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Then Zing Go The Strings

June 06, 1983
June 06, 1983

Table of Contents
June 6, 1983

Lakers-Sixers
Indy 500
Hagler
Head Hog
TV/Radio
Baseball
Lacrosse
Track & Football
Wizard Of Boz
19th Hole: The Readers Take Over

Then Zing Go The Strings

That, say many top tennis players, is what happens after the Wizard of Boz, a.k.a. Warren Bosworth, performs his magic on their rackets and their games

Warren Bosworth, roused from his wee-hour slumber by the harsh jangling of the telephone in his Glastonbury, Conn. Dutch Colonial house, padded groggily into his den and groped for the receiver. "Hello," he muttered.

This is an article from the June 6, 1983 issue Original Layout

"Hello, Varren?" said Ivan Lendl.

"Eevon," said Bosworth, instantly slipping into the thick Slavic accent he uses to make Lendl, the peripatetic Czech, feel more at home. "Vere are you?"

"Vienna," said Lendl. "And I haf a problem."

For Bosworth, racket stringer to the stars, a predawn call for help from one of the far-flung stops on the tennis tour is all in a long day's—and night's—work. He is the Stradivari of the tennis racket, a master craftsman who shapes and fine-tunes the instruments of more than 30 virtuosos of the center court. And wherever he goes, the emergency calls from Jimmy Connors, Vitas Gerulaitis, Jimmy Arias, Roscoe Tanner, Brian Gottfried, Sandy Mayer, Barbara Potter, Harold Solomon, Steve Denton, Bill Scanlon et al. are sure to follow.

Bosworth's background—he's been a licensed embalmer, investment banker and racer of sports cars—seems as incongruous as the fact that, at 48, he has the cherubic countenance and sunny demeanor of the kid in the Campbell's soupad who was always saying, "M'm! M'm! Good!" But then, by definition, an innovator who preaches that tennis is a game of micrometers fits no pattern. He breaks it often and imaginatively enough to be able to boast, "I'm the only person in the world who does what I do."

Though, as Bosworth says, "No one in the stands has ever heard of me," he is renowned on the pro circuit for the precision of his work and the high-tech voodoo he employs "to achieve harmonious union between the player and his racket." Like Stradivari, Bosworth is sensitive to the pitch and tone of the strings and often requires the noted soloists in his ensemble to play by ear, to perform a little impromptu sonata, as it were, on their mid-size composites.

The solution to Lendl's problem is a case in point. As a new client of Bosworth's, he had departed for Europe in the fall of 1981 with 12 customized rackets, six strung at 68 pounds of tension, six at 70. All went well until Vienna, when, in a rash moment, Lendl turned over some of his Bosworth specials to a tournament stringer. The results were disastrous. Now, left with but one playable racket for the late rounds and scheduled to play another tournament in Cologne, West Germany immediately thereafter, Lendl needed a shipment of new rackets—fast. Moreover, he informed Bosworth on the phone, the one surviving racket was playing "a leetle loose."

"All right, Eevon," said Bosworth reassuringly, "play me your racket."

And so he did in a scene that deserved to be filmed for the archives in quadraphonic sound and on a split screen. On one side was Lendl in his Vienna hotel room, lustily thumping the speaking end of the phone against the racket strings like a bass drummer. On the other, an ocean and several time zones away, was Bosworth in his pajamas, drowsily pressing a tape recorder mike to the receiver.

Later that day, about the time Lendl was advancing to the semifinals in Vienna on one string job and a prayer. Bosworth drove a short distance from his home in suburban Hartford to his studio, a spacious, windowless chamber in the rear of a modern brick warehouse he shares with a distributor of power-plant parts. There, surrounded by an array of precision tools and exotic machinery that suggests the laboratory of a space-age Dr. Frankenstein, he set to work.

