When it comes to racquet stringing services, most ATP players make use of the on-site stringers that are provided by tournaments and charge a nominal fee for racquet stringing (set to a maximum of $20/€20 per racquet).
While that is more than good enough for the vast majority of pros, there's a select bunch of players who don't leave anything to chance and want the same racquet stringing week in and week out.
That desire for consistency created the niche market of personal stringing and perhaps the most well known of these firms is Priority One.
The Florida based firm has looked after several top players over the years like Pete Sampras, Tim Henman, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic and John Isner to name but a few.
Meet Ron Yu – Federer's Personal Stringer
For the last 15 years, Ron Yu has personally strung Federer's racquets. He strings nine fresh ones before every single match Federer plays with a hybrid string setup of natural gut and Luxilon Alu Power rough. These are all done at Roger's requested string tension and completed with a white overgrip, Wilson stencil, string savers and power pads.
How Much Does Federer Pay For Racquet Stringing?
I had long wondered how much Federer pays for this bespoke service. During the Swiss Indoors in Basel, the Swiss television channel SRF spoke to Priority One's Ron Yu who revealed that the package Federer is on costs $40,000 per annum. Also thanks to Brian for tweeting about it earlier this year otherwise I'd never have seen it.
That fee covers him for all four Grand Slams, the Masters 1000 events and some of the ATP 500 events he plays like Dubai, Halle and Basel.
Assuming Priority One were at all seventeen of the tournaments Federer played in 2019 (although I don't think they do the Laver Cup), that works out at $2350 per tournament.
In terms of a percentage of prize money, Federer won $8,716,975 in 2019, which means he spent 0.5% of his on-court earnings on racquet stringing.
Did the consistency and quality of Priority One's work add more than 0.5% to his game? You'd have to think so, and if you asked a player what % importance they placed on strings, I think they'd all be quoting a much higher figure. So should Nate and Ron be charging more? 🙂
It certainly sounds low as a headline figure, but these guys know the market inside out and it's a tricky service to price. There is a fine line between players using a personal stringer and just sacking it off to use on-site stringers instead.
Also, it's probably not a good example using Federer as he was one of the top earners in 2019. Some of their other clients, like Tsonga, spent 3.7% of their prize money on stringing and Raonic spent 3.1%. They both earned over $1 million which is still way above average, so that is a tad more realistic.
We also don't know what services fall outside the scope of the Gold Package and are billed separately. How readily bonuses are thrown around for tournament wins. Or if Federer covers their travel and accommodation in places like Halle where he's the only guy in the draw using their services which would aid profitably.
Based on that, is personal stringing a business you'd like to get in to? I'd have to say no. I know from stringing my racquet it's a tough job, harsh on the fingers and it does get repetitive. It's not my preferred model either as you're trading time for money which makes it hard to scale. The minute you put down that stringing machine, you stop earning.
Ten players on the books would give you $400k a year, minus all the travel expenses over the calendar year so not bad but combine that that with the USA taxing worldwide income even if you're spending 200 days a year out of the country it's certainly not a job that will make you filthy rich, but it probably has a few perks from time to time and you do get to sit in Federer's box 🙂
Was $40k higher or lower than you expected? Let me know in the comments.