2006 Stringer of the year: Grant Morgan
Grant Morgan says his introduction to tennis “was about as low-end as you can get.” He started by playing what he calls “apartment-complex tennis” with friends. From there, though, Morgan took lessons and became a fairly decent player. When he realized that he was spending a lot of money getting his racquet restrung frequently, he decided to learn how to string for himself.
“I had a tabletop machine,” Morgan says. “After a while, I talked to [the original owner of String ‘n’ Swing in Memphis]. He was buying a new machine and was going to sell his old one for $1,000. I had $500 cash, and he said, “Work for me and you can work off the other $500.’ So that’s what I did.”
That launched a pro stringing career that has taken Morgan around the world, stringing for top touring pros. In 2004, he moved back to Memphis, where he became a part owner of String ‘n’ Swing. Morgan still strings for pro events, but it’s his service for recreational players that is winning raves, too. And for 2006, Morgan is RSI’s Stringer of the Year.
Now Morgan, a Master Racquet Technician, says he strings about 10 racquets a day. “I’ve done the ‘meat grinder’ of the pro tour, pounding out 30 racquets a day. It’s a tough way to go.”
After stringing for a number of years and getting his certification from the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association, “I had pretty much topped myself out as far as the Memphis community goes,” he says. Then, in 1997, he saw a classified ad from Jay Schweid looking for stringers for the US Open. “That’s how I got into the pro tour.”
In 2000, Morgan moved to Orlando and worked with Head Racquet Sports as a technical representative. Then he moved to New York and worked with Schweid for a few years, traveling on the pro circuit and at the Grand Slams and other events. After moving back to Memphis for a few months to “regroup,” Schweid asked him to string at the 2003 US Open.
“As I was getting ready to leave the Open, Jay asked me if I would do Davis Cup in Slovakia,” says Morgan. “That’s where I met Andy Roddick.” Morgan, based out of Memphis, became Roddick’s personal stringer. “I was on the road with him for about nine months or so, and life was about as good as it could be for a stringer.”
But while with Roddick in Spain for a Davis Cup match, “My two goals came together,” says Morgan. “I’m here with my guy on the team, and all I’m thinking about is going home. That’s how I ended up back in Memphis.”
As it turned out, the String ‘n’ Swing owner offered to sell the business to Morgan. “It’s been a really good move,” he says. “I still string for Davis Cup, so I get to see the guys at least twice a year.”
When he strings frames, Morgan says he uses a special pattern that he learned from Schweid. “It’s a ‘box’ pattern that is a bit more difficult and a little slower,” he says. “But it’s completely unique. Now, I can look at a racquet and immediately tell if I did the work. And the pattern is better for the racquet and holds tension longer.”
“Grant’s consistency is amazing,” says David Neese, a 5.0 player who says he has three or four racquets strung every month. “The racquets all feel the same when they come off the machine. And they do some nice touches, like poly bags over the racquets when you get them back.”
String ‘n’ Swing guarantees 24-hour turnaround for its customers and does customization work, too, “which in the Memphis area separates us out huge,” says Morgan, adding that over the last four years, the store has averaged 23 percent growth every year. In early 2007, the store will move to a larger, 5,000-square-foot location, which will have an indoor hitting area (a half-size court) to demo racquets.
But you can bet that the consistency and quality will still be the same. “Grant,” says Neese, “is one of the very few people I trust to string my racquets.”
Grant Morgan’s tips for success
- Go after junior players. “It’s a moneymaker,” says Morgan, “because they burn through strings.”
- In dealing with juniors, “make mom’s life simple,” says Morgan. He keeps a list of kids who are playing tournaments, then gives the mothers a call a few days before, reminding them to get the racquets strung. “They become so loyal to you that it’s crazy. And if you make one happy, she’s telling everybody.”
- Consistency is king. Keep your stringing machine in as good a condition and as clean as possible, calibrated every day. Have a good supply of tools, stay organized, and keep records on your customers.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of RSI magazine.