Tennis Industry magazine


Stringer of the Year: John Gugel

By Peter Francesconi

About 40 years ago, John Gugel designed a one-piece molded tennis racquet with a foam core. “I wasn’t a tennis player at the time,” he says. “I was working in the plastics molding business. A friend was associated with Head ski company in Colorado, so I designed a water ski and a racquet. The ski ultimately failed; the racquet, we did make and sell some. It wasn’t a piece of art, but it did win an award from an industrial design magazine because it was so unique.”

After designing that racquet “it dawned on me that stringing is pretty doggone important,” says Gugel, of Orlando, Fla. “So I’ve been trying to communicate with racquet technicians and generate a better understanding of what takes place.” He became a Master Racquet Technician and now strings or customizes about 1,300 racquets a year. He’s strung for pros and at tournaments, and he gives seminars and training sessions.

“John is the consummate professional,” says Tim Strawn, who often collaborates with Gugel for Grand Slam Stringers. “There’s never any doubt about his commitment to the art of racquet service because it’s clearly his passion.” And it’s this unyielding passion that makes Gugel RSI’s 2012 Stringer of the Year.

“John is an amazing cross between a world-class stringer, a mad-scientist genius, a cutting-edge racquet designer, a profitable shop owner, and a philanthropist who gives his time freely to help improve the racquet service industry,” adds David Bone, executive director of the USRSA.

“The fun of stringing to me, and what makes it important,” Gugel says, “is having someone enjoy what I’ve done.”

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About the Author

Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.



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