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.