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.
The Science on Glide
A reasonable question at this juncture is whether or not Gamma’s multi year quest for a low-friction cross string makes sense? One answer to this question has been thoroughly elaborated by physics professor Rod Cross and our very own Tennis Warehouse University Professor, Crawford Lindsey. The two men demonstrated that less friction between mains and crosses makes it easier for the main strings to slide out of position so that they can snap back with more force in order to create greater ball rotation (spin). This suggests that a low friction hybrid cross is exactly what the doctor ordered, especially for those who rely heavily on spin to control the ball’s trajectory, angle and depth. Ultimately though, the success of Glide will depend on how it performs on the court. With that in mind, our playtest team – Mark, Troy and Andy – hit this one for a few weeks. Here is our list of what they think it offers.
In our TW String Lab, Gamma Glide’s stiffness value is closer to that of natural gut than Wilson NXT or Tecnifibre NRG2. This means that it has more comfort than the majority of strings on the market.The comfort level is so high that it should noticeably dampen the shock of even the stiffest poly main. This makes it a great option for anyone who needs a tendon friendly hybrid, especially if they have a lighter, stiffer frame. Needless to say, Mark was impressed. “I applied my half sets as the cross in my Wilson Pro Staff 95S, and even when I increased Glide’s tension to 60lbs, the comfort level was there; no risk of arm discomfort with Glide in the racquet.”
Even though he paired it with one of our stiffest polys (Luxilon 4G), Troy had total comfort, saying, “The comfort was definitely a benefit. The Glide crosses really helped with the overall dampening of the string-bed. I felt that this was a very plush feeling set-up and helped expand the sweet-spot of the racquet. I could not have asked for more comfort from a hybrid.”
After hitting this one for a few weeks, our TW playtesters found Gamma Glide to have remarkable power. And though some of our big hitters experienced an unruly “trampoline effect” or an overly high launch angle, one thing is clear: this string offers easy access to depth along with the kind of pop that comes in handy when you need to close out a point or rack up some freebies on serve. The downside is that some full bed poly players may launch a few balls with this cross. Troy explains, “Being a 100% co-poly user, I noticed the added launch off of the string-bed. I found this string at times to be a bit unpredictable, thus causing some balls missing within about a foot of the lines.”
Mark encountered similar problems initially, but Glide’s comfort allowed him to jack up the tension until he had exactly the control he needed. “In the lower tension ranges I did get a great grip on the ball, but the ball’s flight was a little too unpredictable on my fastest swings. On the second configuration, in the higher tension ranges, I got comfort, easy access to spin, and predictability. For me, tension was key to making this string work.”
If our playtesters have it right, Gamma has definitely delivered big on their promise to build a slicker, more spin friendly cross. Put simply our TW playtesters got huge spin from their Glide hybrids. For Troy, the proof was in the pudding, “The spin potential was top-notch compared to most hybrids I have tried in the past. The only hybrid that compared for me in the spin department was when I once strung up ALU Power mains and VS Team crosses a la Nole’s set-up.”
Mark needed to tame the power with higher tensions before he could swing for spin. He said, “As I said before, at lower tensions the stringbed was too powerful and I didn’t feel confident accelerating through contact. Once I tried this string at a higher tension, I had enough predictability to swing away and the spin came very easy. I have about six hours on the second string bed and I can also say that the durability is pretty high for a hybrid.”
Also finding some serious spin, Andy said, “Gamma Glide helped provide some of the most spin I’ve ever felt from my own Wilson Blade 98 18×20 (which isn’t all that spin-friendly to begin with). I felt like, regardless of what string I paired with it in the mains, I was going to get tremendous action on my shots.” He continued, “I think Gamma Glide fills a large void in the string world that nothing else does. It’s ideal for players who want the spin potential of the comes with a polyester main, but maybe don’t have the stroke style for a full bed of poly. Essentially, It enables the benefits of polyester without the harsh impact on your arm.”
Save natural gut, we think Glide is easily one of the most comfortable and lively hybrid crosses available. It makes a great option for anyone who wants a hybrid cross that effectively soaks up the harsher vibrations of a stiff poly main – and it helps open up the sweetspot for those who may need a larger, more generous hitting zone. It should also pair very well with a multifilament or solid core synthetic gut, not only because of the increased spin but also because of durability (low friction means less sawing and less string straightening). With that said, we think some big hitters may need to tweak the tension in order to get the control needed to reach their preferred stroke speed. However, for those who do find the zone with this string, they will be rewarded with a heavy, spin loaded ball that explodes off the court.