About Jonathan Wolfe

Ashaway 18g Kevlar & 18g Pacific Natural Gut

Gamma’s Revolutionary New Tennis String

About five years ago…

rsGamma set out to create a hybrid cross string unlike any the tennis industry has ever seen. FYI: hybrid cross strings are, with some definite exceptions, the soft counterpart to the stiff poly main; their job is to supply the hybrid with comfort, power and touch whereas the polyester main is supposed to deliver control, durability and bite (for spin). The problem Gamma set for itself was this: how could they preserve the traditional properties of a cross string (e.g., comfort, power, feel) while also smuggling in a property that the majority of soft strings aren’t particularly known for, that being low friction or a surface that facilitates the sliding action of the main strings. It should also be noted that Gamma wasn’t looking for the kind of low friction that comes from a silicone application (like many co-polys); rather, they wanted the kind of legit slipperiness that is baked right into the molecular structure (so it doesn’t perish with play). Finding the right substance wasn’t easy, but after years of testing and tweaking, Gamma finally settled on a material from the fluoropolymer family. The name they chose for the string was Glide.
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Time to restring – Spring String Deals

Now that Winter has released its cold grip on most of the country, it’s time to start thinking about the long tennis season that lies ahead. In light of this realization we have some good news and some bad news.

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First, the bad news. If you didn’t get a chance to play a lot this winter, your timing will likely be a little off. With that in mind, I want you to go grab your racquet.

Go ahead, I can wait.

Now that you have your racquet in hand, I want you to look at your stringbed. If you don’t see any strings, keep reading for the string deals below. But let’s say you do see strings, and let’s further speculate that they are the same strings that were in your racquet at the end of last tennis season. If that’s the case, allow me to be frank. Those strings are old and have likely lost too much tension. With tension loss comes changes in feel, power, friction properties, and trajectory (i.e., bad news). Couple that with the winter rust plaguing your mechanics and your timing problems just got worse. In other words, it’s time to restring.

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TW Playtester (The Wolfeman) Pick of the Week – Wilson Optimus Tennis String

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It’s not every day that a string comes along with the comfort of Tecnifibre NRG2, Babolat Xcel and Wilson NXT. Optimus, a new multifilament from Wilson, is just such a string. Constructed with an army of shock absorbing filaments, we think it will lighten the load on your tendons as well as any multi on the market.

But that’s not the whole story. Unlike some multifilaments that are mushy and come with an unruly “trampoline effect”, we found that Optimus, when tensioned correctly, had a wonderful crispness along with above average control for the breed. This somewhat unique response is partly due to a thermoset co-polymer membrane, which firms up the filaments in the core and slightly tempers this string’s elasticity. Granted, advanced big hitters and string breakers will likely not find enough durability and “snapback” with Optimus (in a full bed), but we think this unique multifilament is a strong option for the non-poly player who wants a great blend of comfort and controllable power.

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Tennis Balls Can Be Such a Drag

A Report from Tennis Warehouse University

multiple fuzz

I know you’ve seen this. . .

Right before your favorite pro goes to serve, a complicated dance ensues between player and ball-person. The player descends into what appears to be an OCD ritual, rifling through several different balls, looking intently at each one, shuffling them back and forth until finally arriving at the right one. The most memorable instance of this behavior occurred at the US Open several years ago. I watched as a very famous Spaniard paused long and hard over a particular ball, choosing eventually to throw it back to the ball person only to recall it two seconds later with a look of worried intensity and mild suspicion. He was, as many of you know, looking for the ball with the least amount of exposed fuzz (or at least that is what I hope he was doing).

high fuzz

But why? The theory, by no means a secret, is that the ball with the least amount of unruly fluff moves through the air with more speed, an important fact for those hoping to steal crucial milliseconds from unsuspecting opponents. This is why even savvy high school players are now reserving their first serves for the ball that resembles a Marine crewcut as opposed to the Bob Marley dishevelment that you see at the end of long clay court session, in the rain, where the ball becomes a waterlogged, dirt weighted grapefruit that slows down and sits up nicely for your opponent.

turbulent

Our very own Tennis Warehouse University Professor decided to investigate the relationship between ball speed and wind drag, hoping to explain what really happens to a ball in the air, and why a cleaner ball travels faster. To perform this experiment he and Professor Rod Cross fired balls from a ball machine and measured the change in speed between two locations in the trajectory.

