What equipment do I need to play tennis?
If you don’t have a racquet, you can’t play. Tennis racquets are available from a variety of outlets, including sporting goods stores like Rebel Sport and Sportsmart, the pro shops at major tennis centres like Melbourne Park, or through online retailers such as Tennis Warehouse. There’s even a limited range at department stores including Big W and Kmart.
The advantage of buying a racquet in store rather than online, is that you may have the chance to test it out. With all aspects of the racquet – length, weight, head shape, grip size and the strings – affecting how you hit the ball, it’s important that you get a feel for it and choose one with the right balance of these elements to suit your game style and playing ability.
Playing a lot of tennis will eventually cause the grip on your racquet handle to become tatty and worn out. Replacement grips can be found wherever you buy a racquet, and generally provide cushioning for comfort.
As you get a bit more serious about your tennis, you might want to consider the following:
- overgrips for enhanced tackiness and thickness on your racquet handle
- vibration absorbers (dampeners) to insert between your strings to dampen shock at the point of ball impact
- lead tape for experimenting with the weighting of your racquet frame.
These should be supplied by clubs or tennis centres if you’re competing, but if you’re just having a hit, you’ll need to bring your own.
Tennis balls come in a range of brands and different packaging, but the dimensions and colour (yellow) are pretty uniform. And you can pick them up in many places – generally for around $10 per can – at sports and department stores, online, at pro shops and even sometimes at newsagents.
A good rule of thumb is to buy balls that are suitable for all court surfaces (although you can buy surface-specific balls) and to have at least three or four with you on court. Playing with less will mean you spend a lot of time retrieving the ones you have between points, and less time hitting!
All the equipment listed above needs somewhere to go – that’s where a racquet bag comes in. These are specially shaped to accommodate the contours of your racquet, with pockets and recesses to store other items like cans of balls, extra clothes and tennis accessories. They’re available from sporting goods stores, pro shops and online, and come armed with a shoulder strap so you can stride onto court looking like a pro.
Most tennis racquet companies manufacture racquet bags, which can come in slim versions for storing one or two racquets (usually under $50) or wider, bulkier models to store multiple racquets and more accessories (often upwards of $100).
Following are some other items you might consider to pack in your racquet bag:
It’s crucial you’re getting enough fluids when playing tennis (check out our hydration tips), so make sure you have a large drink bottle packed (over 750 ml) and filled with cool water.
Given you’ll most likely be playing outdoors in direct sunlight, keep a tube or bottle of high-protection sunscreen (available from pharmacies, supermarkets and department stores) in your bag and apply before going on court. The fact that you’ll be sweating when playing means you’ll need to reapply more often.
A great way to combat sweat is to pack a towel – you can dry off at each change of ends or even between points if you need to. While any towel is fine, if you want to feel like a pro you can purchase the iconic Australian Open towels from the online Australian Open Shop!