Playtest: Pro Supex Matrix Hybrid
By Greg Raven
Pro Supex Matrix Hybrid is composed of two strings that are designed to offer the best in both durability and playability: Pro Supex Big Ace (mains) and Pro Supex Maxim Touch (crosses).
Big Ace is a German-made monofilament co-polymer polyester, 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. We published the results of the USRSA playtest of Big Ace in RSI magazine, April 2007. With its top 5 ratings in durability and resistance to movement, Big Ace quickly became a hit with players of all levels.
Maxim Touch is a crisp-playing wrapped multifilament nylon with a polyurethane coating that provides durability to accompany its superior touch and feel.
Pro Supex feels that Big Ace and Maxim Touch together offer the ultimate combination for power, control, durability, and playability, so players of all levels can benefit from Matrix Hybrid. Although Pro Supex recommends using Big Ace in the mains and Maxim Touch in the crosses (with 5 percent less tension on the Big Ace), for a softer stringbed, Pro Supex tells us that the Maxim Touch can be put in the mains and the Big Ace in the crosses, which gives you more comfort, feel, and power.
Matrix Hybrid is available in 16L (Big Ace 1.25 and Maxim Touch 1.30) and 17L (Big Ace 1.22 and Maxim Touch 1.25) in red/natural only. It is priced from $6.75 for sets of 20×20 feet. For more information or to order, contact Pro Supex at 866-787-4644, or visit prosupexusa.com.
IN THE LAB
We tested the 16L gauge Matrix Hybrid. The coils measured 20 feet and 20 feet. The diameters measured 1.22-1.25 mm (Big Ace) and 1.27-1.31 mm (Maxim Touch) prior to stringing, and 1.19-1.22 mm (Big Ace) and 1.25-1.27 mm (Maxim Touch) after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 75 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 a 13 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. Matrix Hybrid added 16 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
Matrix Hybrid 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 strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 26.4.
Matrix Hybrid is easy to install. The Big Ace is not as stiff as it could be, so the mains take no time at all. The Maxim Touch feels very flexible when you take it out of the package. Even with the polyurethane coating, the crosses don’t stick on the mains, and there is only minor clamp marking. We had a momentary problem with a badly blocked hole, but dressing the end quickly solved that issue.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, seven reported problems with coil memory, three reported problems tying knots, and two reported friction burn.
ON THE COURT
Our playtest team especially liked the Spin Potential and Resistance to Movement of Matrix Hybrid, rating it 7th overall of the 121 strings we’ve playtested to date for Spin Potential, and 16th overall for Resistance to Movement. However, they also gave Matrix Hybrid well-above-average scores for Durability, Control, and Tension Retention. On the strength of the top-20 ratings in Spin Potential and Resistance to Movement, and the very strong ratings for Durability and Control, Pro Supex Matrix Hybrid’s overall score was also well above average.
Five playtesters broke the sample during testing, two at four hours, and one each at 13, 16, and 34 hours.
Pro Supex Matrix Hybrid leverages Big Ace’s strengths in Durability and Resistance to movement. Combining Matrix Touch with Big Ace improves playability, control, touch, comfort, and even spin potential. Pro Supex promises a lot for Matrix Hybrid, and according to our playtest team, it delivers.
