The Tecnifibre Pro ATP Tennis Bag Series is a new bag option from Tecnifibre offering four sizes of bags for any active player. The slick black cosmetics of these bags make them visually appealing, and the attention to detail that Tecnifibre used when making these ensures that they are durable and will stand up to any conditions. Made of Tarpaulin, the material is unbreakable, waterproof and has been designed to stand up to the heaviest of conditions that ATP Tour players face day in and day out.
A story of tail-weighting a racquet
At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this year I was talking to Tecnifibre’s Guillaume Ducruet about the racquet specs used by the pros. We were watching Tecnifibre’s Janko Tipseravic practice at the time and Guillaume mentioned how his racquet was heavy but very head light.
In other words, Tipseravic’s racquet is what we call tail-weighted. The reason is a good one: Never before has racquet tip speed been so important in pro tennis. Today’s players are hitting with monster spin. Guillaume mentioned that players are tail-weighting their racquets so they still have some mass to swing without sacrificing maneuverability. The simple fact is, the faster one can swing, the faster one can spin the ball.
A heavy racquet with a light swingweight is like having the tail wag the dog. All the weight is under the player’s hand allowing him/her to whip the tip of the racquet through contact with maximum racquet head speed.
As I was talking to Guillaume, I couldn’t help but think of a customized racquet I had been hitting and really enjoying back at TW. I had taken an old Estusa Power Beam Braided — a very head light racquet in stock form — and built up the grip to a suitable size. In doing so I had made the racquet extremely head light. I added some lead tape to the 10 & 2 o’clock positions of the hoop to try to even things out, but the final spec was a 13-ounce racquet with a swingweight of only 313 RDC.
How did it feel on court? Amazing! Everyone who has hit the customized Estusa has loved it. Delivering punch like a heavy racquet, but feeling fast like a light racquet, the customized Power Beam Braided is a blast to hit. Strung up with a grippy co-poly, the spin potential is off the charts.
I immediately loved the racquet and wanted to play with nothing else. The only issue was, I only had one racquet. I like to have at least two racquets in my bag in case a string breaks during a match so I set out to find another one.
A quick search discovered the going rate for a new-old-stock Power Beam Braided was close to double the price of a current racquet. Not good. However, from my disappointing discovery an idea was born! What if I could take an affordable racquet from our Sale Racquets page and match the spec of the customized Estusa.
All I needed was a racquet with a low swingweight, an even lower price and I would let some lead tape take care of the rest.
Racquets don’t get much more affordable than the Volkl Power Bridge 5. Most also don’t get quite as funky. The PB 5′s distinctive Power Arm throat design makes it an unlikely choice for a player’s racquet, but in my opinion it only ups the ante of the challenge. The headsize and beam thickness were completely wrong, too, but at least the stock swingweight was very low. The idea of taking something not initially meant for the advanced player and turning it into a racquet which is the perfect fit seemed illogical. Actually, it seemed perfectly illogical. With that in mind, I decided to dismiss the illogical part, leaving me with just the word perfect. Decision made!
With a roll of lead tape in hand, I removed the stock grip and covered the entire handle pallet in lead — wrapping it from butt cap to shaft just like I was applying a replacement grip. Now, to do this properly (and permanently) I would have removed the butt cap and stuffed the handle cavity with lead weights (fishing weights work well) and packed it in cotton wool to stop the weights from rattling around. However, I was getting ready to hit and I didn’t have the time to go full on with my customization.
Next I wrapped a fairly weighty replacement grip over the lead to further increase the weight at the handle. I used Wilson’s Shockshield grip because it has a heavy shock absorbing material in it and it just so happens we have it on sale! With all this money I was saving, I could buy even more lead tape (my mind raced with the possibilities of random things I use in life that could be weighted up. Where would the weight customization end?)
