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!