I have been fortunate enough to string a variety of different tournaments, from the ATP 500 Citi Open in Washington, DC to the USTA 12s National Clay Courts in Winston-Salem to USTA Adult League tournaments, and various points in between.
One commonality across all levels of play is the badly strung tennis rackets I see coming into the stringing rooms.
I have seen a Top 50 players come to Washington from South America with distorted frames. A player at the ATP 250 Winston-Salem Open complaining about the inconsistent stringing they got at other 250s in Europe. One year a Wake Forest player had his rackets strung at the Edwardsville Futures with the monofilament mains and synthetic gut crosses reversed. I see junior players’ rackets with misweaves, and rackets with “free” stringing from Tennis Warehouse (which allegedly employs USRSA Master Racquet Technicians) with loose knots and crooked strings (sometimes you get what you pay for).
Bad stringing is so common that I started a “stringing and racket fails” album on my Flickr site.
Having written about the difficult economics of the entry level of professional tennis, I find it particularly offensive to hear about guys playing ITF Pro Circuit Futures events and paying $20 a racket for substandard stringing.
Rubin Statham experienced this first hand. In his first year on tour he and his brother spent some $17,000 on stringing and found the quality of stringing, especially in Asia, abysmal (my term, not his).
To say that necessity is the mother of invention is a cliché, but like all clichés there is an element of truth in it.
Statham’s need for good quality, consistent, and affordable stringing led him to design and bring to market what he claims is the world’s smallest and lightest stringing machine: the Pro Stringer Platinum. At 4 pounds and fitting in a small bag, I have no reason to doubt him.
I met Statham this week at the ITF Pro Circuit Winston-Salem Futures and he let me give his Pro Stringer a try. In my next post, I will give my review of it.