“Easy installation. I’m in love with this string. It has the perfect blend of power, control, and spin. It stays fresh for a long time. It has the comfort and touch of a nylon multifilament. Big swings are rarely punished. I want more.” 4.0 male all court player using Tecnifibre T Fight 320 (16x20) strung at 52/55 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)
“This is one of the better hybrids on the market. The thin mains and soft crosses make for a very comfy ride. Spin and control are excellent. Touch, feel, and playability are superior to any hybrid or solid core nylon I’ve tried. This is the kind of string one looks forward to playing with.” 4.0 male all court player using Yonex RQIS 2 Tour strung at 54/56 pounds CP (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 16)
“Great spin, control, and power. This is a heavy ball hitter’s dream. I find myself aiming for the lines. Playing on the dirt, I’m able to kick serve my opponent off the court and come in for an easy volley. Tension holds up remarkably well for a hybrid.” 5.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson nSix One Tour (68 Holes) strung at 62 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)
“This string is exceptionally lively with great control and comfort. It solicits many questions from my fellow players. I guess they can tell how much I like it.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson K Four strung at 54 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 17)
“This is a polyester for the masses. It is comfortable and powerful enough to appeal to a broad range of players Tension maintenance is about as good as it gets.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson nSix Two strung at 61 pounds (Gosen Polylon/Wilson Sensation 17/17)
“I have been using pre-packaged and improvised hybrids for a long time. This one is equal to or better than anything I’ve tried. No loss of tension. Wonderfully crisp feel. Outstanding comfort. This is not only great for juniors and power baseliners, but it could easily convert a few people who have been turned off by hybrids in the past.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick + strung at 59 pounds CP (Polyester/Gamma Asterisk 16)
“This string has no negatives. It is very comfortable and user-friendly. The power is evident from the beginning.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson K Six.One Tour strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat Ballistic Polymono 16)
“This string provides much more bite and control than my nylon multifilament. I feel like I have a tremendous amount of control over depth and trajectory. I find myself going for ambitious topspin lobs and sharp angles. The power keeps surprising me. It’s not overwhelming, but it is definitely there when needed. Great string!” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six.One (68 Holes) strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson Reaction 16)
“Power and control are very apparent from the start. The comfort will allow players to jack-up the tension for control, or leave it low for big power. This is one of the best strings I’ve tested.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson K Six.One Tour strung at 65/60 pounds LO (Klip Armour Pro/Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17/17)
“This string tends to notch and fray, so heavy topspin players might consider a few strategically placed string savers. This combination has one of the nicest crosses in the hybrid market. It is very soft and playable, and it does not seem to produce unwanted power. It compliments the stiff mains nicely. This set-up creates some nasty bite for my topspin serve and big forehand. It allows me to keep my opponent leaning, if not running, toward the back fence. This is a great choice for clay players who like to push their opponent off the baseline.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Asterisk 16)
“This string plays well “right out of the box.” I don’t have spend the warm-up hunting for the right head speed or swing path. The ball seems to find its target without much fuss. The power is very controllable. The incredible bite allows me to hit aggressive spin on second serves. This is a very comfortable, user-friendly hybrid.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Aeropro Drive + strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)
“This is a comfortable hybrid. It provides my compact stroke style with more than enough power and depth. The bite is very pronounced. As a natural gut loyalist with tendon problems, I am pleasantly surprised.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Metallix 2 strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson Natural 16)
“This string allows for some powerful spin. While I tend to prefer softer strings, I appreciate the stiff response and my tendons are no worse for the wear. On slower touch shots, I have some problems placing the ball. However, when I take a full swing from the baseline, control is almost effortless.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Speedport Silver strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)
“One of the best strings I’ve tried. After the first few minutes, I knew that this string would bring out some very confident tennis. The combination of comfort, power, and control is unique. The durability is not quite what you would expect from a hybrid, but tension lasts surprisingly long.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Prestige Mid strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16)
“This string has a comfortable feel from the first hit. The polyester mains do not require a break-in period. The soft crosses definitely add to the comfort. This string produces a nice blend of power and control. Touch shots and slower swings don’t produce dead hits, like with some hybrids. I lost a little power on the serve, but nothing to worry about.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Tour (16x18) strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Multifilament 16)
“More power than I was expecting. This is one of the softest hybrid crosses I’ve ever used. The thin poly mains are quite stiff and they provide some solid bite.” 4.5 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 17)
“Incredible control and spin from the baseline. I don’t have to worry about the ball sailing long or spraying wide. Unless power is consciously applied, volleys tend to fall short. I prefer a little more feel for touch shots. Big swinging baseliners will like this string.” 3.5 male all court player using Yonex RDX 500 Mid strung at 56 pounds CP (polyester/nylon 17)
“This combination provides a stiff string bed with very little string movement. On heavy spin shots the strings maintained their position almost without fail. After several hours, tension loss is minimal. This string would be good for players who rely on large amounts of spin. Volleys have good power and control. Feedback is slightly harsher than with a nylon multifilament. This is a reliable combination that provides a consistent feel and holds up well over time.” 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson Hyper Hammer 2.3 Stretch OS strung at 62 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 17)