With the grip installed, the racquet felt a tad light in my hand. I swung it around the web editing office a little bit, and no one was ducking for cover or even looking remotely fear stricken. Obviously, I needed to add some weight to the head to add a little plow through. Four thee-inch strips of lead tape at the 10 & 2 o’clock positions of the hoop did the trick, making the racquet feel like it had some mass on the swing while still having a fast and very maneuverable feel. The resulting spec turned out to be: Strung weight: 12.6oz, balance: 12 points head light, swingweight: 314 (RDC)
All of this customization and a quick restring with one of my favorite co-polys had swallowed up all the time I had before my scheduled hit, and I looked over to see a suited up and impatient Brittany ready to head to the courts. With great anticipation I threw on my tennis gear, eager to see how this customized PB 5 would play. Would it be able to handle the heavy hitting Britt? (Britt, AKA the Beast and The Backhand, here at TW. Perhaps the Backhand Beast would be a good combination of the two nicknames, except her forehand is very good, too)
From the first hit (even against the Beast) I knew I had succeeded. The racquet felt amazingly solid, yet it came around quickly and allowed me to find lots of spin. The PB 5 had gone from a lightweight ‘tweener racquet to feeling like it was dialed in for an advanced player. Here at TW, we are fortunate to occasionally get to hit with racquets customized for various pro players, and this racquet now had that pro prepared feel to it.
On groundstrokes the racquet pushed the ball with depth and weight. I was hitting a heavy ball with lots of pace and spin while finding great control. On every hit I was loving the way the racquet came through contact on my slice backhand. I was knifing my backhand with lots of pace and spin. The result was a low and fast skidding slice that (thankfully for me) was taking some of the bite out of the Beast’s backhand.
At net, the ball was pancaking nicely on the strings. Simply too massive to get pushed back by the ball, in combination with the still strings, I could feel the ball flattening on the stringbed. The result was every volley snapped off the strings with lots of pace, penetration and accuracy. Simply put, this was now a point and shoot weapon at net.
Now all was not perfect on my first hit. Although the racquet felt very good, it did not feel quite as fast and snappy as the Estusa. I put the slightly more sluggish feeling down to the increased headsize and a slightly higher swingweight. Moving the lead tape from 10 & 2 to 3 & 9 solved the issue and made the racquet feel perfectly balanced.
Since experimenting with tail weighting on the PB 5, I’ve continued the trend to other racquets. The Slazenger Pro Braided is a great candidate as it starts off as a lighter player’s racquet. Having a stock swingweight of 330 (RDC) I find I only need to add weight to the handle of the Pro Braided and just leave the head of the racquet stock. Other great tail weight candidates include the Babolat Pure Drives and AeroPro Drives, the 300 series of Dunlop Biomimetics, Head Youtek IG Radical Midplus (and Oversize if you like a larger hoop), Mantis Tour 305 and 315, Volkl Organix 10 295 and the Tecnifibre TFight 295 to name but a few!
Basically, any racquet with a manageable swingweight will do. For instance, if you can swing your current racquet easily, but would like to add some pop and plow through, you can get there by heavily tail weighting without sacrificing maneuverability. The big thing for me is adding power and stability through weight, but getting that in a light and very spin-friendly racquet.
The concept is far from new, but perhaps forgotten by some. Back in the days of wooden racquets, all the weight was in the handle as the racquets tapered from the handle to the tip, making the tip of the racquet light and flexible, and the handle heavy and solid. I have a couple of wood racquets close to 14-ounces, and they are surprisingly maneuverable due to the majority of the weight being in the handle and the fact that the head is small and aerodynamic (as is the mono shaft design of the class wooden racquet). Today’s graphite racquets allow us to copy the balance of wood racquets, but keep the upper hoop firmer thanks to the stiffer materials and beam designs.
I apologize for such a long blog! But I do hope you have fun tail-weighting to see if it’s right for you.
If you made it this far, thanks for reading!
Whew, we’re only halfway through this week, and there’s a slew of new products that went up in just the past three days. We get so much new stuff, it’s hard to keep track, so here’s a quick look at what’s new so far this week.
Tecnifibre bags are typically built to please. If you want features and high quality materials, check out the new Tour VO2 Max bags. We currently have them in a 12 pack, 9 pack, 6 pack and backpack. What’s not to love about the bags’ sleek black color with patent accents? It hides dirt and doesn’t clash with anything. As always be sure to check out the additional views for different angles and pictures of various pockets. Siobhan has also done a product video on the bags so you can get an even better idea about their size and function. When they’re ready, you’ll see the video button link below the product descriptions.
