Gear Q&A: Slip and Slide

by: Jon Levey | August 05, 2020

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Jon Levey answers your equipment questions in Gear Q&A. Click here to email your question, or send him a tweet @levey_jon.


My regular overgrip doesn’t stay tacky in hot and humid summer weather. I know a lot of players like Tourna Grip, but I find it much more difficult to put on and it doesn’t last long. Any suggestions?Sean C.

Sean,

There are few things better than grinding on a hot summer day. But a sweat-soaked grip can be a major disruptor. It’s frustrating, even unnerving, to take a rip at the ball and have the handle slide at contact. The face becomes difficult to control, shots more unpredictable and thoughts go to simply hanging on to the frame rather than stroke execution and tactics.

I’m a big of overgrips like Wilson Pro and Yonex Supergrap—soft, stretchy and comfortable with just enough feel of the bevels. I’m a sucker for a fresh one, but these also have enough durability to last several sessions. During the moderate outdoor months and the indoor season, these are my go-to models.

However, when conditions are sticky and sweat starts pouring down, it may only take a couple of games before these grips become too slick. That’s when I turn to more absorbent options. 

As you mentioned, the gold standard in this category is arguably Tourna Grip. The ubiquitous light blue grip has the unique property of feeling tackier as it gets wet. In fact, I find the feel a little too papery until it moistens. I will refrain from using it altogether when conditions are mild. Yet once the sweat starts to flow, there are few grips that are as reliable.

But Tourna can be a little high maintenance. For one thing, as you mentioned, it is one of the trickier grips to put on. Unlike practically every other option available, it does not have a tapered end. Nor does it have any adhesion to help attach an end to the grip to help begin the application with security. 

Add the two together and it makes the start of the overgrip process somewhat problematic. Unless pulled tight enough to cover the extra flap properly—and Tourna needs to be pulled tightly—there can be an annoying bulge on the base of the grip that could potentially be felt in the palm of the hand. It takes practice and patience to get consistently good results starting in this fashion. (Also, always opt for the XL version; the standard is just too short, especially if you have a two-handed backhand).

However, a local racquet customizer showed me a simple two-step hack that makes putting on a Tourna Grip nearly as easy as any other overgrip. That’s because you basically follow their lead. Take a decent pair of scissors and taper an end yourself using another overgrip as a cutting guide (picture). As you get familiar with the procedure, you probably won’t even need the assistance; just cut off about five inches. 

This allows you to overlap the grip more efficiently and eliminate the excess material that can cause bunching at the bottom of the handle. That may be enough help, but if you want to take the next step, affix the grip to the handle with a small piece of clear tape—double-sided being the best. This provides an anchor so you don’t need to pin the grip with a thumb or finger and the wrapping will go more smoothly. It makes a huge difference if you use a leather grip (as I do). Keep in mind double-sided tape can be a little abrasive to the base grip during removal.

On a side note, when finishing the wrapping, you should repeat the tapering process in the same fashion as you did in the beginning. That means cutting the excess tape from the bottom to the top (right). Up until last year, I always cut the extra grip from top to bottom (left). There’s nothing really wrong with that method, but it creates an extra flap on the top of the grip—which you can feel if you play with a two-handed backhand—and doesn’t look as clean and professional.

Now, the other issue players have with Tourna is it doesn’t last long. It’s like the Juicy Fruit gum of grips. I can maybe get a couple of sets out of it in toasty conditions. Sometimes that’s even pushing it. Loyalists clearly don’t care about this shortcoming, but some get frustrated with its frailty. And there’s no hack I know of to cure this problem. I’m not sure I’ve found an alternative that matches Tourna’s sponginess, but I’ve had good results with several competitors. 

Luxilon Elite Dry has a close feel and playability to Tourna—likewise it’s more comfortable and playable when damp—and it lasts longer. The gray color is a bit subdued, but matches the company’s ALU Power string. Volkl V-Dry has a soft, cushioned feel and respectable absorbency. If I’m able to juggle racquets at changeovers—let one dry while playing with the other—it’s more than capable in sticky conditions. Dunlop U-Sweat and Head Prime are a few others I’ve like.

Hope that helps. Grips are personal and it may take some searching until you find the right one for you. Happy hunting.

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