About five years ago…
Gamma set out to create a hybrid cross string unlike any the tennis industry has ever seen. FYI: hybrid cross strings are, with some definite exceptions, the soft counterpart to the stiff poly main; their job is to supply the hybrid with comfort, power and touch whereas the polyester main is supposed to deliver control, durability and bite (for spin). The problem Gamma set for itself was this: how could they preserve the traditional properties of a cross string (e.g., comfort, power, feel) while also smuggling in a property that the majority of soft strings aren’t particularly known for, that being low friction or a surface that facilitates the sliding action of the main strings. It should also be noted that Gamma wasn’t looking for the kind of low friction that comes from a silicone application (like many co-polys); rather, they wanted the kind of legit slipperiness that is baked right into the molecular structure (so it doesn’t perish with play). Finding the right substance wasn’t easy, but after years of testing and tweaking, Gamma finally settled on a material from the fluoropolymer family. The name they chose for the string was Glide.
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.
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).
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.