Mariel Klunder - Tennis Interview

The pros on the Sanex WTA Tour and ATP wouldn't last a second on the court without Mariel Klunder and her colleagues. If you've ever watched a tennis match on TV or from Row Z, you've seen a pro rush to his or her chair and pull a new racquet from his or her bag. Maybe he or she has broken a string or isn't happy with the racquet's feel. Inevitably, you've also noticed the plastic wrapping covering the newly strung racquet usually sports a bright yellow logo.
This logo belongs to Jay's Custom Stringing (JCS). JCS is based in New York, but provides stringing services for professional players worldwide. Mariel Klunder is one of the specially trained stringers at JCS.

Row Z Tennis: Where did you grow up?
Mariel Klunder: I grew up in Holland - Hilversum.

RZT: What were your hobbies as a kid?
MK: Speed skating and basically any sports, drawing. I was on the track 7 days a week, training, races and giving lessons. In summertime I would be on the bike, which is the perfect combination (skating - biking, same muscles).

RZT: How did you become interested in tennis?
MK: My parents owned a tennis shop when I was 21 years old. I started working for them immediately and got really into tennis (playing, watching etc.). I learned how to string from the former owner. He was a great technician and was a very strict tutor. Once I started working for Jay's Custom Stringing, they told me to forget what I had learned and [I] did a 7-week-long stringing training. Nothing JCS does is even similar to what 'regular' shops do. It's focused on the professional players (picky!!) and my boss, Jay Schweid, has been working on stringing patterns and the actual techniques for years, until he figured out the perfect way. Since all our stringers get that same training, we all string exactly the same. This is a major issue for professional players.

RZT: What's different about the way JCS's stringing method?
MK: We have our own pattern. It gives a certain feel that players seem to like a lot. I'm obviously not going to tell you what we do, but one of the main results is consistency and that's all that matters.

RZT: What players have you strung racquets for?
MK: Ask me which ones I HAVEN'T strung for...which would be Ivan Lendl, my idol, when I was young. I got to string for all the other players over the past 12 years, even for Martina Hingis, who normally only has her mom string for her (and maybe I shouldn't mention that was the year that she lost Wimbledon first round....wasn't the stringing though!!).