Last month Mike Newbound announced his retirement as Master Racquet Technician after nearly 35 years of service. Tennis South Australia has been lucky to have Mike’s international expertise when it comes to stringing racquets over the years and we asked Mike to share some highlights of his impressive career;
I have had opportunities to string at the Australian Hardcourt Championships for 28 years straight the Rio International the World Tennis Challenge for 8 years the Australian Open 6 times Wimbledon twice Australian Davis Cup Team 5 or more times The Swedish Davis Team and the Australian Federation Cup Team.
TSA: Why did you get into stringing?
MN: I got into stringing because I was playing at Div 1 and I couldn’t get the racquet strung how I wanted it done so I went to the local legend Mr Bill Smith of Edwardstown and asked him to teach me how to string. I initially only wanted to string my own racquets but soon it was out of control. Bill taught me everything he knew in six months before he passed away and then I took it to another level.
TSA: What’s your favourite memory during nearly 35 years of stringing for tennis in Australia?
MN: My favourite memories of stringing is being the only Australian stringer to be asked by the contractors to string at Wimbledon in an official capacity, which I did twice. I also have fond memories of stringing for the Australian Open six times and of course our own tournament the Australian Hard court Championships for 28 years straight.
TSA: Who’s your favourite player to have dealt with?
MN: I was lucky to have come across Pete Sampras as a 16 year old here in Adelaide, he was truly a great player. There were others such as Stefan Edberg, Pat Cash and Henri Leconte, who were great people on and off the court.
TSA: What has kept you motivated to continue stringing all this time?
MN: My motivation for stringing has not waned over the years because I belong to a group of stringers all over the world who share ideas and new technology. The desire to keep learning was a big influence on my career. Being a Master Racquet Technician and being recognised all over the world is a great achievement, and I was the first South Australian to get this title.
Seeing players at tournaments that you have strung for in Wimbledon or Australia is also great as you get to catch up with friends. I was asked to fill in as an emergency for the Brisbane tournament this year and I only knew one player who was still playing all other friends have since retired.
TSA: Do you have any other particular stories or memories you’d like to share?
MN: I remember I had a altercation with Pat Cash one day here in Adelaide at a Davis Cup tie. In those days, the best place for me to see what was going on was to stand at the front door, but Pat came off the court and said “Mike, when I am serving all I can see is your bald head”. We are mates still today, when he saw that I had retired he sent me a message that was just Pat! Telling me how he appreciated my efforts for him.
John McEnroe came to me one day and put some denim shorts on the table and said “here, these are for you!”. I said to John “they wont fit me!”, he laughed and went away. Next year he was back and he asked what I did with those shorts and I told him I gave them to Camp Quality to Auction off to get money for kids with cancer. He asked if I got anything out of it I said no, and with that he arranged a photographer to take a photo of himself and me, this is a memory that I treasure greatly.
Davis Cup times with Mark Philippoussis was not an event I looked forward to, as Mark would want all eight racquets strung for the tie each day. This meant starting at 3am to finish his racquets in time. Mark had a 18 x 20 sting pattern with natural gut at 35 to 37 kilos which was a challenge to string them and for them not to break before he picked them up. Then it was a hurry to do other players racquets before the start time.
Being in the UK was great, I thought to myself – no one will know me here. Well I was walking down some street in London and Radek Stephanik yells out “Hi Mike!”. Then I run into Todd Woodbridge, so I felt l couldn’t hide anywhere!
It has been a long journey but a happy one. I am happy with my decision to retire and feel quite comfortable about it as well.
We wish Mike all the best for his next adventure in life during retirement and hope it is just as rewarding as the last 35 years!