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Steve Crandall's Squash Stringing Tips

String Quiz Results

By Steve Crandall
Vice President, Sales & Marketing
Ashaway Racket Strings


Well, all the tests have been graded, and I am happy to report, first, that we had an excellent response to our String Quiz Challenge of the Decade presented in the February issue. And second, that most of you actually do know what you are talking about when it comes to string! Fully 85% of respondents received a passing grade and will receive a complimentary set of Ashaway string. So congratulations to all and thank you for your participation! I just wish our school systems could report such results!

As for the general grade spread, or curve, it was evenly spaced. About one third of you did very well, one third quite well, and one third not so well: either just squeaking by or... not. If you completed the quiz, you should have received a set of correct answers by now, so I won't take the space to go through them all here. (If you would like the answers, shoot me an email to Sales@AshawayUSA.com.) But I do want to touch on the three questions many of you got wrong.

The third most missed question was #3, a True / False which stated: "In general, all racquet strings are pre-stretched before stringing." The correct answer is False. There are some strings that are pre-stretched, but most are not. In fact, pre-stretching Zyex® or aramid fiber strings will destroy their tension holding ability and literally take the life out of them.

The second most frequently missed was question #5, "Which property is not monitored by Ashaway's Quality Control Lab and does NOT affect string durability?" The correct answer is "Shear strength." This might seem like a trick question, but the reason we do not test for shear is that we have not found a good correlation between shear strength and string durability. Tensile strength, which we do test for, is only slightly better. Curiously, the best indicator of string durability we have found is "Loop strength," which is a measure of a string's bending strength.

By far the most missed question was #17, regarding which is the world's largest racquet sport market based on string volume sold. Those of you who answered "Tennis" may be guilty of a little cultural myopia. While tennis is very popular in the US and Western Europe, badminton is a national sport in China, India and Indonesia. Think about it. Those three have populations of 1.3 billion, 1.2 billion, and 238 million, respectively. That's nearly nine times the 308 million US population as reported by the 2010 Census. Tennis doesn't even come close.

Now, while no one got a perfect score, we did have two scores of 100% thanks to the Extra Credit question. These went to New Jersey's Jeff Greenberg and Ohio's Ted Nime. Both are recent converts to squash and both have interesting stories to tell.

Jeff was an A-level singles and doubles racquetball player for the past 20+ years who "never had much of a preference in terms of string." Not a big string breaker, he would either play with the factory strings that came with his racquet - which he thought "good enough for racquetball" - or let his stringer decide for him.

Then, about a year ago, he was introduced to squash by a co-worker. "We both had identical Hot Melt Pro racquets," he said. "One day he told me to borrow his backup racquet just to see what a difference strings could make (I still had factory strings, his was strung with Ashaway SuperNick® XL). The touch and feel were unbelievably better with the Ashaway strings, it was like a totally different racquet. From that day on I realized how much the string affects the play, particularly in a sport like squash where touch, feel and control is so important."

Jeff is currently using PowerNick® 18 and says he can't wait to try PowerNick 19.

Ted Nime is also a recent convert. A Baby Boomer and life-long tennis player, Ted was introduced to squash in 2009 and has become "super excited by the game," so much so that he has been playing 5 to 6 days a week since, running every other day, and entering every tournament he can get to. The work has been paying off as Ted won the 3.5 division in the Cincinnati Championship this past January and finished third in the 4.5 division.

Ted is also a home stringer which, he says, "allows him to buy the best string." He first tried UltraNick® 17 and was very happy with it, except that he couldn't break it, which kept him from trying UltraNick 18. Finally, he broke a bumper guard, made the switch, and got even better control. In the process he also discovered that Zyex strings should be strung at 10-20% less tension than conventional strings.

Ted says he does not play tennis any more because it is "not as convenient or as aerobic as squash," and that as he gets better, "the game becomes even more fun to play." His plan is to convert his friends by luring them onto the squash court with the promise of free stringing if they buy a racquet.

We wish Ted and Jeff continued success, and thank all of you again for participating.

This article previously appeared in Squash Magazine.


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