Professional Stringing Room; A Behind the Scenes look of the Delray Beach ATP 250

Discussion in 'Stringing Techniques / Stringing Machines' started by drakulie, Mar 13, 2011.

  1. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Delray ATP International 250
    February 18-27, 2011
    For those of you who have been requesting this thread, I apologize for the delay.
    The Delray Beach ATP 250 is a unique tournament, in that it combines the seniors tour with players such as Mcenroe, Cash, Wilander, Phillipousis, etc with players from the ATP such as Roddick, Del Potro, Tipsarivec, Fish, Blake, Isner etc.
    Preparation for the stringing service provided to all the players began on Thursday February 17th, even though planning began well before this date. Although a smaller tournament compared to a Grand Slam or 1000 series, none the less a lot of equipment was still needed to be provided in order to ensure all the players, regardless of accomplishments had access to the highest quality of care to their racquets. The “center piece” of all this equipment is of course the stringing machine, in this case, 3 Prince 4000 Stringing Machines.
    [​IMG]
    Some of the other equipment included Prince Tuning Center, scale, balance boards, stencils, stencil ink, stringing tools (although each stringer preferred to bring their own), lead tape, tubing, power pads, grommets, over grips, grips, pallets, printed poly bags, hundreds of rubber bands, pre-printed receipts, strings, power chords, surge protectors, etc, etc, etc. There were many more items not listed here so I won’t bore you with the exact list.
    Last but not least, and I’d like to think, most importantly, are the stringers. The stringing team, Pro Circuit Stringing, consisted of 4 stringers, which was lead by owner Craig Brotman, Bill, Ken, and myself. Kirschbaum “sponsored” the string team, and provided us all with some really nice shirts/uniforms.
    From left to right: (Bill, Me, Craig, and Ken)
    [​IMG]
    Pro Circuit Stringing owner, Craig Brotman has been in the stringing business for many years stringing on the pro circuit, and has provided stringing services as well as customization consultation to many touring pros. Players such as Connors, Sampras, Agassi, Blake, Malisse, Karlovic, etc to name a few. Much, but not all of the customization work includes adding/deleting weight, grip modifications, pallet shaving/buildup, extending the racquet, swing weight, etc. In addition, he matches racquets to be at identical specs of each other. One simple, but effective “customization” he did for the tournament was to provide one player a dampener. The player in question ran out of his own Tecnifibre dampeners, and the easy fix was to “black out” some Head dampeners, and place them on the frame so the player would not get into trouble with his sponsor. No job is too small to be taken lightly, and Craig always has a solution. He may be contacted at www.brotmantennis.com.
    [​IMG]
    Bill and Ken have also strung on the circuit and both come with years and years of experience and knowledge in not only knowing their craft, but how to deal with and handle players, whom can be very difficult at times. Watching both of these guys string was something else. At first glance, they seem to be going slow, but then somehow, magically, when you turn to pay attention to what they are doing, they are dismounting the racquet and starting another one. Very fast, but so smooth, they make it look effortless. One other quality they both possess is to hit a consistent pace and stay there for hours and hours, racquet after racquet, which is extremely important when stringing for many hours and staying on their feet for more than 12 hours. Lastly, they both have the ability and that extra gear to turn a frame around before the end of the next change over in order to get the player their frame rapidly. As stringers, many times we speak about “no wasted movements’. Well, these guys are the definition of that. I learned a lot this week from working with both, and got some great tips, which have already made me a better, smoother, and more efficient stringer.
    The fourth person rounding out the team was Myself. Let’s just say, I was there for the ride. During the day, I strung at the Pro Shop Craig and I work at, and at night played the part of relief for the other guys. I would then arrive home to string for the customers at the club where I am contracted, along with some personal customers. My days started at approximately 8 am and ended as late as 3 am on a few occasions. During the time of the Delray, I strung over 250 frames, with the most being 34 in one day. Easily, the most I have ever strung in one day, or in that period of time.
    Stringing for Tipsarivec:
    [​IMG]
    The stringing pattern used for the tournament, unless specifically directed to string two-piece or a hybrid was needed, was a variation of a box pattern developed by Craig. This pattern tends to equalize the string bed, and hold tension better than a normal one piece pattern. Tie off knots were up to the individual stringer. In my case, I used something similar to what is referred to as a Pro/Wilson knot, with a variation to it.
    Upon checking in at credentials, getting past security and entering the player’s lounge I immediately noticed some very familiar faces; Mcenroe, Cash, Wilander, Martin, Phillipousis, DelPotro, Blake to name a few. I recall thinking to myself, “WOW this is going to be neat! I’m actually hanging out in the same room as these guys.” At the end of the player’s lounge, which included a basketball court, ping-pong table, sofas, TV’s, a place to eat, locker room, and a room for massages is the stringing room.
    Video entering the facility with the stringing room and players lounge:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGYROsiL-fk

