Wimbledon Swack Master Paul Skip
Behind the first court of the All England Club, Wimbledon’s string team is preparing for a flood of requests. The day before the tournament begins, teams usually string about 500 rackets, carefully following the player’s instructions regarding tension levels, knot placement, logo colors, and string types. After that, the team will come back the next day and play another 500 rackets.
“If we do a good job and the players win the tournament, we feel great, great, great, we have played our part,” said Paul, head stringer at Wimbledon since 2014. Skip said.
The player re-tensions the racket, mainly because the string loses tension quickly. You need to be confident that the ball will come off the strings in a particular way. The Wimbledon string team, led by Skip, works long days, sometimes after midnight. Depending on personal taste, weather, and time spent on the court, players may racket daily. At Wimbledon, players use a racket that is freshly stretched for only one match.
Skip, 51, believes he has racketed for 10 players who won the Wimbledon title in 2018, including Angelique Kerber of Germany. When Scottish player Andy Murray made his Wimbledon debut in 2005, Skip was stringing for him. He has been working on Rafael Nadal’s racket at his former Wimbledon. He regularly strings Alison Riske in the United States. In Wimbledon in 2019, she confused top-seeded Ashleigh Barty and reached the Grand Slam quarterfinals for the first time.
“Paul is absolutely my dependable stringer at Wimbledon, and I am very grateful to all the good Juju he put my racket there,” Risk said in an email. “Paul is good at his work for many reasons, but first and foremost I think it’s his consistency. How he strings and how my strings give me Consistency with what you feel. “
If the player does not use Wimbledon’s string service and pays $ 28 per racket fee Then they pay for off-site services. But over the last decade, the number of rackets placed by on-site services has more than doubled, and Wimbledon’s string team has nearly doubled. The 16 team members come from European countries such as Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. “We are a little family,” Skip said.
In 2009, when Jeremy Holt’s company Apollo Leisure took over the operation of strings at Wimbledon, the team worked on 2,300 rackets. Holt expects the team to string around 5,500 rackets during this year’s tournament.
“I think players trust them more because tournament services around the world have improved significantly,” he explained. “The people at the top of the game as racket stringers are involved.”
At Wimbledon, players, or more often coaches, drop rackets at the service front desk and explain how they want them to be put up. The racket then goes to the team member, who puts it on the string machine. The main string and cross string are measured, threaded through the frame, tightened and tied to the player’s desired tension. It is generally believed that the lower the tension, the more powerful the player will be. The higher the tension, the more control the player has.
“If you make a tighter than average request, you’ll feel that way, and vice versa,” said Risk, who ranks 31st in the world. “And a stringer like Paul is really valuable because it gets nailed every time. I trust his abilities, so I have one less worry. This is very important.”
Players can request specific stringers. This usually happens if the player is familiar with past work relationships and stringers, if the risk is similar to skipping, or if the player succeeds in a tournament with stringers. However, in general, a player’s racket is assigned to a team member based on schedule considerations. Skip attempts to ensure that all players’ rackets are stretched by the same team members throughout the tournament.
Skip expects the tournament stringer to easily finish the racket in 20 minutes. If he needed it in court, he said, “We turn on afterburner, and you may be watching 10 to 11 minutes.”
“To make it right, to make it consistent, it can be considered a craft or art, certainly a skill,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of bad strings. Can you make Rafa Nadal play badly with a bad string job? Yeah, sure. Make him play like Rafa Nadal with a better string job. Can? No. Can even a low-ranking professional turn into Rafael Nadal with a very good string job? Number. “
Wimbledon Swack Master Paul Skip
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