Playtest: Unique Tourna Poly Big Hitter
By Greg Raven
BRAND & MODEL
Unique Tourna Poly Big Hitter is a monofilament “poly” string of the type that is becoming increasingly popular both on the pro circuit and with hard-hitting juniors and even club players. Unique tells us that their poly is actually a very soft poly-poly ether with aluminum fibers added, which gives them the durability you expect from a poly string, with more playability, power, comfort, and control. Unique thinks that Tourna Poly will be welcomed by players with fast swing speeds, and by those who tend to break strings.
Unique Tourna Poly Big Hitter is available in 16 and 17 gauges in silver only. It is priced from $5.50 for sets of 40 feet, and $49.00 for reels of 660 feet. For more information or to order, contact Unique at (800) 554-3707, or visit Unique on the web.
We tested the 16 gauge Tourna Poly Big Hitter. The coil measured 41 feet 1 inch. The diameter measured 1.25 mm to 1.29 mm prior to stringing, and 1.20 mm to 1.26 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 69 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 × 18 pattern) on a constant pull machine. After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 65 RDC units, representing a 6% tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9% tension loss. Unique Tourna Poly Big Hitter added 14.8 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
Tested for five weeks by 39 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.5. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages, to reduce preconceptions and biases regarding manufacturers, type of construction, and materials. Average number of hours playtested was 22.7.
Tourna Poly Big Hitter strings up more or less like a typical poly, although it certainly isn’t as stiff as some polyester strings available. Stringing speed was on par with some nylon strings. Stringing speed was helped by the fact that Tourna Poly seems to elongate very little, so you don’t have to wait forever for the tension head to come to rest before clamping off. Another nice touch is that the ends are pre-cut at an angle so you don’t need to trim them before starting. We pre-stretched our coil just enough to reduce coil memory. Whether or not that made a difference, installing Tourna Poly was relatively easy.
The variation of the diameter of the string suggests that Tourna Poly is purposely made oval. This seemingly insignificant out-of-roundness is important, however, as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) is investigating whether oval strings give the player an unfair advantage in producing spin, as lab tests indicate.
Four of our playtesters broke his sample during stringing, 17 reported problems with coil memory, 7 reported problems tying knots, and 2 reported friction burn. Three reported breaking the string during play, one at 4 hours, one at 30 hours, and one at 39 hours.
It is not unusual for our playtesters to be divided about the merits of any given string, especially when that string is a poly. What is surprising, therefore, is not that some playtesters loved Tourna Poly while some hated it, but that those who loved it really loved it. In fact, they rated it number one of the 80-some strings we’ve playtested in resistance to movement, and second overall in durability (first place went to a Aramid string). You will also note that all but one of our playtesters rated Tourna Poly’s durability as being as good as or better than other 16-gauge strings. Control ratings were above average, while power, tension retention, and overall ratings were all well above average.
For a string that sells for under $6.00 per set to rate this highly is extremely impressive, and if you want more, check out the price of the reel. Tourna Poly out-rated many higher-priced strings, including some that could be considered its direct competition. For those looking for a durable string at a reasonable price, with comfort and playability far exceeding that of Aramid, Unique’s Tourna Poly Big Hitter is an obvious candidate.
If you think that Tourna Poly Big Hitter might be for you or your customers, Unique is making USRSA members in the U.S. a special offer: Buy three sets of Tourna Poly at $5.50 apiece, and receive a fourth set free, for a 25 percent discount off of the dealer price. To take advantage of this offer, contact Unique directly at 840 McFarland road, Alpharetta, GA, 30004, or phone them toll free at 800-554-3707.
