Work up the ladder to become professional stringer.

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#1
I’ve often thought that my dream job would be working as a professional stringer for pro players. Actually, it would be being a pro player, but that’s too far fetched to even really fantasize about.

I saw this web page and it got me thinking about the actual path to stringing at major events. https://www.tecnifibre.com/tecnimag/backstages-tournaments/citi-open-heroes-tennis-strings

It seems very similar to a player’s path, where you would start at low level pro events and then work up.

Have you or anyone you know taken a step toward this?
 
#2
Some small factors that worked for us as a brand was to market yourself.
Being passionate and enjoy what you're doing are the keys.

Just because you work yourself up from the
Bottom doesn't mean it will be an easy road.

Location is a huge factor... being around areas that has a bigger tennis community does help.

Having tournaments locally will also boost your chances.

NETWORKING-
I knew in many situations that top $$$ retailer will get their stringer(s) in as a thank you for business by the sponsors.

A bit of luck? Some times an opportunity pops up and it leads you to bigger things.

You might have to eat crap and do events that for some doesn't matter, however you did the hard work so that will pay off at the end.

Stringing at major event is cut throat... only a few spots that no one wants to give up and why would they...
On top of the Tennis Politics you have to worry about.

I find it a Big Boys Club that only certain selections are pass through for events.

A word of advice...
Market yourself, sometime the most qualified person might not be the best option for the event... what are your advantages vs other stringers?
 
#4
I used to think I wanted to string tournaments all the time also, until I started doing more. I like working by myself, so not sure I would enjoy a room full of stringers. As above you have to market yourself, and and be willing to string anytime. It is nice watching tournaments on TV and getting to see players you have gotten to know and string for over the years. I would think getting into bigger tournaments is a lot of who you know.
 
#5
I'm with Herb on this.

The easiest stringing I have ever done was tournaments. The players know what they want, there's no lengthy conversations about what type string blah, blah, blah. They leave their racquets and string at the desk. Someone writes up a ticket, cuts the string out for you. You become a stringing robot of sorts and the stringing day runs into the night. The hard part is the hours and getting the gig in the first place. The being driven crazy by the customers is largely absent and handled by the desk when it arises.
 
#6
I got lucky. I had an ad out on Craigslist and the stringing director for the Bank of West Classic saw it. Called me, had me come in for skills interview, and then showed me the process and pattern they use for all players.
In my short 34 years of life, I've come to realize that most opportunities in life are not via hard work. Racquet "stringing" isn't exactly a social industry, so who would have ever known I strung if I didn't connect through a free ad?
 
#7
I got lucky. I had an ad out on Craigslist and the stringing director for the Bank of West Classic saw it. Called me, had me come in for skills interview, and then showed me the process and pattern they use for all players.
In my short 34 years of life, I've come to realize that most opportunities in life are not via hard work. Racquet "stringing" isn't exactly a social industry, so who would have ever known I strung if I didn't connect through a free ad?
I did mention luck was a factor for us, however like yourself... we put out name out the CL, Facebook, IG etc... I was found by a google search and I asked them how they found me and they said they were just searching around as the last stringer couldnt do it because of last min requests.
Grab your moment
 
#8
It's all in who you know, not what you know. It's also a good bit of luck. Most of the professional teams (Wilson, babolat/apollo) will teach you how they want it done so your actual skills don't really matter. You need to know someone who trusts your skills enough to get you in the door. With out a connection and a volume based background it's hard to get in. Just because you get invited once, and do your job well, doesn't mean you get invited back. I went to Citi, did all that was asked of me and many things that weren't and didn't get invited back. They used the 5th spot as a favor to another guy the next year. That's just the way it goes. If you have any challengers or smaller USTA pro tour events locally I would reach out to them about stringing them. Worst they can do is say no. I strung the first day of an 80k because the stringer for the rest of the week had a conflict on the first day. I also strung the girls 18s clay court nationals at the same facility based on my work in the one day from the 80k. I'll continue to get the call for those tournaments going forward because of previous performance and location. The facility is only two hours from my house. Right now their schedule has a 25k, an 80k, and clay court nationals.
 
#9
Stringing at major tournaments is a full time gig for a couple of weeks at a time, a few times a year. This does not seem to be enough to earn for a living. One still has to have a primary job, it seems. However, extended trips to tournaments probably can not be combined with a primary full time job, one would not have so many vacation days. How does that work? Do stringers have the ability to take a few weeks off their primary job every few months to go to a tournament?
 
