2011 Favorites: Strings

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:

Wilson NXT Control

Wilson NXT Control

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.”

Weiss Cannon Mosquito Bite

Weiss Cannon Mosquito Bite

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?”

Tecnifibre XR1

Tecnifibre XR1

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.

Happy Hitting!
Tiffani, TW

One swing at a time

I’ve hit only twice since my last blog entry. To me that’s shockingly infrequent as someone who played five times a week pre-baby. I thought that once I was back at work, it would be much easier to find the time to play. Like many notions about life with baby that I had while I was pregnant, I’m discovering that Mom Reality has different plans.

I usually try to workout or playtest during lunchtime, but before baby, I didn’t need those lunch hours to run errands. Technically, I guess, I don’t have to run my errands during lunch now, but as a mom who works full time, I want to spend as many off hours with my daughter as possible and make those hours count. For me that means not running errands like going to the grocery store and post office after work and instead trying to do them during the day while she is at day care. As I see it, I am not only relearning my balance on the tennis court, but also learning to balance my new life.

Those two times I did get out on court, though, I have noticed marked improvement. I am feeling much less alien on the court and have worked out my spacing and timing. I don’t feel like I’m on my heels as much as I was those first couple of times out, but I’m still not getting down and don’t feel like I’m committing enough on my groundstrokes. I feel like I might have picked up a habit from when I was playing pregnant by playing too upright and being overly cautious. So during a hitting session with Spencer earlier this week, we worked on cross court forehands and backhands. I used this opportunity to work on bending my knees and stepping into the ball. We finished up our hour doing the cross court and down-the-line control drills at net with volleys, and I know how much fitness work I have to do because my quads were burning from those net drills.

I feel like I’m regaining some feel with racquets as well. I restrung the Yonex V Core 100 S at mid tension with a new WeissCANNON string that we’ll be carrying. It’s called 6StarString Supercharged. It’s a unique mono-multifilament, according to WeissCANNON. Monofilaments and multifilaments are twisted together to form the string. While stringing it showed some nice elasticity, but not quite as much as some multifilaments I’ve strung. On court, I enjoyed the comfort most of all. I didn’t find loads of spin, but I’m not much of a spin player. This change in string setup is just what I needed for the racquet, too. The V Core 100 is delivering me a softer feel that I enjoy, and I’m glad Yonex has brought back that feel. I prefer it to the crisper response I felt I got from the RDiS series. I’m working to sharpen my strokes right now, and I’ve noticed I’m catching the leading edge of the 24.5mm beam of the V Core. I’ve also been playtesting the Volkl Organix 10 295g, which has a thinner 20mm beam, and haven’t had this problem. I didn’t have this problem before, so it means more time drilling those groundstrokes.

I’m playing Jason today, and this weekend my husband wants to play some tennis, so I’ll bring home the playtest racquets. We’ll wheel the baby out there in her stroller and hit some balls. Maybe that’s the ticket to more court time: making tennis a family affair!

Happy Hitting!
Tiffani, TW

Tourna Big Hitter Silver Review

ubighit17-1Playtesting Tourna Big Hitter 17 was like riding a rollercoaster for me. I had so many up and down feelings about Unique’s Big Hitter Silver. I found it to be a very pleasurable poly to string. Once the string was out of the package and uncoiled I had no issues with recoiling or kinking; the surface of the string was easy to hold and weave as it had a chalky yet crisp feel to it. Being a 17-gauge gave it even more points in the stringing department; it was very pliable and it felt similar to stringing something like the WeissCannon Silverstring or the Topspin Cyber Flash.

The first hit was pretty unimpressive. The response was a bit muted, the string was soft, yet it wasn’t pocketing the ball very well. I had strung my weighted Babolat Pure Storm at 61 lbs and would say that the string didn’t perform that well at that high of a tension. Once the string settled after about 30 minutes of hitting, the feel improved and I started to get a little more plow through but I would still describe the response as being a little mushy feeling for a poly. Spin potential was also a little lackluster relative to other polyesters out there; most of the spin was being generated by the stroke while the string seemed to act as an accessory for topspin.

As the weeks went on the string maintained its feel and control but around the 13-14 hour mark I noticed a definite loss in tension. The tension loss wasn’t horrible but I had to make sure to really keep the swing speed up or the ball would trampoline off the stringbed with little topspin, usually hitting some part of the back fence. Even though I had to concentrate on my shots more, the power that came with the lower tension also came with a feeling of glee once I got a handle on controlling it. I did really enjoy this string at the net; the combination of low power and soft feel was great for drop shots and short angled volleys. The string seemed to play better at a lower tension but technique was key in producing the topspin necessary to keep it in the court. Unfortunately, shortly after losing tension, around the 17-hour mark, the string seemed to die and I had to cut them out of my frame. No matter how hard I would swing, the type of shot hit (flat or topspin), I just couldn’t produce the power to really finish points and would usually have to hit one or two more balls after a shot I would normally pump a fist for.

The ups and downs during the playtest would make me hesitant to switch to this string. Despite my own feelings, I do think there is a good market for it. Competitive players with a fast swing, who generate a lot of power would get along quite well with the Big Hitter Silver. It would be perfect in a hybrid setting if you’re aiming to tone down the power without increasing tension, and anyone who likes the control aspect of polyester strings but doesn’t like the 2 X 4 feel should definitely give this one a shot.

Jackson