Peak Sports Mailbag: Week 10

Ask and answer both SFU and non-SFU related sports questions. This week: Tennis.

Photo credit / Amazon

By: Bhalinder Oberoi, SFU Student

Hello readers of The Peak sports section,

Our Peak Sports Mailbag topic this week is tennis and our host is SFU Tennis Club president Bhalinder Oberoi. 

Thanks so much to all of our readers for submitting their tennis-related questions, and my apologies if your question didn’t make it into this week’s edition. Usually, the Mailbag host will only answer three questions. Don’t worry though, as all questions submitted count for an entry into the raffle draw whether or not they are addressed in the Mailbag. Now, onto the questions!

Question 1: What are the different tennis skills that are emphasized in singles and doubles tennis? – Chris

Answer: Singles and doubles tennis both draw on a similar skill set, but they emphasize certain aspects of this skillset. In singles, players usually focus on their groundstroke, which are shots that are mainly hit from the baseline. These shots are more common in singles because the player has to cover the whole court by themselves and must therefore stay back more often. The key goal for single players is to keep the ball deeper and higher in the court. In doubles, players usually keep their groundstrokes short and lower. 

Players also focus a lot more on volleys, which are shots that are hit by the racquet before the ball bounces on the ground. Though the serve factors in both forms of gameplay, again, there are different elements to its usage. In singles, players tend to serve harder, which makes it difficult for the receiver to either attack or improvise on shot selection on the ball. In doubles, players don’t focus on a hard serve as much as they focus on switching between different strategies, depending on the strengths of the opponent.

Question 2: Can you explain a little bit about the differences in tennis racquets, string tightness, etc.? How much does the quality of the racquet matter to a beginner and what do more advanced players look for in a racquet? – Connor 

Answer: Tennis racquets differ in many areas such as weight, length, head size, materials, and frame stiffness. Beginner players should look for a racquet that is long, relatively lighter, and has an oversized racquet head. This is because beginning players are likely still learning the technique and have not yet developed enough strength and power to take advantage of a stiffer, heavier or smaller racquet. The beginner type of racket helps players hit more aggressive shots with less effort. Because advanced players should have a better grasp on technique, they can leverage the power of a heavier racquet with a smaller head. While advanced players usually look for racquets tailored to their style of gameplay, most prefer a heavier racquet with a medium sized racquet head. 

String tightness refers to the amount of tension applied to the strings of a tennis racquet by the stringing machine. String tension is measured in pounds. Generally, low tension strings would be in the 45–50 pound range, whereas high tension is between 50–60 pounds. Low string tension means the racquet will have more power and less control, which is suitable for players that have accuracy but are struggling with power. High string tension will give more control and reduce the rebound effect of the ball. 

Question 3: Can you tell me a bit about all of the different surfaces tennis is played on, how they vary and impact the game, and which skills are emphasized on each surface? – Pat

Answer: There are three types of surfaces that tennis is played on: hardcourt, clay, and grass. Hardcourts are concrete courts with synthetic material on the top of the surface to give grip to the court. The ball bounces higher and the gameplay is fast. In general, well-rounded players tend to do well on hardcourts. Hardcourts also require the least maintenance cost. On the other hand, clay courts are made of crushed brick. The players have the opportunity to slide on shots instead of coming to a complete stop, as they need to do on hard courts. The ball bounces higher but slower on clay courts. Defensive players do well on clay because of the slower gameplay. Clay courts require basic regular maintenance. Grass courts have the lowest and the fastest bounce and the ball slides on contact with the ground, so these courts require high fitness levels. Players with a strong serve and volley tend to do well on grass courts. These are, by far, the most expensive to maintain.

If you would like to participate in future editions of the Peak Sports Mailbag and be entered in a raffle for an end-of-semester prize, here’s what you can send to

  • Sports-related questions that our weekly host will answer
  • Weekly theme ideas to guide our questions

Or: sign up to host the Mailbag (and get paid)!

Thanks to all of you SFU sports fans for blowing up my inbox!

Next week’s theme is: Rowing

Next week’s host is: Katinka Neumann

Send in your questions to