By Kevin Lamarque

The average weekend tennis hacker might never have their racquet restrung. A serious player might have their racquets strung every month, but for most players, once a year suffices. A top professional tennis player strings up to 6-racquets before EVERY match.

As a keen club player who strings his own racquets, I’ve always been intrigued by the elite teams of stringing professionals who work the major professional tournaments.

In the dark indoor passage that rings center court here at the Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne, Florida, players and coaches make their way to the stringing room, a daily ritual that goes unseen to the general tennis public.

The task of keeping all these tennis weapons finely tuned falls into the hands of a team of stringers here from Wilson and Luxilon. Over the course of the two week tournament, these master stringers work behind their machines as long as there are matches on court. It is not unusual for a player in the heat of a battle to request a “rush job” racquet to be strung at a particular tension based upon the changing elements or the particular feel the player is seeking. The stringing team is at the ready, swiftly getting the re-strung racquet in the hands of the player within the time it takes to play a mere few games.

At the height of the Sony-Ericsson tournament, the team of 11 stringers cranked out 254 racquets in one day. The average stringing time is 20 minutes a racquet, a very impressive time for anyone who has tried to string racquets. I watched the stringers toil away, impressed at their ability to multi-task as they watched the BBC’s “Top Gear” while working.