Horrors of the 2011 Orange Bowl Stringing Service

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by drakulie, Dec 8, 2011.

  1. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    As you may or may not know, the USTA this year moved the venue of the Orange Bowl International Tennis Championships from the hard courts of the Key Biscayne Tennis Center to the har-tru courts at the Veltri Tennis Center in Plantation, Florida. This tournament is considered one of the most prestigious junior tournaments in the world. The City of Plantation was awarded the venue because of its ability to host such a large event on har-tru courts. Umpires, score boards, volunteers, tents for players to relax and/or eat, personal trainers, physicians, plenty of parking, security, etc were all planned and on site. Unfortunately, the City of Plantation, USTA, tournament organizers/director, and Orange Bowl Committee forgot to provide much less plan for even an adequate stringing service.

    What the top junior players from all over the world were left with was the inadequate stringing service of the tennis center, and a few part time employees of the park, none of which are USRSA certified as stringers or Master Racquet Technicians (MRT’s), or work professionally as stringers.
    What ensued was a complete and utter fiasco. If you thought you knew what disorganization, chaos and terrible service were, the stringing service of this tournament invented a whole new meaning to the words.

    Racquets as well as reels of string, sets of strings were consistently lost throughout the first few days of the tournament, which included qualifiers. Racquets were consistently completed late or not completed at all for the days match. Many of the reels and sets of strings lost were never found nor refunded to the players. The stringing room had a look of disarray and disorganization with the racquets thrown in one location and the reels/strings left just about everywhere else with no system of organization. One coach reported he had to wait 48 hours for his student’s racquets to be completed. One player reported when he picked up his two racquets, one was not strung and the other was strung with a string he was not familiar with (his reel could not be found). Having only one hour before his first round match started, he had no choice but to play with a string he was not familiar with.

    Reports of racquets strung with the wrong string, or strung with a multi in the mains and a poly in the crosses even though the player asked for it the other way around were rampant. One father reported when he went to pick up his son’s racquet it was not ready. Needing the racquet so his son could take to his upcoming match, the stringers resolved the dilemma by placing all the mains in the frame, pulling tension once, clamping and tying off. They then put in 4-5 crosses, tensioned, clamped, and repeated this until the crosses were completed. Voila ! A racquet needing 35 total pulls completed with 4-5 pulls in about 5 minutes.

    A few players reported their racquets damaged (warped) due to being left on the stringing machines half strung for hours. One player reported his frame had been left on the stringing machine half strung over night. He claimed he saw his racquet on the stringing machine half strung before he left for the day. When he arrived early the next morning his frame was still on the machine half strung and un-touched from the previous day.

    With so many players, coaches, and family members who are themselves either certified stringers or home stringers roaming the tennis center and stringing room, they were shocked at witnessing so many flawed and inappropriate techniques being used by the stringers of the tournament. Some of these techniques included double, triple or even quadruple pulling strings. Stringing bottom up, using the tensioner to cinch knots, etc. One such person was shocked to witness a Prince O Port racquet being strung without the use of a boomerang tool or the table-lock. As a result, the crosses were tensioned diagonally and grommets broken. Many other frames were reported to have miss-weaves.

    For those of you stringers out there who like to learn new around the world patterns, here is a great one for you. While one of the stringers was finishing the crosses at the bottom of the frame, he realized he missed one of the top crosses. NO PROBLEM. His fix was to finish the crosses on the bottom, and then on the outside of the frame, with the extra string, loop it around the outside of the frame to the cross he missed, weave it, tension, clamp and tie-off. Of course, added to the fact that this is completely inappropriate, the weave he completed was a miss-weave as two of the crosses now had the same weave pattern.

    Premature string breakage was also rampant, with one player claiming to have 6 mains snapping simultaneously during her warm-up. This player as did many others opted to go off site to have their racquets strung.
    No stenciling service was provided to the players. With so many of these players required to play with a stenciled racquet by their sponsors, it is again another example of the inadequacy of the stringing service provided. This simple, but essential service is provided free at major tournaments from junior to pro all over the world as part of the fee players pay to have their frames strung.

