Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Pro Supex Big Ace

By Greg Raven

Big Ace is a monofilament co-polymer, which according to Pro Supex is made of high-grade polymers and special monomix-reinforced chemical additives. Pro Supex claims that Big Ace offers power, spin potential, control, comfort, durability, resistance to movement, and tension maintenance.

Pro Supex Big Ace

Pro Supex says the target player for this string is 4.5 players and better, including pros and top junior players. Big Ace string is currently used by ATP tour players Chris Wettengel, Tyler Cleveland, and Chris Lam.

Big Ace is available in 1.17 mm, 1.22 mm, 1.25 mm, and 1.28 mm in red, pearl white, and lime yellow. It is priced from $5.49 for sets of 40 feet, or $55 for 660-foot reels. For more information or to order, contact Pro Supex at 866-787-4644, or visit prosupexusa.com.

In the lab

We tested the 1.22 mm Big Ace in lime yellow. The coil measured 43’6”. The diameter measured 1.23 mm prior to stringing, and 1.21 mm after stringing. Pro Supex recommends dropping the tension 5 percent compared to normal synthetic string, so that’s what we recommended our playtesters do as well. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 74 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 67 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. Big Ace added 16 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 37 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 30.2.

None of our playtesters thought Big Ace was easy to string. Part of this is the nature of polys, but Big Ace did seem a bit more ornery than other polys we’ve experienced.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, 18 reported problems with coil memory, three reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

On the court

Our playtest team backed up Pro Supex’s claims about Big Ace. Of the 109 strings we’ve playtested to date, Big Ace came in at number five in two categories: Durability and Resistance to Movement. For good measure, it came in number seven of all strings tested to date for Holding Tension. Combined with Big Ace’s well-above-average score in the Power category, these gave Big Ace a well-above-average overall score.

Conclusion

The comments by our playtesters on Pro Supex Big Ace are so uniformly positive that if we didn’t know better, we’d suspect that some playtesters copied the responses of others. First, it’s rare for nearly two-thirds of a playtest team to have such nice things to say about a poly, and second, over half of the team members specifically mentioned the control afforded by Big Ace. For what seems to all outward appearances to be a “love it or leave it” string, our playtest team members seemed to love it.

Playtester comments

“This is one of the best polyesters I have ever used. The power on serves is exceptional and the spin is spot-on. This is a great control string with more than enough power. Plays well from all areas of the court.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson n5 Force strung at 63 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string has no notching or movement, making it a very durable control string. Even after hours of hard hitting, it stays remarkably fresh. The most outstanding feature is the consistency of feel and playability, despite many hours of hard hitting.” 4.5 female all-court player using Head Metallix 10 strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)

“This string plays with a soft and bouncy resilience. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a polyester. It is recommended for those who are searching for control and spin in a comfortable package. After 24 hours on the dirt, this string looked and played like it was new. A rare treat.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Prestige Mid strung at 58 pounds LO (Babolat Superfine Play 17)

“This polyester provides a luxurious sweet spot and loads of controllable pop! I expected the string to go “dead” after 35 hours, but it holds up surprisingly well. The combination of playability and power ranks with high-end multifilaments. The spin from the backcourt is impressive, and volleys come off with crisp precision. I’m considering a switch.” 5.0 female serve-and-volleyer using Prince O3 Spectrum Hybrid Midplus strung at 53 pounds CP (Head RIP Ti. Fiber 17)

“This is definitely a high end polyester. Not only does it offer incredible durability and resistance to movement, the playability and comfort are on par with the best strings on the market.” 4.5 male all-court player using Yonex MP Tour 1 strung at 61 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)

“The combination of control, power and touch makes this an all court poly. The comfort level is adequate, consistent with the breed.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Original Graphite OS strung at 57 pounds CP (Babolat Attraction Power 17)

“This is a good overall string with no major flaws. The strings don’t move and the control is excellent. This is recommended to heavy hitters looking for good durability.” 4.0 male all-court player using Yonex RDX 500 MP strung at 62 pounds LO (Polyester/Nylon 16/17)

“Great playability and exceptional tension maintenance. As a multifilament user, this is not exactly my cup of tea, but I’m starting to see why people use polyester.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Spectrum Comp OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“While I did need a dampener to counter the ping, I ultimately discovered some exceptional playability. As a natural gut user, polyester has always been hard for me to appreciate. This string has altered my thinking. The combination of control, durability and power is undeniable. Anybody curious about polyester should start here.” 3.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wislon n1 Force strung at 59 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“This string can sustain high tensions without sacrificing comfort. The playability and spin are immediately noticeable. For non-polyester users, the adjustment period is only slight.” 3.5 male all-court player using Wilson H4 OS strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Premier w/Softflex 17)

“Given the coil memory, installation is not easy. The overall playability is much better than expected. The string gets better with age. After 10 hours, my serve and groundies had more pop. Not only is this great for hard hitting baseliners, touch players will not be disappointed.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 57 pounds LO (Polyester/Nylon 17)

“Handling this string lead me to expect a very stiff, uncomfortable playtest. If you add the fact that I’m a natural gut user, polyester is tough sell. Having said that, however, I am very impressed by the playability of this string. This string not only has great control, it plays much softer than its polyester pedigree.” 5.5 male all-court player using Dunlop 300G strung at 57 pounds LO (Natural Gut 17)

“The rare combination of power and control make this a first-rate string. I expected some noticeable tension loss, but the original crispness and playability lasted for over 15 hours. The resistance to movement adds some welcomed control and durability. Perhaps I should give polyester a second look.” 6.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Ti.S2 strung at 70 pounds CP (Prince Sweet Perfection 16)