First, from a honeycomb of cubicles covering one wall and filled with string-less rackets, Bosworth selected a dozen Adidas GTX graphite frames from the compartment marked LENDL. Next, after consulting the detailed specifications he keeps on file for each of his clients and working with one racket at a time, he stripped off the leather grip and placed the frame on a set of ultrasensitive scales and balance bars. When extra weight was required to achieve the heft and balance he and Lendl had previously determined was best for Lendl's game, Bosworth added strips of lead tape to the racket at strategic points. When a reduction was needed, he drilled minuscule holes in the butt of the handle, carefully giving and taking until the racket weighed precisely 371.5 grams and its balance point was exactly 321.0 mm from the butt cap.

Then Bosworth measured the handle with a dial caliper and used a sanding block to shape the handle to the octagonal dimensions Lendl prefers. With a dial gauge, he checked the width and uniformity of the leather grip and deftly wrapped it around the handle, securing the beveled calfskin with contact cement and black finishing tape.

That done, Bosworth clamped the frame into a stringing machine of his own design, a massive device not unlike a medieval torture rack in appearance. Next he scrutinized the string holes with an otoscope, the illuminated magnifying probe used by ear doctors, checking grommets and replacing any that had hairline cracks. Then he plugged a frequency analyzer into his tape recorder and played Lendl's Viennese waltz, a refrain Bosworth more accurately likened to the "clanging of a San Francisco trolley car." By converting the reading on the analyzer's meter into pounds of tension, he determined that the level Lendl felt was a "leetle loose" could best be remedied by setting the stringing machine for 72 pounds.

No sweat so far, if only because the temperature in the studio is fixed at 62° to preserve the resiliency of the $10,000 worth of gut stored in an airtight cabinet designed for surgical instruments. Bosworth withdrew a 34-foot strand of 16-gauge beef gut and measured it with a micrometer to make certain it was uniformly 50 thousandths of an inch in diameter. Then, waxing the gut and threading it through snippets of protective plastic tubing at the various pressure points on the rim, he strung the frame. Next, he meticulously straightened the strings. Finally, he stenciled the Adidas trileaf emblem on the strings with spray paint, cleaned and buffed the racket with a toothbrush and polishing cloth, chalked the number 72 on the butt cap, encased the grip in a sandwich wrapper, slipped the finished product into a cushioned plastic bag and placed it in an insulated shipping carton. Each racket required some 90 minutes to customize. Bosworth completed the job, and then, because he is a perfectionist who prides himself on being able to prepare and deliver a set of rackets to a player anywhere in the world in about 24 hours, he immediately drove his Cadillac De Ville sedan with the license plates BOZ 1 to Hartford's Bradley Field, where he had the carton airfreighted to JFK Airport in New York and then put aboard a Lufthansa flight bound for Cologne. Finally, Bosworth phoned Cologne and arranged for a member of the tournament committee there to meet the flight, escort the carton through customs and deliver it to Lendl's hotel. Thus, when Lendl arrived in Cologne on Monday, fresh from a win in the finals in Vienna, Bosworth's gift-wrapped reinforcements were awaiting him in his hotel room.

"Varren is a vizard," says Lendl. "I don't know how he does it."

The Wizard of Boz the players call him, and no one values his legerdemain more than Lendl. Indeed, he dates the origins of his most successful streak—which included a 45-match run of wins that began shortly before the Vienna crisis and extended into 1982, a year in which he won 121 of 129 matches, 20 tournaments and a record $1.9 million—to the introduction of Bosworth-strung rackets to his arsenal. But for all Bosworth's attention to the matériel side of the game, an important part of what he does, as Solomon avows, is give his players a "huge psychological advantage." Call it the assurance that comes with uniformity. Fact is, the piles of tennis rackets that are stamped from molds and rolled off assembly lines like so many overpriced rug beaters are less than precision instruments. No pro worth his endorsement contract would dare play with his autograph model without first having it customized in some way.

"Among other pluses," says Mayer, "Warren saves you the trouble of having to go to the racket factory and pick through 200 frames before you can find five that are the right weight and balance for you." Using tournament stringers is another kind of crapshoot. Says Gottfried, "Sometimes I got back rackets with strings that meandered like rivers or were so dead I couldn't even play with them. And no two stringers or stringing machines are the same. You can have five rackets all strung at the same tension, and none of them will come out the same."

