Stringer of the Year: John Gugel
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.”
Tips for Success
- Make sure you have good equipment.
- Know what your clients want, keep them up to speed with what you’re doing, and produce a consistent product.
- Understand the structure of a tennis racquet the best you can, and continue to learn all the time.
- Take advantage of the people who are willing to teach you. As a new stringer, find someone or some place that’s willing to help you and don’t hesitate to ask. For seasoned stringers, if you think you’re doing something no one else has, you’re kidding yourselves. Share so everyone can have a good result.
See all articles by Peter Francesconi
About the Author
Peter Francesconi is editorial director of Tennis Industry magazine.
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