The “Wilson Speed Stringing Contest” is always a favorite activity at the IART symposium. Stringers compete to see who can knock down a frame with an 18×20 pattern strung will all polyester string. 2014 winner Bernie Chen (left) found himself on the Wilson team working at the Australian Open in 2015 and runner up Stockton Morris (right) is, as I pen this article, working with the Wilson team at the Miami Open at Key Biscayne, Florida. If tour stringing is a goal of yours then there is absolutely better place to get exposure. As in 2014, the two finalists in 2015 will each receive a personal evaluation session with Wilson’s Ron Rocchi to see if they have what it takes to perhaps one day join the Wilson stringing team on tour. Gather around, have a drink, socialize, and watch the competitors as they try to string a racquet in record time.
“Racquet Customization” took on a new twist with Wilson’s Ron Rocchi joining John Gugel for the presentation. This is a subject of interest to many racquet technicians but one that presents a variety of challenges. In 2014 we offered an expanded and much more intense 6 hour session for those who wanted to increase their customizing skills. The course covered a variety of topics including (1) Equipment overview-what you need and where to buy it (2) a Discussion overview with regard to weight, string gauge, string bed stiffness (3) Customization to include: weight/mass, swing weight w/calculation & diagnostic equipment (4) Static balance with balance board (5) Recoil Weight (6) Twist weight (7) Effective stiffness (8) Typical charges for customization work (9) Materials needed and sourcing materials and equipment (10) Q & A session. This is the most intensive training course in racquet customization that’s ever been offered.
“Successful Pro Shop Management” with Charmagne Fraser. Charmagne is the owner and operator of one of the most successful club pro shops in the country, Princess Anne Country Club in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Her club’s monthly gross revenue will simply astound you! Charmagne covered buying and selling including the best price points, when to mark down, when to go below cost and when to take it to Goodwill! She talked about hiring and firing staff, repeat customers and how to get them, and finally, when and when not to use social media. Key information detailing how to sell clothing, shoes, racquets, strings and accessories was covered as well as inventory management.
“Maximizing Your Business’s Potential” was presented by Bob Patterson. The session was designed to help people maximize their business’s potential by learning how to take a critical look at their business plan and marketing plan. The class explored how to analyze your business now, plan for the future and discover potential opportunities that could help grow the business to reach it’s full potential.
“Wilson Trackman” was presented by Wilson Sporting Goods Cy Dofitas. The session focused on the new Wilson Spin Effect Technology that gives a racquet 3.3x more string movement, 69% faster snap back and 200+ RPM’s of spin without changing your swing. They DEMO’d Wilson’s 2014 line of 8 new Spin Effect racquets including the Juice, Steam, Blade, Six.One and Pro Staff. Wilson pointed out that the spin produced by the Spin Effect racquets gives 2 inches more net clearance and allows the ball to drop quicker, giving players 12 inches more margin of error. The Trackman demonstration allowed the viewer to actually see what this technology does in real time.
“Tips & Tricks from Behind the Machine” was presented by Richard Parnell. He shared some interesting tricks and nice little tips to improve stringing skills. Richard covered techniques to achieve a high Dynamic Tension, reduce the time needed to achieve the perfect string job and he took a look at the finer points of how the finished string job looks.
“Understanding the Evolving Technology of Racquets” was led by Grant Morgan, personal stringer to Andy Roddick and John Gugel, RSI’s 2012 Stringer of the Year and focused on 3 specific types of racquets. “Player” frame, “Tweener” frame, and one “Game Improvement” frame. Participants hit with the frames and reported back to the manufacturer with their analysis of each racquet. The goal of the session was to give immediate feedback to the sponsors on their racquets and based on sponsor comments this was a very useful and unique session that gave the sponsors some real time feedback.
“Badminton & Racquetball Stringing” was presented by Mark Gonzalez of Alpha Racquet Sports. The class focused on learning all aspects of stringing badminton frames from mounting requirements to special adapters and clamps. The class also covered color coded tubes, bearings, inner grommet systems, and various other complicated issues involved in working with racquetball racquets. Mark explained how it’s done and demonstrated some nice little tricks of the trade to make stringing racquetball and badminton racquets easier.
“Understanding String ” with John Gugel focused on understanding strings and learning what strings to pick and why for a particular application. Participants learned about the composite make-up of strings which give a decided advantage when dealing with various player types and styles. Learning about five major types of string and what works best in hybrid combinations was one of the primary focuses of the class.
- Stringing machine maintenance
- Racquet inspection
- Mounting the racquet
- Measuring the string
- String installation – one piece vs. two piece stringing
- Tie-off knots
- straightening strings
“Natural Gut and it’s Intracacies” was presented by Richard Parnell. Richard covered one of the most misunderstood strings that sometimes tends to make stringers very nervous. He talked about the different types of natural gut, how it’s made, where it comes from, the natural qualities of natural gut and whether this string should be in your inventory. These questions and many more were answered during the presentation
The USRSA offers testing for those who wish to certify as an MRT (Master Racquet Technician) or CS (Certified Stringer). Participants can also do upgrades of existing certifications. USRSA certification has been offered at most IART symposiums but is not offered every year.
“Social Media & Your Business” ….this class taught people how to use one of the most popular social media platforms to promote yourself and your business. Lance Andersen presented this informative session and did a fantastic job! Lance works for Oracle but has a long standing involvement in tennis on a variety of levels.
“Platform Tennis“ was presented by Ben Porter, General Manager at Viking Sports. Ben provided an insider’s look into another racquet sport that’s growing in popularity. Viking has been a leader in producing high performance platform paddles and equipment for over eighteen years. Ben introduced the group to the basic rules and equipment and provided a complete overview of the sports growth and popularity.