Connors agrees. "I play with the smallest head in the game," he says of the Wilson T2000, a tubular steel curiosity which, in the era of the oversized racket, does indeed seem as small and whippy as a fly swatter. It's so volatile, says Connors, "I could never play with a racket off the shelf." To compensate for the variances, he has, in effect, developed his own racket customizing system. Going "mostly by feel," he adds as much as 40 grams of lead tape to the head of his racket to stabilize its weight—and his nervous system. "The T2000 is like an extension of my arm," says Connors, "and Warren with his stringing helps to add a little muscle."

Given the fact that a top pro goes through 100 frames and as many as 400 string jobs and grip changes a year, the chances that he'll end up with a clinker in his bag are disconcertingly high. "Before Varren," says Lendl, "I had to get my rackets strung three or four times during a tournament before I got the right touch. I spent all this time and money running around, and even then I was always worrying, if I broke a string, that the racket I picked up would not be the same. Now I don't even look at the rackets before a match. That helps my confidence and concentration."

In the past most pros would "play to the racket," that is, alter their strokes to compensate for the idiosyncrasies of a new racket. But for Bosworth's clients, no more. "Today," says Bosworth, "the idea is to make the necessary adjustments in the rackets beforehand, so the player can stay with his own best game."

Still, as Gottfried says, "As important as stringing is, I think Warren would be the first to say that ultimately the winning and losing is done by the man and not the racket. If you're a good player, you can win with a frying pan." Perhaps, but who among Bosworth's charges would want to take that risk? Not Gottfried, who has invited Bosworth to accompany him to tournaments in Europe the last two years. And certainly not Tanner, a fireballer who, twice burned, is thrice devoted.

Tanner vividly remembers the 1979 U.S. Open. Going in, he says, "I thought something was really wrong with me. I felt like I was always mis-hitting the ball; there was always that mushy feeling you get when your timing's not there." After Tanner barely survived the first two rounds, Dennis Ralston, his coach, suggested that he should go and see the Doctor, another of Bosworth's sobriquets.

"Roscoe was really struggling," Bosworth recalls. "He said he didn't think he could play tennis anymore, and when he brought me his rackets, I could see why. They were terrible—no two even remotely the same. So I restrung and re-gripped them all, and he went out the next day and beat Lendl."

"It was amazing," says Tanner. "I was getting a lot more zip on the ball. My serve was much stronger, and the old pop I was used to feeling was there again. So was my timing, and that's not something you regain overnight. I realized that the problem had been the bad string jobs and not me, and that was a big relief, believe me." So much so that Tanner went on in that Open to upset Bjorn Borg in a memorable quarterfinal match that had reporters crowding around to find out what secret strategy he had used. "The difference in the match," said Tanner, "was the string job."

Because of a mixup on his part, Tanner was without that difference at the 1982 Volvo Masters in Madison Square Garden. When he lost his first two matches in a combination round robin tournament with rackets he'd had strung locally, Ralston put through an emergency call to Bosworth, who was in Miami at a tennis trade show. "I rushed home on the next jet," says Bosworth, "pulled Roscoe's rackets out of the bin, strung them, sent them right down to the Garden and then flew back to Miami." Tanner responded by beating Connors in three tingling tie-breaker sets. Noting that Connors had won nine of their previous 10 meetings, Tanner said with a smile, "I would say Warren's string jobs help a little bit, wouldn't you?"

To hackers, ascribing such mystical powers to a few strands of gut may seem a bit much. That's why they're hackers, according to Bosworth. "Unless you have it," he says, "it's difficult to appreciate the unbelievable sense of touch the pros acquire from a lifetime of hitting tennis balls. Take Solomon. He's the finickiest of all. Each of his unstrung frames must weigh exactly 354.2 grams. Not 354.3 or 354.1 but exactly 354.2. That's Harold. The finished product has to be 399.0 grams with the balance point 337.5 mm from the butt."

