Discussion in 'Pros' Racquets and Gear' started by SBD, Jan 27, 2011.
TENNIS.com: Jim, how did you initially play-test Donnay frames and make the decision to switch?
Jim Courier: Last March, I got a call from Andy Roddick asking me to go help him with a fundraiser for Chilean relief in Miami that Fernando Gonzalez was putting together. It was Gonzo, Guga, Andy and myself playing. It was a great event. Through the process of playing with the big guns, who hit a very big ball, I really felt like my racquet was almost going to buckle in half; I felt it was almost going to break. So I called up [racquet customizer] Roman Prokes.
TENNIS.com: What did you say to him?
Jim Courier: I said, ‘Roman, I really need some options here. This is what I’m looking for: I’d like a 100-square inch head for a bigger sweet spot, more power than I currently have, but I don’t want a racquet that is going to force me to change my swing to adapt to it. I need a racquet with maybe 30 to 40 percent more power than I have so it will stand up to a big-hitting ball and I need a bigger sweet spot.’ At that point, he sent me about eight racquets to try. I tried them all for a couple of months and finally settled on the Donnay X-99 Red. It felt good in my hand immediately. It’s funny but after playing with the same racquet for so long, I felt comfortable with it, but I really got jarred when I played that exhibition and felt I was way behind the times. I knew then it was time to join the 21st century.
TENNIS.com: The thin beam is one of the key components and selling points to these new Donnay frames. What’s your feel on how that plays?
Jim Courier: I definitely like the thin beam because it’s so quick through the air. For me, that’s so important. Racquet-head speed is my friend. Whenever I’ve tried the thicker, wider-beam racquets they’ve felt cumbersome in my hand. I’m not able to really whip through the ball on my strokes with wider-beam frames. The thin beam is a big factor for me in making me feel very comfortable with the racquet from the get-go.
TENNIS.com: I realize you’re not playing as much now on the Champions Series as you did during your ATP days, but do you feel any different since switching racquets after all these years?
Jim Courier: I play a lot. I’m playing three or four days a week and have the Champions Series tournaments and exhibitions, so I’m very active and in-tune with where my game is. This racquet is delivering exactly what I wanted. It’s delivering more power and is more stable when I’m out of position, which happens more frequently now as I’m 40 years old. I need a racquet that can give me some more juice when I’m on the move but without sacrificing any of the control. When I make a mistake with this racquet it’s because I made a mistake, not because the equipment failed on me. When I tried other, bigger, more powerful racquets, I just didn’t quite understand if it was me or the racquet that was making the mistake.
TENNIS.com: What string do you use? What tension do you string at?
Jim Courier: Right now, I’m stringing with Gosen nylon in the mains and using Luxilon Big Banger ALU 16 gauge in the cross. Depending on the climate, my typical tension is about 54 pounds or so. I always played standard stock nylon. Gosen was my strong, 16 gauge. I don’t really like gut. Tried it a few times, but it wasn’t for me. I didn’t really play with the co-polys until about three years ago. I started messing around with it. Guga was the first guy I was really aware of who started playing with the polyester string, so it was in the waning days of my career when it started to become popular. I really started to hear a lot about it in 2001 and 2002, when I was already off the ATP tour.
TENNIS.com: What impact has string technology had on your game?
Jim Courier: I think it’s made a huge difference. I’m not comfortable going full co-poly because I didn’t grow up using it, and what it really does is grip the ball to allow you to get a lot more spin. I’ve tried RPM, I’ve tried full Luxilon, I’ve tried a few different brands, but when I do the full Luxilon or full RPM, I feel I get too much spin and can’t finish points. I don’t play that grinding style of play anymore—I can’t afford to at my age—so I need to finish points more and flatten the ball out. For younger players, I totally get it. It’s pretty incredible to watch and has added a lot to the sport, for sure. But for me, to have the combination is perfect. I get a little bit more spin, a little bit more control, but I don’t lose the ability to flatten out my shots and finish with my serve and my forehand.
TENNIS.com: This is a hypothetical question, but do you ever wonder how your game would have changed if you had access to this technology growing up? Do you think you would have been an even heavier topspin player?
Jim Courier: I definitely think my game would have been a little bit different if I had grown up playing with the racquet I use now and with the new string. But keep in mind it’s a level playing field. The equipment is the equipment, the players are the players and I tend to think the results would have been the same as long as everyone is playing on a level playing field.
TENNIS.com: Psychologically and emotionally it can be a bit jarring when pros switch from a long-time frame to a new one. How did it feel for you to make the change?
Jim Courier: It’s been really exciting. I knew after the first couple of minutes hitting with the X-Red 99 that I was in business. I know very quickly when I’m not in business. It takes me probably about 10 ground strokes to know when I absolutely can’t play with a racquet. It takes me months to know conclusively that I can play with a racquet, because you have to put it into competition. Racquets respond differently to adrenaline, so you need to know how it’s going to hold up under fire. But I knew very quickly with Donnay. It is exciting to have a new stick with new capabilities. I just feel better with the racquet. It’s kind of like trying to talk about love—it’s a really esoteric thing to say.
TENNIS.com: Last question: What technological gear change has had the greatest impact on tennis? How far do you think technology can take the spin and speed of the game?
Jim Courier: I think the incredible, almost uncontrollable power of the racquets has been with us since the ‘80s, when Wilson came out with the Profile. So we’ve had nuclear technology, if you will, in tennis racquets for quite some time. String has been a big game-changer in allowing players to harness that power for the first time. Donnay presents this combination of harnessing the power while also giving players a little bit more feel, which is what those early racquets really lacked. I don’t know where the technology goes from here because eventually the ball can only travel so fast and still stay in the court. But things always change so I’m sure it will, and we’ll see how it goes. It’s taken me a while to change, but I found the right racquet and it’s been a really easy transition.
I think I will give his string combo a try, I have a few sets of gosen JC around.
Courier's red and the classic wilson?
Thanks for the link to the tennis.com interview with Courier. One question: The story refers to Courier playing with the same Wilson racquet for 25 years. Is that the Pro Staff? If so, how do you improve on a classic like that?
Good interview. Interesting that he uses nylon.
interesting - i remember reading a thread about him "rubbishing" those new Donnays....? (or was i dreaming... :lol
That was wilander
Lol that was like one of those stupid “Special Ad Report” from muscle mags. So Jim, tell us about this great new product you’re using and why you decided to switch. “Thanks for asking, that’s a GREAT question. Let me explain…”
you pay the user more money and the new product becomes magically better.
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