According to the friendly tennis pro at Paragon, customers come in throughout the year looking for their favorite professional player’s racquet, but it’s nothing like U.S. Open season.
“It happens all the time!” said David Billings, who’s spent the last three years in the tennis department of the sporting goods store, located at 867 Broadway off Union Square. “People come in and ask, ‘What racquet does Federer use?’ ‘What racquet does Nadal use?’”
“Also the fact that people are coming from all over the world this time of year, you know, we see a sizeable increase in our foot traffic,” he told the Observer on the afternoon of Sunday, Aug. 26. “So our business skyrockets – I would say the week up to the U.S. Open and then at least a couple days after it ends.”
Just earlier that day he saw one foreign-looking man buy five of the same racquet, “strings and all!”
But Mr. Billings cautioned that — tempting as it may be in these intoxicating “all U.S. Open, all the time” times – snapping up your favorite tennis star’s stick is not necessarily the best thing for your game.
The most asked-after racquets over at Paragon at the moment, he said, are the ones used by the world’s number 1 and 2 players. Three-time defending U.S. Open champion Roger Federer wields a Wilson K-Factor Six One Tour 90. Number two-ranked Rafael Nadal goes with a Babolat AeroPro Drive.
The difference is a “lot of people coming in looking for the Nadal racquet would actually be able to play with it,” opined Mr. Billings. The Babolat AeroPro drive offers “power and a big sweet spot” – good for the non-expert — whereas Mr. Federer’s K-Factor is the “heaviest racquet on the wall, with the smallest sweet spot.” It requires great precision and control.
“Whenever someone comes in asking to buy the Federer racquet, unless they’re very advanced I try to steer them toward something more forgiving,” he said.
Consider yourselves warned.