Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Luxilon M2 Pro

By Greg Raven

M2 Pro is a new string in more than one way. First, it is one of the latest offerings from Luxilon. Second, M2 represents a completely new category of string from Luxilon, incorporating a breakthrough in string technology. Third, it is what might be described as a multi-core monofilament. This last one is difficult to imagine, but stick with us.

The patent-pending M2 consists of 10 inner fibers of different shapes and sizes surrounded by a matrix of polymer. All parts of the string are extruded simultaneously using proprietary Luxilon materials. It is essentially an internal monofilament and multifilament hybrid in a single string. It has a unique property Luxilon calls “dynamic flex”: Under lower force (soft hits) it flexes more like a multifilament, but under higher force (hard hits) its flex pattern is closer to that of a monofilament.

Luxilon M2 Pro

According to Luxilon, M2 offers a real alternative to traditional hybrids as it combines the softer feel and comfort of multifilaments with the control and durability of monofilaments in single string.

Luxilon believes that multifilament players looking for more durability and control will find the string to be an excellent alternative to polyester strings. Conversely, monofilament players looking for more comfort and softer feel will find this string to be an ideal alternative to going to a multifilament.

M2 Pro is available in 1.25 in natural only. It is priced from $17 for sets of 40 feet, and $281.50 for reels of 720 feet. For more information or to order, contact Luxilon at 773-714-6400, or visit luxilon.com.

In the lab

The coil measured 40’. The diameter measured 1.31-1.34 mm prior to stringing, and 1.27-1.28 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 68 RDC units, representing an 8 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. M2 Pro 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 3.0 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 25.7.

Installing M2 Pro is virtually identical to installing any of the more manageable polys, with perhaps a bit less coil memory. With its clean, smooth surface, it glides through grommets and across mains, yet is easy to grab between your fingers when weaving the crosses. Crosses seemed to need less straightening afterward, it is nicer than some polys to knot, and we saw no friction burning.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, seven reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

On the court

It’s fair to say that our playtest team went nuts over Luxilon M2 Pro. Of the 131 strings we’ve playtested for publication, M2 Pro comes in at 4th place in Durability, 4th place in Spin Potential, 12th place in Resistance to Movement, 14th place in Power, and 17th place in Control. Its scores were good enough to put it within 10 percent of the best string in each of the categories of Durability, Control, Spin Potential, Tension Retention, and Resistance to Movement. Last but not least, M2 Pro also scored well above average in Playability, and is the top “poly” string in the category of Spin Potential.

What this adds up to is an overall average score good enough to put M2 Pro in 10th place out of 131 strings. This score is within 10 percent of the top-rated string, and is the best overall average score for a “poly.”

One playtester broke his sample after eight hours of play.

Conclusion

If you think the scores our playtest team gave M2 Pro are good, check out the comments. In many ways, the scores and comments speak for themselves, and provide enough reason for a lot of players to give M2 Pro a try. However, this is especially true for players struggling with fine-tuning a hybrid set-up, as there can be a lot of issues in the successful deployment of a hybrid. Using M2 Pro instead of going hybrid might save them a lot of headaches. Of course, there’s nothing to prevent anyone from using M2 Pro in a hybrid set-up, as noted by a couple of our playtesters.

It’s no secret that Luxilon is the preferred string of professionals, with more than 60 percent of ATP players and more than 45 percent of WTA players using Luxilon string. The playability-oriented M2 Pro seems well positioned to broaden that appeal to serious amateurs and beyond. For players wanting even more durability, Luxilon also offers M2 Plus.

Playtester comments

“This natural gut user is considering a switch to polyester. I am amazed by the feel and playability.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Volkl DNX 8 strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“Great pop and explosive spin.” 3.5 male all-court player using EXO3 Graphite (with port inserts) strung at 53 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Synthetic Gut 17)

“Easy installation. This is a very responsive string. Great pocketing. Great feel. Great touch.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade Team strung at 54 pounds CP (Kirschbaum Super Smash Spiky 17)

“This string has tremendous bite. Topspin and slice are very heavy. The low trampoline effect makes for incredible control.” 4.5 female all-court player using Head Metallix 4 strung at 60 pounds (Head Sonic Pro 17)

“There is virtually no string movement. Tension maintenance is remarkable. The more I hit with it, the more I like it. This string has the perfect combination of playability, durability, power, and control.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT/Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro 17)

“This string has a truly incredible combination of power and control. Unlike most polyesters, tension remains consistent.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Triple Threat Hornet OS strung at 50 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“Incredible Spin!” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 White MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Babolat Attraction 16)

“I have never considered using a polyester until now. This string has great spin, power, and control. It even feels soft on touch shots, which is remarkable for a polyester. I want more!” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Five strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“This is the softest, most forgiving polyester I have ever tried. This string has excellent control and spin. Most importantly, it doesn’t hurt my arm.” 4.0 male all-court player using Volkl Catapult 10 strung at 48 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“Great feel! This is a resilient string with an impressive “snap back” effect.” 6.0 male all-court player using Head Protector OS strung at 55 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“The low power level allows me to “hit out” on ground strokes. After two hours of intense hitting, the strings do not require straightening. For a polyester, this string is extremely easy on the arm. I started as a skeptic. I finished as a believer.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)