"I'm really particular about my stuff," admits Solomon. "It's pretty amazing, but I can feel it in my hands when a racket is off by three or four grams, which is like the weight of a piece of paper."

Once racket uniformity is attained it must constantly be tinkered with to make allowances for a whole set of other variables. Indeed, if there wasn't a Bosworth standing by with his rackets and gauges, the dizzying output of new equipment alone would have compelled today's players to manufacture him out of nowhere. New developments in twisted gut and in racket designs and materials as well as some five or six different kinds of tournament ball, each with distinct playing characteristics, must be figured into the equation. Factor in the effects of altitude, the whims of weather and the differences in court surfaces, and each match becomes a problem in quantum mechanics.

"With Warren," says Mayer, "I can just say, 'I'm going to Europe, and we'll be playing on clay with unpressurized Tretorn balls at an altitude of 2,500 feet. String my racket and make it play like I like it to play.' " In short, as Connors says, "You need Warren to survive today."

Connors should know. Unlike Lendl, who has kept his rackets strung at 72 pounds ever since Cologne, a fussbudget like Connors switches string tensions not only from match to match but during matches as well. While en route to winning the 1982 U.S. Open, for example, he conferred with Bosworth about an evening match against Arias. Aware that a predicted drop in temperature would reduce the speed of the ball, Bosworth advised, "Be prepared to go down in tension slightly so the ball will be faster off the strings and you won't have to work as hard."

Accordingly, Connors strode onto the court with four pairs of rackets, strung at 60, 61.5, 62.5 and 63 pounds, respectively, and, after a few warmup swipes, decided to start with one strung at 62.5. As the evening chill descended, Arias waxed hot and broke to a 6-0, 3-0 lead. Not to worry. During a changeover, Connors went to his Bosworth bag of tricks and picked up one of the rackets strung at 60. And presto switcho, he came alive and swept 18 of the next 20 games to win 0-6, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2.

"I liked the rackets Warren strung at 62.5 pounds during the heat of the day," says Connors, "but that night against Arias that ball just wouldn't come off my racket the way I like. So I went with the 60, and instead of just hitting the ball, I really started smacking it. You just never know. For instance, I picked up the racket I beat Arias with the next day, and I wanted to throw it away it felt so bad. It's a question of feel, and Warren understands that. He understands weather conditions. He understands the game. And perhaps best of all, he understands me."

Which is no small feat according to Del Wilber, former president of North American operations for Snauwaert, a racket maker, and now a partner and a managing director at Advantage International, which represents many leading players. "Warren has a unique mentality that lets him deal with the massive egos of world-class athletes. What makes Connors as good as he is is that he's so damn arrogant and egotistical he doesn't think anybody can ever beat him. That makes him a good player, but it also makes him a little tough to handle. And that goes for most of the top players. When you know how much money those guys are making, you can't sit there and listen to them whine and whimper without getting a little cynical. Well, Warren is never cynical. He cuts through all that, and I don't know if you call it patience or understanding or what, but he can listen to those massive egos, and he's not the enemy; he's one of them."

Presumably, given the specifications and training, other artisans could turn out a dozen reasonably uniform rackets. But how does one arrive at those uniquely individual specifications? How does one decipher the vague code words the pros use to describe racket response—dead, mushy, tingly, harsh, solid, sling-shotty—and turn them into formulas that will result in what Tanner mysteriously describes as "a certain satisfying emotion that develops off the strings"? Therein, says Wilber, lies Bosworth's "truly singular gift, an uncanny ability to precisely translate the imprecise."

Wilber, who hired Bosworth as the chief technical consultant for Snauwaert, explains that "the engineers who design sports equipment go by the numbers. Unfortunately, the athletes who use that equipment have a whole different set of perceptions. And there's no chance, none, that they can express what they feel in words that the engineers can understand. So what happens is that a Stan Musial ends up working on his bats with a Coke bottle, and Connors has to slap a ton of lead tape on the T2000. I'm sure that in the aerospace industry, say, there are test pilots who have found a way to communicate with the engineers. But in my experience there's never been anyone in sports who spans the gap between the players and the R & D guys except Warren."

