Stringing at Barclay’s ATP World Tour Finals

Big Time Tennis’s Pacific guy, Tom Parry, blogged from London at Tennis Week (http://www.tennisweek.com) during the ATP World Tour Finals. The blog is appropriately titled “Behind the scenes, from behind the machines.”

Tom was also interviewed from the stringing room for the official website. http://www.barclaysatpworldtourfinals.com/Tennis/Media/Videos/2009/Barclays-B…

Interesting factoid from the blog and interview: Davydenko stringing the mains one tension (21k initially, the first five crosses another tension, 17k, then the rest of the crosses a third tension, 19k). This may have something to do with the O-ports on his Prince racket starting on the 6th cross down.

Also, check out the post from Day 9 that discusses and shows pictures of Robin Soderling’s handle, pictured below.

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Building up and reshaping a Prince grip

Twice this year I have had customers come to me with Prince rackets they had bought with 1/8 inch grips and had built up to 3/8 inch grips using heat-shrink sleeves. Problem was, the SHAPE of the grip was not right. Why?

In order to make a grip so small, the handle of the racket is flatter than a typical Prince grip. It feels more like a rectangular Head or Volkl grip than the rounder Prince or Babolat.

You can see this by looking at the shape of the 1/8 inch buttcap on the right compared to the 3/8 inch buttcap on the left.

So, at the same time the handle needed to be built up two sizes, it also needed to be reshaped to feel like a typical Prince. This cannot be done simply by putting two heat shrink sleeves over the handle and buttcap. The old buttcap would have to be removed, the handle built up and reshaped, then a new, properly sized buttcap installed before regripping.

I began by taking a Prince racket with a 3/8 inch grip size I had in the shop and measuring the diameter of the handle using my calipers. (Ideally I would have had the player’s other racket for this measurement, but he was out of town.) I recorded the dimensions of this Prince 3/8 inch handle as a reference point.

To get from 1/8 inch to 3/8 inch grip size, I had to build the handle up TWO sizes. I and most people I know do not recommend using heat shrink sleeves to do this because the bevels on the handle tend to lose definition with two sleeves– the edges are too rounded off. But I stock some sleeves that I get from Grand Slam Stringers which I think are slightly thicker than a standard full size sleeve. So, using one of the GSS sleeves plus strips cut from another GSS sleeve, I thought I could get very close to the correct dimensions for a 3/8 inch handle.


I used two sided tape on the side of the handle that I wanted to build up, and laid down the strip I had cut to fit that section on top of the tape. It fit nicely and securely in its place.


Then I measured all four diameters of the newly built up handle to compare it to the reference handle. All measurements were between 0.007 to 0.023 inch from the reference handle, which was within my margin of comfort/error.


One way I knew that the handle shape was as it should be for a 3/8 inch Prince was that the 3/8 inch buttcap fit on snugly but I did not have to force it on.

I stapled the new buttcap on and used a small hammer to make sure the staples were flush.


Here is the newly built up and reshaped handle with the proper size buttcap on it, ready to be gripped.


The owner of the racket asked me to reuse the old grip, which had been taken off twice already (once for the initial buildup and once when I took it off). I ordinarily would press hard for a new grip to go with this work, but to save money and because he always uses an overgrip, the owner asked me to re-use the original grip again.

I stapled the end of the grip to the buttcap, wrapped some two-sided tape around the buttcap and handle (I always wrap the two-sided tape in the opposite direction of the grip), and applied the grip.


This job was simple to plan out, but like most customization jobs it took time, patience, and caution to properly execute the plan. In the end it paid off becuase my customer and I were very satisfied with the result.

If you have any questions or comments about this posting, please be in touch.