2017 ITF Pro Circuit Wake Forest Futures at Wake Forest University

The USA F19 Futures, the first of two back-to-back $25,000 ITF Pro Circuit Futures tournaments, is being held at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex this week. As with the previous two years, we are providing the stringing. And already some notable differences are emerging.

The stringing so far is down considerably. Last year we did 22 rackets on site Friday, in advance of the first round of qualifying, and held over 9 rackets to be strung Saturday morning ahead of play. So, 31 total rackets before the first round of qualifying. This year I did only 14 rackets Friday with none held over, and 3 rackets came in Saturday morning for matches. So, 17 total rackets.

2016 Day 2: I strung another 22 rackets. 2017 Day 2: 10 rackets.

So, through the first two days in 2016 our total was 53 rackets. Our two day total for 2017 is just 24 rackets.

In 2016, 15 of 52 players in the first round qualifying had rackets strung on site (29%). This year, a smaller number in a larger draw (13 of 64) had rackets strung for the first round (20%).

The success rates of those who had rackets strung this year is not what it was last year either. In 2016, 11 of the 15 guys who strung for the first round of qualifying won (73%). Only two players who had rackets strung for their matches lost to someone who did not have a racket strung on site.

In 2017, the record of the 13 players who had rackets strung on site for their first matches was 7 wins and 6 losses (54% success rate).

Of course, these are only two data points and even then they only tell part of the story. Players can have their rackets professionally strung at home or off-site, of course. But as someone who believes that stringing matters, I like to see what the data (even if incomplete) show.

One additional variable this year is an increase in our charge for stringing. For the first two years of the tournament, we charged $16 a racket, which I thought was more than fair for the quality of service we provided. Especially hearing players complain about the poor quality of stringing at other Futures events where they were being charged for $20 a racket. In respect of our own time and effort and the quality provided, we went to $20 this year. Once the main draw players arrive, we’ll see how elastic stringing prices are. I hope we didn’t shoot ourselves in the foot economically!

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2016 Big Time Tennis Year in Review

It’s hard to believe that 2016 was the 9th year in business for this hobby-gone-mad, and between racket stringing and customization our busiest year ever.

Thanks largely to our work for the Wake Forest men’s tennis team and professional tournament stringing, we crossed the 2,000 racket threshold for the second time and for the first time since 2013:

  • 2016: 2,095
  • 2015: 1,974
  • 2014: 1,759
  • 2013: 2,149
  • 2012: 1,467
  • 2011: 1,265
  • 2010: 1,171
  • 2009:   750
  • 2008:   251

All told, we’ve strung nearly 13,000 rackets since 2008, in our spare time, which is hard to fathom.

Highlights of the year begin and end with the Wake Forest men winning their first Atlantic Coast Conference championship. So much hard work by so many people went into that championship and we are so proud to have played a part.

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We also did the stringing again for the ITF Pro Circuit Futures of Winston-Salem, which was upgraded to a $25K event for 2016.

2016-ws-futures

And the ATP World Tour/WTA Tour Citi Open in Washington DC.

tecnifibre-citi-open-2016

Last, we always enjoy working as the part of the MOZI Tennis stringing team at our hometown ATP World Tour Winston-Salem Open. 2016 was special because we were given the responsibility of managing the stringing service.

wso-team-2016

We learned recently that the Winston-Salem Open was voted by ATP Tour players as 250 Tournament of the Year!

250-tournament-of-the-year

In my 2015 Year in Review, I concluded by saying it was hard to imagine 2016 being as great as 2015, but I do believe we were able to exceed our own expectations. I won’t make any predictions or promises for 2017, but just say CHEERS! to a great year.

cheers

2015 Year in Review – Big Time Tennis

Our 8th year in business, 2015 was another great year for Big Time Tennis, many thanks to our individual customers, the Wake Forest University men’s and club tennis teams, and opportunities to string at some big tournaments.

Stringer of the Year Plaque

The year started in a very special way, with David being named Tennis Industry Magazine’s “Stringer of the Year” for 2014. To make it even more special, Wake Forest tennis alum David Hopkins accepted the award on David’s behalf.

Hopkins Accepts SOY Plaque

Although we did not match our record number of rackets (reached in 2013), we nearly crossed the 2,000 threshold thanks to steady work form the Wake Forest men’s team (almost 900 rackets) and the opportunity to string some new tournaments:

  • 2015: 1,974
  • 2014: 1,759
  • 2013: 2,149
  • 2012: 1,467
  • 2011: 1,265
  • 2010: 1,171
  • 2009:   750
  • 2008:   251

The Wake Forest men had an outstanding year, and I (David) was excited to be a part of it, including spending nearly two rainy weeks in Waco, Texas at Baylor University working on the MOZI Tennis stringing team.

