Q: Although I've played tennis for years, I've never been sure how often I should take my racquet in to be re-strung.
A: The rule of thumb followed by many pros is that, in a given year, you should have your racquet re-strung as often as the number of times you play per week. "But it really has to do as much with how you play the game as with how often you play," says John Curtis, head coach of New York University's men's tennis team. For example, topspin and slice shots can wreak havoc on your opponent's game, and the resulting friction is equally deleterious to your strings. Power players tend to wear out strings faster than less aggressive ones, but even novices should keep an eye on their racquets, as strings tend to go stale in the closet. Before stepping out on the court this summer, drop your racquet off at a sporting-goods shop for a tune-up.
Grand Central Racquet (Grand Central Terminal, between tracks 38 and 39; 212-856-9647; $24 to $38) offers same-day service to commuters who drop their racquets off in the morning. Paragon Sports (867 Broadway, at 18th Street; 212-255-8036; $10 to $50) can refurbish your racquet in two days. And Sports Authority (for locations, call 888-look-4-tsa; $8 if you bring your own strings, free with store purchase) will have your strings taut for the clay in a day or two.