I challenge Tennis Warehouse on a daily basis to find a racquet that I will love as much as my Babolat Pure Drive GT (I just can’t imagine loving anything more). I’ve been trying my hand at several different frames (Wilson 99 S, Head Graphene Speed Pro, Wilson Juice 100, Babolat Aero Pro Drive, etc.), a lot that I can understand why people gravitate toward, but nothing that I have to have, or better yet, nothing that has elevated my game…yet. Finally, I found something I can possibly entertain as a new favorite racquet, the Donnay Formula 100.
Spec wise, this racquet could be the long lost twin to my Pure Drive GT. Most of our playtesters even seem to favor this Donnay over the ever so popular Pure Drive. Dare I say, it may even outshine the Pure Drive in one area – the net. My volleys feel so precise and crisp with this racquet no matter whom I am hitting against. I often struggle on my backhand volley to keep my racquet out in front and end up hitting a bit of an inside-out backhand chip volley, which while it is very effective, it is frustrating since it’s caused by late preparation. With this maneuverable Donnay in my hands, suddenly the issue has disappeared.
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.
After hearing rave reviews about it, I gave the Polyfibre TCS 16 gauge a try. It comes very highly praised from a number of TW playtesters as well as a number of ATP and WTA players. Advertised as being one of the softest and best feeling co-polys around, I looked forward to playing with it.
Stringing with the TCS was pretty much standard for a polyester string; stiff with not a whole lot of stretch. I strung my racquet at 56 lbs, and it was a somewhat difficult string, about on par with many of the other polyester strings on the market.
With the first strike of the ball I noticed the softness and the excellent bite the TCS had. For a co-poly, the softness made it very reasonable on the arm, and did not cause much discomfort. The softness of the TCS also provided me with lots of touch and feel, giving me a lot of control and command with all my shots.
What I liked most on the groundstrokes was the amount of spin I was able to generate off both the forehand and the backhand, as well as the backhand slice. Topspin shots were heavy and jumping off the court, and the slice had excellent bite and stayed low to the ground.
When volleying and serving, I had excellent control and bite with the TCS. Because the string was so soft, along with its excellent ball pocketing, I could control the ball really well and generate good control. The string is not too “explosive” and does not have a lot of “pop” like a Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power does, but because of the softness and spin potential of the TCS it enabled to have lots of command over my volleys and serves.
There were only two things about the TCS that stood out to me that I did not particularly like. First, as mentioned before, the string did not have a lot of “pop”, and thus generating pace was a little more difficult than I would have liked. I prefer a little more “explosive” string. The second thing I did not like was the tension maintenance, as the string lost tension quite quickly. After about a week the string tension had dropped considerably and I needed to cut them out.
Aside from that, the TCS was a very nice string that I would recommend it to players that prefer a polyester string but have a history of arm problems. The extreme softness of this string makes it very arm-friendly for a polyester, and along with the ball pocketing it also provides the player with lots of control and spin