Multifilament of the month – Isospeed Professional

ISOPC17-1

The basic facts

  • Construction: Polyolefin Ribbons

  • Gauges: 17 (1.25mm)

  • Color(s): Natural

  • Available in: Sets

  • Feel: Extremely Comfortable. Low vibration.

  • Recommended to: all ability levels, but especially those whose chief concern is comfort. A great option for players with tennis elbow. Also perfect for adding feel and vibration dampening to a hybrid.

     

How does it play?

Isospeed Professional Classic does not have the name recognition of Wilson NXT, Tecnifibre NRG2 or Gamma Professional. Nor does it have the higher price tag. What it does share with these iconic multifilaments is comfort – outstanding comfort. In fact, in the TW String Lab this string received a stiffness score that places it closer to natural gut than any of its more famous peers. The unique ribbons that make up Professional Classic are pre-stretched under high heat. As a result, this string maintains playability quite well while also offering a more muted and controlled response than comparable strings. Finally, no mention of Professional Classic is complete without noting its “Best of Class” vibration dampening. Aside from natural gut, there are few other strings that are as effective at adding comfort to a stiff frame. Anyone in the market for an arm-friendly multi or the perfect hybrid cross is encouraged to give this one a try. (And the price is awfully hard to beat)

What our playtester said;

“Soft without being mushy.”

“Installed at the top of the tension range, this string enabled me to swing big enough to generate good spin. Control was excellent and I didn’t give away an inch of comfort.”

“High marks for tension maintenance, and surprisingly good durability.”

“Touch around the net is spectacular. And it has a level of precision and predictability that is typically seen with much firmer strings.”

 

Strings for big hitters on a budget…

 

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the magic of Babolat RPM Blast …

….with its innovative cross-linked silicone coating, vicious snap back and otherworldly spin. I also appreciate the miracle that is Luxilon, especially on the professional tour, where strings like Alu Power have enabled the tornadic angular whip of the modern topspin game, allowing for exponentially higher levels of spin and control. Indeed, it only takes a few topspin forehands with either of these strings to realize why consumers shell out top dollar.

Does this mean you have to spend over $10 to get a good string?

If a polyester string costs less than $10 will it not snapback? Will it prevent me from reaching my personal best tennis? I humbly submit that the answer is “no”. Savvy consumers who are willing to poke around can find great performance for a low price.

For the love of Gosen

Of course, if you don’t feel like poking around, just go to the Gosen string page. There you will find the sorts of low cost/high performance strings that make home stringers giddy. More specifically, you will find the original Polylon, which prompted our resident polyester expert, Chris Edwards, to declare, “This string is legit. Sweet as a nut right off the stringer.” Needless to say, after a few sessions with Polylon, it’s easy to conclude that the $2.95 price tag is a typo.

For a softer feeling poly at a great price, there is the technology advanced Polybreak which provides the incredible spin and control of the original Polylon but with a slightly more flexible response. Finally, no mention of Gosen is complete without paying homage to OG Micro, an extremely responsive synthetic gut which has long been the standard-issue reel for stringers in need of reliable hybrid parts.

Gosen Polylon

Gosen Polybreak

And Tourna . . .

Poly players who have not experienced any of Tourna’s co-polys are hereby advised to make some room on their demo list for Big Hitter Silver and Big Hitter Blue (which both come in Rough versions for added grip). These innovative co-polys are not only loaded with control, spin and feel, they are steals at under $8. For players who like comfy (yet crisp) polys, Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 offers a combination of bite, comfort and control that is near impossible to beat for under $10. As someone who ran lab tests on the early prototypes of this string, I can safely say that the Tourna crew is extremely serious about meeting their design goals. They also have an ultra-comfortable multifilament called Quasi-Gut which is softer than NXT and NRG2 (at half the cost).

Tourna Big Hitter Silver

Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough

MSV and Topspin

Big hitters on a budget do not have to sacrifice liveliness or comfort as long as Topspin keeps making Cyber Blue and Cyber Flash. The results from our TWU lab tests place these amongst the softest polys on the market. Another company with some impressively playable low cost polys is MSV. You can start by reading our string review of Focus Hex, a medium-firm co-poly with incredible control. After that, give both Co-Focus and Hepta-Twist a serious look. These meticulously engineered co-polys fit perfectly inside the growing ranks of elastic, user-friendly monofilaments, offering advanced players a friendlier response without sacrificing any spin or control.

Topspin Cyber Blue

MSV Co.-Focus

MSV Hepta-Twist

JW

 

Do something nice for your tendons – a short list of soft(er) strings

Natural Gut. known for its almost other-worldly feel and responsiveness, the obvious solution for players in search of ultimate comfort is natural gut. At once velvety and crisp, the fibrous collagen in beef serosa produces a sensation that must be experienced to be appreciated. For those with sticker shock, please note: unlike multis that go mushy or polys that get brassy, the tension maintenance of natural gut is second to none. If you’re looking to give it a try, check out Pacific’s line of natural gut, which has 4 of the 10 softest guts tested in the TWU string lab. Here are a couple to consider:

Pacific Prime Natural Gut 16

Pacific Classic Natural Gut 16

Multifilament: If you don’t have a cow handy, the most common method for creating a softer string is to switch out your solid core for an army of shock absorbing filaments (and it wouldn’t hurt to inject it with stretchy polyurethane). Simple right? Nope, because not all multifilaments are created equal. The number and type of fibers along with the amount and kind of bonding resin have a significant impact on playability and feel. On top of that you have to consider the coating, which is another area where composition has consequence. Abrasion resistant coatings will often trade a little comfort for durability. Needless to say, if one multifilament doesn’t feel quite right, keep looking because the perfect feel is just around the corner. In addition to the classics, e.g., Wilson NXT, Tecnifibre NRG2 and Gamma Professional, here are a few others to consider:

Dunlop DNA 16

Klip Venom 17

Tourna Quasi-Gut 16

Zyex: Let’s not ignore the hard data. Stiffness tests for Zyex based strings place them among the softest non-gut strings tested in the TW string lab. You don’t have to take my word for it, test drive Ashaway’s Dynamite 17 Natural or Dynamite 18 Soft. For a slightly firmer feel, try Dynamite 16 Tough. These strings seem to maintain control well at lower tensions, so don’t be afraid to shave off a few pounds. New to the Zyex universe is the paradigm shifting MonoGut ZX, the softest monofilament on the market. TW playtesters have commented that it offers the slippery snap back of a poly with less impact shock than a traditional monofilament.

Ashaway Dynamite 17 Natural

Ashaway Dynamite 18 Soft

Ashaway MonoGut ZX 16

Polyolefin: If you want to dampen the shock of your stiff frame, or maybe just spoil your elbow, look no further than polyolefin ribbon technology. Though built from a firm material, polyolefin ribbons produce a very comfortable response. In fact, TW lab tests confirm that along with Zyex, polyolefin-based strings are among the softest non-gut strings available. You can discover the vibration-free muted magic of polyolefins in a small number of strings, including IsoSpeed Control and IsoSpeed Professional, as well as a couple ultra comfortable Head hybrids, Intellistring and Intellitour. These hybrids feature the RIP Feel cross, which has one of the lowest stiffness scores of any non-gut string ever tested. Finally, there is the slightly stiffer Head RIP Control which features polyolefin ribbons wrapped around a multifilament core for a very unique, comfortably firm response.

IsoSpeed Professional 17

Head Intellistring

Head RIP Control 16

Co-poly: Yes, I know, polyester is stiff and has no business anywhere near a list of soft strings. In fact, when this rigid plastic stuff started popping up in the 80s it was not very well received, offering little more than durability to string breakers. But times have changed. The tipping point was in 1997 when Gustavo Kuerten won the French Open with something called Luxilon, which represented a crucial leap forward in monofilament technology. Since then poly-based strings have not only taken over the pro tour, but an increasing number of string manufacturers are devoting the lion’s share of their R&D to creating friendlier, more playable polys for those of us without Nadalian head speed or 13 ounce racquets. While the strategies and additives used to improve the playability and comfort of polyester strings are too numerous to mention, one thing is for certain: it’s working. An ever-expanding number of players are joining the party, all of them looking for more control on bigger swings. The list of softer polys gets longer every season. In addition to the recently reviewed Dunlop Black Widow, here are a few that we’ve been enjoying lately.

Polyfibre TCS 16

Topspin Cyber Flash 16

Weiss CANNON Silverstring 16L

Polyester based strings are quite firm compared to other string materials and are only included as an option for poly players who might want to explore softer options. Given the native firmness and low elasticity, reducing the tension from your nylon or nat.gut reference is a good call. 

Thanks for reading,
JW