    The “dungeon” as it was named because it tended to get warm, was always busy with traffic from players and coaches. Although continuously busy with work, the guys made sure to always fill it with laughter and joking, not to mention much needed teamwork. Although a bit crammed with equipment, racquets, reels, and 3 of us in their most of the time (not including players), we all made the best of it and got along great. The players also seemed to enjoy coming in and were quite inquisitive about the stringing or customization process. They tended to depend on us to get feedback on tension, and advice as to how to string their frames for night vs day conditions.
    As for players and their set-ups/tensions, one thing I quickly learned is that most of the guys do not have a “set” tension. In other words, they go up or down depending on the weather conditions, courts, how well/badly their practice or match went, or simply their mood. For example, Cash changed his tension about three times in a span of about two hours just to go practice. He’d come in, get his frame, leave for about thirty minutes to practice, and come back and request the tension to be changed. Flipper requested his racquets to be strung at different tensions to go practice and would then come back and and pick a tension for his match racquets. Igor Andreev would request two racquets at the same tension and a third slightly different (higher or lower). This was the prevailing theme amongst most of the players. Delpotro was one who never changed throughout the entirety of the tournament. The lowest tension for the tournament was in the high 20 lb range, and highest was in the low 70’s. Total number of racquets strung for the tournament was approximately 500, not counting all the customization completed, which was done solely by Craig Brotman. All frames were stenciled and bagged, unless specifically requested to not be by the players. Also, many players specifically request their frames to be strung two piece. As for tensions, American players tended to string higher than the europeans and south americans.
    I will say that although the experience of stringing at this tournament, I won’t soon forget, it is not for everyone. One has to be ready to be on their feet for well over 15 consecutive hours at times with little to no breaks. String up to and over 30 frames a day (mostly full poly in 18X 20 frames), and be a team player. Additionally, one has to have great people skills to not only deal with the players, but their coaches, managers, wives/girlfriends, and be ready to meet the challenge of dealing with crazy turns, unexpected challenges, and be quick to problem solve. A great sense of humor and leaving the ego at the door also goes a long way.
    So, with that, I share with you some more photos/videos of stuff I’m sure everyone wants to see, rather than continuing reading my ramblings. Hope you enjoy the thread. I’m out!
     
    #1
  2. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    A bunch of racquets strung at night for the following days practice session:

    [​IMG]

    Flipper and the String Thing demonstration:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCmmMMC1GQQ

    [​IMG]

    Sam Querrey' frame:

    [​IMG]

    Donald Young's frame:

    [​IMG]
     
    #2
  3. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Ken stringing Isner's frames (notice all the tubing that had to be completed on all his frames)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Blake's frames:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #3
  4. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Craig and Harrison:

    [​IMG]

    Harrison's prototype Babolat Frames (notice all the grommets)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #4
  5. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    #5
  6. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Delpotro:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Igor Andreev:

    [​IMG]
     
    #6
  7. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tipsarivec:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Mats Wilander:

    [​IMG]
     
    #7
  8. gino

    gino Hall of Fame

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    Incredible thread, Drak...

    What's up with the Harrison BAB prototype?

    Is that similar to the PSL spec? Weird lookin' grommets also.

    All the best,

    Gino
     
    #8
  9. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Gino, being that it is a prototype/playtest frame, there was no grommet strip developed to fit on it, so each grommet had to be individually fitted when strung.

    Here is a photo of the frame after being strung:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #9
  10. Austinthecity

    Austinthecity Rookie

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    What does the tubing around the o-ports do? (as seen on Isner's frame)

    What is tubing generally used for?
     
    #10
  11. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Tubing is generally used today to replace broken grommets. This keeps the string from rubbing on sharp edges. In Isner's case, the tubing is used because O-port frames tend to have some less than rounded edges, and as a result, snap strings. If you recall, last year, Isner was having a lot of problems with his strings continuously snapping. The easy fix was to tube his frame, but is is a major pain in the rear. ken did a great job with his frames.
     