Bosworth was to the manner born. His grandfather was an inventor who gave the world the Bosworth Tipping Machine, a breakthrough in the mass production of those little gizmos on the ends of shoestrings. His father, a man of means and influence in Providence, R.I., operated the Warren M. Bosworth Funeral Home, and Warren Jr., after earning a degree in embalming from the New England Institute of Anatomy, worked as a mortician for four years before taking up investment banking. Raised in a "fairly affluent atmosphere," Bosworth played scratch golf, skippered the family yacht and raced his Jaguar and MG in sportscar rallies. But after he married in 1959, fathered three children and worked for five brokerage houses, the last of which was E.F. Hutton's office in Hartford, sound financial management dictated that he find a more cost-efficient pastime. "So I took up tennis," he says, "basically because I could play for free on the public courts."

Bosworth took tennis lessons—and gave one in self-reliance. When he failed to improve, he concluded that the teaching methods, not he, were "inadequate and probably wrong." So he decided to teach himself through scientific inquiry, beginning with what amounted to the anatomy of the tennis stroke. Convinced that "the only important thing is what happens at the moment of impact with the ball," Bosworth went to the 1968 U.S. Open at Forest Hills, bought a camera and 54 rolls of film and photographed the players hitting forehands and backhands from every conceivable angle. He broadened his investigation to question virtually every axiom in the game. Among others, Bosworth consulted a psychiatrist, an oculist and the NASA physicists who designed the life-support systems for the moon walks. A self-taught engineer with wide-ranging interests, Bosworth also relied on his training in chemistry, architecture, drafting and something called video recall, a skill that enables him to recount, on command, events and conversations in full detail and word for word years after the fact. "Your brain never forgets what it sees and hears," he says. "You just have to learn how to recall it."

Forever asking "why do you do this?" only to be told, "because that's the way it's always been done," Bosworth went to any extreme to get at the facts. To gain more firsthand knowledge about court surfaces, for instance, he formed, and for two years operated, a company that maintained Har-Tru and other surfaces. And, typically, when given a string job that wasn't to his liking, he bought a stringing machine and began tinkering. What he came up with so impressed the Ektelon Corp. that the company asked him to redesign its stringing machine.

Bosworth attended the inaugural Aetna World Cup held in Hartford in 1972, and by 1976 he was the tournament's Floor General. He oversaw the stringing operation, the ball boys and the courts, and he relished the opportunity to attend every practice session and "just sit there for hours taking pictures and watching the best players in the world hit tennis balls." The players also had taken note of the ubiquitous shutterbug, and before long he became the personal stringer for such luminaries as Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe and Stan Smith.

Along the way, Bosworth grew skilled enough at the sport to qualify as a U.S. Professional Tennis Association teaching pro. He believes the standard teaching methods in tennis are so wrongheaded that they scare off thousands of beginners each year. "Generally," he says, "the attitude of the teaching pros is, 'If you don't learn what I teach you, you're a dummy.' My approach is, 'If you don't learn, I'm the dummy.' "

Somebody smartened up, because by 1975 when the man from E.F. Hutton talked tennis, people in substantial numbers listened. Enough players were availing themselves of his services to induce him to retire from the investment business in 1975 to form a more perfect union between player and racket. "The odds against a person picking out the perfect racket for himself are extremely high," says Bosworth. "There's no single test and no outside authority for making that decision for you. Your physical needs and game style are as individual as your fingerprints, and the only way to find out is to experiment with as many different rackets as you can. Eventually, in this process, the best racket for you will announce itself."

