My Stringing Summer
Obviously, the holiday part of the summer at home was great. Seeing my family and catching up with friends was lovely and makes you really appreciate how beautiful Ireland and particularly Cobh is when the sun shines. Being home also gave me a chance to do a bit of stringing.
This year I had my Star 3 back again so I strung for the 2 big tournaments in my local club, the senior event which is ‘The Championships of County Cork’ and the junior event which is ‘The Irish Junior Close’. I also strung from home for various people across Cork and Munster.
It was great to talk to people during the events and see what racket and string combinations they were using. Some were quite good and knowledgeable and some were using unsuitable strings, either for their game and racket or because they were carrying injuries. It was encouraging that so many were open to trying new strings and thankfully seemed happy with the results. The problem still exists though, that there is always that one person who gives advice on rackets and strings but unfortunately doesn't know enough to be sharing the info.
I say this not to be critical, but because I found out myself that you never stop learning. I had been stringing for 16 years in a shop when I attended my first stringing workshop. I learned more in the first hour of the workshop than I had in the previous 16 years.
When someone teaches you (or you choose to learn from Youtube videos), you are assuming that they know how to string correctly. In my case that was the problem. The guy who taught me didn't know how to string properly, so I wasn't stringing properly. Following that workshop I followed up with more workshops, symposiums and then exams.
Following a conversation with Mark Maslowski (Global Manager of ERSA International), I started my position as ERSA’s Training Manager for Ireland. I began promoting and running workshops and the feedback was very positive. Later in the year I will be back to carry out the exams for those who attended the workshops.
I will also be holding a workshop for Munster Tennis where players, parents and coaches will be invited to attend. Equipment is extremely important and as stringers we have a responsibility, not only to string, but to give people the best information we can so the players can make informed decisions themselves. Players have to be involved in selecting strings and tensions!
I would like to especially thank Kirschbaum and Goode Sports, RS Tennis (Robin Soderling) and Luxilon Ireland for providing strings and grips for these workshops.
I had good correspondence with Roger Geraghty of Tennis Ireland and Liam Cassidy of Tennis Coach Ireland about adding a racket and string section to the Tennis Ireland Coaching qualifications.
They both agreed it should be added and they will look at this in the future. So, for now they will award CPD points for any coach that attends the workshops and we are also looking into developing an online module, with an exam, that the coaches would have to take as part of their qualification.
To finish off my summer I went on a tour of the factory where Luxilon’s natural gut is made. It was fascinating to see the number of stages involved in making one set of natural gut strings. I had earlier in the summer tested 2 of their new UV coated strings, one of which is now going to be used at the US Open. It’s amazing how the slightest little blemish, something that won’t affect how the string performs, can deem the string unfit for sale.
It takes 2 weeks to make a set of gut strings, so you can understand now why they are so much more expensive than the synthetic sets.
I’m looking forward to heading back to Doha now, to my stringing room, and looking after my customers out there.