    In addition, no customization service was offered such as balancing, or leading up a racquet. Of course, without an RDC, Prince Tuning Center or balance board available this would be impossible to provide. Changing grommets, grip build ups or grip replacements were also absent. Players had to go off site to have any of these services provided.

    With each string job costing $15, it is an absolute disgrace and embarrassment to the sport that the very best juniors from all around the globe were provided such a horrible stringing service at the very highest stage of the game in the junior level.

    That these players have spent years and thousands of hours sweating it out on the court in the hopes of being able to qualify for such an event. Or that they have spent thousands of dollars traveling from countries all over the world. Or that millions of dollars in possible endorsement deals, or scholarships offers from potential colleges may be at stake depending on their performance at this event. For such a player to be forced to go out to play a match with a string he/she is not familiar with is simply cheating this player out of a possible once in a lifetime opportunity.

    These players should all be provided the best service possible to ensure fair play and ensure the highest level of play they are capable of, rather than hinder them.

    Many of the players, such as those that had no choice but to play with strings they never trained with for thousands of hours, months, years were essentially cheated out of a possible once in a lifetime opportunity.

    Shameful to say the least by all parties involved for allowing this to happen at the highest level of the game.
     
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  2. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    I would say that the Orange Bowl is the most prestigious junior tournament in the US next to the USO juniors. I think that puts it into perspective just how ridiculous this is. Wow drak, that is absolutely pathetic. They just had random pro-shop stringers?
     
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  3. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Actually, many of the pro shop stringers in broward county string at pro tournaments, and are exclusive stringers for academies. The stringers at the tourney are I believe part time employees of the park. Have no idea what they do there.... if they coach, are maintenance workers, etc.

    One thing I could say for these guys is that they have worked their behinds off, but unfortunately, don't seem to know what they are doing and were most-likely overwhelmed and unprepared for the sheer volume of work expected at one of these tournaments.
     
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  4. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    Follow the money.

    Sounds like a total disaster. Hard to imagine they let such an important facet of the 'organization' fall through the cracks.
     
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  5. RyKnocks

    RyKnocks Semi-Pro

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    WoW, if I were a parent of one of these kids and got screwed like that, I would have probably raised hell, especially if there was a missing racquet. Was there a waiver or something signed by the parents before they gave up the racquets that said the stringers were not responsible for anything?

    If anything, that tournament should be excluded from having any impact on the kids' record/overall standing and should be re-done on a fair level. I'm pretty new to tennis but that is just appalling, especially reading that racquets were done in 4-5 pulls....wow....
     
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  6. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    “Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.”
    ― John Wooden
     
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  7. uk_skippy

    uk_skippy Hall of Fame

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    The only good thing that could come out of this it the hope that the players will appreciate the excellent stringing services supplied elsewhere at other tournaments.

    But bad stringing services can happen at any level. I'm aware of a stringing service at a top tournament this year, that failed to supply the service that the top players expect.

    So, as Irvin has quoted "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!.

    Regards

    Paul
     
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  8. Squidward

    Squidward Rookie

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    Unbelievable! Sounds like an utter Fiasco!!
     
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  9. brownbearfalling

    brownbearfalling Hall of Fame

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    This makes you appreciate a good stringing job. When people ask me how hard it is to string a racquet, I tell them it is very easy. You only need to know a few things and the rest is repetition. But the one thing I emphasize is that there are A LOT of ways you can mess up or do a bad job when stringing a racquet. This story pretty much lists all of them if not go beyond my imagination.
     
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  10. uk_skippy

    uk_skippy Hall of Fame

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    ^^^^ Agreed.

    It also shows how some people think they can just grab a machine, start stringing, and a few string jobs later think they can supply a service to paying customers. While this is obviously a prestigious event, I wouldn't expect the stringers to be other than well versed in stringing and providing a professional service. Clearly this didn't happen.

    Hopefully I'll catch up with some of the players next year that played the tourney and see what they say.

    Regards

    Paul
     
    #10
  11. lefty10spro

    lefty10spro Semi-Pro

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    Shame on the Orange Bowl committee. I strung for the Easter Bowl for years in Central Florida (Grenelefe Resort), South Florida (Doral) and in California (Riviera). None of what Drak describes took place in our operation, and the Easter Bowl is not on the scale of the Orange Bowl. Sad story for old stringing pro like myself to read.
     
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  12. Irvin

    Irvin G.O.A.T.

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    You can say that again and the same holds true for wrapping a grip. Seems pretty simple you just take the old grip off and wrap the new grip on. I have had rackets handed to me to string that I don't want to touch much less play with.

    Maybe it is a good thing with all the baffoonery going on those aren't doing grips.

    This tournament still has three more days to go. If I am right it does not end until Sunday Dec 11. Mabye it would be a good idea for the USTA and some sponsors to jump in and make sure things are done right for the players. You can't right the wrong that has been done but you can show the world you are tying to do things right.
     
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  13. rufusbgood

    rufusbgood Semi-Pro

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    Wait, am I supposed to be surprised that a tennis facility here in the US relegated stringing to "not worth thinking about" status. I'm shocked, shocked I say.
     
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  14. anhuynh16

    anhuynh16 Hall of Fame

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    I heard about the stringing problems, my coaches son is there right now and apparently they messed up his stringing alot,his normal string of choice is a full set of RPM but they got it mixed up somehow and put someone else's biphase on it and they claimed they were in a rush and they look very much alike.

    IMO this is horrible!!!!
     
    #14
  15. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    As you're a professional, I will not argue with your viewpoint, but rather your logic in the first sentence. Quite honestly, if I am playing in the Orange Bowl 18s, I'm already a world class junior and am not looking to appreciate the stringing service elsewhere. I think that stringing should be both an intimate relationship for the players as well as a background operation. What I mean is that the players get to know their stringers and vice versa, so they know what they need done, and how they like it done. But they should also expect that it will be done properly and when they need it to be done. To have none of the above is unacceptable, as drak is saying. But I do agree, getting terrible service anywhere makes you appreciate even decency elsewhere.
     
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  16. gotwheels

    gotwheels Semi-Pro

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    Drakulie’s report is appalling, but not surprising as so many tennis players/ parents /officials do not recognize the value of the racquet/stringing technician. Racquet stringing is not rocket science and can be easily learned, relatively speaking. And here comes the hook, speaking as an engineer, detail oriented type of individual – a true racquet technician understands the dynamics /cause-effect relationships of the frame and the string; the stringbed effects of clamp placement, tension, stringing direction, etc; the impact of mass, balance, and swingweight; grips, grip size and grip geometries; and on and on involving physics and engineering science. This is an elite group led by people like John Gugel and others. This group is at the high end of the scale. The lower end is the person who gets the Klippermate and by his third frame is ready for customers (no offense to KlipperUSA, as a competent individual can produce quality results with this equipment).

    Several years ago, when I decided I needed to learn to string a tennis frame to benefit my daughter’s game, I visited a USRSA Master Racquet Technician with questions and a request for training. He was not interested in my request and explained to me that one might be considered a competent stringer after 1,000 frames, which at the time seemed ludicrous to me. Years later, after significant time devoted to learning this craft and a quest for stringing knowledge, I am comfortable to string my own frames and a few for others, knowing I will never be good enough or know enough and will strive to learn as long as I string. Back to my request from the USRSA MRT for training, I do not know if the 1,000 frame barrier is real, but I do think the 100+ range is real and then only if one has had objective, recorded QC measures coupled with controlled experimentation and observation. Even better would be to have a stringing mentor like a Mr. Gugel, or Mr. A. Lee, or Mr. Elliot. These folks and others have forgotten more about stringing and frames than I will ever hope to know.