Mozi Tennis

It was fun to work the tournament on site because I could also see Wake Forest play in the Sweet Sixteen (losing to TCU, alas) and Noah Rubin make his run to the men’s singles final.

WF Team at Baylor Stadium

Selfie delivering rackets to the NCAA men's singles finalist

Selfie delivering rackets to the NCAA men’s singles finalist

Almost immediately after getting home from Waco, the ITF Pro Circuit Futures of Winston-Salem began. I had never strung a Pro Circuit event, and I found it very fascinating, posting a number of blogs about it. Of course we treat all players equally in the stringing room, but with only one customer playing in the final, I was able to support Matija Pecotic, who brought home the championship trophy.

Pecotic

Thanks again to MOZI Tennis, I had the chance to string at the ATP World Tour/WTA Tour CitiOpen in Washington, DC. A highlight was having the chance to string one more racket for the Australian stalwart player and Grand Slam Champion Lleyton Hewitt.

Hewitt Racket

The Yamane family made a big contribution to the MOZI Tennis stringing team at our home town Winston-Salem Open. We even got to meet “The Magician,” Fabrice Santoro who was there coaching. Tournament stringing can be exhausting and stressful, but it is made much easier when you have a great boss, Dustin Tankersley, and get to work with your loved ones.

WSO 201520150820_112351

A final highlight of the year was having the opportunity to string rackets for all of the members of the Mount Tabor High School Girls Tennis Team. I am thankful that their coach, Taylor McDaniel, appreciates the importance of strings to performance. It is the only part of the racket that is supposed to touch the ball after all!

Mount Tabor Rackets

It’s hard to imagine 2016 being as great as 2015, but we are hoping to have the opportunity to exceed our own expectations.

You Get What You Pay For: Tennis Warehouse Edition

I recently re-strung a racket for a client who bought the racket from Tennis Warehouse. As most avid tennis players know, if you buy a racket from TW and buy string for it, they will install the string for free.

For example, you can get Luxilon 4G installed by TW for $17.95. A player who bought the 4G from TW and brought it and the racket to me would pay an additional $15.

Of course, as is often the case in life, you get what you pay for. I was surprised to see terribly tied knots on the free string job from TW pictured below. I was under the impression that many (most?) of the stringers at TW were United States Racquet Stringers Association Certified Stringers or Master Racquet Technicians, but apparently not. Or, if so, then the USRSA certifier in San Luis Obisbo is not doing his/her job well. Or, perhaps the stringers there are just rushing to crank out rackets. Whatever the case may be, poorly tied knots can often be symptomatic of poorly installed strings, so it is not surprising that this customer had to have the racket restrung so soon after getting it.

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Big Time Tennis 2014 Year in Review

2014 was our 7th year in business and possibly our best year yet. Although we strung fewer rackets in 2014 than in 2013 (1,759 compared to 2,149), we had a number of great memories.

Wake rackets

The men’s tennis team at Wake Forest University continues to be our biggest customer, accounting for some two-thirds of our rackets. Each year we welcome new players and say goodbye to “old” ones. This year Adam Lee from New Zealand graduated (pictured below with his mother and sister), a true gentleman and great representative of the university for the past four years.

Adam Lee

Nothing makes stringing better than “the water of life.” We continued our tradition of toasting to Wake Forest tennis greats Cory Parr (Yamazaki) and Amogh Prabhakar (Amrut) at the ACC tennis tournamnet.

NCAA Tournament

Stringing at the NCAA tournament is always interesting because the schedule of play is such that you have nothing to do until the middle of the afternoon and then you (hope to) string into the wee hours of the morning.

NCAA Tournament Selfie

In the summer, the Wake Forest men go away and our attention turns to professional tennis. At the combined ATP/WTA Citi Open in Washington, DC, we get the opportunity to string for some of the best players in the world. I got lucky and drew Kei Nishikori, who a few weeks later would make the final of the U.S. Open.

Kei Nishikori

Citi Open Pandas

It’s always a privilege to string at our home town stop on the ATP Tour, the Winston-Salem Open. It’s especially nice because the other half of our team, Paul, gets to string this tournament.

Paul at WSO

We can also sneak out of the stringing room to say hi to Mark Yamane, who is a ball boy for the tournament.

Mark Ball Boy

Fall is girls high school season in North Carolina, and this fall was the last hurrah for a special customer of ours, Hannah Yamane, who finished her tennis career at Mount Tabor HS in 2014.

Hannah MT

In the end, being a racket technician is not just about installing the strings or replacing the grips or applying the weight. It is about relationships. We’re privileged to have many as a result of our business. Thank you all, and we look forward to working with you again in 2015. Until then, keep it classy!

Keeping it Classy