    #11
  12. zidane339

    zidane339 Hall of Fame

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    Looks like Blake is back to his old Hotmelt 300g (correct me if I got that numbers wrong)? Wow, he must have some still lying around, those are old!

    Again, can't thank you enough Drak! Please post more stuff like this in the future if you have the chance to do it again.
     
    #12
  13. superjd

    superjd New User

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    nice pics
    del po is a giant... :shock:
     
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  14. BobFL

    BobFL Hall of Fame

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    Great thread! 5 stars from me and PLEASE repeat after me:
    Tip-sa-re-vic ;)
     
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  15. Tennis100

    Tennis100 Rookie

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    this is a sweet thread!
     
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  16. gino

    gino Hall of Fame

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    That looks remarkably similar to a K Six-One at the top of the throat with the PWS of course. Interesting frame, thanks for the pics Drak.

    Gino
     
    #16
  17. Squidward

    Squidward Rookie

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    Thanks for all the info, Much Apprciated!!
     
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  18. your name

    your name Rookie

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    Thanks Drakulie, glad to have someone like you on the forum!

    Do you have any information on Berdych, Verdasco, Hewitt, Djokovic, Murray or Monfils?
     
    #18
  19. formula16

    formula16 Rookie

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    DelPos racquet is 317g??

    thats pretty light!
     
    #19
  20. andtapes

    andtapes Rookie

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    It is the swingweight of the racquet.

    By the way what is the weigth for DelProto's racquet?

    Thank you for sharing this with us.
     
    #20
  21. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    Look at Tipsarevic sucking in his gut (Not that he needs to).
     
    #21
  22. laboule

    laboule Rookie

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    Great thread Drakulie. Thanks for sharing.

    Harrison's prototype fram does not look like a PS Ltd at all... Maybe a softer PS Tour?
     
    #22
  23. sixone90

    sixone90 Professional

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    The Babolat prototype looks a little like a Yonex head shape to me. Or maybe it's just me?
     
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  24. junk

    junk Rookie

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    Drak, awesome thread! Many thanks for sharing the info, pictures, experiences... True "inside" view!
     
    #24
  25. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Can you share the tips that you learned from the other stringers? This thread is even cooler than I anticipated. Thanks for taking the time to do the detailed write-up.
     
    #25
  26. pingu

    pingu Semi-Pro

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    This is great! Another THANKS to Drakulie!
     
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  27. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Let me add my kudos as well. A great thread and I'm sure (albeit tiring) a great experience!
     
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  28. beernutz

    beernutz Hall of Fame

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    Nice thread Drak, it was almost like being there.
     
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  29. jmverdugo

    jmverdugo Hall of Fame

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    Hey Drakulie! nice thread!, why did they choose Prince for the stringing machines? Better Price? What are the plans for those machines? - sorry if these questions are to bussiness oriented!
     
    #29
  30. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Unfortunately, none of those players attended this event, so I don't know. Sorry. :(

    Delpotro's frame unstrung is approx 355 grams.

    [​IMG]
     
    #30
  31. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Definitely a Babolat shape. Looks like the new storm mold.

    Hey Mikeler, glad you enjoy the thread. One tip I got was how to make the string bed tighter/looser when stringing.

    hard to explain, but I'll try........

    When I string a frame, I always start my first cross by going under the first main I encounter. This typically results in most of my pulls going "over" the main I'm pulling the cross string. As a result, there is more friction, and a looser string bed. By changing my technique where most of my pulls on cross strings are under the main, one gets less frcition, and tighter string bed. I tried it out at home and was consistently getting a variation of one to two points higher or lower reading on a DT depending on how I started the crosses.

    JM, Craig use to head up the Prince String Team, and they would exclusively string for anyone sponsored by Prince at all the tourneys. The machine developed and used was the Prince 4000. There are only 4 in existence, and Craig owns all 4.

    Although the machines looks beat up, they still do their job, and are fantastic to string on. The center clamps are awesome, as they get right up against the frame no matter what string you are working on. The base clamps and rails are like those of the babolat star 3 and 4's, and the towers are similar to those of the prince 5000. Very easy to string on, and are definitely built for speed.
     