#10
Stringing at major tournaments is a full time gig for a couple of weeks at a time, a few times a year. This does not seem to be enough to earn for a living. One still has to have a primary job, it seems. However, extended trips to tournaments probably can not be combined with a primary full time job, one would not have so many vacation days. How does that work? Do stringers have the ability to take a few weeks off their primary job every few months to go to a tournament?
Most of those guys are either A) retired or B) string full-time anyway. By string full-time I mean that they either work for or own a shop that they work at full-time. For many this means that they tell the guys that work with them or that they work for that they will be out during periods of time of the tourney. For guys stringing slams most shops are accommodative. It becomes an advertising piece to say that one of your stringers has done a slam or other major tournament.
 
#11
I would make sure that's what you want to do. There's a guy locally here that's strung pro for 20+ years including at some majors and Masters tournaments regularly. He had his own biz and couldn't make it work, now he strings at a chain sporting goods store. The stories he's told me about how much you make stringing at pro tournaments makes it sound like you'd be better off getting a low level office job for 45k a year.

Some major tournaments don't cover your travel expenses so after airfare, hotel, food you're barely making any money over a 2 week tournament. If your player(s) make it to the SF/Final you're sitting around only making a few bucks stringing their 5-10 racquets each day. He said it's more for the resume cred and stories, the pay sucks and the work is hard sometimes waking up at 3-4 AM to string racquets that pros insist on having at practice at 7 AM (that can't be strung the night before).
 
#12
Yes for many Pro Stringers, they makes their income from personal business or side jobs. Stringing full time only would be difficult for many.

We live in high income area so I can imagine mortgage payment from just stringing alone in the D.C area. HOWEVER, I have a part time to pay for every other expenses in life. I couldn't imagine another paying gig for me right now that could beat stringing at the moment. I get to meet new people and recently now typing this comment in Tokyo and one my way to teach a class in Bangkok... I owe everything to tennis and stringing.

Believe or not many smaller tournaments are ran horribly when it comes to stringing. The fact that many are last minute and many stringer cancel on the event and now the tournament people are stuck to find a stringer... Mostly, you dont get much at smaller tournaments but that face time and the fact that you can do things last minute goes a long way.
 
#13
It's who you know. Getting connected to the right people. Also, stringing is a bit, for lack of a better word, incestual. A lot of the stringers are related or close friends. They don't like strangers. So you have to really work the relationship.
I got lucky and happened to do some outreach for a few smaller events and landed a couple. Then it grows from there.

Like smitty said, it's not really sustainable to only string. I have a full time corporate job as well as an hour long commute (each way), plus a family, and a couple of other side projects; but at the end of the money day, stringing is my passion and I want to be the best. So I keep at it.
 
#14
cluckcluck, well said! Could you please comment if stringing at tournament is just validation of your skills, kind of a bullet item on a resume, way to prove to yourself that you can do it, or is there a learning component as well? If so, then what did you learn, how did you improve your skills, grew as a stringer through that experience?
 
#15
Here's an outline of my journey

1st tournament - Wimbledon 2004. Bow Brand who found out that I was an MRT asked me to string there. Been there ever since, now Head Stringer since 2014. At the time I was working a regular office job.
2nd tournament - Eastbourne 2009. Wasn't asked back(?); but then asked to work Birmingham, UK; however couldn't due to my regular job.
3rd tournament, and onwards - made redundant and in 2011 become part of Babolat UK Stringing team covering futures, ATP/WTA tournaments in UK; plus started working at Roland Garros.

Currently I work only as a stringer, but have several strings to my job (pun intended). Most of my income comes from tournament stringing. I cover tournaments from regional to futures to ATP/WTA to Grand Slams. Last year I worked at 3 regional, 4 futures, 3 ATP/WTA & Wimbledon in the UK; 2 Masters and 1 GS outside of UK. I now have a small pro shop at a club, I'm the UK manager for ERSA and run stringing courses.

People ask how to become a tournament stringer, or how to get on the ladder. Firstly, you need to be good and willing to learn more. You need to be known to the stringing world. Start working front desk, getting used to the tournament scene. Reputation is also important. Don't p!ss people off, otherwise you wont be back.

When I first did Wimbledon, I thought I was good; and I was for regular customers. But for Pro's its a different story. It becomes another learning ground. Shop stringers can be awestruck when going into this atmosphere. You need to prove yourself.