“Racquet Matching Simplified” was presented by Bob Patterson. Bob took all the mystery and trepidation out of racquet matching by presenting a very simple but accurate approach suited for racquet technicians at any experience level. Matching the weight, swing weight and balance of racquets was the primary focus. For players who have more than one racquet in their bag this was a great course for anyone wanting those racquets to be matched.
“Dynamic vs Static Balance” was presented by Dr. Richard Zarda. This presentation dealt with the way a racquet responds to “balance” on impact. That is, if you rely on static balance the ball will go in a different location than if you rely on dynamic balance or swing weight. Dr. Zarda received his Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from Columbia University in the area of bioengineering and biomechanics (he was Columbia’s School of Engineering 1971 class salutatorian). Dr Zarda captured the attention of the participants taking them in directions they never expected.
“On the Court with Saddlebrook Head Tennis Pro Howard Moore” In 2011 this class offered some insight to high level training at the Saddlebrook Academy. Howard brought along a very special guest, Craig Boynton. At the time, Boynton was well known as the coach of John Isner, at the time, a top 10 player on the ATP tour. Boynton shared his insights into professional coaching which was definitely a highlight for those in attendance. In 2014 Mr Moore brought along John Isner’s personal trainer/physio for an insightful look into the training regime for players at the very highest level of the game.
“Pickleball“ was presented by Ben Porter, General Manager at Viking Sports, who gave us an insider’s look into one of the most unique racquet sports out there. Pickleball is a racket sport in which two to four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a polymer perforated ball over a net (whiffle ball). The sport shares features of other racket sports, the dimensions and layout of a Badminton court, and a net and rules similar to tennis with a few modifications. One of the fastest growing sports in North America, Pickleball was invented in the mid 1960s as a children’s backyard pastime but quickly became popular among adults as a game fun for players of all skill levels.
“Hindsight is 20/20” with Tim Strawn and Ron Rocchi was the very last presentation of the 2014 IART symposium and for good reason. The main theme of the conference was “Knowing and Growing Your Business” so this seminar was designed for a re-set. Everyone knows the old saying “Hindsight is 20/20” and at one time or another, we’ve all said to ourselves, “Boy, if I had only known that years ago”. Rocchi & Strawn reversed the trend and flipped the situation to show you why this presentation is titled Hindsight is 20/20. Participants were asked some very serious questions that made them think about what they were doing. They were challenged to think about how much they REALLY knew about their your own business. Think about how much you REALLY want to grow your business and where you want it to be in 1 year, 3 years or even 5 years, down the road.
Whatever your level, whatever your goals, there’s something for everyone at the IART training symposium. This is the best event in the world for racquet technicians to meet with their peers from around the world to exchange ideas. Networking opportunities are endless and the atmosphere is always fun and laid back. You’ll find all seminar leaders to be very approachable and always willing to share their wealth of knowledge with the attendees. If you’ve been telling yourself that you’ll make it one of these years maybe this will be your year to come. We’d love to see you at Saddlebrook.
The following information is provided to give you some important information if you plan to attend one of our training events.
MEET & GREET…..Our Meet & Greet session encompasses an entire day. We typically bring everyone together on court on Saturday morning for a fun Round Robin. The entire days activities are designed for one specific thing; to help you get to know everyone else in attendance while at the same time having a great experience. Later that evening, Prince hosts their popular Trivia Night including fantastic Prince prizes followed by the presentation of the now infamous symposium gift bags. The Wilson speed stringing contest immediately follows and on Sunday the seminars commence.
LOCATION……Saddlebrook Resort Tampa, Florida
The location for the 2014 IART symposium was the beautiful Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Florida. Recognized world wide as one of the premier training centers for the ATP/WTA, Saddlebrook offers the perfect setting for tennis lovers who also love to string racquets!
Base Registration Fee = $595
Discounts vary – typically we offer an early bird discount for this event
Saddlebrook offers some great accommodations for the IART symposium with condo style living with room costs as follows;
- Deluxe guest rooms at $110 per night
- One bedroom suites at $135 per night
- Two bedroom suites at $200 per night
This does not include resort fees and there is a state sales tax on rooms of 9%). The rooms at the resort are quite spacious and very comfortable. Take a closer look HERE and you’ll see just what we’re talking about. Please remember that the quoted rates do not include taxes or resort fees.
Saddlebrook Resort lists 5 different dining experiences including the newly revamped Dempsey’s Too Bistro located just around the corner from the main check-in desk. Dempsey’s Too has completely changed their menu to offer a variety of food at reduced prices so if you’re in the mood for a light meal in the evening Dempsey’s Too is the place for you. Plus, Saddlebrook has a super coffee bar to get you started each morning. The cost of dining is really dependent on what you’re in the mood for. Have a sandwich and fries at the Poolside Cafe , check out the Tropics Restaurant, the new Dempsey’s Too or go ahead, indulge in the ultimate dining experience at Dempsey’s Steak House, renowned for some of the best steaks on the planet. For more detailed information on resort dining please go HERE. If you have a car there are several great places to eat very near the resort like Applebee’s and Cracker Barrel plus the usual fast food eateries.
We recommend flying into the Tampa International Airport. Transportation to Saddlebrook can be booked 24/7 by calling Erin at 1-813-907-4455. Be advised that you must book transportation 24 hours in advance of your expected arrival date. Saddlebrook resort does not offer public parking, only valet so there will be a daily fee for parking.
Saddlebrook is a tennis lovers paradise with over 45 courts in all 4 Grand Slam surfaces. As a recognized training facility for top ranked professionals and aspiring juniors Saddlebrook offers everything a tennis player could ever ask for! You can go HERE for more details on the tennis facilities.
If you have further questions about this event please contact IART Executive Director Tim Strawn via email at email@example.com