Tennis Industry magazine

 

Letters

Readers Weigh In on the Need For a Restringing Campaign

Thank you for the “Our Serve” in the July issue about an industry-wide “restringing campaign.” One of the first things I learned when I became a certified stringer was strings begin to lose tension the moment they are installed, but more importantly, players compensate for that by making minute unconscious adjustments to their game. The result is that nothing seems to work, and players become frustrated, not understanding that had they only restrung their racquet, all of that could have been avoided.

I have spent the last four years educating my clients about the importance of restringing. Talking with them, educating them, and “fitting” them into strings based on their game has been the most successful. But still the majority of my clients don’t restring nearly often enough.

Diane Hamm-Vida, MRT
Shallotte, NC

Our national philosophy seems to be, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” so players wait until their strings break before they restring. Players do not want to spend any more than they have to without receiving maximum value for their dollar. Here are some things I have tried in the past:

  • Offer an increasing discount scale for each racquet strung in a year, 10% off on the second string job, 15% off for the third, 20% for the fourth, etc.
  • Offer a “string club” similar to the ball machine club where a player pays a fixed up-front charge, say $100, and receives a set number of restrings in a year where they would realize a savings from the individual costs.
  • Offer a punch card where they get credit for each string job up to four and receive the fifth free.
  • Install a reminder sticker on their racquet stating that their next restring is recommended for one month, or two, or three, depending on the player and type of string used.

Philip Blackwelder
USPTA Professional, Myrtle Beach, SC

I couldn’t agree more with your “Our Serve,” especially to organize this as an industry-wide effort. Those of us on the front lines are keenly aware of the importance of frequent restringing. However, we often feel there’s an important piece of the puzzle missing, and that’s the organized support of the industry.

I’m the founder of the Grand Slam Stringers (GSS) Symposium (gssalliance.com), which begins on Sept. 22 in Florida, and I’d like to set aside a block of time at the Symposium for a roundtable discussion on a “restring campaign” for all attendees. This will provide the perfect setting to open up a dialogue between the technicians in attendance and the industry manufacturers who are supporting the GSS Symposium.

Tim Strawn, MRT
Roanoke, VA

Thank you for your “Our Serve.” The old implication that you only need to restring per year the amount of times you play per week always seemed odd and ambiguous, but many recreational players seem to live by this. I feel that recreational players think with poly, since it doesn’t break for them, they don’t get their frames restrung as much. We in the industry, however, know that poly loses tension faster and actually needs to be restrung more! I definitely find that by educating the consumer, rethinking the idea of stringing frequency, and perhaps holding a contest to come up with the perfect campaign might bring some buzz.

Patrick Markey, MRT
Kihei, HI

The “Our Serve” in the July issue is 50 percent good, 50 percent wrong. Yes, we need a unified campaign to get players to restring their racquets more often. But no, as research shows, strings don’t “lose resiliency and elasticity,” as stated in the column. Read “Technical Tennis” by Rod Cross and Crawford Lindsey, page 77.

In my area, each string job we do has a note to the player that says, in part: “Your old string bed had a stiffness value of xx, and your new string job now has a reading of xx, that is a difference of xx%…. Tension loss is a part of all tennis string … and causes loss of control…. Your tennis playing level will now increase by a noticeable amount.”

Dr. L. Carl Love
Albany, OR

A “Restring Campaign” brings to mind a new take on an old proverb:

For the want of good strings, a point was lost,

For the want of a point, a set was lost,

For the want of a set, a match was lost,

For want of that match, the team did not go to playoffs,

And all because the strings of one racquet needed to be replaced.

I live in Atlanta where league play is huge. Would it be feasible for organizations like ALTA and USTA to join forces with pro shops and offer some type of discount or incentive for a team to have their racquets restrung before each season? This would have many players playing better tennis.

Ed Matheson, MRT
Atlanta, GA

Strings are consumables, but we need to do our part in educating the consumer, and the “Restring Campaign” is a great idea! A parent recently referred to polyester as a “super string” and raved about its durability and the need to not restring as often. This type of thinking can create a domino effect where the purchase of grips, balls, accessories, etc. becomes less and less.

Mark Gonzalez
Alpha Racquet Sports

How do we as racquet technicians convince players to restring more often? The way an announcer at the US Open several years ago made a statement about a “new” string that has impacted the market. We need to make a statement, through a respected “player,” that stringing more often is important to the overall performance of the racquet. “I string my racquet every match,” the pro should say to consumers. “You string your racquet every few months, or less frequently.” The message must be in front of the consumer as often as possible.

John Gugel, MRT
Orlando, Fla.

We at TennezSport completely agree that we need a Restring Campaign. With so many different strings on the market, with varying stiffness indexes coupled with racquet patterns, customers are frequently confused about proper tensions and string life.

We have helped a number of high school and college players save their arms by correcting their mistakes with poly string. The biggest culprit is leaving the string in the racquet too long. One comment we hear consistently is that we are just trying to sell more string, but if we had a consistent campaign to educate players, we could solve a multitude of issues and keep a lot of players happy.

Larry Hackney, MRT
Union City, N.J.

When I first read your “Our Serve,” I didn’t have a very good feeling about it. If you want a new “saying,” you can pick whatever is catchy. But if you want to build your reputation and business as Lucien Nogues comments on page 23 of the same issue, you have to present data that support your recommendations. You must be credible.

Your example of servicing your car is just what I don’t want. Oil change businesses recommend that your oil be changed every 3,000 miles, yet automobiles on the road today have a recommended service frequency of 7,500 miles. I don’t want racquet stringing to go in that direction.

Please understand I’m all-in, if there is good support for the upped frequency. We can all use more business.

Dave Heilig, MRT
Chapel Hill, NC

For years, I’ve advised my customers to restring more often. Once players get on a good stringing schedule, they really notice the difference with fresh strings. I advise my non-string-breaking clients to base their stringing frequency on the length of their league seasons. Around here, our men’s leagues last three to four months. I advise them to restring at the start of each season, and once for the summer. Our ladies’ leagues are twice as long, and I ask them to string at the beginning of the season, at the mid-point and for the summer.

If they use a quality synthetic, they’re only spending $90 to $120 on stringing for the year which, once the improvement in play is seen, they agree is a small investment. It’s been a good strategy for me and, best of all, it helps my customers to play better, and healthier, tennis.

Matt Steverson
Altamonte Springs, Fla.

It’s a great idea to try and get players to restring more often, but the cost of good string is what keeps most players from doing so. Most players that I string for want strings that last. Still, the few that decide to play with better performing strings don’t compare to those that go back to the lower cost strings.

Richard R. Ellis
Port Orchard, Wash.

Epitome of a Sales Rep

In response to your “Our Serve” in the May issue about sales reps, I’d like to say that Bob Pfaender, a longtime sales rep currently with Wilson in Florida, is the epitome of what a successful sales rep should be. It’s not just about sales that makes Bob a success. It’s what he represents as a person that makes him the kind of guy you can’t say no to when he visits your facility, club or, in my case, our USTA Florida offices and association.

Bob doesn’t sell equipment; he sells himself. He gets to know his customers on a personal level, which makes doing business so much easier and fun. I’ve known and worked with Bob for over 17 years and I consider him a friend for life. He’s been involved with USTA Florida and the national USTA as a hardworking and tirelessly giving volunteer, and in fact, in December he will become the next president of USTA Florida.

Bob is truly a great sales rep, but more importantly he is a great human being with amazing character — and a whiplash forehand!

Andy McFarland
Associate Executive Director
USTA Florida

 

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