To make a long story short: the pros are not crazy. To find out why, check out this experiment: Click HERE!

Sneak Peek…The New Prince String Line…(WOW!)

Disclaimer: it’s not every day that one of our great American tennis brands revamps its string line. So please forgive us in advance if we seem a little excited.

From comfortable and powerful multifilaments to crisp and spin-friendly co-polys, the 2014 Prince string line has something for everyone. Let’s take a brief tour of their offerings.

The Premier Series – Multifilaments

Prince Premier Series

Prince’s Premier line of strings features three very tendon-friendly multifilaments loaded with pop. Offering three distinct levels of firmness and playability, the Premier line gives the multifilament player the ability to select the one with just the right feel. Premier Touch, the softest of the bunch, features a very innovative ribbon core which is designed to have the responsiveness of natural gut. This new offering comes in three gauges, including 15L(!), which should please anyone who wants a side of durability and directional control with their comfort and power. As with the very unique Isospeed and Head ribbon technology strings, this one has an almost unbelievable level of vibration dampening (which makes it the perfect match for today’s lighter, stiffer frames). Coming in slightly firmer is Premier Power which updates Premier LT and continues to offer exceptional comfort. This update features an army of shock absorbing fibers wrapped in high density nylon filaments for improved durability. Finally, we have the firmest member of the Premier clan, Premier Control. Like the string it replaces, Premier Attack, this one features a stiff tri-core center wrapped in velvety soft nylon filaments. The result is a comfortably firm feel delivering near poly-like control without taxing the tendons like a traditional monofilament.
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The Fila Cool Body Sports Towel – I am a believer

FCBST6LFS-1My personal journey with the Fila Cool Body Sport Towel.

I was initially skeptical about the Fila Cool Body Sport Towel (FCBST). On paper it seemed like a Wet Nap on steroids. To be completely frank, I just couldn’t imagine wiping my face, legs, arms, etc., with a big Wet Nap. Then one day a sample pack of FCBST appeared near my desk, arm’s distance. Even then, with it sitting right in front of me, I never considered using it. I was content to let it sit there forever, if that’s what it took. And though I don’t feel the need to defend my initial skepticism, I’ll just add that I grew up with, and felt extremely loyal to the old fashion towels, the ones that feel dingy and sweat-drenched after only a few wipes. Regardless, the FCBST is just not the kind of thing I would use or even consider using.
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Sneak peak – Polyfibre TCS

 

Polyfibre TCS — Buy it here!!

The basic facts

  • Construction: co-polymer monofilament

  • Gauges: 16, 16L, 17

  • Color(s): Yellow

  • Available in: sets and reels

  • Maximum comfort and pocketing for a poly-based string.

  • Recommended to big hitters looking for the durability, spin and control of polyester with lower levels of impact shock and vibration.

How does it play?

Comfort meets spin and control!

Given the level of comfort it delivers, TCS should be allowed to defect from the polyester universe. In contrast to a crisp poly, this string is dampened and noticeably more forgiving off-center. One of the most distinctive features of TCS is the pocketing, which provides players with the pronounced sensation of grabbing hold of the ball. The result is a level of spin and control that matches some of the best shaped polys on the market. The main downside of TCS is poor tension maintenance, a very common problem with poly-based strings. All in all, TCS is a must try for big hitters who want maximum comfort, touch and pocketing from a firm control string.

 Playtester comments

  • “Probably the most comfortable string I’ve ever used! The ball pocketing and plush feel was refreshing.”

