When Wake Forest and Stanford won the men’s and women’s NCAA team tennis championships at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex, the father-son duo of David and Paul Yamane couldn’t help feeling just a little bit proud.
Although neither so much as hit a single shot, their contributions were significant.
Operating out of a small room on the first floor of Bridger Field House, Paul Yamane strung the rackets for the Deacons, and David Yamane strung the rackets for the Cardinal.
“It was very exciting to string for both of the national championship teams,” David Yamane said.
It was a busy pair of weeks for the Yamanes and Mike Stephens, who drove over from Chattanooga, Tenn., to lend a hand. By the end of the NCAA team tournament, the three of them had strung roughly in the neighborhood of 300 rackets. That number was expected to increase by another 100 by the end of the singles and doubles championships.
Stringing tennis rackets started out as a hobby for David Yamane when he bought his first stringing machine in 2008.
“I started doing it just for fun but when Paul started getting into competitive junior tennis it made sense because it can get pretty expensive,” he said. “And then Paul started to learn to string as far as carrying the weight for his junior tennis. I would say he’s a pretty world-class stringer today.”
Ten years later, David and Paul Yamane — their operation is officially www.bigtimetennis.net — have strung more than 8,500 rackets for the Wake Forest men’s tennis team, and more than 20,000 overall.
“It’s a hobby that has gone out of control,” said David Yamane. “Our dining room has been converted into the stringing room.”
When one of the Deacons breaks a string on his racket, he puts it in a basket in the locker room. The next morning, the racket has been restrung and is ready to go.
“The stringers will never get the credit they deserve because they’re not in the spotlight,” Petros Chrysochos said. “They are basically behind the scenes and nobody knows about them. They help the program so much. And we appreciate them so much.”
While David and Paul Yamane are technically not affiliated with the team, don’t tell that to Borna Gojo.
“They are part of our team and it’s a team effort,” he said. “I give them the same amount of credit as everyone else.”
Both Paul and David Yamane will be back at Bridger Field House in August where they will be the official racket stringers for the Winston-Salem Open. Paul Yamane has also strung rackets at the Citi Open, a tournament in Washington. D.C. Between the Citi Open and the Winston-Salem Open, he’s strung for such top players as Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Dominic Thiem and Jack Sock.
“I’d estimate that if I went through the top 50 (players in the world), I’d say I have probably strung for 75 percent of them,” he said.
The goal of anyone who strings tennis rackets is to make sure the racket of each player is done exactly the same way each time.
“Our main goal is just consistency, day in and day out,” David Yamane said. “We want to make sure the racket has the same weight, the same balance, the same grip and the same tension each time.
“We want to put the players in a situation where they get their tools (rackets), do their work and the tools work right. The last thing they need to be doing when they are playing a match is thinking about their rackets.”