Woman carrying the parisii bag by Doubletake

Pro Tips on Choosing the Best Tennis Bag

What do tennis pros have that we don’t have? Elite athletic ability, for one thing. Yup, most of us won’t ever serve or hit forehands like the players on tour. But luckily, we can emulate them in other ways. Tennis pros enhance their natural talents through careful preparation, and so can we. When we show up to a match organized and ready to go, we set ourselves up for success. Choosing the right bag and packing it properly are key. To help us learn how it’s done, we asked pro Palmer Mendelson for some tips from the big leagues. 

First, some back story. Palmer started playing tennis when he was five years old. A successful junior in Northern California, he went on to play club tennis at the University of Arizona. Always happy to help others improve, he knew he wanted to become a tennis coach. Mendelson taught the game at a number of top tennis academies and private schools before starting his own business, AMPM Tennis, which currently caters to students ranging from four to 94 years old.

Coaching high-level tennis means constant travel to various events and tournaments throughout the world. Mendelson says his tennis bag goes “everywhere with him.” For that reason, he wants a bag that is sturdy, durable, and roomy enough to carry plenty of gear without being too heavy or bulky. A dedicated pocket that secures at least two rackets is essential, he adds. Broken strings or a cracked frame can happen to anyone—best to have a spare.  Or perhaps a back-up racket strung at a different tension, ready to adapt to changing match conditions? Mendelson also looks for a bag with a compartment for sweaty tennis shoes to keep them away from fresh clothes, extra socks, towels, hats, etc. Even better--a bag that’s further divided into sections that separate clean and dirty clothes, preferably with a wet/dry option. A duffel with just one main pouch is not ideal, he explains.

The best bags include lots of intuitively placed pockets and spaces for specific types of gear, enabling players to find exactly what they need, when they need it. A protective sleeve for phone, sunglasses, a space to store a water bottle in an upright position, places for cans of tennis balls, snacks, extra overgrips, electrolyte tablets, clean wristbands, a spot to keep headphones safe—all of these features help tennis players perform well and focus on their game above all else.

 

A well-organized bag helps players feel more confident when stepping out on court. A great looking bag is an added boost. And who doesn’t want to maximize positive vibes? That’s why Mendelson always looks for a tennis bag made of top-quality, stain- and fade-resistant fabric. Tennis backpacks and totes that continue to look fresh, despite being hauled from match to tournament, stashed in car trunks and overhead bins or left courtside in clay, dust and unpredictable weather are a must. Sturdy hooks designed for hanging the bag on courtside fences are a helpful feature. Small ‘feet’ that keep the bag from resting directly on the ground or clay work to keep materials clean as well. Another benefit of smart, solid construction—bags that are made from high-quality materials don’t flop or fall over when they must be placed on the ground.

Mendelson also likes tennis bags designed in understated, neutral shades that work season after season. Classic, elegant colors look good with everything and never clash with even the boldest outfits, he adds, which helps streamline pre-match prep. So, avoiding guesswork and hiccups, bolstering confidence, controlling what’s within our power to control—all of this improves on-court performance. The right bag plays an important part in that, Mendelson explains. As is almost always the case in tennis, it seems we can learn a lot from the pros.

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