    #31
  32. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Here are some photos of the Tipsy frame. He left one behind (had a small crack), so I put it on the tuning center at the pro shop.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    #32
  33. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Very interesting stuff. Since I only string for myself, I'll keep going under the first main but that is surprising that it makes a difference in the final tension.
     
    #33
  34. mad dog1

    mad dog1 Hall of Fame

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    interesting...never thought this would affect the DT. since the first and last cross at the head and throat of the racquet have 2 less mains to cross, i guess these pulls go "under" while the rest of the "over". is this correct?
     
    #34
  35. dgdawg

    dgdawg Professional

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    Nice thread, drake.
    Now, the perk would be if a stringer could make money doing this!!:shock:
    String on, homie!!
     
    #35
  36. FloridaAG

    FloridaAG Professional

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    Nice report Drak.
     
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  37. Buckethead

    Buckethead Banned

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    Drak, amazing thread.
    Congrats.
    I am sorry you and the others have to go through all of that to string Isner, Harrison and some others' frames.
    Do you guys extra charge for the extra job??
    How long does it take to string Isner and Harrison's frame?
    thanks.
     
    #37
  38. TenniseaWilliams

    TenniseaWilliams Professional

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    Great thread drak! Love all the pictures ...
     
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  39. Jerry Seinfeld

    Jerry Seinfeld Professional

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    Interesting. A variance of 1 or 2 DT points can actually equate to somewhere in the neighborhood of 3 - 6 pounds. I strongly suspect there is something going on other than how the weaves were started.
     
    #39
  40. Steve Huff

    Steve Huff Legend

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    Drak, let me say, rarely does anything on these threads impress me any more. This thread did. Very nice.

    I noticed the tubing on Isner's frames also. I do that for some of my customers that use natural gut in their OPorts. It does seem to extend its life.

    Again, very nice pics. Did you ever get any sleep?
     
    #40
  41. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    +1
    This board would be so boring without Drakulie's contributions.
     
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  42. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    Good Stuff, Drak! Keep up the great work. ;)
     
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  43. aimr75

    aimr75 Hall of Fame

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    Interesting, i always do as you did, start the cross under the first main which ends up over the last main.. will try it the other way

    What did you think of that box pattern variation that you had to do? Any chance to do a youtube clip of how you string it?

    great thread btw, thanks for posting :)
     
    #43
  44. mdqm

    mdqm Rookie

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    great job Drakulie,many thanks for sharing.
     
    #44
  45. MAX PLY

    MAX PLY Hall of Fame

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    I will add my thanks for the pics and the info. I know you had a good time--hope your fingers are sufficiently recovering.
     
    #45
  46. Chace

    Chace Semi-Pro

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    Great stuff Drak. That had to be an awesome experience. Thanks for taking the time to post.
     
    #46
  47. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    If I'm understanding your description correctly, then Yes, you are correct.

    I never thought this would make a difference but it does show a different reading on the ERT. Will have to test it soon to see if I feel a difference.

    I'm making OK money, but more importantly, I'm happier than I was at my previous job. I am thinking to give it a year, and see how it goes, and then make a decision from there.

    Hey, now that I have some extra time, we have to hit. I will give you a call for next week.

    Bucket, the fee is the same to string all the frames. Took about 15 minutes to complete those frames.

    Glad you enjoyed the thread.

    Thanks Steve. Nice to know the thread is being appreciated.

    As for Isner's frames, it seems many stringers (such as yourself) have figured out that tubing has to be done on these type of frames because of early breakage. Especially as you put it, with natural gut.

    As for sleep, I was getting it after the Delray, which is why it took me so long to start the thread.


    Thanks guys!

    aim, email me privately. drakulie@aol.com

    Magic Man!!! Soon, you have to join me on these adventures. You still have to come over and check out the Baiardo.

    Max, the fingers were really not an issue. My feet were another issue. The shoes I was wearing had the cushioning pop, so they were throbbing on about the fourth or fifth day.

    You're welcome.
     
    #47
  48. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    Ryan Harrison's racket gave me an idea on how to save an old racket I have that needs new grommets.
     
    #48
  49. mctennis

    mctennis Hall of Fame

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    Great thread Drakulie. Nice behind the scenes look.
     
    #49
  50. lwto

    lwto Professional

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    Well Done! Some very interesting stuff Mr Drak. thanks.

    Interestingly they charge less for lux to the pros then our local stringers charge for a set of syn gut.
     
    #50

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