Letters: ‘Shallow’ Luxilon Story Deserved Better
I found Joel Drucker’s article about Luxilon string to be disappointingly shallow. Drucker writes as though he has no personal experience either using Luxilon or stringing for players who do. He doesn’t even spell “Fluoro” correctly.
Right off the bat, Drucker misses in his attempt to contrast Pete Sampras’ all-gut set-up of ten years ago to current players who are using Luxilon. Does Drucker not realize that Sampras used to have his racquets strung at extremely high tensions, which reduces natural gut’s liveliness dramatically? Did Drucker miss the fact that Sampras is now using a Luxilon hybrid, too?
Drucker then writes that Luxilon is a “dead string,” without any evidence to support this statement. Apparently, Drucker has never compared aramid strings — or even some of the many polyester strings on the market — to Luxilon products. Later, Drucker flatly states that Luxilon strings don’t lose any tension in the first few hours after stringing, which is both impossible, and contradicted by the results of tests that are publicly available on Racquet Sports Industry magazine’s website.
Early in the article, Drucker quotes sources that imply that the harder you hit the ball with Luxilon strings, the better the chances that the ball will land in. Toward the end, though, Drucker quotes another source who states that you have to use Luxilon strings in a hybrid arrangement for help in “controlling the big power shots.”
But of course, the whole point of the article was to examine whether Luxilon string was appropriate for non-tour players. Sure, Luxilon is a stiff string, and as with any stiff string, you want to caution players about the potential for wrist, elbow, and arm problems. But I know at least half a dozen players with chronic wrist, elbow, and arm problems, who have made the switch to Luxilon string and absolutely love the stuff. I know others who like the durability of Luxilon strings (which Drucker did mention), and the fact that they don’t have to straighten their strings after every shot: This is a big deal for some players, and it’s one of Luxilon’s strengths, even though Drucker did not mention it.
Furthermore, I reject the whole tone of the article, which is to imply that you shouldn’t try out an interesting set of strings until after you’ve given it long, careful consideration. It’s only a set of string! Throw in it the racquet and see how it works for you, for goodness sake. If you don’t like it, you can cut it out and go on to the next one.
All in all, this article comes off to me as a stock piece that rehashes all the stock viewpoints and offers not a single new, fresh, or thought-provoking piece of information. At the minimum, it would have been nice if he had contacted the ITF to see if it would comment on the rumor that it has tested or is testing Luxilon to see if there is something about its oval cross-section or proprietary composition that gives the player what race driver Mark Donohue referred to as an “unfair advantage.”
At the 2008 Pacific Life Open, just over half of the players used Luxilon in mains, crosses, or both. At the 2008 Sony Ericsson Open, 65 percent of the ATP players used Luxilon in some fashion, as did 45 percent of WTA players. As astonishing as this is, a number of these players — James Blake is a good example — are not sponsored, which means each of them must buy reels of Luxilon just like the rest of us. Add to this the frequent mentions of Luxilon strings by commentators during matches, and you have a subject that deserves better than Drucker gave it.