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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.
"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.