…with polyester, that is.
Before I became a playtester for Tennis Warehouse 4 years ago, I played exclusively with an inexpensive synthetic gut. I usually went with something like Prince Synthetic Gut or Gamma Synthetic Gut, though it really didn’t matter. I’d spend about $20 to have my racquet strung, then be back in a couple of weeks with a busted string for another string job. To me, that made the most sense as it was pretty much the least expensive (without resorting to nylon). Natural gut, I’d heard it was great, but that was not an option with the pricing. I mean, come on, why would I pay more than double for string that won’t last any longer? Synthetic gut is a fraction of the price and I’m sure can’t be too far off from natural gut. Heck, they’re both “gut,” right? I’ll stick with the less expensive one, thank you. At this point, my naivete in the tennis industry had limited my product knowledge, and I’d never even heard of polyester string. Polyester leisure suit? Sure. I was kickin’ around in the ’70s, so I’m familiar with that. But tennis string? I don’t think so.
Soon thereafter, I started working for Tennis Warehouse and eventually became a playtester as well as working in the Web Editing Department. I didn’t have much of a choice but to play with different product. Strings included. I was quickly brought up to speed on the vast selection of not only manufacturers, but different types of string within manufacturers. On top of that, all the different gauges. If you’ve had a difficult time trying to choose a racquet that works best for your game, finding the perfect string may even be tougher.
Being sent some sample packs of string from a manufacturer we had yet to carry as a brand, I strung up a couple of racquets with their strings. This was the first time I hit with a polyester, and I immediately noticed something different. The first thing I noticed was the ball pocketing — how the strings seemed to cradle the ball, then spit it out with more spin than I’d been used to. To say I loved this string was an understatement. It changed my whole outlook on string, let alone my tennis game. My control, both depth and direction, seemed to be more locked in. After hitting for a good session and taking good size swipes at the ball with no ill effects of balls flying out, the last thing I noticed was that I NEVER had to straighten the strings! What the heck was this?
It was Polyfibre Hightec, a soft co-poly.
Since then, I haven’t looked back. My preference in string is overwhelmingly polyester. (The leisure suits aren’t bad either!) I’m lucky that I’ve been able to sample several different brands, gauges and compositions, giving me a great feel for what I like (and what my arm likes, too).
I continue to like Polyfibre string. Not because it was my first, but because they simply offer good playing string.