazing a trail on the professional IRT circuit. At the same time, he is beginning his junior year at Oakland University in Michigan, well on his way to an MBA. His hectic schedule is no surprise, as it was just a couple of years back now that he managed to graduate from high school while playing his final year in the Juniors, and becoming the youngest player ever to win the U.S. National Singles Racquetball Championship. When we met, we talked about his time on the Pro tour and some of the factors that go into making his game what it is.
"I would have to say the biggest thrill of my time on the Pro circuit has been the different places I have been able to travel, and the interesting people I've been able to meet," Jack said. "A very close second would have to be competing against the best racquetball players in the world on a weekly basis. And, of course, winning is nice, too."
And win he has, capturing the top spots in the 2002-2003 U.S. Pro Nationals, the Pan-American Games, and the Stockton Pro-Am in September. He finished the 2002-2003 season at #4 in the rankings. "I am very pleased with how I've done on my first couple of years on the Pro Tour," he added. "I know that every success is made up of a lot of little steps, and I feel as though I am well on my way.
"Each tour stop is another step closer to my ultimate goal of being number one. I also keep in mind that each tournament has its own set of demands, and I try to prepare accordingly, both mentally and physically," Jack said. "Stringing is a big part of that. For instance, I string differently if I play in Boston in the winter, versus if I play in the Dominican Republic - where it can be over 100 degrees with high humidity for two weeks in a row. I string tighter in the warmer weather, to make up for the damage the humidity does.
"Also, I like to travel with a dozen or so rackets for four-day tournaments, more for longer trips like the Pan-Am games. For those times, I string half of my rackets at 40 lbs, for immediate use, and the other half at 42 lbs, knowing that they could be sitting around in my hotel room in high humidity for a while.
"I also string differently according to the court. A cement court is super-fast, so I string a little tighter for added control. It all depends on where I am playing."
External factors are not the only considerations that affect how Jack strings his racket. Known as a counter punch player, Jack likes to take advantage of any mistake his opponents may make on the court. To do this effectively, he has to have maximum control over the ball.
"I play with a 16-gauge string, which gives me more control than a thinner string, and I tighten up the tension as well," Jack explained. "I also know I can rely on my string, which gives me the confidence to capitalize on those opportunities.
"A lot of strings out there become spongy after you play with them for a while. And, while they brag about how durable they are and how they don't break, I can't afford to use a string that stays together at the expense of playability. So I play with SuperKill II, which plays consistently well for the life of the string. And when I pick up my next racket strung the same way, I know it will play well for me, too.
"In order to remain at the top of my game, I know I have to play consistently," he explained. "I need that same consistency and reliability from my string. I have been playing with the same string - Ashaway's SuperKill II - for 6 years now, and I am as happy with the results I get today as when I first started playing with it. You don't get much more consistent than that."
This article previously appeared in Racquetball Magazine.