Playtest: Prince Lightning Power
By Greg Raven
Lightning Power is Prince’s new solid-core/multi-wrap string in its all-around performance category. Prince orients strings in this category toward players who are looking for improved durability, comfort, feel, and spin. Prince feels that Lightning Power is ideal for players who are looking for power and a softer feel in a solid-core construction, yet with improved durability when compared against traditional strings with solid cores and outer wraps.
Prince’s Powerfoil technology (also found in Lightning XX) brackets the solid core. Around the core and PowerFoil are wrapped specially fused bundles of polyester and nylon — two materials that are normally difficult to bond to each other. Prince’s Poly/Nylon Fusion technology, however, makes it possible, and gives the player the responsiveness of polyester without the harsh feel of a typical monofilament polyester string. Prince claims that its Poly/Nylon Fusion and Powerfoil technologies combine to provide unmatched power and ball bite without sacrificing comfort and feel.
Lightning Power is available in 16 and 17 gauges in clear/silver. It is priced from $9. For more information or to order, contact Prince at 800-2 TENNIS, or visit Prince on the web.
In the lab
We tested the 17-gauge Lightning Power. The coil measured 41 feet. The diameter measured 1.28-1.30 mm prior to stringing, and 1.21-1.22 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 79 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 72 RDC units, representing a 9 percent 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 percent tension loss. Lightning Power added 13 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 41 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 29.5.
Lightning Power has little coil memory, and there is plenty of string for most racquets. The outer wrap is smooth with a hint of lubrication, so the crosses pull through easily, although it is sometimes a bit more difficult to grab the end of the string between your fingertips during weaving. Tying knots is easy with Lightning Power.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, had problems tying knots, or reported a problem with friction burn. Three reported problems with coil memory.
On the court
It’s not a surprise that our playtest group gave Prince Lightning Power above-average scores. What is a surprise is that each and every one of Lightning Power’s scores was above average. Unlike many of the strings tested by the USRSA, Lightning Power did not fall down in any category, so there was no low score to pull down the overall average. In fact, Lightning Power’s scores are so comparable across all nine categories that it is one of the best balanced strings out of the 84 strings playtested by the USRSA to date. Interestingly, two other strings that fit this description are Prince Attitude and Prince Premier with Softflex.
According to our playtesters, Lightning Power is the all-around string that Prince designed it to be. Those looking for a quality string to recommend to a wide variety of customers should give Prince Lightning Power a try.
“Very good string. Played very well and lasted well. Would definitely like to play with it.” 5.0 male all court player using Princne Hornet MP strung at 62/65 pounds LO (Klip Hardcore/Kicker 16)
“Great string. I liked the feel and the power.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Wilson H Tour strung at 64 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“This string reminded me of Prince Lightning XX, and it plays great. Even better feeling and durability. When I first started hitting I thought I was using a premium string. After a few hours of play the strings were moving around but the feel was still there. I will definitely add this string to my shop’s inventory if it’s priced moderately.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince More Control DB 850 OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Prince Premier 17)
“This is a very nice string. Gave good bite for a 16-gauge. Felt equally good on touch and power shots, and held its tension very well. It’s a keeper!” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 51 pounds LO (Prince Synw Gut Original 17)
“Overall a very good string. Easy installation, holds tension, pretty good playability.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 16)
“I really enjoy this string. It has a crisper feel than I’m used to. The string provides a nice “pop” to my shots. it was comfortable to teach with, also. Lastly, the string’s cosmetics are impressive — good looking string! I had many of my customers interested in it. Please notify me ASAP with the name of this string.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One Tour strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)
“One of the best synthetics I have tested. Has great control, touch, and feel. Lacked a little on power, but overall a great string.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Prestige strung at 58 pounds CP (BDE Performance 16)
“Great playing and looking string. It held its own during most shots. I would recommend it to my above-average players. Others would like it just because of its appearance.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Pro Tour 280 strung at 55 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut 17)
“The durability of this string amazed my. There was virtually no string movement. These two qualities usually make for a stiff and boarding string, but this one performed like a multifilament with the tension loss. I’ll buy it.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 16)
“Excellent string for my game. Felt above-average power and above-average spin, especially on my spin serve.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal 8 strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 16/17)
“This string played very well. It presented no probems in regard to stringing. Control and power were satisfactory. Tension holding was normal. I would recommend this string as an above-average string.” 4.0 male all court player using Fischer Pro Impact FT strung at 59 pounds CP (BDE Perf 17)
“I really like this string. While not quite the feel or touch of my regular string, very responsive overall. Looks like a Prince string. If mid-priced or lower, I will definitely recommend it.” 4.0 male touch player using Prince Bandit OS strung at 62 pounds LO (Gamma TNT Pro Plus 17L)
“This string is very soft. Similar in feel to Prince Premier w/Softflex and Tecnifibre BiPhase. Due to its softness I pre-stretched it, and strung it 2 pounds tighter than I string my natural gut. The mains slid across the crosses very easily and returned to position on their own much of the time. There was very little notching. The silver threads in the string don’t seem to add any texture. I like this string. It feels soft, has good power, and adequate control. I would play it and recommend it to customers.” 3.5 male all court player using Volkl Tour 9 V-Engine strung at 57 pounds CP (Klip Legend Natural Gut 17)
“A solid all-around string. It was a breeze to string and held tension very well. I wish it was a bit softer, but I’m sure some people will think it is just right. It felt like a 17 gauge and that was definitely noticeable when it came to spin potential.” 6.0 male all court player using Volkl C10 Pro strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire XP 16/17)
