About five years ago…
Gamma 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.
It is said that the eyes are the portals to the soul…
When you stare into the eye of the Beast XP, what do you see?
Let’s look into what’s behind these eyes….or in this case, “eye”.
Several months ago, there was some information floating around about a new green polyester string. Known at the time as 361 Nation, This neon-esque string was seen at some junior tournaments. Tennis enthusiasts could go to the 361 Nation website to request a free set to sample. Of course this created quite a stir because everyone was curious about who 361 Nation was. The website didn’t offer any information about where it was manufactured, or who was manufacturing it.
Tennis warehouse was sent a handful of samples as well. The return address was unfamiliar and not traceable, so we were also in the dark about who exactly was behind 361 Nation. Some of the super sleuths from the Talk Tennis message board had some ideas based on what they did find, but the findings weren’t necessarily concrete.
Shortly we (Tennis Warehouse) were asked to seed hundreds of sets to the tennis public around the world. Here is some of the feedback from our message board users that play tested the string:
“…the string proved to take my control to the next level.”
“Tension maintenance is best part of this string. After playing for 12 hours, string is not noticeably softer.”
“…it allowed me to create angles I didn’t know existed!”
“I am very impressed with this string. I would definitely be interested in stringing this again in all 3 of my sticks and switching to this string as my #1 favorite.”
“I have a very sensitive elbow, and these didn’t affect me, which is great.”
“…I can hit almost any shot from any spot on the court because of the spin I get.”
“I will definitely use these strings again in the future.”
That’s some pretty good feedback for a string that, at the time, was not associated with any of the big names in tennis.
Lo and behold, when the “cat” finally was out of the bag, it was revealed the string was a Prince string, named Prince Beast XP.
Touted by Prince as the first Thermo-poly string, Prince claims this polyester to offer extreme precision with improved trajectory control and feel, featuring a secret alloy additive. It is also claimed to offer improved tension maintenance compared to standard monofilament polyesters due to Prince’s special manufacturing process of sequential heating and stretching.
Isospeed’s Professional 17 gauge string is advertised to be the closest match to natural gut on the market for synthetic gut string. Along with Isospeed’s reputation among my peers as an excellent string manufacturer, I figured the Professional 17 would definitely be worth a try.
The Isospeed Power Ribbon technology is specifically designed to mimick the composition of a natural gut string, and by combining it with their tradition of pre-stretching the filaments in the string, it also maintains tension and aids in the durability of the string.
I strung up my set of Professional 17 in my racquet at 60 lbs, increasing my desired tension which is normally between 56-58 lbs when stringing with a polyester. When stringing, it felt fairly similar to an average synthetic gut, but with a little more of a “wirey” feel (slightly stiffer and rougher). But overall a fairly easy string to install.
With the first strike of the ball I was able to notice the comfort and playability of the Professional 17. The ball pocketed well and exploded off the string bed, provided great power and spin potential. The Power Ribbon technology gave the string a nice texture to it, which made it very responsive and provided me with excellent feel. As is the case with most synthetic gut strings, the Professional 17 was very soft and arm-friendly. However, it varied from other synthetic gut strings in that I was able to have a lot more touch and feel with it because of how responsive the string bed was. Every ball felt as though it was on the strings forever, which is a nice feeling! The only downside was its durability, as it only lasted me for a couple hours of hard play. However, this is pretty on par, if not a little better, than most synthetic guts that I’ve tried.
The Professional 17 string was probably my favorite synthetic gut string I have played with, perhaps along with the Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex. However, compared to the Prince Syn Gut, the Isospeed provided me with more touch and better feel, and also added durability making it, in my opinion, a slightly nicer string. At $10.99 a set, it is a little pricey, but the excellent feel that it provides along with the added durability definitely makes the Isospeed Professional 17 worth a try!