Talk Tennis Guru
Join Date: May 2004
Location: FT. Lauderdale, Florida
Professional Stringing Room; A Behind the Scenes look of the Delray Beach ATP 250
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.
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)
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.
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:
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:
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!
Roger Federer Pro Staff 97 Play test video