But, I think WImbledon isn't that hard as stringers only string. If I do a futures on my own, I'm doing everything; cutting strings, stencils, taking in, chasing money, and stringing. Thats harder if you've not done it before. I learnt a lot from Wimbledon that helped.

Another Q people as me is "how do I get to string at Wimbledon?" Truth is, its hard, and it only comes once a year. It's a bit dead man's shoes in that you need to wait until someone leaves before a spot can open up. We try and keep the team as stable as possible. It helps in those times of high stress; and we know how people work. But as players are getting more and more rqts strung, we need more stringers; so an expanding team opens up a couple more spots.

Regards

Paul
 
#16
Here's an outline of my journey

1st tournament - Wimbledon 2004. Bow Brand who found out that I was an MRT asked me to string there. Been there ever since, now Head Stringer since 2014. At the time I was working a regular office job.
2nd tournament - Eastbourne 2009. Wasn't asked back(?); but then asked to work Birmingham, UK; however couldn't due to my regular job.
3rd tournament, and onwards - made redundant and in 2011 become part of Babolat UK Stringing team covering futures, ATP/WTA tournaments in UK; plus started working at Roland Garros.

Currently I work only as a stringer, but have several strings to my job (pun intended). Most of my income comes from tournament stringing. I cover tournaments from regional to futures to ATP/WTA to Grand Slams. Last year I worked at 3 regional, 4 futures, 3 ATP/WTA & Wimbledon in the UK; 2 Masters and 1 GS outside of UK. I now have a small pro shop at a club, I'm the UK manager for ERSA and run stringing courses.

People ask how to become a tournament stringer, or how to get on the ladder. Firstly, you need to be good and willing to learn more. You need to be known to the stringing world. Start working front desk, getting used to the tournament scene. Reputation is also important. Don't p!ss people off, otherwise you wont be back.

When I first did Wimbledon, I thought I was good; and I was for regular customers. But for Pro's its a different story. It becomes another learning ground. Shop stringers can be awestruck when going into this atmosphere. You need to prove yourself.

But, I think WImbledon isn't that hard as stringers only string. If I do a futures on my own, I'm doing everything; cutting strings, stencils, taking in, chasing money, and stringing. Thats harder if you've not done it before. I learnt a lot from Wimbledon that helped.

Another Q people as me is "how do I get to string at Wimbledon?" Truth is, its hard, and it only comes once a year. It's a bit dead man's shoes in that you need to wait until someone leaves before a spot can open up. We try and keep the team as stable as possible. It helps in those times of high stress; and we know how people work. But as players are getting more and more rqts strung, we need more stringers; so an expanding team opens up a couple more spots.

Regards

Paul
Thanks for the interesting insight(y)

If i may ask, is it still a dream job for you?
And also, when you work at smaller tournaments, do you travel with your own stringing machine
or do you just accept what is there at the tournament?
 
#17
^^^^

Haha, I wouldn't call it a dream job, but if you can make a job out of a hobby (or interest) you'll never have to work a day. I'm lucky its fallen that way. I enjoy going to various tournaments as I meet up with friends I've made over the years; and some I see only once a year. That's a real bonus, working with your peers. Plus it's good to work for some of the best players in the world, and become friends even only on a professional level, with them too.

As for smaller tournaments, I take my own machine. The tournaments I dont take a machine are the GS & Masters. Anything other than Wimbledonin the UK, I use my own machine.
 
#18
^^^^

Haha, I wouldn't call it a dream job, but if you can make a job out of a hobby (or interest) you'll never have to work a day. I'm lucky its fallen that way. I enjoy going to various tournaments as I meet up with friends I've made over the years; and some I see only once a year. That's a real bonus, working with your peers. Plus it's good to work for some of the best players in the world, and become friends even only on a professional level, with them too.

As for smaller tournaments, I take my own machine. The tournaments I dont take a machine are the GS & Masters. Anything other than Wimbledonin the UK, I use my own machine.
as a professional coach i´m in the same situation. i made a job out of a hobby. as a rule, i feel lucky that it worked out that way.

may i ask what kind of a machine you use? i often wonder how much money i need to spend on a machine to guarantee a consistent string job.
we are organizing a few local tournaments and i would like to offer stringing at our club.
 
#19
^^^^

I have a Star 5 for on the road, and a Sensor at the pro shop, but that will change another Star 5.

