The story below is from our July/August 2015 issue. For the full story download our FREE iOS app or view our digital edition for FREE today!
Roanoke’s Tim Strawn has taken his racquet stringing business to the world, including Wimbledon and U.S. Open Tennis tournaments.
It is rare that good, but not elite, athletes are able to turn their love for their sport into a living, unless they become coaches. Tim Strawn found that stringing tennis racquets would keep him involved with some of the game’s best, provide a living and allow him to innovate.
Strawn, 62, was a solid upper-level tournament tennis player for years in Iowa who found himself working for the phone company as a DC technician. He stumbled upon stringing, first as an avocation and then as a sideline to his main job. When he retired from the phone company after 30 years, a full-blown tennis-related business was already flourishing. Baselines Racquet Sports is now 25 years old and Strawn has clients worldwide.
His internet site (gssalliance.com, which requires a subscription) is busy and fruitful. His retail shop, in the basement of his home in the Oak Grove section of Roanoke County, is a beehive of activity during the summer months, where he accommodates his “several hundred clients” in the Roanoke Valley by stringing and customizing their racquets, which often cost in the $275 range. The business “has four aspects,” he says, “local, website, team events and retail store.”
His work with Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, as part of a team of stringers from all over the world, has made his name well known and has helped send him to a number of other professional tournaments, where he strings as many as 35 racquets a day for the players. The work is often frantic, but “you have to adjust to the conditions of the tournaments,” he says. Customizing racquets, a specialty of his, “is more for the professionals” because “they recognize the minute details” in the racquet’s play and feel.
Strawn has been married to Deborah for 40 years and has two children and one grandchild.