“A polyester string — my favorite! Good power, average tension loss, and no string movement. Of course it’s durable, but that doesn’t take away from the playability. It does not hurt your arm! Stringers don’t recommend poly because it’s harder to string. Good. More business for me.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head i.xSpeed strung at 50 pounds CP (Head Ultratour 17)
“While stringing my racquet I thought I would hate this string. It had excessive coil memory and it just did not have the ‘feel’ of a string that I would like. When I took it out to play, all I could think about where all the negative things I would encounter. After about five minutes of playing, though, I realized I was no longer thinking bad things about this string. The touch, feel, control, and power were there, and I was really enjoying playing with it. One set had me hooked on it. I traded off with my other racquet and string, and kept coming back to this one as the more playable. After 20 hours of playing, it’s the racquet I pull out of my bag first when I play. This one is a big surprise.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff Torch strung at 63 pounds LO (Babolat Conquest 16)
“This string was about as unpleasant to string as any other poly, but its performance is terrific. This is the best durability string I’ve used in a very long time.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Ti.Radical OS strung at 65 pounds LO (Wilson Stamina 16)
“Somewhat less coil memory than other polys. I was most impressed with this string: All the qualities of a polyester (power plus durability) but not the expected weaknesses (limited playability, lack of comfort, significant loss of tension). Highly recommended. I intentionally strung it without dropping the tension. It lost only eight percent, and then stabilized. It broke in quickly and everything was fine.” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.S6 OS strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“Plays and feels exactly like the Luxilon Alu Power I use. Identical in every way. Excellent string. Highly recommended!” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Trysis 300 strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)
“A good durable string. Feels like a polyester, but not as stiff. The thin gauge is nicer on the arm. No string movement. Still playing with it and it shows no signs of breakage. Definite keeper.” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.prestige mid strung at 55 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 17)
“I like this string. It plays like a good synthetic. It seems a little stiffer than normal, which I really like. The string has a firm feel to it.” 5.5 male serve and volleyer using Prince More Game Mid strung at 63 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic 16)
“This string had the typical coil memory and friction burn of other polys. On court, not a bad feeling polyester-type string. Above average control and spin capability. Held tension very well and didn’t move or appear to notch. Again, one of the better polyester strings with which I’ve played.” 6.5 male all court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 54 pounds LO (Head FiberGel 16)
“This is a nice poly string. It felt a lot like Luxilon Alu Power, but not quite as stiff. Dropping the tension 5 percent is key. I liked this string and would recommend it to advanced players looking to switch to a polyester string.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“Not a bad string!” 6.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Radical OS strung at 66 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 16)
“Easier to string than most polys. Nice bounce from the stringbed, with no dampener needed, it’s so quiet. Enjoyed its feel. It’s close to the durability of the Aramid I normally use, but with the comfort of a nylon.” 5.0 male all court player using Dunlop 400G strung at 55 pounds CP (Tenex Hy-Aramid 16)
“As soon as I opened the package and realized how stiff this string is, I expected to spend the next 15 test hours with a sore arm trying to get my shots not to land short in the court. This was not the case, and in fact I was so comfortable with this string that I used it in competition against our arch rivals. It strings up like other polys, some coil memory but nothing earth-shatteringly bad. I find the test sample easy to hit with, with good control, enough power, and good spin. The strings locked into position and did not notch. I had no problems with vibration or arm pain.” 3.5 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 55 pounds LO (Klip Blast 16)
“For a stiff string (poly?) I was surprised how well it played. Decent power, good control, very good spin potential, and zero string movement. Almost no notching after 15 hours of play, which is unusual for me. Seemed to lose tension more quickly than normal. A good option for frequent string breakers.” 4.0 male all court player using Topspin CL628 strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma XP 17)
“This appears to be another typical long-lasting poly string. It is very durable, and it maintained tension through the playtest. From a comfort standpoint it is not overly stiff, and it generated decent power and control. I would definitely recommend this string to string breakers.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince More Game MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Perfection 16)
“This string lasts forever! However, it is stiff, dead, and did not feel anywhere close to the multifilament string I usually use in terms of playability. It would be a great string for a hard-hitting player who goes through strings quickly.” 5.5 male all court player using Prince AirStick strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation NXT 17)
“Best string for string breakers with good feel.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Mid plus strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Extreme 16)
“Good choice for early string breakers. Durability strings normally do not have good playability, but in its class this appears to be one of the better ones.” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.radical OS strung at 60/58 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation NXT 17)
“The string felt stiff out of the package, but was very elastic on the pull. I’d like to try it in a thinner gauge.” 4.0 male all court player using Fischer Extreme Air Carbon Ti strung at 65 pounds CP (Babolat VS Gut 17)
“Although I rated this string as having excessive coil memory and some friction burn during stringing, these are normal in my experience with poly strings. This string reminded me of Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power. It is simple to work with, has average ability to hold tension, and nice power at first, although it lost feel as the string relaxed.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina Spin 16)
