Ron Yu is well known as the man who strings Roger Federer's tennis racquets. The 52 year old has been working at the boutique racket services company Priority One since 2001, which works exclusively for a small group of elite men’s players, including World No.
1 Novak Djokovic and Federer,. Now with the tennis tour shutdown, the tennis stringers have also been impacted and speaking to the New York Times, Ron Yu spoke about the impact of the current crisis on him and other stringers as well.
“The way our contracts work with the players, they pay us for the stringing. The customizing when they are playing and traveling and when we are at tournaments. So currently now revenue has gone to basically zero”.
“Everyone is in the same boat. I don’t want to say that tennis stringers are hermit-like, but they can be fairly introverted." “You might be in a room full of 10 other stringers at a tournament. You will joke around a little bit and talk, but when you are really working hard and hustling you might not say a word to anyone for hours.
"I’ve made a lot of friends who string at Grand Slams as part of the on-site stringing service, and most of these people have their own tennis shops or work in a tennis shop, and those shops are either closed or have probably lost 80 to 90 percent of their revenue.
"Even in normal times, you are not going to get wealthy doing this. You may lead a very nice comfortable middle class life, but this is really devastating for the tennis community, for stringers and the shop owners. Yu, who left Georgia Tech to work as a stringer, says his mom loves the fact that he works with Federer, "My mom loves the fact she can tell her friends in Korea that “my son is friends and works with Roger Federer”.
So that has eased the pain."
Yu says she has taken up a part-time job outside of tennis right now and that has made him realize how much he misses his regular job.
"Working a part-time job outside of tennis has really shown to me how much I still love tennis.
Not that this new job is terrible, but sometimes after being on the road for four or five weeks, I’d be like, ‘Oh man, I’m just tired of tennis.’ "But this has clarified even more for me how great a sport it is.