Playtest: Prince Recoil
By Greg Raven
Prince Recoil is a solid core multifilament with some interesting features. The core is advanced thermoplastic for extra feel and comfort. The inner wrap is a new high-tenacity filament, for improved tension memory and better durability due to its high tensile strength.
The outer wrap is MicroWeb Technology from W. L. Gore & Associates. According to Prince, Gore’s MicroWeb Technology is a revolutionary material made by applying a special process to a proprietary formulation of expanded polytetrafluoroethylene (ePTFE). ePTFE is a woven mesh-like structure that is flexible and strong. The outer ePTFE wrap provides a surface with ultra-low friction, allowing playability characteristics never before achieved in a string.
According to Prince, the main benefit of using this exotic outer wrap is that Recoil is self-aligning, improving string bed consistency. Also, because Recoil is able to snap back into position quickly, Prince claims superior spin, feel, and comfort. The ePTFE-to-ePTFE contact of mains and crosses is said to reduce string notching.
Prince feels that tournament-level players with long, fast strokes will best appreciate Recoil, especially in “player’s frames,” although feedback from dealers has shown that players of all abilities enjoy Recoil’s benefits.
Recoil is available in 16 gauge in white only. It is priced from $21.50 for sets of 40 feet. For more information or to order, contact Prince at 800-2-TENNIS, or visit princetennis.com.
In the lab
The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.30-1.33 mm prior to stringing, and 1.27-1.28 mm 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 x 18 pattern) on a constant pull machine.
After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 66 RDC units, representing a 12 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. Recoil 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. For this playtest team, the normal longevity was 22.1 hours, and the average number of hours spent playtesting Recoil was 25.4.
The ends of the coil are cut at an angle, which is always nice. Despite it’s inherently slippery nature, Recoil has a slight textured feel to it. This texture might be why we had no clamping problems, nor problems grabbing the end of the string to weave the crosses, or getting knots to stay put. Recoil does seem to attract dirt, though, which really shows due to its color. You may need to wipe down the stringbed after stringing.
Prince suggests setting the reference tension for Recoil 10 percent lower than for a typical nylon string, due to its low-friction outer wrap. Consequently, we recommended that our playtesters string 5 to 10 percent lower than normal.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, one reported problems with coil memory, one reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.
On the court
Prince Recoil got great marks from our playtest team for Tension Retention and Resistance to Movement. Its score for Tension Retention was 9th best of the 123 strings we’ve playtested to date, and 17th best for Resistance to Movement. Our playtest team also liked Recoil’s Durability, Control, Comfort, and Spin Potential, giving it scores that are well above average in each of these categories. As a result, Recoil’s overall average score is well above average.
Three players broke Recoil during the playtest period, one at 10 hours, one at 12, and one at 14.
It’s always exciting to see manufacturers using new materials and manufacturing processes to create new products, and Recoil is on the cutting edge in this respect. With its unique composition and higher price point, Recoil is clearly a premium string.
We should note that our rating system penalizes low-power strings, even if lower power is advantageous to the players who would typically use that string. In other words, our team gave Recoil “only” an above-average rating for Power, lowering the overall score, even though this is actually a benefit given that the target player for this string typically generates his own power. Keep in mind that with its lower power and self-aligning properties, Recoil might also be a good choice for players needing to tame oversize racquets with a string that doesn’t require a lot of attention.
