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TIA launches stringing programme

The Tennis Industry Association is teaming up with the Lawn Tennis Association and the UK division of the European Racquet Stringers Association to offer a series of stringing courses in 2014.

Designed to provide training opportunities for new and existing racket stringers, the Tennis Racket Specialist Scheme offers ERSA (European Racquet Stringers Association) qualifications and is aimed at players, coaches, parents and retailers. The courses, which will also offer LTA Coach Licence Credits, will be held throughout the year across the country, with a mixture of mid-week and weekend courses.

“The TIA has historically had a role in running tennis stringing courses and promoting best practice through our Tennis Racket Specialist Scheme,” said TIA Executive Director Brett Watson. “I am delighted that we are reinvigorating this important area and setting high standards working in collaboration with ERSA and only the most qualified stringers to ensure that we provide world-class training.”

“Having this structured programme is something we really need in this country,” Master Pro-Tour stringer Roger Dalton told TIA UK News. “To have coaches, players and parents stringing to a good standard and to gain a record of qualification – they could go on to have a career in stringing if they decided to and work their way up the ladder.”

There are four levels provided by the Tennis Racket Specialist Scheme. The primary course is targeted at beginners and offers a general introduction to stringing and racket technology.

“If someone is interested in stringing it’s a great opportunity to learn good technique and consistency and it will help improve their play and it is more economical if they don’t have to pay someone else to string their rackets,” Dalton explained. “If you are stringing for yourself you can experiment with different strings and different tensions, try out a variety of configurations and see what works best for your game. Of course you could do that anyway, but it would be quite expensive if you were paying someone to restring the rackets for you.”

With a little experience, the next step on the ladder is to qualify as a certified ERSA stringer. From there, the following level is a Master Racket Technician, and finally becoming a Pro-Tour stringer, the highest qualification available.

Dalton, who has been head stringer at the Wimbledon Championships for the last six years, is now also Babolat’s head technician at its ‘Babolab’ at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton. He will share his extensive stringing experience with attendees who enlist on stringing courses at the LTA headquarters in south-west London.

Paul Skipp, UK ERSA training manager, will lead a number of the courses, with support from Master Pro-Tour stringers David Munt and ERSA Director Mark Maslowski. The TIA will work in conjunction with Babolat and Apollo Leisure, who will supply stringing machines and equipment for the courses.

While the initial aim is to provide well-run and well-attended courses, the long-term goal is to create a nationwide scheme to bring a greater degree of knowledge to stringers, players and retailers. Indirectly, the concept is intended to boost the UK tennis industry by increasing sales opportunities for equipment suppliers, grow participation by improving the player experience and improve standards by informing all of the importance of regular restringing, regripping and racket selection.

Watson continues:“This plays to the heartland of the TIA UK’s brief, educating and raising standards, improving the tennis experience for new and competitive players. This will provide coaches an opportunity for continuing professional development, it will give players more opportunities to get expert advice and will enhance economic activity.

“I thoroughly recommend the courses to all who have or may have an interest in stringing and would urge them all to join the TIA as a TRS member so that they get the benefit of membership and of the publicity and customers that we bring to our members.”

For more information on TRS courses and membership, email Gilly English.