    The bottom line is that the Orange Bowl participants deserved a competent, qualified stringing room. An old workplace adage - P⁷ ( Prior Proper Planning Prevents **** Poor Performance) applies!

    Sorry for the diatribe. Thanks TW TT, Granndslamstringers, ggtennis, Sir John Elliot, stringforum.net, and others for the opportunity to open our minds and learn!

    Happy holidays to all!!
     
    #16
  17. kingofstring

    kingofstring Banned

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    That is terrible! These juniors deserve better!
     
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  18. uk_skippy

    uk_skippy Hall of Fame

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    Fair point made. But having dealt with players at both ends of the tournament scale, some have told me of the bad experiences of stringing throughout the world. But there are also players who take the service for granted.

    I try to give the best service I can, and then some. And the more they know me the better the working relationship can be.

    Regards

    Paul
     
    #18
  19. monkey-ranch

    monkey-ranch Banned

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    I was there and I have to say that I really wanted to puke. I saw quadruple pulls, bottom to top stringing and a lot more. I even saw a stringer set the mains, tie them off and leave the frame in the machine to take a 3 hour nap. It was a terrible service. There was a point where there were no stringers working. They all left the room with 25+ frames waiting to be done. I see that drakulie mentioned the 5 min. stringjob. I am speechless, as soon as I remember something else I will post it.


    Makumba ska!:mrgreen:
     
    #19
  20. pvaudio

    pvaudio Legend

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    Nicely put :)
     
    #20
  21. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    I had two clients who remained with me throughout their junior, college and pro(1) careers. The older player was a VERY highly ranked junior, traveling the world with 12-15 strung frames each trip. On the occasion that her parent(s) would join her in Europe or other parts of the world, they would take replacement frames and bring back the others for service.

    I often wondered what would happen if I were to 'disappear'. Didn't happen until they 'retired'; but one story from the Italian Junior ?Open? was revealing. The young lady needed one frame strung, just in case. At the tournament venue, she was charged the equiv. of $50 US for LABOR(with her supplied syn) in a mid-sized Prince Graphite(as in UNDER 15 minutes)! She hit about 6 balls with it and put it back in her bag. Upon her return, I could spot that racket from across the room. I'm pretty sure my Scottie could have done better and she doesn't have thumbs!!! (AND this was around the turn of the century, when FIFTY BUCKS was worth something!)

    Good thing she wasn't playing in the OP tournament! SOMEbody would have some 'splainin' to do!!! ;)
     
    #21
  22. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    Wow! Just Wow!
    I am appalled. That is just unacceptable incompetance!
    For shame!
    My Sports Authority trainees would do better! (Under supervision, of course, so they don't panic)
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
    #22
  23. bigmatt

    bigmatt Rookie

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    The stringer is probably the most important person at a tournament, especially one of this stature. Players are so directly affected by their strings that the organizers need to be sure they have qualified racquet technicians on hand.
    Whoever ran the tournament this year needs to be replaced.
     
    #23
  24. 000KFACTOR90000

    000KFACTOR90000 Professional

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    I think it should be the last time at that venue.

    They had their chance and blew it.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
    #24
  25. stringwalla

    stringwalla Rookie

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    That seems like a great price for a tournament. I guess you get what you pay for.
    Proshops around me charge $16-25. Onsite tournament stringing charges $20-$30 where I've worked.

    Drak, we should get a team together and clean up some of these events to our standards:twisted:
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
    #25
  26. equinox

    equinox Hall of Fame

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    Partially the players fault, teach them to never rely on unknown stringers and keep that 12-15 racquets strung coming into the event.

    The supplied stringing service does sound like disorganised hell, but not unexpected for a new event location. Not even the stringers fault. Lack of planning and oversight from the event organisers. Should've brought in qualified MRT with tournament experience to oversee the stringing room? operations. Then have him use his contacts to select a few experienced proshop employees and dedicated multi lingual front desk service attendant to free the few stringers from mundane common tasks.

    Old adage comes back, get what you pay for.

    Was there a language barrier?
     