“Incredible — a durability string with great feel. This string has more pure control than almost any I’ve tried. It encourages and rewards big swings. I am able to generate tremendous head speed and create very heavy spin. I never find myself being tentative. This is a confidence string.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Völkl Tour 10 MP Gen II strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)
“This string provides the advantages of a good polyester, but with fewer downsides. It has great control from the baseline, especially on big swings. Tons of pop on volleys and limitless kick on serves. Even touch drop shots are easy to execute. For a durability string, I am amazed at how arm friendly and comfortable this is. This is the perfect compromise for players who don’t like polyester, but want the controlled and crisp response that comes with it.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17L)
“Best playtest string I’ve tried! Nearly every stroke was accompanied by a “wow.” The ball comes off the string bed with a comfortable and crisp precision. Depth and trajectory are very easy to control.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 61 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“This string is incredible from installation to ground strokes. The control, comfort, power, and durability are obvious from the first hit. There is some very slight notching after 10 hours. This is a very consistent and solid feeling string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head MicroGEL Radical MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel 16)
“Installation is very quick and easy. Playability is excellent. This string is a good compromise between playability and durability. Tension maintenance is excellent and there is no string movement. The bite is very prominent and the 5-10% reduction in tension is spot on.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Pro Tour strung at 49 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)
“Very low impact shock and good control. Tension maintenance is outstanding and string movement is non-existent. Very predictable.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 5.0 Stretch MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)
“This is not your average durability string. The combination of power, comfort, and control makes this an extremely easy string to play with. I would have no problem recommending it to hard-hitting juniors and slow-swinging seniors. Like natural gut, it seems to do everything well.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince Extender Thunder 880 OS strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)
“The bite is amazing. Players looking to add heavier spin to their game are advised to try this. The control is excellent. Even soft, short angles are easy to measure.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Dunlop M Fil 300 strung at 56 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“Though I’m accustomed to a softer, more powerful set-up, this string has me very curious. It seems to defy classification. It plays like a very friendly polyester. The control is great. Volleys have a wonderfully crisp feel.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Pro Open strung at 62 pounds LO (Babolat Superfine Play 17)
“This string offers great control and durability without harsh feedback on off-center hits. It has a comfortable and somewhat muted response. Power is there when needed, and there is enough feel for touch shots.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six.One 95 (68 Holes) strung at 62 pounds CP (Polyester 16)
“Though this string plays a little dead on some shots, it feels great on first serves and big baseline bombs. The bite is exceptional. Touch artists and finesse players are advised to lower the tension.” 5.5 male all court player using Dunlop Aerogel 300 strung at 59 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)
“This is a low powered comfort string with a very firm and stable feel at impact. Great for big hitters looking for control.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince O3 White MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)
“Great tension maintenance and very little string movement. This string continues to play well after several hours of hard hitting. The low power level allows for big swings and aggressive tennis. Control is excellent.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 56 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Dureflex 16)
“This string has a great feel, good control, and a very reliable response. It does not last as long as my typical poly, but it is very comfortable.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Aeropro Drive strung at 50 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 16)
“This string is prone to slippage, so tighten the clamps accordingly. On the court, it has good control and pop. There is almost no string movement. There is some extra zip on serves, perhaps because the great control allows me to swing-out more. Very comfortable for a string that shows so little wear after 20 hours.” 3.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 Stretch strung at 51 pounds LO (Gamma TNT Fatcore 16)
“Good control and playability. It seems to do everything well. The depth control is noticeable from the beginning. Minimal string movement and great tension maintenance. Bottom line: this string is fun to play with.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Aeropro Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)
“Spin potential and power wrapped in a soft package. This string plays like a fancy multifilament poly. Given the comfort level, I am surprised by the durability.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G (Muscle Weave) strung at 62 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)
“This string does not move or notch at all! This would be a great cross for heavy topspin players who tend to saw through their mains. Great playability. This is a very interesting string.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Tour (16x18) strung at 54 pounds LO (Prince Premier w/Softflex 16)
