Whenever a tennis tournament or a shuttle badminton tournament takes place in the city, forty-year-old Dhandu Saheb becomes the most sought-after man. For, he helps players gut the battered strings of their racquets. This bespectacled specialist armed with a tiny machine can be seen working overtime in getting the racquets back to shape, at the ongoing International Tennis Federation Futures Tournament.
“I am into the gutting business for the past 25 years. This tournament is an all-new experience for me, as I will be dealing with racquets of the foreign players. Most of the time the string of the racquet breaks when the ball is mishit. Meeting the ball close to the frame may cause breakage,” said Mr. Saheb, providing a glimpse of his vast experience.
The first day of the ITF tourney witnessed players from Russia, the United States of America, Italy and India handing over their out-of-the-shape racquets to the professional for restringing. “This is a tough job and it takes half-an-hour to bring the racquet back to shape. There are three varieties of imported strings – Head, Wilson and Babolat and these are popular among the players. The best string will cost around Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 5,000,” he explained.
The ITF norm that players should get their racquets gutted inside the playing arena has also come in handy to Saheb, who plans to install one more machine to meet the demand. “When the main draw commences on March 29, I will get busier. These foreign players move around playing tennis tournaments with more than eight to nine racquets. The string tension is a personal preference as some prefer high string tension while some want it low.”
Saheb said that the stings manufactured in Taiwan and China were the most preferred ones, as they were sturdier and durable.
Saheb also takes care of the needs of players at Vijayawada Club, Loyola Tennis Academy at Andhra Loyola College and the Executive Club.