The sporting goods market is dominated by big-box, Walmart-style outlets, where you'll find baseball helmets, soccer shorts and Lakers jerseys all in the same aisle. If you need some professional advice, you're pretty much on your own. The clerks are likely to know something about a lot of sports but not enough about a particular one to be of much help. That's why it's great to find a place like Atwater Village's The Racket Doctor. As the name implies, they focus only on racket sports — tennis, racquetball, paddle tennis, squash and badminton — and as a result they know what they're talking about. They're famous for their while-you-wait racket restringing. (It takes a week at the big-box places.) If you like your specialty sporting-goods stores to come with an elaborate David-and-Goliath backstory, then the Racket Doctor is definitely the place for you. Owner Randy Kramer boasts of the long battle he's waged with the major racket manufacturers for the right to sell rackets below suggested retail price. 3214 Glendale Blvd., Atwater Village; (323) 663-6601,

—Gene Maddaus

LA Weekly