    #26
  27. crosbydog

    crosbydog Rookie

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    Is there a listing on the Internet somewhere of master stringers throughout the country?
     
    #27
  28. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    I think the money is what it boils down to. The city felt they could bank some money at the kids and parents expense. They most likely didn't want to contract it out.

    agree with both of you. Very shameful to say the least. I agree they should not be allowed to be provided the privilege of hosting this event again.

    This would be awesome. Maybe we could convince bigmatt to join us.

    From what I've been told by very good sources is that IT IS disorganized hell, especially when one considers reels and frames being lost, and many other frames not being complete for the days matches. Sending kids out to play with strings they have never even played with for such an event is unacceptable.

    As for the language barrier, that is a good point. However, language has zero to do with doing a quality string job and providing a quality service overall.

    Yes, there is. On the USRSA site.

    To add, there are plenty of qualified stringers with pro tournament stringing experience in the area where the tournament was held.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2011
    #28
  29. rjw

    rjw Professional

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    Frank Veltri must be turning......I used to play in the former mayor's Sunday morning game, back in the day.

    He was a true gentleman and an avid tennis fan.
     
    #29
  30. bigmatt

    bigmatt Rookie

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    Drak, sign me up! Let's go have some fun.
    Too many tournaments slight the stringers, and a proper sourcing could solve that problem.
    I think the new GSS Alliance will be how tournament stringers will be found for some time to come.
     
    #30
  31. SirGounder

    SirGounder Hall of Fame

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    That sounds absolutely horrid. I'm a pretty new stringer so I'm slow, but I'd like to think I can produce a decent string job. Let me at it!
     
    #31
  32. spacediver

    spacediver Hall of Fame

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    incredible. Did the tournament organizers have anything to say about this? An apology, or excuse, or something?
     
    #32
  33. equinox

    equinox Hall of Fame

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    Within 1/2 days word would have spread about poor stringing service.

    Why didn't parents take it to the pros stringers? 12 racquets should have lasted half the event or more, plenty of time to find suitable pro stringer for QF onwards.

    No one with any common sense relies on unknown stringers at junior or futures level.

    Bring your own / hire stringer and do it yourself or have close traveling friend do the group of players, that's what the asians do.

    Drak, if complaints were so bad and numerous, why didn't you solicit the exiting clients? Probably charge $5-10 extra.

    The players and parents receive little sympathy from me.
     
    #33
  34. bigmatt

    bigmatt Rookie

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    Many folks fly to these events. It's quite tough to fly with a machine in your luggage!
    Also, it's expensive enough to have a top junior as a kid these days to add to it with the cost of traveling with a personal stringer.
    Most of these events do just fine in the stringing area as far as I know, which is why the participants should feel confident using the tournament-supplied guys. The organizers dropped the ball here, not the players or parents.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
    #34
  35. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Not sure. Only thing I was told is that it (the organization, not the stringing) seemed to get better towards the end of the week.

    Equinox, although you have raised some interesting points, I have to disagree. For example, A parent traveling with their child from Austria is not going to be familiar with the area in order to find another stringer or service, which is why the tournament is expected to do this.

    The tournament is responsible for providing the service, and it should be a quality one,,,, not the parent or participant being responsible to secure thier own stringing service. Many tournaments, including the USTA demand the venue provide it or outsource it, which was the case here. At the two nationals I string at every year, the venue has to provide the service.

    Secondly, it is very hard to just get a bunch of stringers together (mid-tournament) to fix it. Guys/gals that string for a living aren't just sitting at home twiddling their thumbs in the hopes of being called in case something goes wrong at a local tournament.

    Most stringing "teams" prepare for tournaments such as this one weeks/months in advance. For example, I have already been hired to service two futures in January 2012. I have to now plan to hire someone else to asist me, get all the supplies together. Ensure my machines are functioning properly, etc, etc, etc. There is a lot of planning involved, including gathering a lot of supplies. This can't be done mid-tournament.

