Excitement is building in the Mid-Atlantic as tennis players are getting out more and more to play. Over the last few weeks, USTA Mid-Atlantic teamed up with local business owners on our #ServeItForward business list for info that can help you get back on the court. So far, we shared fitness tips from LaRue Cook, owner of LEC Fitness, and a healthy recipe to fuel your body from Corey Kuck, owner of Catering By Corey.
Now, we turn our attention to tennis gear and caught up with Darrell Haines, the owner and founder of local Mid-Atlantic tennis shop TennisTopia.
A Michigan native, Darrell was introduced to tennis by his dad who managed a tennis club and supported Darrell in his love for tennis. Growing up, Darrell played junior competitive tennis tournaments and eventually went on to play for Ferris State University in Michigan. While at Ferris State, Darrell majored in Professional Tennis Management and Marketing. After college, he eventually landed in Montgomery County, Maryland and opened TennisTopia in Rockville, Md., in 2006.
What Darrell loves most about TennisTopia is connecting with people. From competitive players to those just starting out, Darrell enjoys learning about his customers and then helping them select the right tennis gear that is suited to their needs and play – a highly personalized approach. He also loves the diversity of tennis and how tennis can bring people together.
In our conversation with Darrell, we chatted about tennis gear and the services that TennisTopia offers.
USTA Mid-Atlantic: What are a few unique products or services that your shop offers?
Darrell Haines: We offer while-you-wait racquet restringing services. We have two professional stringers that have both strung on the pro tour. In fact, one of the stringers is one of the few stringers in the world to string three of the four grand slams in the same year.
Stringing really can make a difference for someone depending on their level of play. When you have a bad string job, you can really tell the difference. It is our stringing services that set us apart from other shops.
We also offer one-to-one customer service and our staff is very knowledgeable about our products. The goal of every staff member is to help players choose gear that is best for them, no matter what their level of play is.
As we return to play, what are your top 5 items everyone should have in their tennis bag?
First and foremost, everyone should definitely have their mask and hand sanitizer, but apart from that, I recommend having an extra racquet so you have a backup. You never know when you might break a string or have something happen to the grip.
Next, I recommend having an extra pair of shoes for after you play. Fourth, I recommend having wristbands. Wristbands are great to help absorb extra sweat and to keep the sweat from getting on the racquet. Finally, keep extra tennis balls in your bag.
What are a few tips for taking care of your gear – especially after a prolonged absence from tennis?
After not playing for a few months, I highly recommend that everyone restring and regrip their racquets. Regular restringing helps keep your game consistent. I would recommend restringing your racquet twice a year. Also, it is important to replace grips because good grips help you from gripping the racquet too hard which can lead to tennis elbow. Lower level players often undervalue the power of a newer string job and what a new grip can do for your play and technique. Those two things really do make a big difference on your play.
Any final thoughts about getting back on court?
People are getting back to playing tennis and it’s so nice to see. It really is a lifetime sport.
As a valued partner of the #ServeItForward campaign, TennisTopia is offering 10% off all purchases with promo code: MAS10 and all online orders of $50 or more are eligible for 2-day free shipping. Visit the store in-person in at 827-A Rockville Pike, Rockville, MD or check out their online store!
USTA Mid-Atlantic invites everyone to continue to #ServeItForward both on and off-court, and get involved in helping to support tennis in the Mid-Atlantic Section. Learn more about how you can #ServeItForward and support the USTA Mid-Atlantic, a non-profit organization, as we bring the healing power of tennis to our Mid-Atlantic community.