Good socks are a must if you’re a tennis player. Good socks can help prevent blisters, keep your feet dry and provide comfort. Good socks also last. Drymax socks are some of the best court specific socks. Seamless toes, targeted venting, arch support…the list of features goes on and on. One of the most important aspects of DryMax socks? They fit. We carry four different sizes so you’ll get the best fit for your feet. No one size fits all here. What’s new is that we now have them in black for crews and low-cut styles. With all the black shoe models on the market today, performance black socks are a must.
The Zo line from Gamma keeps on growing! Zo Dart is a new co-poly string designed to please the big hitters. Always looking to improve strings, Gamma is using special additives that help soften up the polyester string but adds six stiffer polyester monofilaments in the core to maintain control. Zo Dart is available in black and white as well as two gauges, 16 and 17. If you try it and love it, there is a multi-set deal of buy 6 and the price drops to $12.46 per set.
Big hitters and string breakers, rejoice! Here’s another option for you. Affordable at $79 for a 660-foot reel, Poly Code is also all about durability. Don’t look for fancy shapes or twists here. This is a traditional feeling poly that offers ultimate control and a crisp feel. Big hitters can swing away. Available only in reel form and in black, Poly Code comes in two gauges 17 (1.25mm) and 16 (1.30mm).
Another great value, Tecnifibre’s synthetic gut reels are now available in black and are only $34.95 for 660 feet of string. Tecnifibre’s synthetic gut also features an abrasion resistant coating for added durability. Find it in 16 and 17 gauges.
The juniors can hit the courts with some Lotto kicks, too. Already available in men’s and women’s sizing, the Ultra III junior has some of the same technologies. Syn-Pulse has been around in Lotto shoes for a while, but it’s still around because it works. Syn-Pulse is a lightweight, responsive cushioning system that’s visible in the heel. New is the ReactiveArch technology. The shoe’s sole is concave and flexes as you run. As it flattens out, you get better stability. As you lift your foot, it returns to the concave shape and offers you better energy return from your stride.
So that’s it, three days into the week and there’s already a lot of new gear to check out. Keep checking the blog page for more updates of what’s new at the warehouse.
Let’s take a look at strings in this third installment of playtester favorites of 2011. In the spirit of year-end Best Of lists, some of our playtesters picked their favorite products of 2011 and explained why. So just who are these playtesters? Chris, Spencer, Jason, Brittany and Tiffani — we’re all familiar faces on the playtest team, and our jobs put us in contact with all of the newest products that go up on our web site.
Favorite strings of 2011:
Chris is a guy who likes to play around with all kinds of string set-ups. You may have not heard about his low tension experiment from 2010. He tried stringing poly at what some might think are ridiculously low tensions, for example in the 30s, even hand pulled. You know what? Poly is playable at that tension.
Chris on the multifilament from Wilson, NXT Control: “This string feels to me like I’m hitting a poly/multi hybrid. It offers more control than a multi yet is more comfortable than a poly, which is why we hybrid! Now you don’t have to. I usually like poly monofilaments, but I really like this multi because it offers lots of comfort with great control.”
Our playtesters think alike once more. It was a hat trick for this German-made 18 gauge poly with Spencer, Brittany and Jason choosing Mosquito Bite as their favorite new string of 2011. What’s the appeal?
Spencer on Mosquite Bite: “I found a lively feel for some added pop as well as excellent access to spin.”
Brittany on Mosquito Bite: “First off, I love the color options. I feel like this string can look good in any racquet. Secondly, I found it had all the elements I look for: power, spin, and control. Normally I am not a full poly person (I prefer a hybrid) but I enjoyed it in a full bed. And lastly, Mosquito Bite is an awesome name, period.”
Jason on Mosquito Bite: “It’s comfortable and provides great pop and spin. What’s not to like?”
You can count on Tiffani as being a fan of multifilament strings. Though she plays with a lot of polys while playtesting, in her own racquets, you’re sure to find either a full bed of multifilament or a hybrid with a softer co-poly.
Tiffani on XR1: “I like the feel of this multifilament because it’s arm friendly without being mushy. Tension maintenance is also pretty good. Downside, though, is that it frays.”
So what’s your favorite string of 2011? Weigh in! We’d love to hear your opinions.
Check back in later this week for our next installment of playtester favorites. We’ll take a look at racquet/string accessories next.
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.