East Glos Club manager Darren Morris and head racket stringer Steve Evans were given an insight into one of the inner sanctums of Wimbledon on Wednesday 4th July when they paid a visit to the stringing room.
PHOTO: Steve Evans (L) with one of Kei Nishikori’s rackets and Darren Morris (R) with one of Rafa Nadal’s
Steve had an ambition to see inside the stringing room at a major event and the trip was arranged by Darren through Apollo Leisure, who provide the stringers and also supply most of the East Glos strings.
Steve was able to chat to the stringers, including Rafa Nadal’s personal stringer Xavi, and also learn how they process so many rackets. Another interesting snippet is that Nadal’s Babolat racket is not as heavy as a lot of us might think – it’s actually 319 grams, compared with the Pure Aero sold in our shop which is 300.
Steve takes up the story. There are 14 stringers in the room, and in the early part of the tournament they work from 6am to 11pm. On the day of their visit, we were told that Venus Williams had had five rackets strung that morning for her match that day – many players do not want their rackets strung overnight because of possible tension loss.
There were seven rackets waiting for Kei Nishikori’s stringer (top players have their preferred stringers) but they also had to be done the next morning, potentially by the start time of 11.30am.
The stringing room was handling well over 400 rackets a day and there was an air of calm efficiency about it with no-one seeming to panic, and stringers happy to chat to us as they worked.
We saw a racket come off court from Aliaz Bedene. It was stripped out by the staff on the reception desk and handed to the stringer, stung in about 15 minutes, then handed to the young students whose job is to paint on the logos. We watched as a girl runner took it out of the room then saw her on the TV screen as she waited courtside to hand it back, all within about 30 minutes of the original breakage.
All the players supply their own strings, which are marked and kept in an indexed ‘library’ at the end of the room.
As an example of the scale of the job, Venus Williams, in her run to the final last year, had 52 restrings; players having their rackets string every day even if they have not been used, because of tension loss. However, with strings coming free from sponsors and restrings costing £20 a go, she could probably just about afford it with prize money of around one million pounds.
Some examples of string and tension from last year:
• Venus Willliams: Wilson Natural Gut mains 66lb, Luxilon 4G crosses 64 (very high tensions).
• Rafa Nadal: Babolat RPM Blast in both, 55lbs (average).
• Kei Nishikori: Wilson Natural Gut mains 41lbs, Luxilon 4G crosses 39 (low).