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It's hard to believe that Christmas and Hanukkah are just around the corner. It's not too early to think about what type of gifts to buy for friends or relatives who are involved in racket sports. Some of the following items may give you some ideas.

Rackets: Head Titanium tennis rackets have proved very popular. They weigh as little as 8.4 ounces strung. The control and maneuverability are excellent. In addition to being very powerful, the racket has a large sweet spot. It also has a shock-stop system in the handle that is great for preventing tennis elbow. The price of the racket starts at $159.

The Pro Kennex Graphite Titanium tennis racket, at $99.95, is a real bargain. The racket performs equally well for baseliners and net rushers. It has excellent power, good control and feels very comfortable while playing. The racket weighs 10.9 ounces.

Ektelon's Power Ring Titanium racquetball racket features a large head and longer main strings that make it extremely powerful. It has a large sweet spot that enables players to hit their shots solidly from almost any part of the strings. The racket sells for $169.95.

Head Titanic squash rackets are extremely lightweight at only 120 grams. Ashaway strings give them unprecedented power. The rackets sell for $144.95 and $154.95.

Sneakers: The K-Swiss Ascender is a high-quality tennis shoe that's reasonably priced at $69. Ascenders have excellent cushioning and great support. The low-cut sneakers provide excellent traction on both hard and clay courts. They are available in both men's and women's sizes from 6-13.

Water Cooler: Are you tired of running out of water after a short period of time because you only have a pint or quart container? The Prince Water Cooler is a hefty half-gallon container with a well-designed and functional insulated cover. It is very sporty looking and sells for only $12.95.

Tennis Sweat Shirts: The Luna Pier shirts have colorful tennis designs on them, including tennis players and logos. The sweat shirts are very attractive, wear very well, are warm and washable. They sell for S39.99.

Tennis Afghans: Guardian Weavers has put out an impressive array. They have motifs with tennis rackets and balls in different colors. They start at $39.99.

Tennis Elbow Bands: The Air Cast arm band has an air pillow that reduces shock and pain in the elbow. It is so lightweight and comfortable that you're barely aware you are wearing it. The cost is $14.99.

Tennis Posters: The two hottest posters on the market are those of Patrick Rafter and Anna Kournikova. They sell for S7.95.

Videos: "Tennis Story '98" is an interesting and amusing production from Babolat Inc. The video consists of instructional segments, unusual and funny tennis circumstances, and interviews with Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and Martina Hingis. It's a great value at $7.99.

Sunglasses: These state-of-the-art sunglasses have comptevision lenses, which block out all colors except for the yellow ball. They also have 100 percent guaranteed ultraviolet protection. They're lightweight, very flexible and conform to your head size. They sell for $119.99.

Speed Gun: Do you remember when these cost $300 to $400? Believe it or not, you can now purchase them locally for $109.99. They can be used for any racket sport to time serves, forehands, backhands, overheads, etc.

Ball Hoppers: These are excellent practice devices, especially for hitting serves. Ball hoppers hold from 50-85 tennis balls and range in price from $19.99 to $34.99.

Tennis Ball Machines: This is one of the ultimate gifts in racket sports. Local stores or tennis clubs can order them for you. However, be prepared to spend anywhere from $400 to $1,600 for the machine.

Village Glen recognized

The Eastern Tennis Association, a division of the United States Tennis Association, has awarded The 1998 Club Service Award to the Village Glen Tennis & Fitness Club. The award is given for providing tennis programs to the community, including USTA-sponsored programs.

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