“Impact feels very solid. There is no string movement and very little tension loss. The control and comfort are excellent. This is an ideal string for 3.5 - 4.5 players looking for a great all-around string.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Speedport Black strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)
“My topspin chews through strings fairly quickly. After 20 hours of hard hitting, this string still looks and plays fresh. I am very impressed with the solid feel and durability.” 6.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head MicroGEL Prestige Mid strung at 64 pounds LO (Kirschbaum Super Smash Spiky 16)
“Big cuts from the baseline come down inside the lines. This string’s low trampoline factor provides good control. Multifilament users might require a little more power and feel.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson K Tour strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“Very easy to install. It blends the control, spin, and durability of a poly with the comfort and playability of a nylon. It will appeal to a wide audience.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g strung at 63 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)
“Tension loss is minimal and the comfort level is quite high. Even though it plays somewhat stiff, shock absorption is excellent. String breakers looking for a more arm friendly option are urged to try this.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six Two strung at 56 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)
“This string is ideal for players who desire comfort and durability. Control and spin are also high points. This would be a great string for string breaking juniors with control problems.” 5.5 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 56 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)
“This is a very interesting string. It seems to offer many of the advantages of my natural gut hybrid. It has a rare combination of comfort, power, and control. I’m very curious to know how they made a durability string with such great touch.” 5.5 male all court player using Völkl Tour 10 MP strung at 59 pounds CP (Natural Gut/Polyester 17)
“Feels and plays great from the backcourt. Spin is amazing. This string is ideal for baseliners who use heavy topspin. Slower swings and touch shots around the net are not nearly as responsive.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“This string is too low powered for my game. The spin potential and tension maintenance are excellent. When I prepare early and take a full swing, the results are great. For a durability string, this is pretty comfortable.” 3.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head i.Radical MP strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson K-Gut 16)
“This is one powerful string! It is comfortable and has very little initial tension loss. Unfortunately, it has too much power and not enough bite for my stroke style. I find myself making too many stroke adjustments. Given the soft feel, high tensions are recommended for those in search of control.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince O3 Blue strung at 60 pounds CP (Kevlar 19)
“This string is a little too boardy for my taste. The control and spin are decent, but I prefer a juicier response. String movement and tension maintenance are definitely the most prominent qualities.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson nPro strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“This string is adequate in all areas, save touch, where I have trouble getting the right height and distance. The feel is a little too harsh for my game.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince O3 Speedport Red strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)
“Control is very impressive, but I’m having trouble adjusting to the feel. This seems to be more of a niche string for big hitters, as it lacks the playability and power appreciated by folks with moderate swings.” 4.0 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 16)
“This string is a little too harsh for my taste. I have trouble getting enough depth. Consequently, I find myself swinging too fast and making too many errors. It does not seem designed for folks with compact strokes. It would be perfect in a hybrid with a soft and powerful cross.” 3.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson Natural Gut 16)
“The string has a dead feel and very little power. I have trouble generating spin and placing my shots.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Core 1 No. 10 strung at 60 pounds LO (Pacific Force/Gosen OG Sheep Micro Super 18/17)
“This is a great durability option for string breakers. Too stiff for me.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Lite OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Premier w/Softflex 16)
“This string put some hard miles on my arm. Touch shots are hard to gauge. It is not recommended to players looking for a soft feel. Durability and tension maintenance are above average.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Dunlop Aerogel 2 Hundred strung at 58 pounds CP (Natural Gut 17)
“This feels like a soft polyester. As such, it misses the boat. It lacks the crisp response and control of a good poly, while also lacking the feel and comfort of a high-end nylon. There is not enough bite. It is very hard for me to gauge the right racquet speed and angle of attack for topspin.” 5.0 male all court player using Völkl C10 Pro strung at 39 pounds LO (Gamma Zo True 18)
“The stiff feel causes some unwanted stroke adjustments. I am unable to swing out confidently; therefore control suffers. The comfort, touch, and power are too low. This is recommended to big hitters.” 4.5 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Radical MP strung at 63 pounds LO (Nylon Multifilament 17)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
|EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
|about as easy||25|
|not quite as easy||6|
|not nearly as easy||0|
(compared to the string played most often)
|about as playable||11|
|not quite as playable||15|
|not nearly as playable||2|
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|about as durable||15|
|not quite as durable||1|
|not nearly as durable||0|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Holding Tension (9th overall)||3.7|
|Resistance to Movement (17th overall)||3.8|
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.