    As for me soliciting some of the players..... I strung for several players privately, including the # 1 seed in the boys 18's at the request of mutual friends/clients. Many others I strung for practiced quite a bit at the club I string at, so I ended up servicing their frames. I saw many of the frames that were brought to me, including one that was warped, and the one I described with the crazy "around the world" pattern.

    Lastly, as for your comment regarding "Asian players", I strung for a whole traveling team of Asians at a futures last year. None of them had ever met me, rather relied on the service provided at the venue, which happened to be me.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
    #35
  36. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    Can you please explain in greater detail what I bolded -
    especially "have close traveling friend do the group of players"

    I didn't understand what you were trying to say.

    Thanks.
     
    #36
  37. jim e

    jim e Hall of Fame

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    It just goes to show you that just about anyone can string a racquet, as was posted on these forums many times in the past over the years.
    But it takes a special person to be able to string a quality job the proper way and professionally, and in a tournament environment be able to produce that quality over and over many times a day where the last racquet is as good as the first. As it goes like anything else, you do get what you pay for.

    In an airport you pay a shoe shine person $7.00 for a shine (at least it was 4 years ago, maybe even more now) , a $3.00 tip, so for a 10min or less job $10.00 is not bad , thats approx. $60 / hour. and just about anyone on the planet can shine a pair of shoes, so do you want just about anyone string your racquet? When that happens, then issues like this come up. Evidently some corners were cut, and it comes down to the $.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2011
    #37
  38. koolpatrol

    koolpatrol New User

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    not surprised

    I'm not surprised. I play a lot of USTA florida tournaments, rarely is the stringing even thought of as planning for an event. I guarantee the Pro at the tournament thought, " I can handle it" and never considered how important stringing is to the kids competing in the tournament.
     
    #38
  39. fortun8son

    fortun8son Hall of Fame

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    It doesn't sound like there was any professional oversight at all.
    The venue really dropped the ball here.
     
    #39
  40. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    well put. I agree it definitely comes down to dollars.

    Although I agree with you, I doubt this was the pros call to make. This was either the city, or tennis center itself that made this decision.

    agreed.
     
    #40
  41. brooker

    brooker New User

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    this sounds like stringing badminton racquets to me.
     
    #41
  42. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    wow. just wow. i knew someone that actually played in the orange bowl. i have to ask them next time i see them.......
     
    #42
  43. zapvor

    zapvor Legend

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    huh? thats what the asians do?????
     
    #43
  44. diredesire

    diredesire Super Moderator

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    thread moved per request :)
     
    #44
  45. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    zap, did you ever speak to them? Would like to know their thoughts.




    anyone else hear about any of this, or have personal experience with this matter?
     
    #45
  46. Kurte954

    Kurte954 Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2011
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    I'm a member of Veltri and I just saw this thread today.

    It is sad that the stringing was handled so poorly. I was excited and proud when I heard my tennis club would be hosting such a prestigious event. They did much to prepare the facility and I can't believe that with everything they did that stringing was not considered or planned properly. The facility hosts a number of larger events each year, so I am really baffled by this mistake that seems like a beginner's mistake.

    I hope they fix it and get another chance because Veltri is a great club and IMO the best tennis facility in Broward county, hands down.
     
    #46
  47. cmb

    cmb Semi-Pro

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    Many guys are giving their rackets to John Valenti to string. He does a good job with the rackets and is pretty cheap
     
    #47
  48. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Nothing will change unless this is made known through formal complaints to the USTA and publicized widely to cause embarrassment to the organizers who tried to skimp on the money. Otherwise, there will be some backdoor negotiations and things will be hushed up.
     
    #48
  49. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    Shame on all the kids who had to get their strings restrung.

    Playing with a bad string job is a nightmare.
     
    #49
  50. 000KFACTOR90000

    000KFACTOR90000 Professional

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    Dec 6, 2007
    Messages:
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    With the price and portability of the klippermate style machines maybe every kid should have one in his/her tennis bag.
     
    #50

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