Playtest: Tecnifibre Xr3
By Greg Raven
Xr3 is a multifilament string from Tecnifibre that is made with a core of three composite monofilaments surrounded by six bundles of Elastyl micro fibers, imbued with Polyurethane 400. According to Tecnifibre, the monofilament cores provide a firmer feel, more control, and increased durability. The Elastyl micro fiber bundles contribute to Xr3’s dynamic properties and power. The Polyurethane 400, which makes up 35 percent of the string, can stretch up to 400 percent of its length, providing comfort by reducing shock and vibration. Xr3 is also coated with Silicone Pyrogene Lubritec (SPL) to improve durability by reducing abrasion that can lead to notching and wear.
Tecnifibre says that Xr3 offers the perfect combination of power and control, and it is designed for the player who wants a firmer stringbed from a multifilament offered by Tecnifibre.
Xr3 is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) in natural only. It is priced from $12.50 per 40’ set, and $170 per 660’ reel. For more information or to order, contact Tecnifibre at 877-332-0825, or visit tecnifibre.com.
IN THE LAB
We tested the 16-gauge Xr3. The coil measured 40’. The diameter measured 1.27-1.31 mm prior to stringing, and 1.24-1.26 mm after stringing. 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 66 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. Xr3 added 14 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 38 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.0 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. The average number of hours playtested was 18.1.
Our playtest team rated Tecnifibre Xr3 as being the 11th easiest string to install of the 120 strings we’ve playtested to date. Xr3 feels very soft out of the package, and has no coil memory. We experienced some slight burning of the mains during installation of the crosses, which is normal with a polyurethane-infused string such as this. The end has a slight tendency to mush out, so we had to redress the tip when negotiating one blocked hole.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, one reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, and three reported friction burn.
ON THE COURT
Our playtest team was pretty excited about Xr3, rating it 4th overall of the 120 strings we’ve playtested to date in Comfort, 9th overall in Touch/Feel, and 16th overall in Power. Not stopping there, the team also rated Xr3 well above average in Playability, Control, Spin Potential, and Tension Retention. Not surprisingly, this gave Xr3 an overall rating of well above average.
Three playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one after four hours, one after 10 hours, and one after 12 hours.
Tecnifibre multifilaments have a well-deserved reputation for their soft feel, so the stiffer feel of Xr3 is a bit of a departure from the norm. Even so, some of our playtesters compared Xr3 favorably to natural gut, which is high praise for any synthetic string. If you’re already using Tecnifibre string at the high end of the tension range, you might find that Xr3 feels similar to your current string, but at a lower tension setting. If you’re not already using a Tecnifibre multi, and you’re looking for a premium all-around performer with a good blend of power and control, Xr3 might be just the string you’re seeking.
“This is a very comfortable string with pinpoint control. For a soft multifilament, I am amazed at how well it holds tension. I am also impressed with the lack of string movement. This is a keeper.” 3.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Citron OS strung at 61 pounds LO (polyester 17)
“This string installs without a hitch. The combination of control, spin, and comfort makes this a must-stock string. I would have no problem recommending this to most of the people at my club. This is destined to be a very popular string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson K Six.One 95 (68 Holes) strung at 64 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“Great playability and feel. Remarkable control and tons of bite. I’m able to experiment with different trajectories because the ball comes down very sharply and predictably. Volleys are effortless. Merely blocking the ball produces a deep, controlled response.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Head RIP Control 16)
“This is easily one of the best strings I’ve ever tested. I cannot get over the power, comfort, and control. There is almost no tension loss and the strings don’t move. Hard hitters are encouraged to give this a try. This string can take a beating.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 (68 Holes) strung at 58 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic Gut w/Wearguard 16)
“This string offers the best of both worlds: Multifilament comfort and playability with excellent tension maintenance. I tend to prefer stiff strings, which is why I was pleasantly surprised by the crisp response. This string seems to cover all the bases.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff Extreme 6.7 strung at 62 pounds CP (polyester/nylon 18/17)
“Excellent playability. Great for teaching. The soft feel and high control allow for comfortable and precise lesson feeds. Great for competitive play. Heavy shots from the baseline come off with just the right depth and trajectory. Defensive counter punches rarely fall short. Tension stays remarkably constant. The frame feels freshly strung each time out.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Surge strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Asterisk 17)
