Hope everyone has recovered from their Thanksgiving break! Mark Boone is my next
victim playtester I got to interview. I keep Mark very busy playtesting racquets, shoes, and strings.
Hours Spent Playtesting this week
Wlson BLX Steam 99S, upcoming Dunlop racquet
I am working with the new Wilson BLX Steam 99S, and playing quite a bit with an upcoming Dunlop racquet. The Steam 99S is a top notch frame with a very open string pattern. The example we have been swinging has the Luxilon 4G poly in the low 50 pound range of tension. As is; I love it for the most part. I am perhaps a more accomplished table tennis player than tennis player, and this racquet lets me play a more ping pong style. The ball comes off the strings differently than all of my other frames, which tend to be heavier, and with dense patterns. Forget what I have to say about it, the reality came in the form of comments from other players who I often hit with. They all agreed that my ground strokes were more effective; with crazy angled, spin shots/ very ping pong like. The only knock I can give this frame is a subjective one; it was a bit too light on serve, being in the low 11 ounce range. I was effective on the ground/ volley attack, but my serve was attackable.
The upcoming Dunlop racquet has the specifications that are right in my range. It was paired with an yet to be released poly from ISOSPEED called Black Fire, which was in the low 50 pound range of tension as well. I thought it felt like RPM Blast, but smoother around the edges. I use the Head Prestige MP for the most part, and this frame is a seamless transition for me. No frame makes my second serve any better, but this one does complement my entire game.
Editor’s note: Mark just gave you another sneak peek of the new Steams that will pre-sale January 1, 2013. In addition, find out more information on the upcoming Dunlop racquet in the next month.
What shoes are you playtesting?
adidas adizero CC Feather II
Traditionally, me and light shoes are not too compatible. I wear though shoes pretty quickly, so I stick to the sole warranty variety. I consider a shoe that is under 15 ounces to be light, so I believed that I would go through these like a hot knife through butter. Not the case; the new adidas adizero CC Feather II’s are lighter than 15 ounces, and adidas has walked the fine line between the shoe’s upper being too stiff, or flimsy. It has become my favorite light weight tennis shoe, as it delivers the stability that the heavier shoes provide, better than average durability, and top notch comfort, which I thought to be previously impossible to combine.
Editor’s note: The adidas adizero CC Feather II will be available for pre-sale on Dec. 14, 2012.
What strings are you playtesting/hitting with?
ISOSPEED Black Fire 16
Currently, I am not testing any strings, but since the ISOSPEED Black Fire is not yet available, and I played with it for several sessions, I can give somewhat of a review on it. As I mentioned above; the Black Fire in the upcoming Dunlop racquet played great. The Black Fire felt great for several hours of play, easily grabbed a hold of the ball, and maintained its tension, so I definitely will add this string to my list of favorite’s.
Editor’s Note: The ISOSPEED Black Fire 16 will be available on December 21, 2012.
Thanks for reading this week’s installment. Check back next week where I interview Tiffani and she will give you some sneak peaks on more upcoming racquets.
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!
In the mood for something a little different than I would normally play with, I tried a set of the Isospeed Energetic 17 gauge string. Word has spread that Isospeed makes a great-playing string, and the Energetic did not disappoint. With similar appearance to an aramid string, the Energetic differs by offering a very comfortable and soft feel with great durability for a multifilament.
Stringing the Energetic was a little unique to other strings. I strung it at 56 lbs in my Prince TT Warrior MP. It was pretty stiff and did not stretch much (due to the pre-stretched filaments), but was also fairly soft and easy on the fingers. In addition, there was a little texture on the outside of the string, which made it a little more difficult to string than other strings with the same softness. Overall however, it was a relatively easy stringing experience.
When I first hit the Energetic, I instantly noticed the grab it had on the ball and the enhanced ball pocketing. The ball really sunk into the string bed on contact, and thus the strings were responsive and I was able to have great feel on all my shots. The string was very soft and also provided a good amount of “pop” to the ball, making it pretty arm-friendly. With the great ball pocketing, I was also able to generate ample amounts of spin on all my shots. In addition to the nice playability, the strings lasted me a good 3-4 days in durability, which is much more than I would normally get out of a multifilament string, and right about on par with an average polyester string.
Overall, playing with the Isospeed Energetic 17 was a very nice experience. It was a great well-rounded string, provided nice power, spin, and feel, while also maintaining tension, providing good durability, and being arm-friendly. At $8.99 a set, the Energetic is definitely worth a try for anyone looking for an affordable, yet very playable all-around string with nice durability.