  • “It’s not textured, not shaped, but yet, I find this string to give me as much, if not more spin than any other strings out there. It’s amazing watching a ball that I thought I hit long drop in at the last nano-second and clip the baseline.”

  • “Even with all the spin potential and the great ball pocketing for power, I found the control to be excellent as well. There wasn’t a drop off in this department just because it excelled in the power and spin categories.”

  • “I never had any comfort issues with this one despite stringing it at 60 lbs in a very stiff racquet. Off center hits never felt excessively jarring and anything near the center felt plush.”

String of the week – Head FXP Tour

HFXPT16-BL-1

The basic facts

  • Construction: Four polyester fibers wrapped with 8 multifilament layers and a no-friction outer shell.

  • Gauges: 16 & 17

  • Color(s): Black & Blue

  • Available in: sets and reels

  • Feel: Comfortable (and quite muted) compared to a traditional polyester

  • Recommended to intermediates looking to transition into a more control oriented string. Also great for advanced players looking for the control, durability and spin of a co-poly with less impact shock and vibration on off-center hits. Adds comfort to lighter, stiffer frames.

How does it play?

Control meets comfort!

Head FXP Tour blends stiff and soft materials to provide a comfortably firm and somewhat muted feel with a nice balance of pop and precision, akin to a well crafted hybrid. The core of this innovative string is comprised of four polyester fibers. This supplies control and durability but with a friendlier feel and less vibration than a polyester monofilament. Surrounding the core are eight multifilament wraps designed to increase shock absorption and comfort. Head constructs this one with a firm and slippery coating to allow the strings to move out of position and snapback with more force. The result is easy access to spin punctuated by more RPMs and some explosive bounces. Players looking for exceptional durability, precision and spin (along with impressive comfort and liveliness for a control string) are encouraged to check this one out.

Staff feedback

  • Low vibration. Not a bad option for the poly player who is looking for a genuine boost in comfort. Somewhat muted feel.
  • Nice bite and pocketing with easy access to spin.
  • Plays like a very responsive hybrid with a good blend of control, durability and pop.
  • Very Versatile! Can be strung a little tighter than a monofilament to add more control without giving away too much comfort. Strung looser, this one provides a soft ride with some nice touch on volleys.

 

Multifilament of the month – Isospeed Professional

ISOPC17-1

The basic facts

  • Construction: Polyolefin Ribbons

  • Gauges: 17 (1.25mm)

  • Color(s): Natural

  • Available in: Sets

  • Feel: Extremely Comfortable. Low vibration.

  • Recommended to: all ability levels, but especially those whose chief concern is comfort. A great option for players with tennis elbow. Also perfect for adding feel and vibration dampening to a hybrid.

     

How does it play?

Isospeed Professional Classic does not have the name recognition of Wilson NXT, Tecnifibre NRG2 or Gamma Professional. Nor does it have the higher price tag. What it does share with these iconic multifilaments is comfort – outstanding comfort. In fact, in the TW String Lab this string received a stiffness score that places it closer to natural gut than any of its more famous peers. The unique ribbons that make up Professional Classic are pre-stretched under high heat. As a result, this string maintains playability quite well while also offering a more muted and controlled response than comparable strings. Finally, no mention of Professional Classic is complete without noting its “Best of Class” vibration dampening. Aside from natural gut, there are few other strings that are as effective at adding comfort to a stiff frame. Anyone in the market for an arm-friendly multi or the perfect hybrid cross is encouraged to give this one a try. (And the price is awfully hard to beat)

What our playtester said;

“Soft without being mushy.”

“Installed at the top of the tension range, this string enabled me to swing big enough to generate good spin. Control was excellent and I didn’t give away an inch of comfort.”

“High marks for tension maintenance, and surprisingly good durability.”

“Touch around the net is spectacular. And it has a level of precision and predictability that is typically seen with much firmer strings.”