Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: HEAD ETS 16

By Greg Raven

Head ETS is a wrapped multifilament nylon string. According to Head, the highly elastic multifilament core moves freely within its unique polypropylene outer wrap, providing optimal elasticity and energy transfer for unprecedented power, playability, and perfect sound. The outer wrap is abrasion resistant for excellent durability.

Head ETS

Head ETS has been specially designed for oversized racquets and for players looking to add more power to their game.

ETS is available in 16 (1.31 mm) and 17 (1.24 mm) in white only. It is priced from $11.50 per 40’ set (no reels available). For more information or to order, contact Head at 800-289-7366, or visit head.com.

IN THE LAB

The coil measured 40’. The diameter measured 1.29-1.33 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 64 RDC units, representing a 14 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. ETS added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 35 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 27.6.

Out of the package, there is a tight but not aggressive coil memory, so you have to watch for kinks through the string job. The texture referred to by our playtesters is not so much of a roughness as it is a pronounced lumpiness. This texture isn’t the kind that sounds as if it is sawing through the grommets and across the mains. Finally, because of the texture, knots feel oddly when you’re pulling them tight, but they cinch up just fine.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, 14 reported problems with coil memory, none reported a problem tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

ON THE COURT

Our playtest team scored ETS well above average in Playability, Touch/Feel, Spin Potential, and Resistance to Movement. Additionally, many of our playtesters commented on how comfortable ETS is in play. The score for power is about average, but this is appropriate in this string, given its target market of players using oversize racquets.

Three playtesters broke the sample during the playtest, one each at four, 17, and 24 hours of play.

CONCLUSION

It is sometimes difficult to find the right string for customers with oversize racquets, especially those with open string patterns, because they want a durable string that doesn’t move all over the place, and has great feel and playability. According to our playtest results, this describes Head ETS 16.

Testers talk

“This is a crisp, predictable string. Spin potential is very pronounced. It has high tension maintenance and low string movement. It is easily one of the best strings I’ve tested.” 4.5 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson nSix-One (68 Holes) strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“Coil memory is fairly high. Comfort is outstanding. Playability, feel, and spin are excellent. I could easily recommend this string to a wide range of players.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson KFive strung at 58 pounds CP (Polyester/Wilson Sensation 17)

“This string has truly a truly amazing feel. It plays very crisp and has the control of a stiff string. Surprisingly, it is extremely comfortable and absorbs shock very effectively. After 20 hours of hard hitting, it still plays very fresh.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Metallix 2 strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string has outstanding feel and touch. Power is there when needed. The string bed response is very predictable. Big swings and short swings are equally effective.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Liquidmetal Prestige Mid strung at 64 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16)

“This string plays great at first, and then it just keeps getting better. It holds tension better than most strings. String movement is minimal. It offers a clean, crisp feel. The comfort is excellent. I will add this string to my inventory.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson KBlade Team strung at 52 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)

“I am very excited about this string. I cannot wait for it to be available. The feel is so solid. The durability, spin potential, and tension maintenance are outstanding. This will be an instant hit with my customers.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige MP strung at 59 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 16)

“Playability and durability are exceptional. The feel is amazing. After 20 hours, it still plays and feels fresh. No notching. No fraying.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head i.X6 OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Tecnifibre X-One Biphase 17)

“This is the best string I’ve tested. Holds tension extremely well. There is no string movement. It handles a wide range of shots with remarkable ease, from drop volleys to heavy ground strokes. This string is as good as it gets.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince OZone Pro Tour MP strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“This string plays surprisingly well. It has incredible power, comfort, and touch.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Six.One (68 Holes) strung at 64 pounds LO (Klip Armour Pro 17)

“This is a comfortable multifilament that reduces shock very effectively.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 White MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger Original 130 16L)

“This string seems to make the sweet spot bigger. The entire string bed feels comfortable. Shots in the upper hoop are not punished with anemic responses. Considering the string type, there is refreshingly little tension loss.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson Natural Gut 16)

“This string plays surprisingly crisp. Control and comfort are there from start to finish. Hard hitters and string breakers might have some durability issues. This string is a good option for those who prefer the crisp and firm feel of polyester without the harsh response.” 4.5 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Storm strung at 65 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Tour 16)

“This string has a soft feel without being mushy. There is some string movement. Spin potential is excellent.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Aeropro Drive + (with Cortex) strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power 16L)