“This string has tons of power, spin, and control. Durability is excellent. My hitting partner noted the heaviness of my ball.” 4.5 female all-court player using Head Flexpoint 4 strung at 56 pounds (Wilson NXT Tour 16)

“For a durability string, this is a dream.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head CrossBow 4 strung at 55 pounds (Wilson NXT 16)

“Polyester has come a long way. This plays and holds tension much better than its predecessors.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson Super Spin 16)

“I am not a polyester fan, but I like this string. I would definitely try this again.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head MicroGEL Radical Team MP strung at 56 pounds CP (Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 16)

“This is a durable and powerful string. The comfort is surprisingly high.” 3.5 male using Tecnifibre T Feel 305 (16x19) strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma Asterisk 17)

“If I ever switch to polyester, I will switch to this string. It has good power and spin. I can only imagine how friendly a thinner gauge would be.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson Triad 4.0 MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 17)

“Tension maintenance is above average for the breed. This is a very responsive polyester with excellent playability.” 5.5 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 Rebel Team (with hole inserts) strung at 63 pounds CP (Prince Sweet Perfection 16)

“This is a playable polyester with power.” 5.0 female all-court player using Prince O3 White MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 16)

“This string pockets the ball very effectively. The playability is impressive for a polyester.” 4.0 female all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Tour 16)

“This is unlike any polyester I’ve tried. It is comfortable without being mushy.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 Hybrid Tour (16x18) strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This is a responsive polyester with good spin. It has more resiliency than most polyesters on the market.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head MicroGEL Monster strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string has great control. Volleys and touch shots are effortless. It would work best in the hands of those who make their own power.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Radical Pro MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 17)

“This string does not kink as much as other polyesters. Knot-tying is a little easier than one would expect. For such a stiff string, it has a very friendly response. String movement is nonexistent. The playability and pop are surprisingly high. This string would “fly off the shelves” in my store.” 3.5 female all-court player using Prince Graphite Classic OS strung at 58 pounds (Gamma Asterisk/Gamma Live Wire 16)

“This is a great control string. Very easy to manipulate the depth and trajectory.” 5.0 male all-court player using Gamma T Five strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 17)

“This is as good as any polyester I’ve tried. For players sensitive to harsh feedback, I advise dropping the tension more than the recommended 10%. This plays well for a full poly set-up, but I’m guessing it would play even better in a hybrid.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat Pro Hurricane/Wilson Sensation 16)

“Stiff and durable. Great tension maintenance. Comfort and touch are on the low side.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme Pro strung at 52 pounds CP (Klip Legend 16)

“This is a durable string lacking in playability and comfort. The power level is high for a polyester.” 5.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Speedport Pro White MP strung at 58 pounds LO (Prince Premier LT 17)

“This string has excellent durability, but it lacks feel.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson K Pro Staff strung at 70 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string is too stiff for my taste. It has excellent resistance to movement and great tension maintenance. It is a little lacking in power, spin, and comfort. Volleys feel a bit harsh. I would be inclined to hybrid this with a soft cross.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 45 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon 17)

“Excellent power and control. High marks for feel and touch. Prolonged use results in some tendon soreness. Some notching after 9 hours, but playability remains consistent.” 3.5 male all-court player using Volkl Tour 10 MP strung at 59 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 17)

“I playtested this side-by-side with my typical string. Unfortunately, shots land just long with the test string. Tension loss in the first few hours is noticeable. Despite these complaints, this is a very user-friendly polyester. It not only has a nice feel, but it is very easy on the arm. I would definitely recommend this to first time polyester users.” 4.0 female all-court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme Team OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)

“Great Spin. The comfort and touch are slightly lacking.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Zen Team strung at 5.0 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string is lively but difficult to play with. Though control is lacking, there is definitely more spin. Unfortunately, this string failed me in the third set of a very important match. I lost 6-1.” 3.0 male all-court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 48 pounds (Wilson NXT 17)

“The feel and power are inconsistent. Spin is lacking. I typically use a thinner gauge, so perhaps I would get better results from a thinner version of this string.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Head Metallix 6 strung at 52 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Power 18)

“This string plays very stiff. It is low powered, “boardy,” and lacking in touch. It does not improve over time. Perhaps a lower tension is in order.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Thunder Rip OS strung at 60 pounds LO (Unique Big Hitter Blue 17)

“The 10% reduction in tension results in a trampoline effect. This raises the power level.” 4.0 male all-court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 58 pounds LO (Babolat VS Team 17)

(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 easier 0
somewhat easier 4
about as easy 24
not quite as easy 9
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 2
somewhat better 8
about as playable 10
not quite as playable 14
not nearly as playable 3
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 8
somewhat better 20
about as durable 9
not quite as durable 0
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.5
Durability (4th overall) 4.5
Power (14th overall) 3.6
Control (17th overall) 3.8
Comfort 3.0
Touch/Feel 2.9
Spin Potential (4th overall) 3.8
Holding Tension 3.6
Resistance to Movement (12th overall) 4.0

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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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