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"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.