Have you seen Hsieh Su-We play? She plays tennis differently from anyone on the WTA or ATP tours, and it’s a joy to watch.
Tennis on the pro tours can sometimes be a little bit one-dimensional. In the men’s game, you can get a match-up between two big servers and in the women’s game, you can get lulled to sleep to endless and relatively pace-less baseline rallies. Like with any sport, it’s mainly a match-up thing. If you get contrasting styles and personalities on the court, you are usually in for a treat. And then there are players like Hsieh Su-We play, who approach the sport differently.
You can see some highlights of Hsieh Su-We’s play in the WTA video below. I also found a fascinating interview on the WTA Insider with Courtney Nguyen and Hsieh Su-We’s coach Paul McNamee where talked about how Su-We played with a broken string without noticing.
Hsieh Su We’s Racquet
It might be a little bit of an exaggeration, but I found these quotes from coach McNamee about Hsieh Su We’s racquet particularly entertaining. Read the full interview to find out more about Hsieh Su We (linked above).
“Players change racquets on the change of balls, right? She’ll go years with the same racquet.”
“She was playing a match in Eastbourne one day. She missed two balls in a row by three meters. Change ends, keeps going. She’s missing balls by so far. That’s not Su-Wei. She misses by millimeters normally.
“I noticed she was playing with broken strings in her racquet, literally playing with broken strings. She hadn’t broken a string for three years. You tell me a player that uses the same racquet for three years and doesn’t change the racquet.
“We had a bit of trauma before this tournament because she had to get a restring before the tournament. That’s once a year. Players change racquets on the change of balls, right? She’ll go years with the same racquet.
“She didn’t know what it was like to play with a broken string, so she didn’t know it was broken. One of the reasons is she hits the ball so purely in the center of the racquet. Most people break strings when they hit it around the frame.
According to tennis-prose.com she uses an extended (29-inch!) Yonex VCORE Pro 97 330. By the looks of it, she strings it with Yonex Poly Tour Pro strings. The racquet must have a massive swing weight, but with her short swing style, double-handed on both wings and with a lot of short, crafty spins, I think her racquet choice makes sense.
Most players on the WTA Tour uses a light, stiff and powerful racquet with a 100 sq inch head size, but Hsieh Su We is also different in her choice of racquet. 29-inch length racquets are rare, but double-handers Bartoli and Seles also used them back in the day. I think the extra control she gets from the 97 sq inch head size will help her create these angled drop shots that win her so many points.
I think having players with unique styles is essential to the game’s creative nature, and I hope we get to see more artists like Hsieh Su We high up in the rankings.