RICK Pell mustn't be as highly-strung as most people.
An assistant manager at the Windermere Hotel, Pell has taken two weeks' holiday from the pub to set up shop at the Bendigo Tennis Association.
Pell is the racquet stringer for the two William Loud Bendigo Internationals.
"I'm on holidays and I come and work harder here than I do at work," he said.
"It's a lot different clientele.
"I enjoy doing it, you see a lot of the same faces each year, some new ones, they love it here."
Visitors to the Nolan Street courts in the next two weeks will probably see Pell working away feverishly in his corner 'office'.
In that time he could string up to 250 racquets.
It's a time-consuming job, and one that kept him at the courts until 10pm Monday night.
He's strung so many racquets over the years that his work now comes down to feel.
"I started stringing in 1977, so I've been around a little while," he said.
"We used to have a sports store, Kel Pell, where the Bendigo Bank building is.
"You basically do it by the feel, as you're threading it it's just your fingers working across."
While he's being interviewed by the Bendigo Advertiser, a steady flow of players approach Pell's desk to hand over their racquets.
One of them is Australia's number three female tennis player Casey Dellacqua, who flashes a smile and says "no rush, maybe tomorrow?" as she passes her weapons across.
Dellacqua seems like one of the more relaxed players Pell deals with.
"You meet some interesting characters. Some are a lot fussier than others, put it that way," he said.
"Most of them are really good, easy to get on with.
"I had one kid one year from England. He came in and he was whinging about things, but he lost - it was all my fault.
"I take the credit from losing a lot of matches.
"When Alicia Molik played here a couple of years ago, she was absolutely lovely."
More tennis page 38.