Look at the best machine you can afford, then buy the next one up. If you're offering a service, a good machine will make the job easier and look more impressive. Machines will last at least 10yrs, so think of a 5k machine costing 500 a year. Add an extra $ or 2 on top of your current prices to help offset the initial cost. Need to sell the machine in years to come, then youll make a good chunk back.
 
#20
Skippy, my stringing career was pretty much Futures, and working alone. It is interesting how much you have to do all on your own. We should get paid extras for that, but...
 

HunterST

Hall of Fame
#21
Here's an outline of my journey

1st tournament - Wimbledon 2004. Bow Brand who found out that I was an MRT asked me to string there. Been there ever since, now Head Stringer since 2014. At the time I was working a regular office job.
2nd tournament - Eastbourne 2009. Wasn't asked back(?); but then asked to work Birmingham, UK; however couldn't due to my regular job.
3rd tournament, and onwards - made redundant and in 2011 become part of Babolat UK Stringing team covering futures, ATP/WTA tournaments in UK; plus started working at Roland Garros.

Currently I work only as a stringer, but have several strings to my job (pun intended). Most of my income comes from tournament stringing. I cover tournaments from regional to futures to ATP/WTA to Grand Slams. Last year I worked at 3 regional, 4 futures, 3 ATP/WTA & Wimbledon in the UK; 2 Masters and 1 GS outside of UK. I now have a small pro shop at a club, I'm the UK manager for ERSA and run stringing courses.

People ask how to become a tournament stringer, or how to get on the ladder. Firstly, you need to be good and willing to learn more. You need to be known to the stringing world. Start working front desk, getting used to the tournament scene. Reputation is also important. Don't p!ss people off, otherwise you wont be back.

When I first did Wimbledon, I thought I was good; and I was for regular customers. But for Pro's its a different story. It becomes another learning ground. Shop stringers can be awestruck when going into this atmosphere. You need to prove yourself.

But, I think WImbledon isn't that hard as stringers only string. If I do a futures on my own, I'm doing everything; cutting strings, stencils, taking in, chasing money, and stringing. Thats harder if you've not done it before. I learnt a lot from Wimbledon that helped.

Another Q people as me is "how do I get to string at Wimbledon?" Truth is, its hard, and it only comes once a year. It's a bit dead man's shoes in that you need to wait until someone leaves before a spot can open up. We try and keep the team as stable as possible. It helps in those times of high stress; and we know how people work. But as players are getting more and more rqts strung, we need more stringers; so an expanding team opens up a couple more spots.

Regards

Paul
Wow, awesome to hear from someone who actually made stringing a career! It sounds like the very first step would maybe be getting MRT certification?
 
#22
^^^^

Assuming you're in the USA, an MRT is a start; but it won't prepare you for tournament work. I found that out. Tournament work is a different kettle of fish, and the only way to learn that is by getting tournament experience. So try and see if you can work, or at least visit a tournament to see what it entails. It doesn't matter how hard someone can tell you that it is, you need to realise it first hand.

Good luck
 
#23
^^^^

Assuming you're in the USA, an MRT is a start; but it won't prepare you for tournament work. I found that out. Tournament work is a different kettle of fish, and the only way to learn that is by getting tournament experience. So try and see if you can work, or at least visit a tournament to see what it entails. It doesn't matter how hard someone can tell you that it is, you need to realise it first hand.

Good luck
Incredible accuracy. If you want to prepare for a tournament, find an 18x20, find the string you hate the most, string that frame 25-40 times a day, sleep 4-6 hours, and do it again for the next week. Tournaments are a grind but reflecting on all you got accomplished in the time period is what makes it worth it.
 
#24
I've met Jay when TCU was in Winston-Salem for NCAAs in the spring - great guy and sociable, took some time to sit and chat with me since I mentioned wanting to work up the ladder as a racquet tech for pros. I also speak to Dustin once in a blue moon - he's a legend here in DFW.

I think it's a combination of luck/opportunity/connection/skill to get to string for events. I know there's a few stringers in DFW that have most of the large events covered - I'm lucky to get the first opportunity to string for colleges and pros in Fort Worth.

I took over as the tournament director for the Fort Worth women's 25k a couple years ago, so I don't string during that anymore; I have a few friends I've taught a lot myself take over since then. Still want to string professionally on a regular basis, but I've had incredible tennis-related opportunities show up that help supplement stringing for TCU and on the side; maybe in a few years I can still live the dream during summer and winter break!
 
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