“Reminds me of Prince Lightning XX 17. It’s a good string with lots of bounce. It offers above-average power and spin potential. It’s a great string for the average player who wants a little more “pop.”” 5.5 male serve and volleyer using Wilson Hyper Carbon Pro Staff 6.7 Extreme strung at 52 pounds CP (Natural gut 16/17)
“This string feels nice to play with. I would consider using it again in the future.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson Extreme 16)
“This string lost quite a bit of tension and began moving after just a couple hours of play. The string is very comfortable but would be more interesting in a thinner gauge. Pre-stretch may be a good idea given the tension loss. Wish I had strung it well over the max for my frame. Plays like a thick, coated natural gut.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Tour 10 MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG 18)
“While responsive it did lack some pop. However, the string was extremely comfortable on my arm and did not compromise control. It broke after about 10 hours, but that’s about normal for me. Depending on cost, though, I would carry it in my shop.” 5.0 male all court player using nSix-One 95 strung at 54 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG 17)
“This string is very easy to handle and easy to string. I didn’t have any trouble with tying knots or any notching. Play-wise, it is a nicec soft solid-core string, reminiscent of Gamma TNT in terms of comfort, but with better tension retention. It has a lot of pop and would be great for someone who likes soft solid-core strings. It is also easy on the arm. The only thing that I didn’t like is that it doesn’t have as much bite on the ball. Because it has great power, next time I’d go up on the tension to get some more spin.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince NXGraphite MP strung at 65 pounds LO (Prince Lightning 16)
“Good average string. I think it would be good for young juniors and 3.0-3.5 players.” 5.5 male all court player using Prince NXGraphite MP strung at 63 pounds LO (Prince Perfection 16)
“I am surprised I enjoy playing with this string as much as I do. It was so stiff during installation, but it is powerful during play. The power level felt close to my normal string, with less feel. I’m going to try using this as a hybrid with gut once I learn what it is.” 3.5 male serve and volleyer using Babolat Pure Drive OS strung at 56 pounds LO (Babolat Tonic+ 16)
“This string is very easy to work with during stringing. It has virtually no coil memory, and friction burn is not a concern. Upon first hitting with it, I noted it is comfortable with better-than-average control. In other categories, however, I am not sure it distinguished itself from other similar strings on the market. While it is a solid performer, I gave it no more than average ratings in all other categories.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Pro Kennex 7g strung at 66 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)
“Average string. Not especially good in any area. Comfort is its best attribute but even so there are many strings more comfortable. In general I rate this as barely average overall.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Handler Arrow strung at 36 pounds LO (Gamma Zo 17)
“Seemed like an average synthetic gut. No exceptional qualities plus or minus noted.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Core 10 strung at 65 pounds LO (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 17)
“A truly average string across the board, except for excellent tension holding and a very nice physical appearance.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson T3 strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina 17)
“Average string. Nothing special as far as playability or feel.” 4.5 female all court player using Fischer Rally FT strung at 63 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)
“I liked the way this string glided across the mains during stringing. Not wild about the color but that is just me. This string played all right, but did nothing to stand out.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince More Precision strung at 70 pounds CP (Prince Sweet Perfection 16)
“To me this was just an ‘ordinary’ string. It didn’t resist movement too well, however it does have visual appeal.” 4.5 female all court player using Prince NXGraphite MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG 17/18)
“Compared to my normal string, this is somewhat easier to install, and it’s somewhat more durable, even though there was some notching during the test period. Overall I didn’t see anything exceptional about this string and wouldn’t change from my normal string.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson H6 strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)
“Very stiff string. Very little feel. Durability is good.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince Tour Diablo MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Prince Perfection 17)
“A comfortable string. Nice and easy on my arm. A thinner gauge and a bit higher tension might give it more pop.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal 4 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“This string has very little texture. Doesn’t bite the ball very well. Decent feel. Not sure what level player it is for. Probably would not stock this string.” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.x6 strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson NXT OS 16)
“Very stiff stringbed! I was experiencing some elbow tenderness when using the string on my regular frame. When I switch back and fourth from a similar frame with a softer string, I didn’t feel the tenderness at all.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Wilson H2 strung at 65 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“I don’t have many positive things to say about this string.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff Trance MP strung at 56 pounds CP (Bow Brand Championship 16)
“This string does not feel as easy on my arm as my normal string. It also did not feel as lively.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Instinct strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire Professional 16)
“This string is terrible. No feel, no power — I felt as if I had limited control. I actually quit playing with it in one match and went back to my old string in another frame to finish out the match.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Wilson Hyper Hammer 4.0 strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
| EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
|about as easy||22|
|not quite as easy||2|
|not nearly as easy||0|
| OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
|about as playable||18|
|not quite as playable||16|
|not nearly as playable||3|
| OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|about as durable||24|
|not quite as durable||3|
|not nearly as durable||0|
| RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
|Resistance to Movement||3.2|
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 email@example.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.