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Charlie Garfinkel’s Racket Sports: A gift guide

For the past 20 years, JB’s Tennis Shop in Williamsville has been “the place” to shop for all racket-related sports. John Brunner, a former City Open Singles tennis champion and the director of tennis at the Village Glen, and his wife, Holly, are the co-owners of JB’s. Phil Primerano Jr. and Lisa Noworyta are co-managers of the store.

The reason for JB’s success is that Primerano and Nowotrya and their employees are extremely customer-service oriented. They know what racket products their customers are most interested in and how to direct them to the racket equipment that is best suited for them. In addition, they have other perks, such as stringing rackets that can be picked up the next day, and demo rackets that you can use to help you determine which model is best suited for you.

With the holiday season here, now is the time to get that special racket sport-related gift for your friends, a family member, or even yourself. Whether you shop at JB’s or elsewhere, the following compilation should be helpful in letting you decide what you would like to buy.

Tennis rackets

Head Youtek Raptor. Don’t be turned off by the unusual name. This is a great frame for tennis players who are looking for a reasonably priced racket. It is available in oversize and mid-plus models for players at virtually every level. The racket retails for $99.99.

Gamma RZR Racquets. The low price of $79.99 is not indicative of how wonderful this frame is. You will be pleasantly surprised to see that the racket plays as well as many models that are priced much higher.

Head Graphene XT Radical Racquets. These rackets have many options that players at most levels will greatly enjoy. There are three different versions of the racket and each have different weight and power levels for all types of playing styles. The Radical features an adjustable string pattern that you can use to determine what feels best for your game. The racket sells for $200.

Babolat Pure Aero Play. This racket is for the serious player and I do mean serious. The racket sells for $350 and is the only diagnostic racket of its kind on the market. A built in microprocessor tells the user everything they need to know about their game. This includes such items as how many strokes did you take in a game, how many backhands and forehands did you hit, and where did most of your shots land.

Junior rackets. Sales of junior rackets have skyrocketed in the past few years as more young children are taking up the game. They range in size from 21 inches long for the smallest peewees, 23 inches for 5- to 6-year-olds, 25 inches for 7- to 8-year-olds and 26 inches for 9- and 10-year-olds. There are also high-end rackets with shorter lengths and grips for children whose parents feel they will play better with an upgraded racket. Junior rackets range in price from $20-$100.

Tennis strings. I often hear tennis players of all levels remark that their strings have lasted a long time and they have no intention of putting in new strings. If you play three times a week you should have your racket strung three times a year and two times a year if you play twice a week. Why so frequently? The strings lose their resiliency and effectiveness and this could possibly cause tennis elbow when you strike the ball. Stringing at JB’s costs anywhere from $21.50 to $64.95 for top-of-the-line gut. The prices includes the price of the string and the cost of stringing the racket.


Wearing proper footwear is extremely important. Although some sneakers can run $100 or more, the price is more than worth it. Proper sneakers will give you the support and flexibility that you need when you are playing. This is especially true for myself as I wear size 16 tennis sneakers.

Diadora S. Star VI. Don’t let the fancy name fool you. These sneakers are extremely comfortable, provide great support, and are made of high-quality leather. You will be thrilled with the comfort and flexibility that the sneakers provide. They sell for $110.

Asics Gel Resolution 6. If you have any type of foot problems, this is the sneaker for you. The sneakers provide excellent cushioning, and support, especially for lateral movement. The sneakers are available for both men and women and sell for $120.

Prince T -22. The popular sneakers are extremely durable and there is a six-month guarantee for both men and women. The sneakers sell for $100.


Pickleball. Without doubt, Pickleball is one of the fastest-growing racket sports in the United States. Primerano estimates that JB’s has sold more than 400 rackets this past year. The store also has 23 different models of rackets that range in price from $65-$110.

Racquetball. The game is making a comeback of sorts in Western New York. This is due to the fact that LA Fitness has put in three courts that are pristine, have back-wall glass, and a seating area to watch the matches. The leaders in racquetball in the WNY area are still E Force and Head. Both companies have a great line of rackets and sneakers. Be sure to buy sneakers that are made specifically for racquetball as you need extra traction on wooden floors. Rackets sell from $70-$220 and sneakers from $60-$120.

Squash. Squash is becoming more popular due to new courts being built in the last few years and a huge major influx of junior players playing, competing, and traveling to many tournaments. Dunlop and Head are leaders in local squash circles. Squash racquets and sneakers sell for $90-$150.

Platform tennis. Players of the sport are among the most fanatic racket sports participants. Due to that fact that the sport is played outdoors, the courts are always filled, even on the coldest of days. The sport is gaining in popularity and many of the players travel to other cities for tournaments; especially to Rochester, which has a large base of players. Wilson and Viking paddles range in price from $90-$170.

The Sony Smart Tennis Sensor. This is for the player who thinks he has everything he needs to play good tennis. The Sensor has a special unit that attaches to the butt cap of compatible tennis rackets. The device automatically records your hitting session and then gives you information that is downloaded into your smartphone or tablet. This allows you to access hundreds of different statistics. The unit is almost a must for any serious tennis player or teaching professional. The Sensor sells for $200.