To that end, he periodically tours the country with a hit show called the Bosworth Racket Clinic. His main props are several carefully calibrated sets of rackets that he likens to the lenses an optometrist uses in an eye exam. Bosworth will start a player with a set of eight rackets that differ in weight by gradations of five grams and have him hit with each model until the player finds out what "feels good." Then the player repeats the process of elimination with sets of rackets with different degrees of flexibility, balance points, string tensions, grip configurations, head sizes and frame compositions until he arrives at a combination that is as uniquely suited to his needs as a pair of eyeglasses.

While the clinic is primarily intended for the average player, Bosworth sometimes puts his pro clients through the paces as well. On two occasions, for instance, Tim Gullikson stayed at Bosworth's home for three days to adjust his racket specifications and learn the mechanics of hitting the top spin. The Dr. Feelgood of tennis also treats emergency cases like Rodney Harmon. A recent graduate of SMU who was one of the nation's top college players, Harmon was so erratic while losing a first-round match at the U.S. Pro Championships in Boston last July that some of his shots would have gone for extra bases in Fenway Park.

"One of my wristy forehands took off and hit the scoreboard," says Harmon. "I was so embarrassed that I went to Connecticut right away and spent two days working with Warren." The master overhauled Harmon's rackets and introduced him to the Bosworth Pattern, a stringing innovation that is made up of "absolutely perfect squares surrounded by rectangles and gives the player a little more power and a truer face for spinning, chipping and volleying."

In addition, at the points where the strings intersect, Bosworth inserted tiny circular graphite "lifts" with—a special wizardly touch—holes in the middle no bigger than a gnat's eye. The lifts are designed to reduce friction between strings and thereby decrease wear, but lifts without holes, says Bosworth, "cut off the energy transference and detract from the normal playing feeling. The holes, on the other hand, allow the strings to touch and transmit the vibrations properly without undue friction." So armed, Harmon advanced to the quarterfinals in his next four tournaments, including the U.S. Open where, ranked No. 221 in the world at the time, he upset eighth-seeded Eliot Teltscher.

For major tournaments, Bosworth usually sets up shop nearby—in a private club for the French Open, in a Chelsea flat for Wimbledon, in a Manhattan hotel suite for the U.S. Open. Wherever he unpacks his shipping crates, it's Racket Central for the players, a busy pit stop with dozens of frames filed in random stacks—Connors on the sofa, Lendl atop the bureau, Tanner under the TV set—amid a spread of sophisticated hardware that causes maids to suspect they are harboring a mad bomber.

Working with one or more assistants, Bosworth offers round-the-clock service and, when asked, tactical advice gleaned from reams of point-by-point charts of hundreds of matches he has recorded in a shorthand language known only to wizards. By way of prepping Harmon for his match against Teltscher, for example, Bosworth sketched a plan of attack on a handy copy of The New York Times. The strategy, as translated by Harmon, meant "serve right at him and make him move to his backhand. It helped a lot. So did the confidence I got when, at the beginning of the fifth set, I had to go to my bag for a new racket and I came back and served an ace. Warren's not a stringer. He's a counselor, a genius. Let's face it. I wouldn't have been able to play if he hadn't helped me."

The difficulties Harmon had stemmed from the fact that he was changing from a Snauwaert racket to a Head, a familiar crisis in a market that is overrun by manufacturers' reps who want their rackets in the hands of as many top players as possible. The Doctor, of course, excels at treating the readjustment jitters, doing for Harmon and other outpatients essentially what he did for Tracy Austin, i.e., made her Spalding wood play exactly like the Wilson wood she grew up with. While making his switch from Wilson to Snauwaert, Gottfried fell prey to the old communications barrier. "I kept telling the factory people I wanted the racket more flexible," he says, "and they kept trying, but nothing seemed to work. It wasn't until Warren got involved that I discovered that we were going totally backward, that what I really wanted was a stiffer racket, if you can believe that."

Having built what Gottfried calls "the first bridge of communication between the players and the manufacturers," it was inevitable that Bosworth would cross it and begin designing his own rackets. His first effort was an aluminum frame for Snauwaert with a hexagonal rather than oval face. Christened the Dyno, the racket was introduced in 1980, and the graphite version has now become one of Snauwaert's top-selling models. Currently, Bosworth is working on a racket for Connors.