“Very easy installation. Soft, comfortable feel with good crisp playability. Great touch and feel. Plays like natural gut.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson nSix-One 95 (68 Holes) strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“Touch shots are very easy to gauge. Power is excellent. When pushed hard by my opponent, I have no problem keeping the ball deep. As a defensive counter puncher, this string is perfect for my shorter stroke style.” 3.5 male all court player using Head FXP Prestige Team strung at 58 pounds CP (Babolat Attraction 16)
“Best soft string I have ever used. It breaks-in very quickly and stays crisp throughout. Very little tension loss (even in the first hours). Good balance of control and power, and very easy on the arm. Plays like a dream and not a hint of wear.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal 4 strung at 61 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger Original 16)
“This string has a very uniform, predictable response. I feel like I have a tremendous amount of control over the ball’s height, depth, spin and speed. It enables me to take more chances than usual.” 4.0 male all court player using Voelkl DNX 8 strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson Reaction 17)
“This is an extremely comfortable string. I am able to achieve piercing depth on volleys with just a controlled block. Perfect for doubles. My stringbed also seems to have fewer off-center harsh zones. The high comfort inspired my swing away with out having to worry about my wrist, which is bothered by all but the softest strings.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One 68 Holes) strung at 58 pounds LO (Pacific Classic Gut 16)
“Great feel and spin. Wonderfully soft and easy on the arm. The increased dwell time is perhaps the most noticeable feature. The string’s cupping action seems to increase control. With some strings, the ball feels like it is “slipping” off the strings at the wrong point in your swing. This creates problems with trajectory, and leads to tentative tennis. With this string, however, the ball comes off with a very refreshing and predictable ease.” 4.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Speedport Black strung at 54 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation)
“Installation is very easy. Not only does this string play soft and absorb shock better than most, it has incredible control.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nSix One Team strung at 53 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)
“This string is so easy to play with. Too bad it broke. The power is awesome and the spin is heavy. Very similar in playability to natural gut.” 5.5 male all-court player using Prince AirStick B1025 OS strung at 54 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“This string has great power and a very predictable response. The bite is apparent from the first hit, making this a good choice for those who control the ball with spin. Holds tension well. The stringbed felt very consistent throughout the entire test.” 4.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Prince Air Tight strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation/Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17/18)
“Great feel and very easy on the arm. Low string movement, with some slight notching. Very durable for such an arm friendly string.” 6.0 male all-court player using Wilson nTour Two strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)
“Weaving and knot-tying are a cinch. Feels and plays great at high tensions. There is no harsh feedback or vibration.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head i.Radical MP strung at 65 pounds LO (Alpha Gut 2000 17)
“Great playability and spin. Power is very easy to generate from the baseline. I’m able to keep my opponent behind the baseline without much effort. Volleys come off very crisp.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nPro strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson Reaction 18)
“The high playability and comfort make this string truly enjoyable to play with. Compared to other nylon strings, it has great resistance to movement. Unfortunately, the strings move and notch, making them hard to realign.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige Pro MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Ultra Tour 16)
“This string has good comfort and control. It has a very smooth and even response. The most surprising element, however, is the spin.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Flexpoint Radical MP strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)
“Very comfortable string with excellent bite. Plays well “right out of the box.” No stroke adjustments necessary. After the first few hits, I’m able to crank-up the head speed with no worries. The power is very controllable.” 5.0 male all-court player using Voelkl C10 Pro strung at 55 pounds CP (natural gut 17)
“This string has great pocketing, which contributes to spin control. Great tension maintenance and a very consistent feel.” 5.0 male all-court player using Yonex RDS 002 strung at 60 pounds LO (natural gut/Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)
