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.
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.
Welcome to another edition of save vs splurge! This week I am comparing two multifilament strings. For my splurge of the week, I chose Tecnifibre NRG2 16g at $16. It offers a combination of comfort, feel and all around playability that is nearly impossible to beat. For the budget-friendly consumers out there, my save this week is Tourna Quasi Gut 16g. For almost half the price you can get the remarkably comfortable feel and high performance that comes with a polyurethane impregnated multifilament. While we cannot promise that any two strings will play and age exactly the same, we think the price to value ratio of Quasi Gut makes it a reasonable alternative to more expensive multifilaments like NRG2.
Check back soon for another edition of Save vs Splurge!
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.
Chris prefers the classic, old-school feel of the traditional polyester string
When it comes to polys, I like ‘em old-school!
One of the perks of being an avid tennis player working at TW is getting to test all of the new products. We test many, many strings (some that never make it to market and others we test from prototype through to production), but my love for traditional-feeling poly strings has yet to be diminished.
Modern co-poly strings blend additives to the polyester to ‘improve’ performance. Various additives are used to make the string play softer, hold tension better and provide improved snap back etc. These additives are the ‘co’ part of the co-poly name. However, I prefer to nix the ‘co’ and let my poly fly solo.
List mania continues today with some of our playtesters weighing in on their favorite strings of 2013. In case you missed them, check out our picks for racquets and shoes.
Our TW playtesters sure love their poly strings, and it shows with their choices. Head was the runaway winner in this category with three people choosing Sonic Pro Edge.
Andy: “It’s crisp, lively response and exceptional spin potential is right up my alley for a co-poly string. It’s a great poly for a wide variety of users, from players looking to try a poly for the first time to longtime poly users who are looking for something softer and more responsive.”
Brittany: “I’m normally not picky when it comes to strings, so this category is tough for me. However, there is one string that was released this year that stood out to me: Head Sonic Pro Edge. When I put this string in my more powerful racquets (like Babolat Pure Drive, Donnay Formula 100, Yonex VCORE 100 S), it gives me the perfect balance of power and control. I appreciated the extra bite I got on the ball from the string’s shape especially when going for sharper angles to pull my opponents off the court. I was also surprised with how comfortable the string was to play with.”
Karly: “With all the bite, control and comfort for a polyester, for me Sonic Pro was easily a top contender of 2013. I loved the grip pf the distinct edges on the string. I felt like I could control my type of shots well because of it. Then there was also the feel of the string. For a polyester the string was livelier and softer than most, which I was a big fan of.”
As tennis players continue to discover the benefits of polyester strings, Head is throwing their hat into the ring with a new polyester monofilament of their own. Head Hawk is now available for purchase at Tennis Warehouse!
Hawk was designed with the help of top touring pros and utilizes a Crystal Core manufacturing process that Head claims will revolutionize the way co-polyester strings are made. It’s a complex multi-step heat treatment during production that allows for the manipulation of the molecular crystal core of the string as well as the properties of its outer layers. This re-engineered molecular structure produces a string that sends more energy back into the ball at impact, all the while offering a dampened yet responsive feel for the player, resulting in a blend of power, control, comfort and feel.
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’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. Continue reading →
Petra Kvitiva wins her first round match at the 2013 US Open. Photo by Cynthia Lum.
Petra Kvitova finished up her first round match, taking out Misaki Doi 6-2, 3-6, 6-1. She cruised the first and last sets, making it an easier win than the scoreline might indicate. Let’s take a quick look at her current gear.
Her look: Nike’s Pure Short Sleeve Top in Fusion Red. We’ve also seen Li Na and others, including American Jamie Hampton, sport this flattering full coverage top. Kvitova paired her top with the Nike Flounce Knit Skort in Cool Grey. This is skirt is a great mix-and-match piece, especially in this color. On her feet, she’s sporting the Nike Lunar Vapor 9 Tour, at TW playtester favorite, in Atomic Pink. She accessorized with matching wristbands and head tie.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.