“Stringing was typical for a polyester type of string, that is, “coily.” I nicked the string cutting off the plastic tie. I liked this string better than most polyester strings, but I wouldn’t play with it unless durability was my highest priority. The big plus was that this string resisted movement pretty well.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Surge X strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“Out of the gate, this string was wonderful. There was coil memory, but no more than any other polyester. I was happy to use it during a local tournament. Although I strung it at 65 pounds, I should have increased this by a few pounds because I noticed some softness when I started hitting with it. For the first nine hours of play, things were great, but after that I noticed a “boing” sound on impact. Along with that sound came a loss of control. The remaining nine hours of play were not pleasant.” 5.0 male all court player using Dunlop 300G strung at 65 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)
“This test string would definitely be okay for a big time string breaker. I like a more playable, softer string in my racquet. I had difficulty getting spin on the ball. The power was good. The resistance to movement and holding tension aspecs of the string were awesome! I would consider using it as the mains in a hybrid string job.” 5.5 male touch player using Head i.X3 MP strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina / Sensation 17)
“This string provides very little power, but excellent directional control. It does not complement my power-based playing style, but it might suit a Wilander-type control player.” 5.0 male all court player using Gosen Secret Carbon strung at 62 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)
“Although I don’t hit regularly with a lot of topspin, this string does respond satisfactorily when topspin is needed.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson Hammer 5.2 strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma synthetic 17)
“A typical poly string. In my opinion, good for big hitters concerned with durability and/or the trampoline response in the sweet spot. If I were to try this string again, I’d lower the tension another five pounds.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince More Attack strung at 58/55 pounds CP (Babolat Control / Head FiberGel 16L)
“I rarely break strings so it’s difficult for me to gauge durability. This string did bother my arm a little, but that may be remediable by stringing five pounds looser.” 3.5 male all court player using Prince Graphite II strung at 62 pounds CP (Kirschbaum 16)
“This is a great string for string breakers but not lively enough for me. There was a pretty rapid tension loss. On the plus side, I felt that I had more control with this string. I just didn’t care for the feel compared to my regular string.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre E-Matrix 17)
“This string is very similar to Luxilon Big Banger. However, I would string at more than five pounds below my present string. Very good control for first 12 hours, then the tension seemed to go away. The string lacks the power initially but got better after 6-8 hours.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Pro Kennex Core 1 #6 strung at 54.5 pounds CP (Gamma TNT 18)
“Average poly string. I had a hard time with topspin at first due to the tension drop, but slice and volleys were excellent. Durability is a plus, especially as my normal string is a generic nylon that lasts ten hours tops.” 4.0 male using Volkl Catapult V1 MP strung at 53 pounds CP (Hex Power 17)
“Average string, with a board-like feeling. Poor resiliency. Handles topspin well, but loses in the feel category.” 4.5 male all court player using Head i.S2 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“I strung my racquet as normal instead of reducing the tension by ten percent, which may have been the problem.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.5 strung at 59 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)
“This string feels a little stiff to me. I lost comfort and touch/feel. Control was pretty good. Durability was good, and the strings did not shift much, which I like. Overall, though, I would not play again with this string.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 62 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)
“Overall durability was great, but for me I can rate the control, touch, or feel as being pleasant.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Pro Staff Triad 6.0 strung at 62 pounds LO (Gamma synthetic gut 16)
“The test sample was only 39 feet long. It wasn’t a big deal, but with so many oversize racquets today I think there should be at least 40 feet in a coil. The coil memory made it difficult to work with, and tying knots was also difficult. Right from the start I didn’t care for the string. There was no punch to them. I really had to generate a lot of racquet speed to get any power. If you break strings too quickly and have no elbow problems maybe you’ll like this string, but if you’re looking for touch as well as power this string is not for you.” 4.5 male all court player using Head i.Speed strung at 56 pounds (Wilson Stamina 16)
“Tension loss was staggering. After 24 hours without play, 6 pounds. After 2 hours teaching, 2.5 pounds. After playing men’s doubles, 3.5 pounds. Twelve pounds of tension loss puts this string outside my normal playing window. Overall rating for this product is poor, poor, poor. It will not make it past my front door. A very negative report. I just can’t find anything positive to say about this string. Sorry.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff Surge 5.1 strung at 57 pounds CP (Tecnifibre 515 Gold PS 17)
“This is one of the most difficult strings to install in a racquet. I personally would not play with it for that factor alone. The benefits of the durability are not high enough.” 5.5 male all court player using Head Ti.Classic strung at 57 pounds CP (Synthetic gut 16)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
| EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
|about as easy||11|
|not quite as easy||19|
|not nearly as easy||3|
| OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to the string played most often)
|about as playable||7|
|not quite as playable||15|
|not nearly as playable||8|
| OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|about as durable||8|
|not quite as durable||1|
|not nearly as durable||0|
|Resistance to Movement||4.2|
See all articles by Greg Raven
About the Author
Greg Raven is an associate editor for RSI magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.
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