Question of the Day: Guga's Grips
TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions in the Mailbag. Click here to send in a question of your own.
Today's is about Gustavo Kuerten, who was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame on Saturday in Newport, R.I.
Do you know anything about the racquet that Kuerten used when he was playing? I know he used Head and was one of the first to string with Luxilon. Any other details you can dig up?—Aleta D.
I have a good story for you about Guga’s sticks, Aleta. Recently, I spoke with Roman Prokes, a professional stringer out of RPNY Tennis, in New York, NY. Prokes worked with Kuerten while he was on tour, prepping the Brazilian star’s equipment to his liking. As Prokes tells it, Guga was extremely particular about one thing: His grip.
“With Kuerten,” Prokes says, “it was interesting because he would actually use the regular, normal Head palettes [read: handles]. But he wouldn’t have any [base] grip on it; he would just put Tourna-Grip on it. However, it wasn’t that easy. He actually liked three layers, three Tourna-Grips. And at the end, when it was all finished, it had to be absolutely perfectly straight—no grooves, no bumps, nothing. It had to be like glass straight. And super tight. So to put it on, actually, you’d have to stretch the Tourna-Grip so much that it would become about half the width that it actually is. So you would rip a ton of them.
[For me] there was just countless hours experimenting. How do you wrap it? How do you—where do you start? So that the layer, number three, makes it perfectly straight. He was one of the most challenging as far as the gripping. Great guy, he was a lot of fun. And to be honest, sometimes we enjoy doing these unique things, because it’s different and you work hard and you’re the only one who can do it. But it’s a lot of work. Like, it’d be 2 o’clock in the morning at the French Open, after stringing 18 hours. And now you’d have two hours of gripping, because to do eight to 10 racquets it’d take a couple of hours. It wasn’t much fun at that time. [Laughing].