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Playtest: Tecnifibre Pro RedCode 16

By Greg Raven

Tecnifibre Pro RedCode is a new premium copolymer polyester monofilament string that features an exclusive abrasion-resistant coating and chemical additives that offer a higher level of tension resiliency compared to other polyester strings. Additionally, Tecnifibre’s static and dynamic test protocol measured Pro RedCode to have better tension maintenance and durability than other performance polyester strings, which Tecnifibre attributes to the implementation of the red color pigment during the manufacturing process.

Tecnifibre Pro RedCode 16

According to Tecnifibre, Pro RedCode is designed for the new generation aggressive, hard-hitting player who needs durability with control. If you were wondering what string Janko Tipsarevic was using in his first-round match against Andy Roddick at Wimbledon this year, this is it.

Pro RedCode is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) in red only. It is priced from $11.50 per set of 40 feet, $110 per reel of 200 meters. For more information or to order, contact Tecnifibre at 877-332-0825, or visit tecnifibre.com.

In the lab

We tested the 16-gauge Pro RedCode. The coil measured 39.6 feet. The diameter measured 1.25-1.28 mm prior to stringing, and 1.21-1.23 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 (16×18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 65 RDC units, representing an 11 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. Pro RedCode added 17 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 35 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 33.3.

Tecnifibre Pro RedCode 16 at 60X
Tecnifibre Pro RedCode 16 at 60X

Even though it is clear during installation that Pro RedCode is a poly, it strings up a little differently than other polys we’ve tried. It has a fair amount of coil memory, which is not unusual. It glides easily against itself, which is nice when you are pulling the crosses, but sometimes the tip of the string tends to follow the blocking string on blocked holes, rather than shoving past it. We had no problem tying knots with Pro RedCode, even though almost a third of our playtest team reported difficulty in this area.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, 17 reported problems with coil memory, 14 reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

On the court

Our playtest team agreed with Tecnifibre’s assessment of the target player for this string, rating it in the top 10 in Durability both overall and compared to other strings of the same gauge. (This overall Durability rating also puts Pro RedCode in the top 10 percent of the 104 published playtests we’ve conducted.) Our team also gave Pro RedCode a rating well above average for Control, echoing Tecnifibre’s RedCode “mission statement” on each count.

Two other important aspects of durability — Tension Retention and Resistance to Movement — also achieved ratings well above average. These four ratings are strong enough to give Tecnifibre Pro RedCode an overall rating that is well above average.

Conclusion

To its credit, Tecnifibre does not claim that Pro RedCode will give you more power and more control. In fact, the target player for this string probably doesn’t need any more power, as he has plenty. What he needs is to be able to pound the ball and keep it in the court, and have strings that will last as long as he does. For this type of player, Pro RedCode fits the bill.

Playtester comments

“This is hard to string, but I love the way it plays.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson H Rival 112 strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string has a great blend of power and control. The power is controllable and the feel is good. The color is very cool. I would sell it in my shop.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Head Flexpoint Heat strung at 54.5 pounds CP (Natural gut 16/17)

“This is a solid all-around string with excellent resistance to movement. It definitely feels like a polyester, but with a softer touch.” 6.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire XP 16/17)

“Wow! This is not what I expect from a string that handles like barbed wire. This string provides very good control and spin. Full, fast swings are not penalized by uncontrollable power and depth. This string’s durability and resistance to movement are excellent. It provides more comfort and feel than strings with 1/3 of the durability. It’s not for touch volleyers. It has a slightly muted response, but nothing like the first generation of polys.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g strung at 63 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)

“This string, though much different from my current one, plays very well. I would consider switching to this string for playing but not teaching (because it is a little firm).” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson nTour 95 strung at 53 pounds CP (Wilson Extreme Synthetic Gut 16)

“This string was surprisingly difficult to string. The durability, feel, and control were opposite to the difficulty in stringing. I can usually tell the playability by the ease of stringing, but this one surprised me.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint Radical OS strung at 57 pounds CP (Head Ultra Tour 17)

“This string was very stiff and tough to work with. It played well and had good control. It was not comfortable and made my shoulder tired while serving. I had to work too hard to make power. It’s probably good for a baseline banger. I prefer a softer string.” 3.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 110 Stretch strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma TNT Fat Core 17)

“This is a very stiff string, but it had more feel than I expected. It’s good for string breakers.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 White MP strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 17)

“This is a very durable string with power. It felt stiff initially, but after a short time felt good. I would like to try it as a hybrid.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Prestige MP strung at 58 pounds CP (BDE Performance Natural Gut 16)

