2012 Favorites: Strings

With our favorite picks for racquets and shoes now in the books, we turn to the playtesters’ favorite strings in 2012. Which strings did you try this year that you consider standouts?


Luxilon 4G

Jason: ”With so much string too choose from, it takes a really special one to stand out, and that is the Luxilon 4G. As to be expected with a poly, control and spin are great. But the ball pocketing was surprisingly good as well. It doesn’t play as soft as my favorite string, Polyfibre TCS, but not nearly as firm as other polyesters. The best thing about it is that it maintains tension well. Which is something polyesters are not known for. I usually have to cut out a poly string within 2-3 weeks, but with the 4G, I can leave it in for a month.”

Chris: ”I’m a big fan of Luxilon 4G. I get great spin and control with 4G in my racquets. I’ve hit the string in a ton of racquets and have found it to work great in all of them. I recently even hit 4G in a wood racquet and it still felt great, adding some control and spin to help tame the 13.5 ounces of wood fueled plow through.”
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Britt’s Playtester Spotlight- Siobhan Cavan

This week we are interviewing Siobhan.  As we start nearing the beginning of 2013, we are getting the opportunity to hit with all the upcoming racquets.  Siobhan not only is hitting with some Wilson and Babolat racquets but also is hitting the courts with some shoe and string playtests as well.  Let’s check in with her.

Siobhan Cavan

Hours Spent Playtesting this week: 5
Playtesters you hit with: Carol, Britt, and Chris and Andy in doubles.
Type of Playtesting (singles, doubles, drills): Crosscourt drilling, point play, sets
Playtesting Court: Indoor Tennis Warehouse Court

Wilson Blade 104

What racquets are you playtesting?

Wilson Blade 104, Babolat AeroPro Drive and AeroPro Drive +, Wilson Steam 99 and 99 S

I just finished the Wilson BLX Blade 104 playtest, which holds a special place in my heart because I played through college with the Team (the previous model, that doesn’t have the new name, paint job and Amplifeel that the new 104 does). It’s a great racquet and although I feel like I have moved on as a player and it’s not my #1 racquet of choice anymore, I still really love playing with it. With my fast swings, it’s maneuverable and it whips through the air really quickly. It allows me to access great power and spin and as I’ve always previously been drawn to the bigger head size, the sweet spot is large and comfortable. May I also mention, the new paint job is sick. Sick, as in: This. Is. Boss. It’s black and silver and is so cool it doesn’t even need another color. The entire line is actually really slick. Trust me on this one.

I’m also playtesting both the new Babolat AeroPro Drive and AeroPro Drive+ which I am really enjoying. Both of these racquets have new technology called Active Cortex which adds a cleaner, less interfered response to your shots. I’ve played a bit with the older AeroPro Drive GT a little, and this is more comfortable too. I definitely prefer the new model over the old, as the improved feel, response, and comfort are top notch (skating over the original reason I love this racquet, such as the power, control and spin potential).

I’ve also had a little play around with the Wilson S racquets (I’m on the playtest for the 99, and the 99 S). I need to put a lot more court time in with these but the response from these racquets is really cool. The 15×16 string pattern really gives you that extra spin – I was able to really rip my baseline balls, and where some shots would normally fly out, this time they drop in. They really respond to my faster swing-speed and heavier spin style of play and I can’t wait to get out on the court more with them.

Editor’s note: Siobhan just gave you another sneak peek at the new Blades that will be available on our site for pre-sale Nov. 15. The Babolat AeroPro Drive and AeroPro Drive+ go on pre-sale November 23. The new Steams will pre-sale Jan. 1, 2013.

Gosen Polylon 17 String

What strings are you playtesting?

Gosen Polylon 17

I haven’t been playtesting any strings recently, but I just got put on Gosen Polylon 17 string with Mr. Edwards himself. I’m really excited to give this poly a good run because the last couple strings I used were multifilaments (I am a hardcore poly fan. Hate me or love me. I can hit with as much pace as I like and my shots drop in the court.) Keep posted for any updates on this phenomenal control poly that offers an incredible price to value ratio. That’s right people, Chris and I are trying to save you dollars.

Are you playtesting any shoes?

