2023 Squash Stringing Review
2023 was another big year of stringing for me, with a few tournaments dotted about, including the wonderful Optasia PSA in Wimbledon where I strung rackets for the likes of Karim Abdul Gawad, Mazen Hesham, Baptiste Masotti and, of course, the Beast himself, Mo Elshorbagy! I also strung and customised rackets for some of the top men and women in the world - always a privilege. Here's a little bit of data in my annual end of year review...
The most surprising stat for me this year is that 36% of restrings were for rackets with worn string beds, as opposed to breakages (41%). This is a marked increase from previous years (20% last year), perhaps indicative of players taking more of an interest in performance rather than just replacing when broken. Tension starts to drop the minute the final knot is tied and the racket is taken off the machine, so a good string refresher is often needed before breakage.
The majority of strings that were broken were in the middle, 65%, with 18% at the head, 16% at the side and 1% at the throat (it still amazes me that mishits can occur at the throat!
15% of restrings were performed on brand new rackets, which is a 5% increase on 2022. This is encouraging as it shows that players are taking the overall racket setup more seriously. It's common for the majority of professional players to have their rackets immediately restrung, but I've seen a growing number of enthusiastic club and other competent players following suit. As we know, the strings in your racket can be just as important as the frame.
As with previous years, Tecnifibre was the string of choice with 60% of total restrings, with 305 1.20 being the most popular model. Ashaway next up with 14%, followed by Karakal with just under 12%, Head with 8% and Unsquashable with a 4% share. The remaining 2% was split between other manufacturers including Dunlop, Kirschbaum, RAB etc. The vast majority of players and pros I string for still use Tecnifibre, Ashaway and Karakal.
Tecnifibre again topped the list of rackets I strung in 2023, with 40% of rackets being from squash's top manufacturer, with Karakal and Dunlop following behind. with the mighty Carboflex variants leading the way. The new Slash range has also appeared this years and is a very popular racket. Tecnifibre rackets seem to last very well, meaning that each racket needs restringing at least a few times before finding it's way to the bin outside court 4. Some other rackets unfortunately go to the racket graveyard before they've had the opportunity to experience a decent restring.
Predictions for 2024. Well, my prediction for greater racket customisation for 2023 came true. I've spent a lot of time customising rackets! For 2024, I think more of the same as I've really noticed that squash players are starting to take their equipment as seriously (well, almost) as tennis players. I also think we'll see some more colour and flashy designs for rackets. I've got a few ideas already, which could look pretty cool!
I've also seen the trend of dropping tensions continue. It's very rare that I string any rackets above 27lbs now, with the lowest tension being 18lbs and the highest being just under 30 (for a very famous former world number 1 and current top 10 player with amazing touch - see if you can guess who it is)!. The average tension is just under 25lbs and the average gauge for string is is just under 1.19mm - so if you're every asked to string a racket with a bit of everything - string it at 25lbs, with a 1.18mm or 1.20mm string!