A Badminton Stringers Tale from All England Badminton Championships 2014 – Part2

Victor Stringer Mark In my tale so far we’ve travelled to Birmingham, set up base camp, scratched our heads over our missing and re-appearing sign without stringing too many badminton rackets.

I left Birmingham on Tuesday afternoon for an evening engagement. Whilst at home I received a text from Mark enquiring whether some of the Chinese Taipei players could use our washing machine… not a problem, happy to help.

Arriving at base camp on Wednesday morning I see Mark’s had a relatively quiet time aside from stringing Shin Baek Choel’s five Victor TK9000 rackets the previous day. This gave him plenty of time to devour his digestive biscuits and another loaf of bread.

Getting desperate, Mark & Ben set out to find a local store and they soon arrived back laden with 5 loaves of bread, packs of cheese slices and Jelly Babies from Tesco’s. Yes, the quest to find Tesco’s was finally over – Mark was now a happy man!

And the day got better…

Vicky soon arrived with two Chinese Taipei players with bags of clothes for washing. I watched in amazement as the players loaded their clothes into the machine and then stared at it trying to figure out how it worked. It wasn’t long before we were asked for help, needing washing powder and a translation of washing machine labels. Paul to the rescue on this occasion, as we weren’t sure whether Mark’s obvious cookery skills would extend into other domestic areas!

The good news was that Vicky also brought rackets for stringing – thank goodness! We quickly labelled them and began preparation of the frames.

With the older rackets there was a lot of preparation as it was clear the previous stringers did not have the time or perhaps the inclination to do the best job for the player. The majority of grommets has been turned rather than changed which meant a high percentage were a mess and most likely the cause of string breakage. The grommet heads looked like clock faces.

As soon as one racket was prepared Mark began stringing and I continued the preparation.

My First All England Stringing Job

With all rackets prepped and following a visit from Korean players dropping off a few more, I could finally strung my first racket.

Victor rackets Ready For Collection Day 3

I picked up a couple of well worn Bravesword 12N’s which belonged to Tontowi Ahmad. Yes, my first stringing job and I get the rackets of current World and All England Mixed Doubles Champion – FANTASTIC!

There’s one point that struck me whilst preparing the rackets. None of the players had a custom racket – all were standard models with scratches and paintwork chips. I’d assumed they would be in pristine condition. However, they are working tools and most likely receive most of the scratches due to storage in bags, rubbing against other rackets.

Whilst I was stringing Ahmad’s rackets, Mark was busy stringing Liliana Natsir’s. It was a brand new Bravesword 12 L with a grip size 5. We hadn’t seen one of those before.

Disappointingly, one of Ahmad’s rackets was broken, so I only got to string one. As the Victor stringing machine was new to me, this was going to be a learning experience, understanding its quirks and positive features.

With high tension stringing we’d taken the decision to string bottom up on the cross strings. This is where I met my first test, realising that certain rackets needed to be strung top down. The clamp would not grip the last top string as there was insufficient clearance for the clamp to perform. Neither of us had brought a flying clamp which meant either using a starting clamp or being creative. I chose to be creative and finally clamped the top string and tied off. One racket completed but valuable time wasted in the process. However, good experience.

I then strung two Thruster K8000’s and this is where my patience was tested…

I’ll share this story with you, and more in Part 3…

7 Comments

  1. Ong November 29, 2014 at 10:26 am

    Hi Paul,

    I have just join as member. Great to be here.

    May i know what is the string that can be strung at tension at 33lbs or higher? I have an experience that Yonex 66 Ultimax (0.65mm gauge) breaks at 31lbs.

    • Paul Stewart December 3, 2014 at 8:35 pm

      Ong

      Many thanks for your question.

      Many of the pro players use BG80 or BG65 or BG65Ti to string at such high tensions. Some players use BG66 Ultimax however you should remember that they expect the string to break and receive free restrings, so it doesn’t matter to them.

      Generally, when you are considering high tensions, you need to be happy that your racket can accept the tension and you have a string that will provide a degree of endurance.

      For most players, they really should opt for lower tensions. After all, they are not professional players and do not have the same degree of accuracy in their hitting. That said, tension is personal. When choosing a tension, please select out of feel and not ego as higher tension does not make anybody a pro and in some cases may cause damage to the arm and shoulder. It certainly does not get any more power.

      When I was stringing at the All Englands, a new of the Chinese Taipei players were using Victor VS800 string at very high tension. So this is a good alternative. i would also consider Ashaway Zymax. There is a new Zymax due for release next year and it is really good – I have been testing it.

      Paul

  2. Ed May 15, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Very possible ! Listen to the sound when he smashes… Wow !!

  3. Roger April 25, 2014 at 11:39 am

    All good stuff Paul. What sort of poundage are you stringing to and is it over the manufacturers recommended tension.
    Mark. I’m sure it’s just an unflattering camera angle and not a hint on your eating habits.
    Looking forward to the next one
    Roger

    • Paul Stewart April 25, 2014 at 12:12 pm

      Roger

      We didn’t string below 26lbs with the highest being 33/33lbs.

      As you know, Victor rackets have higher recommended tensions than Yonex, although once you hit 30lbs you’re really beginning to push it. I hear Tago was having 35/38lbs in his Nanoray Z Speeds and I’m absolutely delighted I wasn’t stringing those!

      Paul

  4. philip.hoang April 22, 2014 at 2:19 pm

    Hi Paul

    Good to hear part 2 you get to see more action and not just about hunting for food 😛 I think a lot of stringers don’t really take care over the grommets and I wouldn’t expect anything less from you. Just wanted to add that I took your advice on the MXJJS a while ago and have now gone for the MX90 as well and love both of them. I also recommended my uncle on your website to which he has gone for the MX60 I think, which according to him suits him more. I’ll find out tonight if he’s received it yet when I go to my club. Look forward to hearing part 3.

    Phil

  5. Mark Appleton April 20, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Thanks for that picture, mate – I look like a right porker. And that was BEFORE we started on the gingerbread men!

    It was somewhat disillusioning (but, somehow, heartening) to see that the top-flight players were using off-the-shelf rackets that looked just as battered many a club player’s… but the grommet situation was borderline ridiculous. Case in point: I finish one of Ahmad’s rackets, stencil it up, and lean it against the wall. Ten minutes later… TWINK! For no reason at all. Complete grommet refit, string again, no problem.

    P.S. My “cooking skills”? I can cook a sandwich and a cup of coffee – that’s PLENTY:P

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