"I no longer have a contract with Wilson," Connors says, "because they have chosen to stop making the T2000 sometime in the near future." He does have a contract with Bosworth to develop a kind of T2001 with all the quirky characteristics Jimbo loves to tape and untape. Two years in the making, "the Connors Project is in its final stages," says Bosworth, "and merely awaits Jimmy's approval." And the subsequent scramble by the manufacturers to win the rights to market it.

Recently, while puttering around in his studio, or "the place where I play at things," as he puts it, Bosworth showed off his minimuseum. Among other items, it includes the racket he strung and Rosewall used in 1974 to reach the finals at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open at age 40, and a photo of Mayer inscribed, "When it comes to stringing, you are either a genius or totally crazy."

The phone rings. Bosworth answers and says, "O.K., send me 16 sets and $5,000." Hanging up, he says, "We do a great deal of product testing. That call was from a gut manufacturer, but we also test tennis balls, court surfaces, racquet-ball racquets and the like." The phone rings again. He chats briefly, hangs up and says, "That was Jimmy wanting to know about a new kind of soft leather grip he'd like to try."

While checking for messages on a telex machine in the studio that "keeps me in touch with equipment people around the world," Bosworth says, "I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work with the pros. Frankly, I would do it for nothing." Still, he allows that it's reassuring to know that, with the annual $5,000 retainer he receives from each of his clients, plus $30 for every string job, $50 an hour for lab time spent on special problems, commissions from Dyno racket sales and his fees for various consulting-projects, including being head stringer for the Volvo Masters, the pastime that he took up all those years ago to cut costs will put him in the income group of many of his clients. All told, with plans to move into a new, larger studio within two years and all signs bullish for the future, his stockbroker's instincts tell him, "I'm my own best investment."

Running his hand across a pine box his father used for shipping caskets, Bosworth says it contains "all my secret experimental rackets." Unlocking the box, he pulls out an asymmetrical creation he calls the Alpha Project. The Y-shaped yoke or throat of the racket was open and supported by an angled strut that, along with a new spider-web stringing pattern, seems capable of winning a few points on shock value alone.

Bosworth takes some picture-perfect practice swings with the racket, saying, "Project Alpha, which we'll introduce in the middle of next year [stroke], is a revolutionary new product designed for 97% of the marketplace [stroke]. It's patentable and I guarantee you that within three years [stroke] it will bring me half a million dollars [stroke, stroke]."

The phone rings. "Eevon," he says, "vere are you?"

Another day, another holler for the vonderful, vonderful Vizard of Boz.

PHOTOLANE STEWARTFOUR PHOTOSLANE STEWARTThe Wizard prepares a Lendl racket (from left): First, he weighs a frame; next, he checks the balance point; if weight is needed, he adds lead tape; then he measures the handle.FOUR PHOTOSLANE STEWARTBosworth, carrying on with his work, trims the handle to Lendl's specifications using a sanding block; he measures the thickness and uniformity of the leather grip with a dial gauge; he wraps the grip around the handle; and, finally, he strings the racket on a machine that he has designed.PHOTOLANE STEWARTRackets line the wall of Bosworth's studio, waiting for the day when one of the stars places an urgent call to the Wizard.PHOTOLANE STEWARTThe AstroTurf hides Bosworth's secret Alpha Project racket from prying eyes.PHOTOLANE STEWARTAt a hotel room stringing session, the Wiz's wisdom brings succor to Solomon.PHOTOLANE STEWARTFor Lendl, Bosworth puts the accent on tension.PHOTOLANE STEWARTHarmon's rackets weren't harmonious till he met Boz.PHOTOLANE STEWARTUsing a Bosworth racket, a 40-year-old Rosewall reached the 1974 U.S. Open finals.PHOTOLANE STEWARTOne of the notable accolades in Boz's rogues' gallery.