Scratching the cat’s backTim Strawn
When I think of interesting personalities Nicola Tesla is one that comes to mind. According to Wikepedia, Nikola Tesla was born on 10 July [O.S. 28 June] 1856 and died on 7 January 1943) He was a Serbian-American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current (AC) electricity supply system.
Tesla’s early fascination as a young boy as to why, when he stroked his cat Macak’s back, a shower of sparks emitted with a loud noise is revealing to the true nature of the man. I don’t know about you but that seems to speak volumes as to just how his brain functioned. Think about that for a minute. How many kids minds would immediately switch to wondering just why those sparks were a result of simply stroking the cats back and exactly what they were? Tesla knew that there was a reason for this phenomenon and what he found led him to some remarkable discoveries.
Tesla worked for a short time at the Edison Machine Works in New York City before he struck out on his own. His belief in AC was in direct conflict with the more popular Thomas Edison’s in DC and this moved him to the decision to leave Edison Machine Works. With the help of partners to finance and market his ideas, Tesla set up laboratories and companies in New York to develop a range of electrical and mechanical devices. His alternating current (AC) induction motor and related polyphase AC patents, licensed by Westinghouse Electric in 1888, earned him a considerable amount of money and became the cornerstone of the polyphase system which that company eventually marketed. In short, Tesla believed in what he was doing because his theories were scientifically proven and examined over long periods of time.
What does this have to do with tennis and in particular, racquet stringing? Our beliefs here at IART reflect a similar approach to the man behind the polyphase system. We test, we experiment and we rely on sound data. Our resources are vast and the knowledge base is extensive BUT, there are times when answers escape us. When that happens we have reliable industry sources we can turn rely on.
It’s important to understand that in our profession, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to servicing a racquet. However, there are certainly some “do’s” and “don’t’s” that have been proven over time. Here at IART we publish position statements and those positions are backed up by data and years of experience. For instance, let’s take our position on pre-stretching string prior to installation. This is often a subject of online debate and it’s astounding to see the number of people who have an opinion yet have no data or experience to back up their position. Let’s take a closer look at this by first showing exactly what the IART position on pre-stretching is.
The IART position on pre-stretching string is that it is ok to pre-stretch all strings but this is more or less down to individual choice by either the stringer or player’s request
Seems simple enough right? But take a look HERE and you can see a more detailed explanation as to why IART takes the position it does. For example, let’s look at shop stringing. If we’re honest with ourselves we know that the chances of someone walking through our door and requesting the string be pre-stretched before installation are slim to none, more towards the “none” aspect to be certain. It’s not a negative reflection on the player because the lion’s share of them have never heard of pre-stretching let alone know why it is done. So when we take it upon ourselves to pre-stretch string before installation, we’re making our job easier. Think of it this way. Take a string like Ytex Quadro Twist. This string is extremely hard to handle due to the extrusion process and the strings actual construction. It’s like wrestling with a Boa Constrictor when it’s uncoiled from a pack or is pulled from a reel. By manually pre-stretching the string you “tame” it to the point that it’s much easier to handle. At the same time, you’ve effectively reduced string creep in a freshly strung racquet. The “break in” time for that string job is drastically reduced and initial string movement is held to a minimum. This is just one example.
We also address one-piece versus two-piece stringing and we publish a position statement on that as well. Our position statement on this can be found HERE and our reasons are clearly spelled out as to why we take this position.
Tesla held firm on his principles and beliefs because those beliefs were based on scientific facts and proven results. Proven results are what we here at IART choose to rely on as well.