“Stringing is gets easier after the initial coil memory recedes. Playability, resistance to movement, control, and durability are all very good.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 57 pounds LO (Gamma Live War Pro 17)

“This is a lively string with controllable power.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme strung at 56 pounds LO (Forten Dynamix 16)

“This string feels stiff at first. After a few hours it plays great. The combination of control and spin is very impressive.” 5.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“The string’s texture definitely adds some bite. The playability is right on the money.” 5.5 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Head Synthetic Gut PPS 16)

“This is a durable string with decent spin.” 3.5 male all-court player using Slazenger NX 111 strung at 62 pounds LO (Gamma Asterisk 16)

“Very solid feeling at impact. The texture increases spin. The combination of comfort and control is impressive. The power is very controllable.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson KFour strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power 16L)

“There is some slight notching after several hours of hitting. The feel is medium soft and the response is crisp. The texture helps to grip the ball. Very comfortable.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Speedport Black strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“The incredible bite allows for remarkable spin control. I have more confidence hitting out under pressure. The only negative is that off-center hits lack a little power. This is a comfortable control string.” 4.5 male all-court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 5g strung at 63 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire XP 16)

“As a polyester fan, I am skeptical about multifilaments. I typically prefer a very stiff response. This string, though not very stiff, is an exception. Control is excellent. The durability is surprisingly good for the breed. I usually break multis in less than 10 hours. This one lasted for over 20 hours. It can handle many hours of very hard topspin.” 5.0 male all-court player using Volkl DNX 10 Midplus strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Rough 16L)

“This string absorbs shock better than any other string I’ve tried. I prefer something a little stiffer.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme strung at 60 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 16)

“Short swings and touch shots work well with this string. The response isn’t crisp enough to generate heavy spin. I have more success hitting flat shots. Power is low enough to accommodate full swings.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 58 pounds LO (Polyester 17)

“Superior comfort and playability. Impact feels like the ball is getting sucked into a pillow. The feel is solid and the sound is a deep thud. Very high dwell time.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson H Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Intellistring 16)

“This is comfortable, control string with a nice texture to enhance bite. Tension maintenance is excellent. After 20 hours, the string is still quite playable. String movement is negligible. Power is average, and comfort, while very good, is not quite at the level of most multifilaments. The textured surface adds major kick to my serve.” 4.5 male all-court player using Volkl DNX V1 MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat Tonic+ Ball Feel 15L)

“High marks for control, comfort, and spin. Notching and string movement occur after a few hours of play.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson KPro Open strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Pro Blend 16)

“There is a slight ping on contact. The feel is on the dead side.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 White MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“Great bite and comfort! Low durability.” 4.5 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 16)

“From the back court, I have trouble gauging how much spin to apply. The soft, muted response makes this the perfect cross for a hybrid. Volleying against pace is very easy, since the string bed absorbs the balls energy without spraying it. It is very easy to deaden the ball.” 6.0 male serve-and-volleyer using Wilson K Six.One Tour strung at 58 pounds LO (Gamma Dura Blast 16)

“This string does not return enough energy to the ball for my stroke style. The feel is too soft and spin potential is lacking.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince Tour Diablo strung at 62 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power 16L)

“At 65 pounds, the feel is not very comfortable. This string lacks pop on serves and volleys. I would probably string it at a lower tension next time.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.5 MP strung at 65 pounds CP (Wilson Stamina 16)

“The string’s coating made it impossible for the stencil ink to stick. Given that tension loss happens quickly, pre-stretching is advised. Feel and control are lacking.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 57 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Fluoro 17)

“The string starts tight and lively. Spin production and tension maintenance are below average.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Radical Pro MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Synthetic Gut PPS 17)

“This string doesn’t have any outstanding qualities. Power level is low and comfort is not very high. Touch and control are also lacking.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Speedport Black strung at 58 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger TIMO 18)

(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier0
somewhat easier2
about as easy23
not quite as easy10
not nearly as easy0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better2
somewhat better7
about as playable10
not quite as playable14
not nearly as playable2
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better3
somewhat better10
about as durable18
not quite as durable4
not nearly as durable0
RATING AVERAGES From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability3.5
Durability3.4
Power3.1
Control3.3
Comfort3.3
Touch/Feel3.2
Spin Potential3.3
Holding Tension3.4
Resistance to Movement3.5

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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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