Playtest: Wilson Reaction 16
By Greg Raven
Reaction is a new multifilament string that Wilson is aiming at competition players and big hitters who are looking for a firm, crisp string that offers control and good tension maintenance.
Reaction is constructed from pre-stretched thermoset microfibers with tri-twist polyamide fibers. The fibers are bonded together using a pressure-injected resin process. According to Wilson, the pre-stretched thermoset microfibers improve tension maintenance, while the tri-twist polyamide fibers improve touch.
Reaction is available in 15L, 16, 17, and 18 in natural only. It is priced from $10.50 per set, and $130 for reels of 660 feet (the reels are available in 16 and 17 gauges only). For more information or to order, contact Wilson at (800) 946-6060, or visit Wilson on the web.
In the lab
We tested the 16 gauge Reaction. The coil measured 40 feet 7.5 inches. The diameter measured 1.33 mm prior to stringing, and 1.25 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 73 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.
After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 68 RDC units, representing a 7 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. Reaction added 14.9 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
Reaction strings up easily, due to its multifilament construction, although it does elongate a bit during tensioning. Because it is so soft, blocked holes require a little patience. Tapering ½-inch of the end of the string should be enough to get the string through all but the most difficult holes, however.
The string was tested for five weeks by 38 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages, to reduce preconceptions and biases regarding manufacturers, type of construction, and materials. The average number of hours playtested was 25.9.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, none reported problems with coil memory or tying knots, and three reported minor a problem with friction burn.
On the court
Wilson Reaction scored highly with the members of our playtest team, especially in the Comfort category, where it achieved the third highest rating of the 88 strings we’ve tested to date. Reaction also scored well above average in a remarkable four categories: Playability, Power, Control, and Touch/Feel. It also achieved above-average scores in three related categories: Durability, Tension Holding, and Resistance to Movement. The high ratings in eight out of our nine categories combine to give Wilson Reaction an overall rating well above average.
Ten playtesters broke Reaction during the playtest period, two at five hours, one at seven hours, one at eight hours, two at 15 hours, one at 18 hours, one at 30 hours, one at 35 hours, and one at 40 hours.
Lots of products promise to give you a combination of power and control, but according to our playtest team, Wilson Reaction actually has both. The matching high scores for Playability and Touch/Feel fit with Wilson’s claim of improved touch due to the tri-twist polyamide fibers. The improved tension maintenance from the pre-stretched thermoset microfibers greatly complements the high ratings from our playtesters for Durability and Resistance to Movement.
For a string developed for competition players, Wilson Reaction’s high scores from our playtesters and their cross-section of NTRP levels is noteworthy. It is also interesting to see how many playtesters compared Reaction against high-end multifilament strings, often mentioning Wilson by name. If you like the comfort and characteristics of multifilament string, but are looking for a crisper feel in a string with good control and durability, Wilson Reaction could be just the ticket.
“Based on the texture and amount of pre-stretch, I was excited to try this string. I was not disappointed as I had full control on all my shots. Can’t wait to find out whose string this is.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince More Precision strung at 70 pounds CP (Prince Sweet Perfection 16)
“Extremely comfortable. Good power generation. Very little vibration. Has a crisp feel. I feel in love with this string. It is one of the most comfortable and forgiving strings that I’ve played with” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200 G strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Syn Gut w/Duraflex 16)
“Great string. I would love this in a thinner gauge for my crosses instead of my current string. Installed very easily, held tension very well, excellent spin for a 16 gauge. Very comfortable as well. Great feel without too much power.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One strung at 62 pounds LO (Babolat Pro Hurricane / Tecnifibre e-Matrix 17)
“This playtest sample is excellent; comparable to my regular string. I would imagine a 17 gauge in this string would be excellent as well. If the price is reasonable, this will be a great seller.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Radical strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 16/17)
“The test sample had a bit of coil memory, and it was a little slow pulling the crosses. Plays above average for a “softer” high-end multifilament. Similar to Wilson NXT. Outstanding comfort; extremely low vibration and very quiet even without a dampener. This string plays well even at low tension. I’d love to try it at higher tensions.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Prince Triple Threat strung at 40 pounds LO (Gamma Durablast 16)
“Great string.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nPro Surge strung at 63 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 16)
“Great string. Similar to my regular string, but playability is superior. I’d recommend this string for those players looking for a high-performance string.” 5.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson n1 strung at 65 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“I like this test sample very much. It reminds me of a better Wilson Sensation string. This is a very comfortable string to play and teach with. It holds tension well and appears to have above-average durability, control, and touch/feel.” 5.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson Pro Staff 6.7 Extreme strung at 54 pounds CP (Natural gut 16/17)
“The test sample was very easy to string. It provides excellent comfort for my arm, and produced plenty of power and spin. The extraordinary feel and overall playability could make this my new favorite!” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 54 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG 17)
“Feels very similar to my regular string. Nice feel, and it’s easy on the arm. Not much tension loss after playing for ten hours.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince DB Control 850 OS strung at 61 pounds LO (Prince Premier 16)
“I played great with this string. Super control on groundies, and especially at the net. Only drawback was that it didn’t seem very powerful, which caused my arm to tire from swinging harder than usual. I don’t know if backing off the tension would get me the power I need without losing control. It didn’t move at all, and held tension well. Overall I liked it.” 3.5 male serve and volleyer using Babolat Pure Drive OS strung at 60 pounds (Babolat Tonic + 16)
“I had to slow down a bit during installation to avoid friction burn, and blocked holes required the use of my pathfinder awl. On court, this string offers great feel, and touch with a little power to it. It feels great on the arm. I would carry it depending on the price.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Prestige MP strung at 58 pounds CP (BDE Performance 16)
