In tennis any detail is important and tennis players develop a sensitivity with their rackets that continually tests a profession as exciting as it is unknown to the general public, such as that of racket stringing. In Spain, this figure is immediately associated with the media Xavi Segura, one of the best stringers in the world in which the national tennis team blindly trusts and who accompanies Rafael Nadal to many tournaments, but it is not the only one. Possibly, some have wondered on one occasion who is in charge of tuning the rackets of other of the best on the planet. Ron Yu is the answer to that question in reference to the case of Roger Federer and in this interview with the NY Times he describes his life and feelings regarding tennis.
His madness for this sport became irreversible while studying at the Georgia Tech University. “I started working in a tennis store to earn some money and be able to meet my expenses. I fell so deeply in love with the sport and spent so much time there that I ended up leaving my degree. I realized that studying was not my thing” reveals this man of South Korean parents, who emigrated to the United States when he was just a baby. A regular player since he was a child, he soon realized his ability to understand the operation of the different types of strings, establish the ideals and the appropriate tension for each player and prepare grips.
As the years passed, technological advances have allowed rackets and strings to evolve. We review history.
Recruited by the company Priority One, leader in the maintenance of rackets for professionals and founded by the ex-stringer of Pete Sampras, Nate Ferguson, our man became part of a select panel of professionals who have worked with the cream of the circuit since 2001. He played a fundamental role in Grand Slam titles harvested by André Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt or Stan Wawrinka, although his work has focused, almost entirely, on the rackets of Roger Federer, a client of this company since 2004.
This works like this. The professionals of Priority One They are hired by the organization of Grand Slams and Masters 1000, for the most part, and there they find the rackets of the players who have a contract with them and, occasionally, others, although there is generally a team from the tournament that is dedicated to offering services to all those who do not have their own stringing machine or are linked to this company. “Tennis has changed a lot in recent years and one of the key factors has been the substitution of mixed and natural casing strings,” says Yu. “You can give a lot of effect to the ball and at enormous speed, and there are blows that could not be made with other types of string, such as crossed passes in extremis at knee height, for example,” says the expert in the field .
“I used to travel 33 weeks a year from tournament to tournament, although since a couple of seasons ago I asked to go down to 26, I needed to moderate the pace,” reveals a man who, therefore, is half the year traveling and offering service to the best of the world. However, its use, like that of many others, is affected by the coronavirus. “We charge per racket worked, both stringing and customization when competing, so our revenue has dropped to almost 0 right now,” says Ron, who usually works between 25 and 30 rackets daily, and now he only does 2 for a professional who has started training.
Priority One has been forced to dispense with the services of some eminent stringer, such as Glynn Roberts, usual manager of the rackets of Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Ron Yu has had to find a part job in Tampa in order to survive this situation. “I miss life on the circuit a lot and this situation has made me realize how much I love this sport. What we are experiencing is devastating for the tennis world, there are many people who serve tennis players and right now they are in a critical situation, “he declares.
“When I am ill, I think about everything I have experienced and how I want to return to normality. My mother has been telling the world for years that her son is the stringer of Roger Federer and also is his friend. She is very proud of me and I don’t want anything to change. “Shocking statements from Ron Yu that they reveal a difficult reality for many people in the tennis world whose work is essential, but who do not have the deserved visibility. For everyone’s sake, hopefully tennis returns as soon as possible.