Lacoste Repel 2

Right now I am in the long process of playtesting the Lacoste Repel 2s. They are a great looking shoe, and I love the color. I also really liked the lightweight aspect of the shoes and they provide me with adequate support. I’m struggling a little bit with the comfort. I think these shoes would benefit from an insole, because I feel like I’m playing so close to the ground I’m basically on it. The cushioning is lacking, and this is especially difficult when playing outside because the heat just sucks right up through the sole into my foot. I love the stability though, and like I said, they look sharp! Give me a little bit more time with them, and then wait for the playtest video.. Early next year is probably when it’s all going down.

Editor’s note: The Lacoste Repel 2s Women will be available at the beginning of 2013.

Nike Holiday Hyperply Jacket and Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip Top

Anything else you are playtesting?

I am not playtesting anything else as such, but with Winter approaching I recently purchased the Nike Women’s Holiday Hyperply Knit Jacket. Ah ha, winter, I thought, I will be ready for you… Which I was. For a week. Either the California weather gods or global warming decided to punish me because, with today as a good example,  it is currently 95 degrees and sweaty out. But, the nights (few and far between) that have been chilly this jacket has been great. The lining is soft, I can fit another long sleeve under it, it’s warm enough for a chilly night and it fits like a dream. Winter, bring it on!

I also bought the Nike Women’s Thunder Long Sleeve 1/2 Zip Top. You say, “styling”, I say, yes thanks, thank you, that’s me. It’s a really slick looking long sleeve, it’s got a great fit that I love, the hood makes it super cute, it’s warm, and it looks super sharp under the Hyperply Jacket I bought. I can wear it off court because it’s stylish, but I also like playing in it a lot. Both these tops come in great colors, and I really suggest checking them out: I totally recommend them and I have, dear friends, bought them myself so I practice what I preach.

Peace and love! Or as us Kiwis’ say, cheers mate.

Check back next week for more sneak peeks and playtesters’ comments for the newest member of our playtest team, Andy.

Ad Out,


What I’m testing…

This is what the contents of my tennis bag looks like these days.

You’re looking at what is directly to my right, as I sit at my desk writing this article. The smorgasbord of tennis equipment you see is most of the gear that I am fortunate enough to playtest on a daily basis. Racquets, strings, shoes, and even grips! I want to give you a “behind the scenes” look at what I’ve been trying and what some of my recent favorites are…

Let’s start with racquets! The three models that are pictured above are two of my own and one TW racquet. You can see two of my Prince TT Warrior MP racquets, the old classic popularized by the serve and volleying Aussie Patrick Rafter back in the early 2000s. In my opinion, there is no better feeling racquet around the net…EVER! Along with those you’ll see my other racquet of choice, the Yonex RDiS 100 Mid, which unfortunately just stopped being produced. I played with these during my brief stint on the pro tour. Along with my collection of racquets there’s a Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six.One 95. Just trying to bring out my inner Dolgopolov.

In all these racquets there’s different strings. In my Warriors, I’m trying the MSV Focus Hex 17 and Gosen Sidewinder. I’m finding the MSV to be a nice, fairly standard polyester which is turning out to be quite comfortable to hit. The Sidewinder is great, as it’s shaped AND twisted, along with being super soft. It’s really comfortable to hit and offers tons of spin off the stringed.

I have a different string in each of my four Yonex frames. One of them has a set of Luxilon Original in it that just refuses to break, proving to be the most durable string I’ve tested so far. Next up is Prince Beast XP 17g (this is also in the Wilson PS), which is turning out to be fairly stiff with great tension maintenance. The third one has the Solinco Tour Bite 16L in it, which is the racquet I have been using in our Gotta Want It initial episodes. I love hitting the Tour Bite, as it gives me great control with tons of pop and spin.

Me playtesting...Good Times!!!

My fourth racquet has a concoction that our resident string expert and my desk neighbor at work cooked up (“The Wolfman” as we affectionately call him). He put 18 gauge Ashaway Kevlar in the mains, and 18 gauge Pacific natural gut (which is unfortunately not available for sale) in the crosses, and it feels AMAZING! This is Wolfman’s string setup of choice in his racquets, along with Andre Agassi’s set up early in his career. It’s stiff, offers great control, but the natural gut softens up the stringbed and makes it super comfortable.

My current shoe test has me in the Lacoste Repel 2‘s, which I’m finding to be very lightweight and nice fitting. I’ve been playing in them for less than a week now.

Well, that’s it for the behind the scenes look! Stay tuned for all our video and written reviews on all these products! Thanks for reading!

Andy G.