“I did not reduce tension as directed. It would not have felt good. This is a soft string which generates decent power and playability.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson n5 strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“Initially, this string had too much power and lacked control. However, over time, it played better. It gave my serve pop and my volleys control. I definitely want to stock this string.” 4.0 male all-court player using Gamma Diamond Fiber M-6.5 MP strung at 67 pounds (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“This string is a surprisingly comfortable addition to the current polyester revolution. Like a properly aged Merlot, it has loads of nuance and rewards a discerning pallet. But like a regional dish in a foreign country, its charms are best detected by the already converted, that is, if you have a taste for gut or thin multis, not even the friendliest polyester will do. Regarding this string, compared to its peers, one detects a hint of soft-resilience, offering just enough extra dwell time and power to make me rethink everything I thought I knew about polyester. For one, off center hits are not punished nearly as much as you’d expect (given the gauge and material.) What’s the catch? This string is better for hard hitters and it will ride a tad stiff for touch artists, bunters and pokers. Hopefully, there will be a 17g brother for those lacking Nadalian head speed. I would urge patience: there is a short break-in period, but nothing even approaching a deal-breaker. With added comfort and playability, this is not your father’s polyester, and, if strung in a heavy, flexible frame (rather than something light and stiff), it might prove a great entry point for multifilament or nylon loyalists looking for added bite and control.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Control MP Team strung at 59 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger 16)

“This string has just the right amount of pop. It’s very lively without being springy. It has noticeable spin and no signs of wear.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 54 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 17)

“I didn’t find much difference between this and other poly samples. It was difficult to string due to excessive coil memory. It was very durable. The playability was less than with other synthetics. It might best be used as a hybrid with a nylon.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head i.X5 MP strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“You will either love or hate the color. I found this string to play stiff. I would use this string as a hybrid with gut crosses.” 3.5 male all-court player using Volkl Tour 9 V-Engine strung at 57 pounds CP (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 16)

“The string played very well, but I did not like the color.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive Team strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“It looked fantastic in my O3 Red, but did not play up to its looks. It had good power and control from the baseline, but lacked bite, touch, and zip on volleys. It’s good for poly fans, but those of us who like more comfort will have to look elsewhere.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 Pro + 17L)

“It’s a pretty solid string, but not to my liking. My junior student loved it.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal 1 OS strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic with Duraflex 16/17)

“This is a good (and durable) string for the recreational player. It needs softening for the more advanced player.” 5.5 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 57 pounds LO (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)

“I found this to be a typical poly: durable, great at holding tension, but lacking in most other categories. It would be great for chronic string breakers, but would require hybridization for those looking for more than durability.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G 95 (Muscle Weave) strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 16)

“The test string starts like gangbusters, with great control, feel, and power. However, after about fifteen hours, it starts to go flat. It would be a good string if durability was your main requirement.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 53 pounds CP (Babolat Attraction Power 17)

“I would recommend this string for hard hitters and upper level players. This string has a crisp feel when going for shots. I do not recommend it for beginners.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 White strung at 55 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“I normally use a soft string and was skeptical about this. However, it has a very nice feel and is nice on the arm. I like playing with it , but I don’t like the color.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince More Control DB 850 OS strung at 57 pounds LO (Prince Premier with Softflex 16)

“I really dislike stringing poly. This string took me more than five minutes to thread. Polys are not up my alley, but once this string broke in, it actually felt pretty good. I still would not use this, but it would be good for some of our juniors.” 5.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 White MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Prince Sweet Perfection 16)

“The stiffness made it hard to string. It’s harsher than what I am accustomed to. It’s not a string I would play with, but some people who prefer polyester would probably like it.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince Shark OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Premier with Softflex 16)

“This string has a lot of coil memory. It plays kind of dead with little feel.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson H1 Outer Edge 135 strung at 63 pounds LO (Ashaway Synthetic Gut 17)

“This is hard to string. On the court, It has no feel or touch. The excessive stiffness makes it very hard on the arm. Needless to say, it has no forgiveness whatsoever. It would be great for string breakers.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson n1 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string seems like a modified polyester — modified, but not necessarily improved. I do think it would be o.k. for a “big hitter” who wants a slightly softer feel. However, overall, this is nothing to write home about. I’m partially surprised that power and control are mediocre. Compared to other polys I’ve used, the ball seems to fly on strong hits and yet feel a little dead — certainly not crisp. I was working very hard with this string to make things happen. Overall, I’d have to rate it a disappointment with a very narrow audience.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Pro Kennex KI 20 strung at 42 pounds LO (Gamma Dura Blast 16)

“This is not a very playable string; it’s a bit stiff. The feel was not great. All in all, it’s something I would not play with.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint 6 MP strung at 60lbs pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire Professional 16)

“During stringing, it is not as stiff as one would expect. It did not have adequate touch, feel, or power. I don’t doubt any durability claims, making it choice worthy for string breakers. It did not meet my comfort standards.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 strung at 48 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)

“This is a typical polyester string; it’s stiff and lacks comfort.” 4.5 male all-court player using Gamma IPEX 7.0 MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 0
somewhat easier 0
about as easy 10
not quite as easy 20
not nearly as easy 5
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 0
somewhat better 5
about as playable 8
not quite as playable 16
not nearly as playable 6
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 9
somewhat better 19
about as durable 7
not quite as durable 0
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.1
Durability 4.3
Power 3.2
Control 3.5
Comfort 2.9
Touch/Feel 2.8
Spin Potential 3.1
Holding Tension 3.6
Resistance to Movement 3.7

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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 greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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