“This is recommended to players who prefer comfortable, arm friendly strings. It is right up there with all the high-end multis. The big surprise is the spin potential, which is sometimes lacking in softer strings. The high dwell time will compliment the longer, loopier stroke styles. Spin artists who do not require a durability string will definitely appreciate this one.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nPro strung at 60 pounds LO
“This string appears to be polyurethane based, which always seems to provide power and comfort. After 12 hours, the resilience goes slightly down, resulting in a little less punch. However, the comfort and control last for the duration. This string could easily handle high tensions without any sacrifice in comfort.” 4.5 male all-court player using Boris Becker Becker 11 (325g) strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma Prodigy 17)
“Crisp and comfortable, with incredible tension maintenance.” 5.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Yonex RQiS 1 Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)
“Easy on the arm and very lively. After some initial tension loss, it locked in quite well and played very consistently. I would definitely stock this string for those who prefer soft, powerful strings.” 4.5 male all-court player using Yonex RDS 002 Tour strung at 62 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour/natural gut 17/16)
“Soft feel, good touch. Very low impact shock. Still looks and plays fresh after 26 hours.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson nPS strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)
“I am impressed by the comfort, feel, and touch. The string movement, however, is excessive. Players with long, hard strokes are advised to increase the tension.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 58 pounds LO (Polyester/natural gut 16)
“This string has a little too much power for my game. I have to add more spin to keep the ball inside the lines. This is a perfect string for people with tender arms. Very little shock.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 58 pounds LO (Gosen Polylon 17)
“Too much string movement and not enough bite. Comfort is high, but the stringbed has too many power variations and does not seem to provide a consistent response.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Triple Threat Bandit strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)
“Installation is very easy. This string makes a slight buzzing, similar to polyester. Playability is just average. Despite the relatively soft response, power and feel are lacking.” 4.0 male all-court player using Yonex RDS 002 strung at 55 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Multifilament 17)
“Very easy to string. Low coil memory and knots that are easily tightened. The playability has the right mix of shock absorption and crispness, but spin requires a little extra effort. Given the high power level, lower tensions are advised for those with control issues.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head Protector MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)
“Playability is great at first. This is a pretty soft string. However, after a few hours, there is too much string movement and tension loss. For big topspin hitters, this would work better as a hybrid cross.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson nPro Surge strung at 50 pounds LO (Polyester 16)
“This string is pretty easy to use, but it is hard to distinguish from all the soft multifilaments on the market.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 5.1 Surge strung at 58 pounds LO (Klip Screamer 17)
“This is a standard multifilament that I would be inclined to try if natural gut did not exist. It has no big flaws and no earth shattering positives. The touch is slightly sub-par and the ride is generally comfortable. This is a good all-around offering for the nylon crowd.” 4.0 male all-court player using Voelkl C10 Pro strung at 65 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)
“Too much power. I am unable to keep the ball inside the lines without stroke adjustments. Given the high comfort level, I would recommend stringing this at the high end of the tension range. On a positive note, I have a mild case of tennis elbow and this string did not aggravate it in the least. It is extremely kind to the tendons.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)
“The power and control are not very good. The durability is below average.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince OZone Seven strung at 63 pounds LO (Babolat Conquest Ti 16)
“For a string that handles so soft during installation, it plays surprisingly boardy. The spin and tension maintenance are decent, but playability and touch are not what I would expect from such a pliable multifilament.” 6.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Surge strung at 48 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 17)
(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||20|
|not quite as easy||3|
|not nearly as easy||0|
(compared to string played most often)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as playable||15|
|not quite as playable||9|
|not nearly as playable||0|
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as durable||23|
|not quite as durable||7|
|not nearly as durable||0|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Power (16th overall)||3.5|
|Comfort (4th overall)||3.9|
|Touch/Feel (9th overall)||3.6|
|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.