Interview with Tim Strawn


Hall of Fame
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 couldn’t even tell you. Some guys will say they’ve strung 10000 racquets, and I don’t 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 can’t give you a number, but it’s 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 “true tension mension” 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?
I’m a firm believer that when you own a business that it’s 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. I’m 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 year’s us open. I’m going to Madrid for the women’s tournament. Both kids are grown, and wife doesn’t 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, you’re a part of a team. The team leader supplies everything, strings, etc. I’m not leading the Memphis team. I work with friend from Birmingham, and asked me if I wanted to help. It’s 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 you’re not rushed for a timeframe because they’re 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?
It’s probably about the only stress. Everyone’s in one room and one’s on the stringing machine and there’s 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, “hey why don’t you take the sights in” 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 didn’t see one whole match. I’ve 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 that’s your mindset. That’s probably the biggest plus to see. I’ve 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 **** worked with us. He strung for agassi. In 2002, we strung for federer. I didn’t 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 I’ve had opp. To work for. For ppl not too familiar, I’ve 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 you’re not changing it up. If you have a pro, and says “string all of these at 25” he’s going to want to hear 25 kg from each racquet. Be consistent, that’s the most thing. Not just for pros, but for everyone. It’s a little more important at the pros, as they’re picky and demanding.


Hall of Fame
15. What advances in your field excite or have excited you the most?
Luxilon definitely doesn’t excite me. It’s just another one that the pros like. Gradually tears up your arms and wrists and elbows. We are seeing a move from all-polyester to a gut hybrid. Gut’s making a comeback. I love stringing with gut. I’d rather see a racquet with a set of gut tied.

16. How much longer do you see yourself stringing for?
I’d just say a few years. Content to do what I do. I’m one of 12 people on a Wilson global stringing team. Working on Miami, vegas, both masters, us open. Being on that team still gives me availability to do high profile events. Will continue to work with them. Haven’t sat back and said “oh I’m going to do 5 more tournaments and then I'm done."

17. If you retire from professional stringing, could you ever move away from tennis?
Always will have ties with industries. Kind of hard to be so intertwined and leave it all. I love watching it on television.

18. Speaking of tennis, do you play any? If so, ever gotten to hit with some of your pro clients?
Yes, I do. I got to hit at a clinic with one of the Jensen brothers. I had to use one of their racquets with a handle that was just way too big. If you’ve ever played on grass before, you don’t want to have a racquet you can’t handle.
19. Are there other people who would be willing to be interviewed that you know?
Look on the boards,would be glad to talk to you. Check links on the website on the navbar. “Our expert panel” Look on there, see there’s me, call Bob Patterson and he’s signed on as “rebob” and mouse over his name on a post to send a pm or direct email. I’d talk to bob.
20. Is there anything that I have neglected to ask that you would like to add or say?
It really is worth mentioning that in 2003 I believe, I worked at wimby. One of the other things that I was in charge of was for the LTA and they won local tournament. Tour stringing room, while a stringer guides them around. In 03, I was approached by head of team and asked if I would do a favor. Young man from starlight foundation, equivalent of make a wish. Young 14 old boy with cancer. Asked me if I’d do a one on one tour. To make long story short, gentleman got me a poster of players who signed it. Asked if he had another, get players to sign. She was 100% behind it, typically we’re told to not just approach them. Got my permission to approach. Took it out to hang it off the door of the cabin. Went to the players. Agassi, davenport. Gave it to her, boy and family. I gave the poster to him, he opened it up, and with a fine point sharpie, labeled people. He was overwhelmed, she welled up, extremely emotional. Tough for me to hold back. After that ended, find place to myself. I was pretty emotional about it. Think about how important it was, to be at wimbledon, and more than likely have chance to come back. He probably passed away. Never followed up, never had a chance to see how he is doing. Single most important experience to me, and most emotional time. Life-changing experience.

Thank you very much for your time, I am grateful for how quickly you responded and were ready to help me.

I can't really describe too well how much this interview helped me and what a joy it was to talk to someone who's done this job at the highest level. For someone who has probably done a ton of interviews just like mine to take time out of his schedule and help out some person he's never even met before...I really just don't know what to say. It meant a lot to me and I can't thank him enough!


The GSS site is absolute top-notch. Tim Strawn has put together an excellent resource for racquet stringers and the contributors to the GSS boards are very knowledgable. I visit the GSS site often to read the excellent posts. In addition the products sold at GSS are very good quality and anyone who regularly stings racquets should review their product line.


Good stuff dude.

But you coulda just bought a tape recorder. Or if you were on your laptop anyway, a mic.


Hall of Fame
Well that name is a blast from the past. I remember taking tennis lessons from Tim as a kid in VA. I know i was 9 or under so it was probably late 80s possibly early 90s. Of course that’s 30 years ago, but I remember what a great guy Tim was and how much fun he made tennis.