Dan Veldhuis (26) from Leeuwarden will play a crucial role in the Davis Cup meeting at Groninger Martine Plaza on Friday and Saturday. He is a tennis player for the Swiss tennis team, the Netherlands' opponent. There is no great sport without good equipment.
And hello, there the racket of the best Dutch tennis player, Talon Grykboer, flies through the air, straight into an empty grandstand at Groningen's MartinePlaza. The world number 29 just made a mistake in the training match against his compatriot Bottic van de Zandschulp under the eyes of coach Paul Haarhuis and he is not happy about it.
Not so good, such a flight and a hard hit of the tennis racket, says Dan Veldhuis of Leeuwarden. He stands there watching the training for a while and then returns to his electric stringing machine. He continues his work in the Davis Cup, the national tournament for the best tennis players.
“It's a form of weaving.”
Normally, he would be cheering on the Dutch national team next Friday and Saturday, but now he is secretly hoping that the Swiss team – including Marc-Andrea Hausler and Leandro Redi – will come out on top. He's their equipment guy and strings the rackets back on after every practice. “I started here on Monday and noticed that the Swiss boys really consider me one of their own. This feels very good.”
He picks up a bat. “Look, this is how I do my job,” he said Wednesday morning. Leeuwarden first cuts the threads used, then precisely places them on the machine. Veldhuis then takes new polyester thread with a total length of about 12 metres.
It first stretches lengthwise, back and forth sixteen times, like a long shoelace. After tying the knot and cutting, the 19-wide threads are added, “it's actually a form of weaving.” The tension on the strings, that is, the number of pounds placed on them, varies between tennis players. One wants 22 kilos, the other 27. More tension means less punch power, but more control.
Veldhuis was a talented tennis player in his youth. He belonged to the top in Holland and trained under the auspices of the KNLTB Tennis Association in Meppel and Zwolle. The almost daily trips from Leewarden eventually took a heavy toll on him and his parents, both in terms of time and finances. He stopped playing “Federal Tennis” and returned to his old club “t Nijlân” in Leeuwarden.
“There I played mainly against older tennis players, who were in a completely different stage of life. Slowly I lost the fun, and actually fell into a hole. He started out playing football, but after a while he found his love for tennis again while studying sports science at Hanse University.” of Applied Sciences in Groningen. In the afternoon and evening he became a tennis teacher at various clubs.
What caught his attention during all the training sessions was the importance of equipment. He regularly encountered recreational tennis players with arm problems. It was often something to do with their racket: too heavy, the handle too wide or too narrow, or the strings out of order. “And yes, this causes injuries. For example, if the tension is high, the arm has to absorb the strong blows when hitting.
He started testing rackets, bought his own stringing machine, gained more and more knowledge about the material and watched videos on YouTube. Lots of videos. He took a step forward by creating a Match & Play store for tennis and padel equipment. Initially only online, since May last year also physically at the De Bontekoe tennis club in Leeuwarden.
Often he also stood in string racket tournaments. In September he worked in Haren, where he met international achievers. “Obviously my name has grown there.”
He appears. In the run-up to the Davis Cup meet in Groningen, the Swiss Tennis Federation asked his colleagues from the KNLTB if they knew anyone who could help the team as an equipment man. Then Veldhuis received a phone call. The deal with Veldhuis was concluded quickly.
“It's really really cool”
On Tuesday evening, he returned to his hotel after a long, stressful day. “Then I thought: It's really great to be living this. Only now I feel like a professional journalist. I haven't heard any complaints or discord so far and I hope it stays that way. If so, the tournament is a success for me. Anyway “The real test will come, of course, when the matches start. I'm not allowed to make any mistakes.”
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