“The playability and control are excellent, but there is a little too much power, especially for a hybrid. This is a great choice for players who are curious about hybrids. It’s a very comfortable place to start.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson K Surge strung at 40/45 pounds CP (Kevlar/Nylon Monofilament 16)
“The poly mains give some good bite and the crosses add pop. The control, feel, and power are excellent. I would definitely carry it.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Four strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger XP 16L)
“The impact is comfortable and quiet. Unlike with some hybrids, the sweet spot does not feel tiny. Off center hits are not overly harsh. After 10 hours, the string gets a little soft and control goes down a notch.” 4.0 male all court player using MicroGEL Extreme strung at 62 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 17)
“This string feels good initially. Over time, though, my arm starts to tire and feel sore. If you typically use an arm friendly string, I would put the nylon in the mains.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head i.Radical OS strung at 60 pounds LO (natural gut 17)
“Crisp feel, but a little tough on the arm. Using the nylon in the mains would definitely soften this combination. Tension maintenance is good, but there doesn’t seem to be enough dwell time. The ball rebounds a little too quickly.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Yonex RDS 001 MP strung at 52/58 pounds CP (natural gut/Luxilon Original Rough 16/16)
“Durability and tension maintenance are impressive, but comfort and touch are lacking. Power is a little higher than you would expect for such a stiff set-up. People who are accustomed to soft strings might want to use the low end of the tension range.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head i.Prestige MP strung at 60/62 pounds CP (nylon multifilament 17)
“This a durable string with decent spin, but I do not have enough feel to control my shots.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive (with cortex) strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 16)
“Though the crosses are pretty soft, this hybrid has a stiff feel, especially for slower, more compact stroke styles. I would recommend it to my big hitting juniors.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Tour (16x18) strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Premier w/Softflex 16)
“The crosses are somewhat sticky, which makes for very little string movement. This is a good string for topspin players who tend to saw through their crosses. Durability and tension maintenance are strong points. The comfort and feel are below average. Half volleys and counter punches lack power and touch. Full swings are required.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Flexpoint Radical MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)
“After some fraying, the crosses broke in the center of the sweet spot. The combination of playability and control are impressive, but chronic string breakers might require more durability.” 5.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 57/62 pounds CP (Prince Problend 16)
“This string plays great for the first few hours. After some tension loss, the string bed becomes too soft and loses control. Pre-stretching is advised, especially for players who tend to leave their strings in too long.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Triad 3.0 strung at 61 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)
“This string starts with a nice, crisp response. After 5 hours, tension loss is noticeable. Control stays fairly consistent, despite the fact that the strings gets a little to soft.” 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson nSix-One 95 (68 Holes) strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson NXT )
“This string has great playability for a durability string. The control and spin are excellent. Unless you are a string breaker, this string represents too much of a compromise. One can get a better playability string. For players with durability concerns, this might be an interesting option.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 5g strung at 16 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)
“Tension maintenance is pretty impressive, but the string does not seem resilient enough. It doesn’t snap back.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince Tour Diablo Mid strung at 62 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)
“Tension loss is fairly significant. There is nothing about this hybrid that grabs my attention, though it is a good overall string. Big hitters might need more durability. I would recommend it to players who favor a stiff string bed, but also want above average playability.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix-One 95 (68 Holes) strung at 57/63 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation Duo 16)
“This hybrid lacks spin and pop. I am unable to get a sense for how the ball is coming off the strings. It feels mushy and nondescript.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 57 pounds (Babolat VS Touch/Luxilon Alu Power 15L/16L)
“The contrast between the mains and crosses is too drastic. The crosses are extremely soft, but this does not translate into a softer feel or more playable string bed. I’m not sure the combination works.” 5.0 male all court player using Head i.Radical OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)
“Cross strings start to fray fairly early. There is some buzzing after 10 hours, as well as some notching. This hybrid lacks the “wow factor”.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 Silver OS strung at 58/62 pounds CP (Signum Poly Plasma 17)
“I have yet to find a hybrid with the softness and feel that I prefer. As a 55+ player, I do not enjoy the stiffness, even when combined with a soft cross. This string is definitely durable, but it lacks a supple feel and touch. I would not recommend it to senior players who require a comfortable and lively response.” 4.5 male all court player using Völkl DNX 1 w/Power Arm strung at 48/46 pounds (Forten Dynamix 16)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
EASE OF STRINGING
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as easy||26|
|not quite as easy||5|
|not nearly as easy||0|
(compared to string played most often)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as playable||7|
|not quite as playable||16|
|not nearly as playable||3|
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as durable||14|
|not quite as durable||1|
|not nearly as durable||1|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Spin Potential (7th overall)||3.6|
|Resistance to Movement (16th overall)||3.9|
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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