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Old 07-21-2007, 07:40 PM   #1
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Smile Interview with Tim Strawn

Well, after reading another topic I thought I would post the interview that I conducted with Mr. Strawn. A little bit of backstory first:

As part of a requirement for the school year I just completed, we had to do something called an "I-Search." Basically we were to choose a topic that meant something to us and that would be of some benefit to us. I chose racquet stringing because I love tennis and had gotten into stringing around that time. I posted at the GSS boards and Mr. Strawn responded very quickly to my post and was willing to be interviewed.

The interview was a joy all around for me although it was hard to keep typing because all I wanted to do was listen to what he was saying. Doing this interview probably completed around 60-70% of my project in terms of fact gathering. Most of my peers made up their interviews, but I was fortunate enough to have a great primary source.

Now for my usual disclaimers before a long post :
1. There will be some parts where the grammar drops off because I was trying to type what he was saying.
2. I'm FAR from a good interviewer so I apologize for anything that you think was a stupid question. Part of it was lack of know-how//experience, and the other part was me wanting to know more about something I was in the dark on.

Here's the interview!
1. When did you string your first racquet?
1987, about an hour and a half

2. How many racquets do you believe you have strung?
I couldnít even tell you. Some guys will say theyíve strung 10000 racquets, and I donít even know how you measure that. If you keep accurate records from day one then maybe, but I strung for people off the record for so long. I really canít give you a number, but itís been a lot.

3. Was there someone who got you interested in stringing, or was it just a hobby?

I was a certified pro, and it was a local business that serviced racquets. I w anted to do something for students. I thought they needed better it was really more as far as the start, more for the students. More for them than for money or for anything else.

This would have been on an ektelon H and bought a ďtrue tension mensionĒ strung on it for around 13 years. Mounting systems were different, but true is better mounting.

I strung on the 13 for many more years. Solid metal plates that runs circumference around the plate of the machine, with holes and guide pins.

4. How did you move from stringing for yourself to tournaments?, and what single factor played the biggest role in that move?
Iím a firm believer that when you own a business that itís important to network. I attended tournaments and SGMA supershow, at GWCC for dealers only. Encompassed all sports, represented anybody. 100,000 dealers

Attended seminars and symposiums at the USRSA. Attended all of them. One presenter that I attended 2 or 3 times, he remembered me. In 2000 rca championships, last minute cancellation from friend.

5. Now that you string for tournaments, does it pressure your home life?
No, not really. Iím now retired, I used to work with verizon for 37 years. During my 7 weeks of vacation, I strung at wimbledon. I strung at wimbledon 2002, us open, and this yearís us open. Iím going to Madrid for the womenís tournament. Both kids are grown, and wife doesnít always enjoy travel. I did a lot on my own.

6. Is it possible to mix stringing for pros and another career? Why or why not?
Yeah. There are a lot of people who do that. VERY few make all of their own money. Slams want you there for the entire event, and most slams are 3 weeks. Qualifying as well.

7. Take us through a typical night before a tournament. How much preparation is there, and could you describe what goes on? For example, team inventory check, machine testing, string set cutting, any prestretching, etc. Not much goes on. When you travel, youíre a part of a team. The team leader supplies everything, strings, etc. Iím not leading the Memphis team. I work with friend from Birmingham, and asked me if I wanted to help. Itís a fun little tournament .

8. How important is it to find a groove and finish job after job?
Most tournaments allow you the opportunity to ease into it. Memphis starts either Thursday or Friday, and youíre not rushed for a timeframe because theyíre prestrung. Day before main draw is very busy, and once you get started you get into a groove of like 15 or 20 minutes. Time is not a luxury you have. Racquets pile up quickly. Certain players leave 2x or 3x as many for other players. You have to stay ahead of the game and do the racquets with perfection in mind.
9. Of all the stresses a tournament puts on a stringer, what is the most difficult?
Itís probably about the only stress. Everyoneís in one room and oneís on the stringing machine and thereís a whole box of racquets in front of you.

10. Other than being around the ATP/WTA, are there other perks involved with the job?
Depends on how you look at it, how you schedule. First year to wimby was first Europe year. Daughter flew over, and after wimby was paris. Perks would be a business trip, write expenses off for taxes, and you can see a lot of other places. Travel is involved. At wimbledon, it slows down a little and say, ďhey why donít you take the sights inĒ Lady in charge of wimby had me do radio interviews, take clients of theirs and get passes. My job to take them into press room at center court.

Us open had me there for two weeks, I didnít see one whole match. Iíve seen plenty of wimbledon tennis. Memphis, as it tapers, we get walkie-talkies when someone minds room and shop. We communicate allowing us to get out and move around.

11. What are the best and worst parts about being a stringer for professional players?
Best part is the people you meet and get to know. Make new friends, relationships always learn something if thatís your mindset. Thatís probably the biggest plus to see. Iíve enjoyed seeing the tennis

Biggest downside is probably long travel. 7-8 hour flights overseas are pretty tough. Never really had too many bad working experiences. Nothing ever made me want to quit.
12. Who is the most well-known person that you have strung a racquet for?
Roman of RPNY worked with us. He strung for agassi. In 2002, we strung for federer. I didnít string his racquets. We might have strung for him in 2003. Sharapova, roddick, federer, those guys are all for that firm. I strung for roddick, serena, such a long list. So many over the years that Iíve had opp. To work for. For ppl not too familiar, Iíve worked with both people.

13. Are there any jobs, such as a certain player's racquets, or a specific racquet//string combination?
A lot of Europeans uses all polyeyester using real small 90 heads. That stuff really tears the fingers.

14. What's the most important thing to remember when you are stringing a racquet for anyone?
Most important thing to remember or keep in mind, be consistent. Mounting, pulling, clamping, cutting, tieing knots. Consistency. So youíre not changing it up. If you have a pro, and says ďstring all of these at 25Ē heís going to want to hear 25 kg from each racquet. Be consistent, thatís the most thing. Not just for pros, but for everyone. Itís a little more important at the pros, as theyíre picky and demanding.
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