Caring for Your Tennis Gear: Tips and Tricks to Get Through the Summer Months

Tennis Player - Girl Waiting for Serve

The hot summer months can wreak havoc on tennis gear. The combined forces of UV rays, sweat, extended wear and frequent washes can break down your tennis apparel quickly while frequent games and hot temperatures can destroy a racquet that is not properly cared for. Fortunately, there are several easy tips and tricks to help you care for your tennis gear and make sure it is in top working order, no matter how often you play. 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:

Summer Care 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 is wise 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, since tennis apparel is designed to wick sweat, it will also absorb unpleasant odor. If you allow your sweaty tennis apparel to linger inside of a sports bag for days before washing, there is a good chance that the unfortunate odor will not come out in the laundry.  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. Many avid tennis players actually purchase a special detergent that is specifically formulated for active wear (such as Tide Sport with Fabreze) to keep their apparel fresh and ensure its longevity.

Summer Care for Tennis Racquets:

Summer is peak season for tennis players and it’s a safe bet that your tennis racquet is going to get a great deal of use during long days on the court. Although racquet 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 racquet stays in great shape by following these simple tips.

• Don’t leave the racquet in your car when you are finished playing. Extreme heat can damage the handle, warp the body and loosen the strings.
• Place a protective layer of athletic tape on the surfaces of the racquet that may be scratched against the court while leaning down to pick up balls.
• Never string a racquet outside of the recommended range.
• Install a new overgrip whenever your existing grip gets slippery.
• Invest in a high-quality racquet case to prevent your racquet from bumps, scuffs, warping and lost string tension while in transport.

In addition to these general tips for summer racquet care, it is also important to consider how often you should re-string your racquet. The general rule for this is that you should re-string your racquet as often per year as you play per week, which means that if you play five times per week, the racquet should be re-strung five times per year. Always re-string your racquet at least twice per year. Adhering to this rule will ensure that your racquet stays taut, comfortable and competitive all summer long.

Summer Care 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 yours tennis shoes keep you on your toes this summer by doing 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 scent and will help your shoes feel fresh and clean. 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.

Pros recommend replacing tennis shoes after approximately 45-60 hours of on-court time or when the shoes have begun failing to provide adequate shock absorption or prevent excess foot movement in the shoe. Summer is peak tennis season so in addition to caring for the shoes you currently have, don’t hesitate to replace them when they begin to wear badly. Failure to replace worn tennis shoes can result in preventable injury or poor performance.

As the old saying goes, “you’ve got to have the right gear for the game.” 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 in gear that feels great and preforms even better.