“Feels like Wilson Sensation, only a little more crisp. I would recommend it for a player who wants a little sharper feel out of a multifilament.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One strung at 62 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)
“Installation was very similar to Wilson NXT Max. Felt really good in the beginning during play, held tension better than other multis I’ve used. Even after 80 hours it still feels pretty good. I would recommend this string to players who are diligent about restringing their own frames.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson Extreme 16)
“Good string. Nothing too earth-shattering. Good feel and wearability.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson n5 strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson NXT OS 16)
“Strings up like a soft multi-filament and plays much the same way. This string has good power, soft, cushioned response, and great control. Those who prefer a more crisp response may feel they lose a little touch and feedback. This muted response is great for those with elbow problems, however. The only thing average about this string is its longevity.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Pro Kennex 7g strung at 66 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)
“Good, playable string, not bad durability.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince Hornet MP strung at 63/65 pounds LO (Prince Syn Gut 16)
“Nice, comfortable string. Moves too much to produce consistent spin. Good power, especially with an open pattern. Would be interesting in a 17 gauge to get more bite combined with power. This string would be an easy sell at a moderate price point.” 4.5 female all court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“This string plays exceptionally well from the first stroke, and maintains a very high level of touch/feel. Loss of tension was minimal, however as the string aged I did experience a little more string movement than usual.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson Triad 3 strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina 17)
“I like this string. It seems to me to be a very good all-around string. It doesn’t do anything great or terrible, but it is very consistent at being above average.” 4.0 male serve and volleyer using Prince Turbo Shark OS strung at 62 pounds LO (Prince Premier w/Softflex 16)
“Even though overall playability and comfort were above average, the sample started to notch and fray after only five hours on court, and broke after just eight hours. I have been playing in cooler temperatures, which may have contributed to the early breakage. However, I didn’t note anything that would make me switch to this string.” 4.0 male all court player using Head i.X5 OS strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)
“After a short break-in period, this string felt quite nice. Where it initially felt thick and dull, it quickly wore in to be a very comfortable string. Unfortunately, the durability wasn’t great, even for a 16-gauge string. Still, potentially a good string for an infrequent string breaker.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 52 pounds LO (Prince Syn Gut 17)
“Overall, a good string. Very little movement until just before it broke. String has good pop, but it is harder to generate spin.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“My clamps left noticeable marks on the string. This string plays similarly to Wilson NXT, maybe with a little more power and a little less durability.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Pro Tour 280 strung at 60 pounds CP (Unique Tourna Poly 17)
“String was just average in most departments.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.3 OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Syn Gut w/Duraflex 17)
“This string seems very average to me.” 5.0 male serve and volleyer using Wilson Hyper Hammer 4.0 OS strung at 59 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“The test sample is similar to Wilson NXT in play, but not quite as easy to install. It has a nice crisp response on groundstrokes and volleys. Control is good, but touch/feel and comfort is not quite that of my regular string. It is as resistant to movement as any other I’ve seen. I didn’t have to realign the strings once. I would recommend it to others, and I’d like to see it a 17 gauge.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Bandit OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma TNT Pro Plus 17L)
“Soft and easy to string, but a mid-level string at best on court.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Instinct strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire Professional 16)
“Not a bad string. Felt pretty good right off the machine. Seemed to lose tension quickly. Comfortable string for teaching.” 4.5 female all court player using Fischer Rally FT strung at 63 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)
“Not a bad string. Not as much feel as I am used to.” 4.5 male all court player using Head i.X6 strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Syn Gut w/Duraflex 17)
“This string was very easy to install. There was a small amount of coil memory but weaving was easy. Knots tied up with no problems. Playing-wise this string was average. I had sufficient power on my serve, however I had too much power on my groundstrokes and volleys. Overall I was less than impressed with this string because of the lack of control.” 4.0 male all court player using Gamma Diamond Fiber M-6.p5 strung at 61 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG 17)
“I do not find this string to have any exceptional qualities and, in fact, it is not as comfortable, powerful, or playable as other synthetics I’ve tried.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Core 10 strung at 65 pounds LO (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 17)
“Based on the instructions, I did not pre-stretch this test sample, and I observed a lot of string elongation during tensioning. Overall feel is quite dull albeit shock absorbing. A thinner gauge might be more interesting. Except for showing little movement and very little wear, this string was rather ordinary during play. Might be good for those looking for a less powerful string.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Tour 10 MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG 18)
“I really didn’t care for this string. I didn’t have enough feel for the ball. There was no “crispness” on contact.” 4.5 female all court player using Prince Tour NXGraphite MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG 17/18)
“Good string for the average player. I really do not feel as though this string gives me a good response for the ball.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
| EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as easy||25|
|not quite as easy||1|
|not nearly as easy||1|
| OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as playable||15|
|not quite as playable||11|
|not nearly as playable||1|
| OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as durable||20|
|not quite as durable||7|
|not nearly as durable||0|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Resistance to Movement||3.3|
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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