Meet Brian Dahlstrom, the man responsible for stringing Syracuse’s rackets

first_img Comments Published on February 25, 2019 at 11:00 pm Contact Andrew: arcrane@syr.edu | @CraneAndrew Brian Dahlstrom stood next to a Wilson Baiardo tennis stringing machine tucked in the corner of Drumlins Country Club’s bigServe Pro Shop. He lined up a black and red racket in the middle of the machine, about 100 feet from the lobby where fans watched Syracuse’s match against Colorado on Feb. 15. He wove and clamped strings, tightening rackets at the proper tension.“I think people are surprised that it’s every string,” he said.As Dahlstrom strung the racket, he recalled his importance to No. 25 Syracuse’s (8-4, 2-2 Atlantic Coast) program. He’s why SU has intact rackets during its matches. Why the Orange players always have four rackets to carry in their equipment bags. When Syracuse players break a racket, they give it to Dahlstrom and he has it back to them within 24 hours. Before he came to Drumlins, Dahlstrom co-owned a tennis club in Illinois.Now, he’s an hidden asset for Syracuse.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textAmy Nakamura | Senior Design EditorJunior transfer Guzal Yusupova doesn’t like to string her rackets. Gabriela Knutson wants to learn, but others claim it’s too hard. “Of course we give it to someone,” sophomore Sofya Golubovskaya said. For SU, it’s Dahlstrom.“It’s one of those things, once again, that if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s a complicated process,” Dahlstrom said.On top of a cabinet in Dahlstrom’s office, the room next to the pro shop, sit two totes. He recently pulled a clear one down, opened the lid and took out tennis racket string. It’s his bin dedicated to SU tennis and holds everything he needs for its rackets. To the right of his cabinet, a label says “TO BE STRUNG GO ORANGE,” and above another hook, “COMPLETED RACKETS GO ‘CUSE.”Sometimes, the hooks will stay empty for two weeks. Suddenly, there could be eight fixes needed in 10 days. Last Friday, the only one on either hook was freshman Sonya Treshcheva’s finished racket.Strings form a pocket that the ball is then sucked into, Dahlstrom said, and if the racket’s tension range is between 52 and 62 pounds, the lower side gives shots more spring. SU head coach Younes Limam’s racket is strung at a very low tension because he has complete control of his shots. If a player wants more control and less power behind balls, the racket is strung closer to 62.“If I was going to jump up and down in the air and try to touch the ceiling, the floor would not give me any energy at all, because it’s stiff,” Dahlstrom said. “If you put me on a trampoline, you get more bungee. But what happens on trampolines? Sometimes people break arms, it can be reckless.”Corey Henry | Staff PhotographerA similar concept applies to tennis strings. Before Dahlstrom starts stringing a racket, he pre-stretches the string right out of the package. In the Drumlins hallway, 20 feet from a side exit, he pulls it around the door handle while SU fans squeeze between Dahlstrom and the wall.Prior to Drumlins, he co-owned the Quad City Tennis Club in Moline, Illinois, and at one point strung current Women’s Tennis Association’s No. 17 Madison Keys’ childhood rackets. He first found out about the Drumlins position from SU associate head coach Shelley George, who Dahlstrom met at a meeting in Kansas City. He coordinated everything from installing a new metal roof to painting the lines in the parking lot. Now, at Drumlins, it’s just tennis.“He’s our string guy, he’s our guy,” George said.The stringing machine at Drumlins was used at a US Open, Dahlstrom said. The best one there is in pounds or kilograms, Dahlstrom slides the string through the grommets, clamps it in place, wraps it around the tension arm and simply pushes a button. When it’s time for cross-strings, he weaves it in-and-out of the main one, before repeating the same process. When finished, he knots the end.Inside a box in the back corner of Dahlstrom’s office, he collects old wooden rackets. His father worked in the military in World War II, deployed in the Philippines and learned tennis from a player ranked top-20 in the world at the time while in charge of recreation activities, he said. Every time he finds an old racket that reminds him of his roots, he buys it.Anyone can claim that they can string a racket, themselves, in 15 minutes, Dahlstrom said. The bottom line, in Dahlstrom’s mind, is that his process is more about quality.Todd Michalek | Staff PhotographerWhen Dahlstrom brought his broken racket to his coach while at Illinois State University, Dahlstrom was told to do it himself. An hour-and-a-half later, Dahlstrom’s “ridiculously stringed racket,” loose in the middle and along the edges, is what he avoids today. Now, an average racket takes him about 30 minutes.“Having the opportunity to string thousands and thousands of rackets makes it go faster,” Dahlstrom said.Near the end of Syracuse’s match against Harvard on Feb. 17, Dahlstrom made his way onto the courts and moved toward Knutson’s blue bench. The senior had broken one of her Babolat Pure rackets on the previous rally, set it down and reached inside her blue bag to grab another. After Knutson returned to the court, Dahlstrom went and inspected her racket.Will Hicks, SU’s assistant athletics director for athletic performance, shouted: “He’s a stringer. He does special things to them.” After nearly a minute of toying with Knutson’s racket, Dahlstrom, with his hand still gripping it, disappeared into the Drumlins curtains.center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img read more

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