The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
If badminton was war, then shuttlers' rackets would be the weapons used to engage in battle. A racket, somehow, can often reflect a player's individual style.
"Each shuttler who repairs their rackets here, often requires us to use certain brands of badminton strings and to apply certain tension levels to suit their needs," Yonex Indonesia promotion executive Reynaldo Rante Allo told The Jakarta Post.
As badminton's dominant sponsor, the Japan-based sporting equipment producer Yonex provides a free-of-charge racket repair service for competing shuttlers.
At the recently-concluded Djarum Indonesia Open Super Series at the Indoor Hall at Bung Karno Sports Complex in Senayan, Central Jakarta, Yonex had two racket repair staff on deck.
"Sometimes, we also have to customize the rackets based on a player's requests, ranging from string tension through to the grip bands," Reynaldo said.
"Over time, we have become familiar with the players' requests."
Indonesian men's singles shuttler Taufik Hidayat, for example, often asks that his strings be set at a tension level of 34 to enable him to play faster, while China's Zheng Bo is comfortable with his strings at 32.
"Most Indonesian and European shuttlers are comfortable with having their racket string tension tightened at between 30 and 34. Though Japanese players often prefer the tension to be at between 24 and 26, as this suits their relatively slow style of play," Reynaldo said. "Even when there's no broken strings in their rackets, many players show up just to have their strings tightened after matches.
"We also provide different kinds of racket grip bands as some want leather, others want rubber. We also prepare certain popular strings, which are often asked for and used by the players," he added.
According to Reynaldo, the demand for racket repairs is very high, especially during the initial days of major tournaments.
"At the Singapore Open last week, we repaired a whopping 500 rackets throughout the tournament. But here, we only handle an average of 40 rackets a day. The number continues to dwindle as the competition reaches its conclusion and as many players head home," he explained.
Each shuttler often has three or four rackets requiring repair during an event.
"Since we only have one manual device and one mechanic device available to tighten racket strings, we prioritize the rackets belonging to shuttlers with early matches scheduled, rather than those playing later in the day," Reynaldo concluded.
Seputar Bulutangkis bulutangkisindonesia.blogspot.com
14 May 2007