Hélène Pelletier (CAN)
12 times national champion in Canada (juniors, seniors and veterans), the round of 16 at Roland Garros in ladies doubles, part of the Fed Cup team and played in the WTA Masters for the top 8 ladies doubles teams in the world.
“Hello everyone, my name is Helene Pelletier, an ex-player on the pro circuit in the 70’s and 80’s. For over 30 years now, I have been doing the colour commentating for tennis on the French television network Réseau des Sports (RDS) for the 500 and 1,000 series plus the 4 Grand Slams and the Olympics. I also analyse tennis on different radio shows for 98,5 FM plus I write a blog on rds.ca.
As a player I have achieved a few milestones that I am proud of notably: 12 times national champion in Canada (juniors, seniors and veterans), the round of 16 at Roland Garros in ladies doubles, part of the Fed Cup team and played in the WTA Masters for the top 8 ladies doubles teams in the world.
The moment I made the career change from player to commentator, my life became completely different. I did not train 6 hours a day anymore but mostly spent my time at a desk reading and working to prepare for the task at hand. Also, as I am sure you noticed, the racquet and stringing technologies changed so much over the last 2 decades. Because of that, I found it difficult to adjust to the new materials when I would hit the courts just for fun. I liked the new powerful racquets but the synthetic strings gave me absolutely NO feel. It was like I was hitting the ball with a piece of plywood. Add to this a deteriorated footwork (I will blame my french flair for good food on that one) and I realized that playing tennis was not a pleasurable hobby anymore.
All that changed when I met Serge Thibodeau who was so enthusiastic about telling me his way of stringing racquets. I will spare you the technical aspects but in a nutshell, it only makes sense that each string should have its own tension because they all have different lengths. What the finish product will offer you is a much bigger sweetspot. I am amazed sometimes to realize that I am not spraying balls all over the place anymore but finding instead that they are landing inside the lines on a regular basis. This way of stringing is simply a very forgiving process because I guarantee you that I have not improved my movement on the court and therefore I am not able to center the ball perfectly. Nevertheless, I have rediscovered my steadiness of yesteryear!
My advice to you is this: give it a try to see for yourself. I had 4 racquets strung at different tensions from 49 to 52 pounds. I finally opted for 51. I am amazed at the control and the feel I now have. Now, if I could just find the wings of my youth…”