Volkl Cyclone String Review

Guest blogger and Open level player Andy Gerst puts Volkl’s Cyclone string through its paces in this review.

A great new poly string being introduced to the market is the Volkl Cyclone string. It is a co-polymer polyester monofilament, designed to mimic the durability and control-oriented playability of a polyester while maintaining a bit more softness in order to provide more power and less stress on the arm. The Cyclone is also “gear-shaped” as opposed to the standard circular shape of the string, enabling it to provide more ball pocketing and added spin.

I strung up the Cyclone 16 gauge string in my Prince TT Warrior MP racquet at 56 lbs. I typically string my racquet in the high 50’s, but when stringing it up with a full bed of poly I drop the tension typically 2-3 lbs. As standard for a polyester string, it was a somewhat difficult task stringing it up. The added softness of the co-poly made it slightly easier to string than a standard poly, but the gear shape of the string also caused it to “burn” slightly as I pulled the crosses through when stringing.

The first impression I had when hitting with the Cyclone was the stiffness as well as the ball pocketing that I found. It had a really crisp, solid feel as I struck the ball, while still maintaining excellent control. Another characteristic that instantly stood out to me was the way the strings grabbed and pocketed the ball in the string bed at impact. While most polyester strings provide a dead and stiff feel off the string bed, with the Cyclone I could really feel the ball as it struck the strings, and upon release it had a tremendous amount of spin.

On groundstrokes and serves I was able to generate lots of power and spin, most likely due to the “gear shape” of the string and the added ball pocketing it felt like I was getting. Control was somewhat less than other polyesters, but the extra power and softer feel made the string more comfortable to play with than other polyesters.

At net Cyclone provided lots of bite to my volleys. I was able to really stick my volleys deep in the court, and was really impressed at how much I was able to feel the ball on the strings compared to other polyesters. My volleys also were knifing through the court with lots of underspin and bite.

Durability was slightly less than other polyesters that I have played with in the past. I am an open level player playing hard almost everyday, and the string broke in less than a week, which is longer than I get with my usual hybrid set up (2-3 days), but less than I would normally get out of a full bed of poly (1 ½-2 weeks). The string began to lose tension towards the end of its lifespan, about 5-6 days after stringing (fairly standard for a polyester).

All in all I really enjoyed playing with the Volkl Cyclone. I was impressed by the power and ball pocketing compared to other polyesters, as well as the slightly softer feel due to its co-polymer composition. In addition, at $5.95 a set the Cyclone is an excellent value string. In conclusion, I would highly recommend the Volkl Cyclone, and at $5.95 a set I would be hard pressed to find a better value for the money.

Man Vs. Machine

I could no longer resist the machine. It was just too tempting. I wanted to know how it would feel, how it would work. There’s no way it could replace a human, could it? I mean, I’ve dabbled in the past, but not like this.

The time had come; I was going to have a full one on one, man versus machine, hitting session with our ball machine. The setting was perfect, I would utilize our indoor tennis court, the balls would be contained in a small area, but more importantly, I would be isolated. No one watching, no one judging.

This was no ordinary ball machine. This was the top of the line model. What the T1000 was to Terminators, this was it for ball machines. What I was up against was the Tennis Tutor Plus Player model. After doing some research and reading up on the functions, I formulated a game plan. First bucket, volleying using the 2 line narrow function. 2nd bucket, work on my groundstrokes using 2 line wide. Finally, 3rd bucket, player mode: the machine would simulate points by hitting balls short, long, left, right.

I had the machine centered on the baseline, set the trajectory, maxed out the speed (I figured I could handle it), flipped the On button and it whirled to life. After a few test shots, I had it dialed in to where I wanted. I felt like I was standing before a firing squad, but I needed the repetitions. What seemed like an eternity later, the machine was out of ammo and I was actually breathing pretty hard. Round 1: Tie

After reloading the machine with balls, I was ready for round 2. Side note: Is picking up balls not the worst thing ever?! Time to polish up my groundstrokes. Side to side, the machine had me on a string. It was relentless, like it had no soul! ¾ of the way through, I thought I was going to cough up both lungs and my heart. The last few balls, I didn’t even go for. At this point, my shirt is drenched, my water bottle drained, and I’m in such need of oxygen that breathing out of my nose is no longer an option. Round 2: Machine

Ever so slowly, I made it around to picking up the balls; it was time for the third and final round. After almost passing out in round 2, I decided to fill the hopper up only half way full. I’m a problem solver! First shot goes to my forehand, and so the “point” begins. I was running, but to my surprise, a lot of shots were coming right back at me. Some balls even hit the net or went long. So this machine isn’t perfect after all. In my totally biased opinion, I won that round. Round 3: Human

At this point, I am exhausted. I can’t remember the last time I had such a physically demanding workout. And that is what I’ve learned about going up against the machine. It is the perfect opponent for running you ragged and working on fine-tuning your strokes. The repetition and consistency of the shots allowed me to self analyze and make adjustments after each shot I hit.

The downfall? Well, first, it’s obviously no substitute for playing points. But, it’s just not nearly as fun as playing against a friend/opponent. There’s no trash talking, no camaraderie. But then again, it can’t drop shot you all day like some people I play against.

Having a ball machine around is the ultimate training tool. It might not be the most fun of all tennis activities, but if you want to get better, this machine is an asset. I can definitely see myself adding a “ball machine day” into my weekly tennis routine.

In the on going battle between man and machine, man still has the advantage.

But the gap is closing.

Have any of you hit against a machine before? What did you think? I’d love to hear your experiences and/or tips for using a ball machine.

Jason, TW

Tourna Grip, four times the charm

For the longest time, it could be nothing but a Tourna Grip to adorn my racquet handle. Tourna Grip is known for its absorbent properties and even though it didn’t get too hot where I grew up, I still loved it.

Sure, durability would bite with Tourna Grip and after one set I should really have been putting a new one on, but I loved it nonetheless. As a junior player, money was tight but Tourna Grip still worked with some improvisation.

Back in the day I would get four times the use out of one grip. Having a one-handed backhand helped, as I would only use the bottom of the grip. When the bottom wore out I would simply flip it. The part of the grip that used to be up by the racquet shaft would now be down at the butt cap. After that wore out, I would then turn the grip inside out. I know, pure genius right? The cool thing about Tourna Grip is that the side of the grip that is supposed to be up against the handle doesn’t really feel that much different than the correct side to use. Ok, it’s not quite as tacky, but it offers better grip than the regular side once that has become dirty and worn.

So there you go, four uses out of one grip. Not too shabby.

I guess I really came to appreciate the true benefit of Tourna Grip when I moved to Florida to train in my late teens. The heat and humidity had me leaking sweat like a dodgy faucet leaks water. I would usually find myself sweating pretty heavily by the end of the warm up. Shoot, even walking to the court can work up a pretty good sweat in the Florida humidity. In those kind of conditions, nothing works better than Tourna Grip.

Fast forward to the present day and the California heat is doing its best to heat up our indoor playtesting court at Tennis Warehouse. I’m back to sweating like my Florida days.

It’s time again to roll out the Tourna Grip.

Cheers,

Chris.