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October 29, 2012 03:32 PM
Bart_Scott_(2)Go to any garage sale and you’ll probably spot one — a TAD Davis lying alongside a stack of VHS tapes and some Reader’s Digest condensed books. A Spalding Pancho Gonzalez reclining close by matching Y2K coffee mugs and a Jax Beer trucker’s hat.
Wooden tennis rackets.
Former Lobo standout Bart Scott, now the associate tennis coach for the UNM men’s team, loves woodies.  He grew up in Colorado Springs, in a house where his father, Bob, current manager of the Lobo Tennis Club, kept dozens of wooden rackets from a career of playing and teaching dating to the late 1950s.  Bart Scott doesn’t suggest that wooden rackets be brought back; he accepts the new technology. He does, however, believe that wooden rackets offer lessons to today’s players and show the arc of the game.
What was the first racket you had? Not wood, I’m guessing.
A Wilson Pro Staff.  It was graphite and I was 6. That was 25 years ago.
How well do you remember wooden rackets? 
I remember that Borg and McEnroe used them in their great rivalry. My Dad and I have talked about it. Borg played with a Donnay, with a black throat, and McEnroe used a Dunlop Maxply, sleek and brown.  When Borg retired in 1983, he came back soon after and tried to play with his wooden Donnay. Didn’t work. McEnroe could certainly do great things with that Maxply. The Maxply was one of the most popular wooden rackets of all time, next to Wilson’s Jack Kramer Autograph. 
The steel Wilson T2000, which Jimmy Connors made famous, came along in the late 1960s, followed by aluminum models, as I recall. When did wooden rackets die?
In the 1980s, definitely.  By then the big loopy strokes had arrived and with that change came the advent of metal and graphite rackets. The classic tennis strokes from the 1950s and 1960s, which my Dad used, where you took the racket straight back and finished flat and high, were gone. I love that game, but when I try to imitate it on a court with a composite racket of today, it can’t be done
You like to play with a wooden racket, then?
It’s fun, it’s a challenge.  When I go out and hit with a woodie with the guys on the team, which I do now and then, they see me hit with those classic strokes and they get a kick out of it. Always had to keep a wooden racket covered or in a press. Couldn’t let it get wet.
Jerry With, an Albuquerque 4.5 player, uses a Kramer in USTA league play and even in tournaments. He does OK.
Really? I’m thinking of breaking out a Slazenger wooden racket and playing in the New Mexico Open, just to see how I could do.
Why is the game so different with a wooden racket than a composite?
Any player who grew up with a wooden racket hit the ball in the dead center. That’s the way you were taught.  They hit it there because the typical wooden racket had only an 80-square-inch head.  That’s an incredibly small.
What’s the size of today’s racket head?
Most players use a 95- or 98-square-inch head.  If you learned to hit the ball on an 80-square inch head, you know the sound.  Pop, pop, pop.  On a big racket you can hit the ball anywhere on the face and it’s going to go in. On a wood racket, you had to hit in the center.
That was the way the game was taught, once upon a time?
That’s right.  Tim Garcia, who played for the Lobos back in the 1970s, hits the ball in the dead center of the racket because he grew up doing that, with a wooden racket. Same with Jack Kennedy, an ex-Lobo great who learned in the ’50s.  If either one of those guys took ten years off from the game, they could come back and hit the same way each time.
Would hitting with a wooden racket help someone today?
Probably not.  Kids today learn at Quick Start and the strokes are so different.  So is the stringing.  Strings are lighter and they grip the ball better.  That gives players huge amounts of topspin.
Could Federer use a wooden racket?  
I think he could.  He has classic strokes.  The Wilson racket he uses is not that much different from ones used in 1984. Federer plays with a 90-square-inch head. Very small by today’s standards. Nadal would not do well with a wooden racket. 

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