String expert Joe Magor reveals an astonishing secret about French ace Gregory Gaultier and his rackets
By Joe Magor – Guest Reporter
WORLD number two Gregory Gaultier has been grabbing the headlines recently with a series of career-best performances, taking his place just one spot below the summit of the world rankings, a spot currently occupied by the mercurial Egyptian, Ramy Ashour until Nick Matthew takes over at the top in January.
In recent months, French ace Gaultier has won over many fans with a complete revamp to his game – physically and mentally – leaving many in disbelief and others pointing out that he may actually be getting quicker on court despite being a year older.
As the owner of a racket restringing business, one of the things that amazes me most of all is the reports, Tweets and Facebook messages (media shows no bounds these days) of Gaultier’s purported string tension on his Dunlop rackets.
Normally, squash rackets are strung between 20-32 pounds in tension. The tighter the tension, the better the control on the ball and the looser the tension, the more power you get striking the ball.
From experience, having restrung over 2,500 rackets, 24 lbs is as low as anyone I know has opted for in terms of their racket tension, which is loose and ideal for power but maybe not the best for control.
On the other end of the scale, I have strung rackets at 31lbs, which is tight and optimum for control. Going below 23-24 lbs for a squash racket is relatively unheard of.
Gregory Gaultier has his rackets restrung at 14-16 lbs. And no, that’s not a typo!
The average tension range for a BADMINTON racket is 16lbs to 28lbs, with 16 being the loose end of the scale.
As some of you may or may not know, Gaultier has his racket heavily customized and has the head shaved to remove some of the material to make the frame as light as possible.
This facilitates a faster swing, so presumably the frame might not be able to withstand being strung at higher tensions, but even then 14-16 lbs is incredibly loose!
While we all know Gaultier has no problem hitting the ball phenomenally hard (now you know why) he isn’t exactly lacking in the touch and precision department. And that is what makes it so staggering, the fact that he can achieve such pin-point control at times with such a loose tension!
UK Racket Strings Association founder and stringing guru, Liam Nolan, has strung his rackets before and his comment to the above is:
“Regarding Greg’s 16lbs, I have strung for him for many years, and have no answers other than he has the skills to play with ANY tension.”
I wish I had those skills!
JOE MAGOR is the Kent County Captain, a major event organiser at Canterbury Squash Club, and regularly posts squash videos on YouTube. His racket restringing website is www.cmstringers.com
Gaultier picture by Steve Cubbins (SquashSite)