I don’t know about you guys, but I am ready for tennis season to be back in full force! I am counting down the days until the Australian Open! But until then, let’s discuss some player/coach relationships as it seems like lately there has been an influx of new relationships being formed.
It’s not new to see former pros on the coaching end of things, but it seems like lately, all of our favorite players from the past have made their way back to the circuit via coaching. Brad Gilbert has worked with the best of them — everyone from Agassi, Roddick, Andy Murray to Nishikori and even Sam Querrey. Some of those relationships blossomed in chemistry, and some were duds. In 2013, we saw Sharapova hire, and quickly fire, Jimmy Connors — but let’s be honest, there wasn’t enough room on the court for those two superstars. Then there was Martina Hingis’ stint in coaching Anastasia Pavlyuchnkova…until Martina realized how much she missed the limelight and competition.
So, who do we have paired up in 2014?
It had been a while since I’d regularly used natural gut, but I recently started to play around with some hybrids and full sets of gut after a nagging wrist injury just refused to go away.
So, when some sets of Becker Hero natural gut came into the office for testing, I quickly grabbed a set to try out.
Because of a busy schedule, I did not get to install the string. Instead, I had one of our MRTs and fellow playtester, Sean, install the string. He reported no issues with an easy install.
On the court, like most natural guts, Hero offers exceptional ball pocketing. I could really feel the ball sink into the stringbed from the first hit. I was very pleased with the grip I was getting on the ball. That grip translated into some decent spin and a confidence-inspiring level of control.
What impressed me most about this string was the level of power I was finding on my shots. Hero feels pretty crisp, and I was finding a clean yet crisp feel with lots of pace off the stringbed. Everything from serves to big groundies was zinging away with excellent pace and depth. I felt connected enough to stay on the gas without a huge fear of over-hitting, and while I never felt as safe swinging away as I would with a low-powered poly, I was able to play aggressively.
One thing that really stood out was that in the racquet, the Hero looked thinner than its listed 16L gauge. It looked more like a 17L to me, which may explain some of its bite and power.
I quickly noted the one downside was going to be durability. I saw a fair bit of fraying on my first hit and had to stop midway through that hit and trim an errant strand from fraying any further. While I don’t hit with as much pace and spin as I did back in college, I still take a decent cut at the ball, and this seemed to have me taxing the durability of the string.
Hero settled in nicely, and I really liked the playability. The comfort was outstanding, but durability would be a concern for me — especially considering the price of natural gut. All in all, I came away impressed by the crispness, power and comfort. For me, this might make a great hybrid option as a cross string to go with something like Volkl Cyclone.