The hot summer months can really take its toll on our tennis gear. The combined forces of UV rays, sweat, extended wear and frequent washing can break down your tennis apparel pretty quickly, while frequent matches and hot temperatures can destroy a racket that isn’t properly cared for. Fortunately, there are several easy tips and tricks to help us care for our tennis gear and make sure it is in top condition, no matter how often we play.
So, whether you’re headed to a tennis camp or just spending your summer on the home court, these pointers will help you play in comfort and style:
For tennis apparel.
Tennis apparel is much like any other type of active wear; it can be finicky and easily destroyed by improper washing techniques. Therefore, the most important tip is to always follow the manufacturer’s washing instructions printed on the inside label or tag. Here are some general, standby rules to keep in mind when washing your tennis apparel:
- Spandex requires cooler washing temps and must be hung to dry.
- Polyester items must be washed in cold water but can be tumble dried on the low setting.
- Cotton items (if not pre-shrunk) will shrink and must be washed carefully. It’s best to hang cotton items to dry.
- As a general rule, active wear should be kept out of direct sunlight to prevent fading and wear when not in use.
Another thing to consider is that, because tennis apparel is designed to wick away sweat, it will also absorb unpleasant odors. If you leave your sweaty tennis clothes in your bag for days before washing, there is a good chance that odor won’t come out in the first wash. Always wash sweaty clothing as soon as possible after a game or practice to ensure it is fresh and clean next time you need it.
Tennis clothes (especially the whites) tend to become discolored from sweat and sunscreen, and regular laundry soap isn’t very effective at getting out the stains. Many avid tennis players actually purchase a special detergent that is specifically formulated for active wear (such as Tide Sport with Febreze or any of the Hex laundry products) to keep their tennis clothes fresh and ensure longevity.
For tennis rackets.
Summer is peak season for tennis players and it’s a safe bet that your tennis racket is going to get a great deal of use during long days on the court. Although racket materials have gotten significantly better and easier to care for over the years thanks to the popularity of resins, metals, and ceramics, you can make sure your racket stays in great shape by following these simple tips.
- Don’t leave the racket in your car when you’re finished playing. Extreme heat can damage the handle, warp the body and loosen the strings.
- Place protective tape around the racket head edges that may be scratched against the court while leaning down to pick up balls.
- Never string a racket outside of the recommended range.
- Install a new overgrip whenever your existing grip gets slippery.
- Invest in a high-quality racket case (fits inside your tennis bag) to prevent bumps, scuffs, warping and lost string tension while in transport.
In addition to these general tips for summer racket care, it’ss also important to consider how often you should re-string your racket. The general rule for this is that you should re-string your racket as often per year as you play per week, which means that if you play five times per week, the racket should be re-strung five times per year. Always re-string your racket at least twice per year. Adhering to this rule will ensure that your racket strings stay taut and ready for action all summer long.
For tennis shoes.
Tennis shoes are often overlooked during gear care discussions but they are one of the most important aspects of the game. If you don’t have comfortable, clean, well-cared-for shoes, you aren’t going to have a good game. Make sure you do these simple things:
- Air your shoes out as soon as possible after every game in order to decrease odor.
- At home, sprinkle a bit of baking soda into the shoe’s insole. Baking soda gets rid of odors and will help your shoes feel fresh and clean. Be sure and dump excess baking soda out before you put the shoes on again.
- If your shoes are excessively sweaty or have gotten wet, take them off and pack them with newspaper to absorb moisture. Doing this will prevent them from warping and wearing prematurely.
Inspect your shoes regularly, because the soles will wear unevenly. Mine always wear down at the big toe. One thing to know is that shoes worn out like that can actually cause injuries like plantar fasciitis, so you should replace them. Brands like Prince and Adidas have great tennis shoes as well as 6-month warranties on specific styles. The pros recommend replacing tennis shoes when they’ve had around 60 hours of on-court time, but it really depends on how much you move around on the court.
Yes, high-quality tennis gear and apparel is expensive but is a worthwhile, long-term investment if properly cared for. The peak summer season provides a series of unique stressors to gear and can severely damage gear that is not properly cared for. Fortunately, you can ensure that your gear and apparel will go the distance when you follow these easy care tips and tricks. By taking great care of your tennis apparel and gear, you ensure that your summer is spent looking, feeling and even smelling great!