Until I started working at Tennis Warehouse, I only knew the simple life of using synthetic gut. Yes, it was cheap, but as the saying goes, “What you don’t know won’t hurt you.” After years of working here I’ve experienced a lavish life of other strings. In exchange, I’ve become pickier than I ever thought I’d be with what goes in my racquet. Have you seen the Angel Soft Toilet Paper commercial? That’s how I feel about string. When will there be a string that meets the middle ground between a polyester and multifilament; something that’s not too rough, or not too soft?
This is where Tecnifibre comes in. They claim to have engineered a string that has filled the “missing link between multifilament premium string and monofilament polyester.” They call it, X-Code, a “full hybrid technology which integrates polyester and polyurethane.”
First off, there’s a certain solidity I get from polys that multis lack. I have the most appreciation for the softer polys. Nevertheless, even though the playability of a full bed of poly feels great, my arm and shoulder are pretty sensitive to them. To help minimize that harshness, I hybrid most of my string jobs with poly in the crosses and a multi in the mains, or just a full bed multi. Since Tecnifibre claimed that this should eliminate the need to hybrid, I wanted to see if this newly engineered string met up to its hype.
In comparison to other strings, there is no comparison to X-Code. The feel is unique. It seems like it has similar characteristics as X-One Biphase such as dwell time and ball pocketing, but the integrated poly makes it feel more crisp and with a little more pop. Groundstrokes is where the control felt the best. I felt extremely confident angling my shots, and could feel the elasticity of the string. As the point scale rates 1 the lowest and 10 the highest, I give this string an 8.5 for feel and 8 for control.
The string has a certain forgiveness I favor from multis. As I said before, I can feel that this has more dwell time than a lot of other polys I’ve hit with, in a sense that it hits closer to a multi than a poly. Even those with tendonitis issues won’t have to worry about pain as this is extremely comfortable. Keep in mind though I strung this up in a 102 sq. inch head size, 16×19 string pattern, and 2 pounds under mid. No shoulder pain always gets high points with me – 8.5 points for comfort.
POWER! It has its elasticity, but it’s not as springy which I believe is dwindled down by the integrated poly. I’m not much of a spin generator, but because I lack in this area, I asked my fellow spin-happy playtesters how they felt. Apparently, not as astounding as they had hoped for. In my opinion, it was average to other strings I’ve tried. I award 7.7 points for power and 7 points for spin.
This brings it to the final three categories: installation, durability, and tension maintenance. Installing it was more difficult than nylon or multis, but what poly isn’t? In comparison to other polys it unraveled relatively easy without the huge recoil factor. Because of its soft construction it was easy to manipulate while weaving. Pulling it across the mains wasn’t as smooth as it has a grippy outer layer to it. With this grippy outer layer, you have to watch that it doesn’t stick to itself when you’re pulling it through or it could end up a little jumbled. I give it 7.6 points for easy installation, 8.5 points if it was on the poly stringing only scale… we’ll average that to 8.
Now onto durability and tension maintenance. The picture below is approximately after five to six hours of hitting, which tension drops relatively quick and the outer layer is peeled away. After that point, I would want a fresh string job. These strings aren’t easy to break as it has to go through multiple layers. I give it 7.7 points for durability. As for tension, since I could start to feel the difference after the third-fourth hour, it lost some points. 7 points for tension maintenance.
Overall, despite its cons of tension maintenance and durability, Tecnifibre X-Code has become my go-to string as it met my expectations on what I was most looking for: comfort, feel, and control. I no longer have to look what string I should hybrid with what if I have this around. I wouldn’t necessarily say the X-Code is the “missing link,” but for now, it’s the closest thing out there on the market.
Polyfibre definitely did not disappoint with their new Hexablade tennis string.
Hexablade fully met my expectations, combining the comfort of Polyfibre TCS with excellent access to spin thanks to its hexagonal profile design.
I strung this up on my customized Babolat Pure Storm at 58lbs and had my own reservations on it based on how stiff the string felt while stringing, feeling similar to Luxilon ALU Power Spin. On the first strike my jaw dropped and I felt like I was auditioning for the part of Neo in “The Matrix,” as a simple “whoa,” escaped my mouth. I watched as the ball easily cleared the net by about eight feet and continued to follow its path to inches within the baseline. Usually with a freshly strung poly I’d expect to have a settling in period for the string to readjust after un-mounting the frame. With this string though, there was no “break-in” period. Stroke after stroke I watched as the ball dropped to the court and exploded off the ground.
I took a trip home and used this string to battle against my dad; he usually gives me some competition, but I had the edge this time. After beating up on the ol’ man on the courts, he commented that this was the first time he truly felt old hitting against me, and it was due to the heaviness of the balls that were coming off the racquet face. The speed of the ball outmatched his foot speed, and I hit winner after winner, which felt good after a lifetime of denial and trash talking on my superior game.
Since you can’t always have your cake and eat it too, I did find that this string didn’t hold tension for as long as I would have liked, and it was also the first poly in a long time that I didn’t have to cut out of my frame. I had the string in my frame for about a month and logged around 10-12 hours of playtime on it before one of the strings popped. I saw a lot of frictional notching on the mains once all the string was removed from the frame, which made sense to me as I noticed there was also more string movement than a typical poly. Tension loss probably occurred around the six-hour mark, and the tension felt like it dropped significantly. This only made me focus on my timing and technique even more because there was a noticeable power increase, but once I made the adjustment, the grab from the string again helped the ball drop in play.
It would be hard to be a Polyfibre fan and not like this string. If you’re looking for a soft poly that’s easy on the arm and offers good spin potential, you can’t pass this one up. Hexablade delivers a heavy ball to your opponent while being light on the arm and has a great response.
I recently tried the Pacific ATP Poly Power Pro and the Poly Force. Of the two, I enjoyed the Poly Force more.
ATP Poly Power Pro
The ATP Poly Power Pro I actually did not enjoy hitting with very much. There was a significant initial tension loss in the stringbed, which made it feel extremely loose when I first picked it up to play with. The tension was also not very well distributed throughout the stringbed, and thus the play off the stringbed felt inconsistent. Sometimes I was able to keep the ball in play, and sometimes the ball would just fly on me unexpectedly. It did have nice “pop” however, with a good amount of power for a polyester. It also was relatively easy on the arm. I was able to generate good amounts of topspin and slice when needed as well. The durability was good too, as it lasted almost a week with daily wear (Editor’s note: Andy has broken co-poly strings in 30 minutes of hitting, so that is very impressive).
I enjoyed playing with the Poly Force more than the ATP Poly Power Pro. I felt it was a little softer, and thus had nice feel and touch off the strings. I was unable to generate as much spin however, and the ball did not stay long on the strings. The tension throughout the stringbed was nice and consistent. What stood out to me was the excellent control I was able to have, while also being able to generate ample power on my shots. Durability and tension maintenance was excellent. Overall, a 7 out of 10.
Till next time,