If you aspire to become a tournament stringer, then you’re in the right place. At Tennis Express, we were honored to host a stringing seminar led by a member of the world-renowned Yonex Stringing Team: Mark Gonzalez. Before getting into too much detail on Mark and his advice, here are some quick stats on the Yonex Stringing Team:
To find a Yonex stringer near you, the team offers a pretty cool Google Maps style location system.
Advice from a Grand Slam Stringer
Mark Gonzalez conducted a Yonex Stringing Team seminar at Tennis Express, and discussed his experiences as a professional stringer.
Mark Gonzalez began his stringing career in 1985, and slowly worked his way up the ranks. He strung racquets at a number of challenger events, and made a name for himself as a reliable, hard-working stringer (his level of professionalism and dedication to his craft was evident during the stringing seminar). This all led to the opportunity to string at the Australian Open, where Mark officially became a Grand Slam Stringer. He was kind enough to share his experiences and advice for the stringers in attendance.
Perhaps most importantly, you must be compliant and professional when stringing in a major tournament. You need to make sure you’re not a distraction, but you can certainly be relaxed. Mark recalled how he would get up from the Melbourne apartments around 6:30AM, get ready for the day, and head to the tournament. Him and the others would prep their machines (each individual was assigned a rack) and start stringing. Once things started rolling, all you’d hear was the distinctive click and clank of stringing machines.
Stringers are always willing to help each other out, and the camaraderie is unbelievable. At tournaments, organizers try to keep string jobs consistent by assigning players to certain stringers (Mark was assigned a lot of U.S. players on day 1), but depending on who plays and when, this system is sometimes impossible to maintain. This is especially true when making mid-match string adjustments for players.
Always be prepared. Mark highly recommends bringing tools and extra clothes. He told a story about how his luggage was actually lost on his flight to Melbourne, but he thankfully had packed a change of clothes in his carry-on. Additionally, once you are assigned players, it is critical that you know the daily order of play. Many players want their racquets strung the day of their match (as opposed to the night before) to preserve string tension. This is why the stringers arrive so early in the morning.
It’s also important to note that players know what they want, and you should always take this into account. Finally, you should make sure that you keep your machine clean and lubricated at all times.
Interacting with Players
One downside to being a tournament stringer is the fact that it can be a relatively thankless job. Mark specifically stated, “You can’t be a fan, you need to be professional.” This is because the players are there to work, just as the stringers are there to work. You can imagine the chaos that would ensue if every stringer wanted autographs and selfies with their favorite players. That being said, some will make a point to come down to the stringing area in their spare time to meet and thank the stringers. They understand the rigors of the profession, and appreciate the quality of work that is completed.
By the Numbers: Stringing at the 2018 Australian Open
The 2018 Australian Open is the Grand Slam that Mark strung at. For those that don’t know, this tournament specifically features Yonex Stringing Team members. As a result, Yonex provided us with some very interesting facts and figures about the event:
- Total Racquets Strung: 5,206
- Highest Single Day Racquet Stringing Total: 501
- Fastest Stringing Time: 12 minutes and 37 seconds
- Average Stringing Time: 18 minutes and 30 seconds
- On-Court String Jobs: 72
- Machines Used: 25
- Highest String Tension: 79 lbs
- Lowest String Tension: 15 lbs
The Yonex Center
For Additional Content
For more on tennis racquets and string, check out our blogs below: