Sneak Peek…The New Prince String Line…(WOW!)

Disclaimer: it’s not every day that one of our great American tennis brands revamps its string line. So please forgive us in advance if we seem a little excited.

From comfortable and powerful multifilaments to crisp and spin-friendly co-polys, the 2014 Prince string line has something for everyone. Let’s take a brief tour of their offerings.

The Premier Series – Multifilaments

Prince Premier Series

Prince’s Premier line of strings features three very tendon-friendly multifilaments loaded with pop. Offering three distinct levels of firmness and playability, the Premier line gives the multifilament player the ability to select the one with just the right feel. Premier Touch, the softest of the bunch, features a very innovative ribbon core which is designed to have the responsiveness of natural gut. This new offering comes in three gauges, including 15L(!), which should please anyone who wants a side of durability and directional control with their comfort and power. As with the very unique Isospeed and Head ribbon technology strings, this one has an almost unbelievable level of vibration dampening (which makes it the perfect match for today’s lighter, stiffer frames). Coming in slightly firmer is Premier Power which updates Premier LT and continues to offer exceptional comfort. This update features an army of shock absorbing fibers wrapped in high density nylon filaments for improved durability. Finally, we have the firmest member of the Premier clan, Premier Control. Like the string it replaces, Premier Attack, this one features a stiff tri-core center wrapped in velvety soft nylon filaments. The result is a comfortably firm feel delivering near poly-like control without taxing the tendons like a traditional monofilament.
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Quick Review: Dunlop Biomimetic F5.0 Tour

Recently, I raved about the potential of the Donnay Formula 100 racquet becoming a new  favorite of mine (but I also noted having issues with the depth on my backhand).  Move over Donnay, the Dunlop Biomimetric F5.0 Tour has quickly moved into that second spot behind my Babolat Pure Drive GT.

Dunlop Biomimetic F5.0 Tour

I strung up the F5.0 Tour with some Black Shark at 60 pounds (yes, I like tight poly strings!) and had an absolute blast hitting with this racquet.  I found I could swing freely and had great access to spin and power.  Balls that I thought I was missing by a couple inches were landing in.  And my backhand was not a problem as I could swing fast and free through my backhand.  I could control the ball and play consistent or rip the ball and flatten out or even access some heavy spin for defense.

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An interview with Ashaway’s Steve Crandall on his latest creation: MonoGut ZX, the world’s softest monofilament

For years the monofilament string market has been dominated by polyester — a substance that can be too firm and underpowered for less advanced players. About a decade ago, Ashaway’s Steve Crandall began working on a new concept: a monofilament control string with genuine comfort and power, closer on the stiffness spectrum to natural gut. In the early part of 2012, after years of testing and tweaking, Crandall finally found what he was looking for. It’s called MonoGut ZX. The ZX stands for Zyex, which is a much softer and more responsive material than polyester. On his most recent visit to Tennis Warehouse, we had the chance to interview Steve about his impressive new string. Here is what he said.
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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

 

Gamma Zo Magic 16 String Review

The Gamma Zo Magic 16 gauge string is advertised to be a very soft co-poly with very good tension maintenance. Sounds like a good combination to me…and so I gave it a try!

I strung up the Gamma Zo Magic 16 in a Prince TT Warrior MP at my standard 56 lbs for a polyester string. The string was very soft and stretchy for a polyester, and thus it was a little easier to string than most polys.

My first impression of the string was that it was extremely soft, almost “gummy” feeling. Since it was so soft it was very arm-friendly for a polyester, and thus very comfortable to play with. It also provided me with a lot of touch and feel on my shots, which is not always typical of a polyester.

With that said, the Zo Magic did not feel great hitting off the ground. Since the string was so soft and gummy, it did not pocket the ball well and did not have very much “pop” or spin potential. I felt that my groundstrokes floated off the racket a little too much and did not have the heaviness that my shots would normally have.

On serves and volleys, the softness and feel of the string gave me lots of control, especially on touch volleys. However, I was not able to generate very much spin or power on my volleys and serves. This was the general dislike I had for the string.

The string’s tension maintenance was excellent. I played with it for a few days, and then went on a two week long trip. Upon return, the tension had dropped slightly but was very similar to its original tension, which is pretty impressive for a polyester.

With that said though, I did not particularly enjoy playing with the Gamma Zo Magic. It was very arm-friendly, but did not provide me with enough power or spin for my liking. If you have the desire to play with one of the Gamma polyesters, I would suggest instead trying the Zo Power, which is soft and has a little more pop than the Zo Magic.

AG

String Review: Prince Poly EXP 16

polyexp16-1

A pleasant surprise awaited me when I was handed a set of the Prince Poly EXP 16 to try. I knew little about the Prince Poly EXP 16 string before I tried it. I have enjoyed the Prince strings I had used in the past (I enjoyed playing with the Prince Syn Gut w/ Duraflex as a junior, as well as the Prince Tour in my college career), but I had never heard of the Poly EXP. And after playing with it I had found another Prince string that I really liked playing with.

I strung up the Poly EXP in my Prince TT Warrior MP at my standard 56 lbs for a polyester (I typically do 56 lbs for polys and 58-60 for multifilaments). It was a relatively easy string compared to other polyesters because of its smooth texture and slightly softer feel.

After just the first shot in the warm up I immediately noticed the incredible feedback and “pop” I was getting off the string bed. At contact the ball seemed to explode of the racket, resulting in a lot more power than I was used to out of a full bed of polyester.

Off the ground the Poly EXP felt excellent. I was able to generate large amounts of pace on the groundstrokes and a decent amount of spin to bring the ball back down into the court. Precision and control was slightly less than normal than other polyesters, but since I enjoy a more explosive and responsive string I did not mind.

Volleys and serves were also nice with the Poly EXP. I would have liked to be able to generate a little more bite on the ball, especially for knifing the volleys, but the pace I was able to generate, especially on the serve, was awesome! I was definitely hitting the big flat serve up the tee with a little more juice than normal…

Tension maintenance was good, but not great. It maintained tension for most of the life in the string bed (a little over a week), but started to lose tension towards the end. Durability was about average for a polyester string.

Overall I was extremely pleased with the Prince Poly EXP 16 string! I had played the Prince Tour string for a while during my college career, and definitely felt that the Poly EXP was a significant upgrade from the Tour (even though I did like the Tour a lot). The power and “pop” I was able to generate would be extremely hard to match from any other polyester on the market. If you enjoy a lively polyester with lots of potential for power, like I do, then I definitely would recommend giving the Prince Poly EXP a try!

Volkl Cyclone String Review

Guest blogger and Open level player Andy Gerst puts Volkl’s Cyclone string through its paces in this review.

A great new poly string being introduced to the market is the Volkl Cyclone string. It is a co-polymer polyester monofilament, designed to mimic the durability and control-oriented playability of a polyester while maintaining a bit more softness in order to provide more power and less stress on the arm. The Cyclone is also “gear-shaped” as opposed to the standard circular shape of the string, enabling it to provide more ball pocketing and added spin.

I strung up the Cyclone 16 gauge string in my Prince TT Warrior MP racquet at 56 lbs. I typically string my racquet in the high 50’s, but when stringing it up with a full bed of poly I drop the tension typically 2-3 lbs. As standard for a polyester string, it was a somewhat difficult task stringing it up. The added softness of the co-poly made it slightly easier to string than a standard poly, but the gear shape of the string also caused it to “burn” slightly as I pulled the crosses through when stringing.

The first impression I had when hitting with the Cyclone was the stiffness as well as the ball pocketing that I found. It had a really crisp, solid feel as I struck the ball, while still maintaining excellent control. Another characteristic that instantly stood out to me was the way the strings grabbed and pocketed the ball in the string bed at impact. While most polyester strings provide a dead and stiff feel off the string bed, with the Cyclone I could really feel the ball as it struck the strings, and upon release it had a tremendous amount of spin.

On groundstrokes and serves I was able to generate lots of power and spin, most likely due to the “gear shape” of the string and the added ball pocketing it felt like I was getting. Control was somewhat less than other polyesters, but the extra power and softer feel made the string more comfortable to play with than other polyesters.

At net Cyclone provided lots of bite to my volleys. I was able to really stick my volleys deep in the court, and was really impressed at how much I was able to feel the ball on the strings compared to other polyesters. My volleys also were knifing through the court with lots of underspin and bite.

Durability was slightly less than other polyesters that I have played with in the past. I am an open level player playing hard almost everyday, and the string broke in less than a week, which is longer than I get with my usual hybrid set up (2-3 days), but less than I would normally get out of a full bed of poly (1 ½-2 weeks). The string began to lose tension towards the end of its lifespan, about 5-6 days after stringing (fairly standard for a polyester).

All in all I really enjoyed playing with the Volkl Cyclone. I was impressed by the power and ball pocketing compared to other polyesters, as well as the slightly softer feel due to its co-polymer composition. In addition, at $5.95 a set the Cyclone is an excellent value string. In conclusion, I would highly recommend the Volkl Cyclone, and at $5.95 a set I would be hard pressed to find a better value for the money.