“This is not an easy to install. It kinks more than most strings and the crosses are difficult to pull. Given how stiff it felt, I was not looking forward to the playtest. To my surprise, however, it was quite arm friendly. I also noticed some increased bite. After 20 hours of play, there are no signs of wear and little tension change.” 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Völkl Catapult 7 strung at 59 pounds CP (Natural Gut 16)

“Though not a polyester fan, I was impressed with this string’s lively response. It does lack a little touch, but the control makes it a pretty user-friendly string. Spin is very easy to generate and the power level is high.” 5.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson nSix One 95 (68 holes) strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)

“This string is proof that the polyester market is evolving. The power is impressive and there is very little tension loss. This is a solid entry point for this string type.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head FXP Instinct Team strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat Attraction 16)

“This is a very stiff string — stiffer than most of the polyesters I’ve tried. It has excellent durability and resistance to movement. The bite is very pronounced. This is great for baseliners with heavy topspin.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Triple Threat Graphite strung at 53 pounds LO (Unique Tourna Poly Big Hitter 16)

“The playability, durability, and power are impressive. This string would be perfect in a hybrid with a soft cross string. It comes with a very clear message: polyester strings are getting better.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 White strung at 60 pounds LO (Nylon 16/17)

“For a polyester, this has low coil memory. The crosses were installed with minimal kinking. This string holds tension better than any I have ever used. Outstanding! The string plays dead at first, lacking power and feel. Over time, however, it improves measurably. Full swings are rewarded with a high degree of control, spin and comfort. There is very little vibration, making for a very comfortable ride.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint Prestige Mid strung at 53 pounds CP (Goson Polylon SP 17)

“This is tough to install, as it kinks frequently. However, it has great control. The resistance to notching is a truly impressive. There is very little string movement and the durability is great. Like most polyesters, the response is stiffer and less comfortable than nylon based strings.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince Precision Mono strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“As a multifilament user, a full polyester set-up is too stiff for my taste. With a soft cross, however, it would make a great hybrid. The power is high and the spin potential is quite pronounced.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson nPro Surge strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This is a powerful string with very little movement. It holds tension suprisingly well for a polyester. The response from baseline is great, with mindless spin control.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince O3 White strung at 65 pounds CP (Nylon 18)

“Finally, a polyester with some zip. This string does everything well, including touch shots. If you are looking for a comfortable polyester alternative, look no further.” 5.0 female all-court player using Wilson nSix Two strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string is initially stiff and powerless. After a short break-in period, however, the playability improves. This is a great for those in search of control and durability.” 4.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Fischer Twin Tec 950 FTi strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Prodigy 16)

“This is a soft polyester with great control. It is a good option for polyester loyalists looking for more comfort.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix One (68 holes) strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“Playing with a full poly set-up hurts my elbow. However, I am impressed by the string’s resistance to movement. It also holds tension well. This is designed for heavy hitters with lots of topspin.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive (with Cortex) strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Attraction Power 17)

“The control and durability are great, but comfort and touch are lacking. This is definitely recommended to baseline bashers and spin artists.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head i.tour MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string has high coil memoy and too much power. If you use polyester for its control, than you are advised to increase the tension of this string.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Flexpoint Radical OS strung at 57 pounds LO (Forten Sweet Aramid 16L)

“The high coil memory adds some time to installation. Aside from the durability, tension maintenance, and resistance to movement, this string does not offer much for the multifilament user.” 4.5 female baseliner with heavy spin using Völkl Tour 10 MP strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)

“This string doesn’t move or notch, and it seems to preserve tension better than most polys. This is clearly a durability option for big hitters. The control is adequate, but the overly stiff response will make it a tough sell for anyone who doesn’t play with a full poly string job.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Storm strung at 59 pounds CP (Polyester/Natural Gut 17)

“This string offers a ton of bite and massive amounts of control. The durability and lack of string movement make it a perfect choice for string shredders. Given its relative lack of elasticity, however, it is recommended for heavier frames, healthy tendons, and sound mechanics.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nTour strung at 16 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string is for the big hitter at your club who doesn’t need any extra power. The spin and control are phenomenal. Solid topspin mechanics are rewarded with excellent bite and adequate comfort. Anything less causes a dead hit.” 5.0 male all-court player using Dunlop 700G OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string has a little too much vibration and feedback for my taste. I would not recommend it for light, stiff frames.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint 6 OS strung at 57 pounds CP (Gamma Synthetic Gut 17)

“This string plays like Kevlar. The spin potential and durability are great, but the comfort and power are quite low.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Instinct strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire Professional 17)

“This is one of the worst strings I’ve ever used. It has no touch or feel, and the string vibration was greater than any I have experienced. This is not recommended to players who like soft, comfortable strings.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince More Attack 920 S MP strung at 62 pounds LO (Prince Lightning XX 16)

“Excessive coil memory makes this tough to install. While the durability and tension maintenance are great, this string is not for those who value comfort and touch. After six hours of play, my elbow hurt too much to continue.” 5.0 male all-court player using Babolat Aeropro Control + strung at 56 pounds CP (Babolat Xcel Premium 17)

“This string feels overwhelmingly stiff and has very little power. Off center hits are punished. This is a make-your-own-power niche string, designed for big hitters who require durability.” 4.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Head Flexpoint 6 MP strung at 50 pounds CP (Gamma ESP 17)

(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 1
about as easy 20
not quite as easy 11
not nearly as easy 6
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 1
somewhat better 6
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 8
somewhat better 18
about as durable 11
not quite as durable 0
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.2
Durability (#5 overall to date) 4.4
Power 3.4
Control 3.4
Comfort 2.6
Touch/Feel 2.6
Spin Potential 3.3
Holding Tension (#7 overall to date) 3.7
Resistance to Movement (#5 overall to date) 4.0

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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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