Playtest: Mantis Comfort Synthetic
By Greg Raven
Mantis is a relative newcomer to the string business, but the team behind it has a wealth of experience within the tennis industry. With headquarters in the UK, Mantis has just entered the U.S. market with four strings, one of which is Mantis Comfort Synthetic, a multifilament constructed of thousands of micro fibers, with a nano coating to provide superb feel. It is covered with highly durable monofilaments before the string is coated using a special elastic resin bonding process.
Mantis tells us that Comfort Synthetic is specially developed to provide a soft string with gut-like feel and playability with the special double coating to enhance durability. Mantis developed Comfort Synthetic for players looking for a gut-like multifilament at a great price, as well as for players looking for a soft string to use in a poly hybrid.
Comfort Synthetic is available in 16 and 17 gauges in natural, fluorescent yellow, and black. It is priced from $5 for sets of 39.4 feet (MAP $9), and $50 for reels of 200 meters (MAP $90). For more information or to order, contact Mantis at 630-325-6600, visit mantis-sport.com, or e-mail email@example.com. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself.
IN THE LAB
We tested the 16 gauge Comfort Synthetic. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.31-1.33 mm before stringing, and 1.25-1.26 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 68 RDC units, representing a 9 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. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Mantis Comfort Synthetic 16 has a stiffness of 175 and a tension loss of 14.4 pounds. Comfort Synthetic added 13 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. We did advise playtesters to keep the reference tension between 58 and 63 pounds, as recommended by Mantis. Average number of hours playtested was 28.7.
Comfort Synthetic feels soft and thinner than its gauge when you first take it out of the package, with no coil memory. Because of the softness, we had some difficulty with blocked holes.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, one reported problems with coil memory, none reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.
ON THE COURT
Our playtest team loved the comfort afforded by Mantis Comfort Synthetic, rating it the third best string in this category of the 146 strings we’ve playtested to date for publication. Given that the first-place string in this category is a natural gut, this means that Mantis Comfort Synthetic is the second best synthetic string for Comfort in our playtests. Our playtesters also liked the Touch/Feel of Comfort Synthetic, rating it ninth best of the strings we’ve playtested to date. In addition, our playtesters rated Mantis Comfort Synthetic well above average in the Control, Playability, Power, and Spin Potential categories. As a result, Mantis Comfort Synthetic’s overall score is well above average.
Five of our playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one each at seven, eight, 12, 17, and 30 hours.
Mantis Comfort Synthetic’s high scores are exciting, not only because it’s always nice when a string tests well, but also because Mantis currently has three other strings — Power Synthetic, Comfort Polyester, and Power Polyester — that, if each lives up to its name, will give players some clear string choices. It certainly doesn’t hurt that Mantis Comfort Synthetic has come in as our third most comfortable string to date, given its moderate price and great margins.
If you think that Mantis Comfort Synthetic might be for you, fill out the coupon to get a free set to try.
“From the very first hit, this string has the ‘wow factor’! The combination of comfort, playability, and control is outstanding. I keep waiting for it to lose resilience and control.” 4.5 male all-court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Hornet MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Multifilament 17)
“This string feels good right out of the box. The power is on the low side. My arm loves it!” 4.5 male all-court player using Head CrossBow 4 strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)
“This string is soft without being mushy. The response is pleasingly crisp and the sweet spot is generous. I would definitely carry this in our shop.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Youtek Prestige MP strung at 60 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)
“Excellent power, spin, and control. Higher tensions do not cause discomfort. The tennis elbow crowd will love it. It should appeal to a wide range of players.” 3.5 male all-court player using Volkl Tour 10 MP strung at 61 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 17)
“Super soft, with heavy spin and big dwell time. Decent power from the baseline, great touch at net. Tons of pop and spin on serves.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT Tour 17)
“Great feel, power, and control.” 5.0 female baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Cortex GT strung at 59 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)
“This is a muted, low-feedback string with very little shock on off-center hits. Players with tendonitis are encouraged to stock up. The absence of feedback makes it hard to judge where the ball is hitting the string bed.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 60 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon/Pro Supex Maxim Touch 17/17)
“This is a great feeling string with above average control. Even at higher tensions, this string is comfortable.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head Youtek Radical Lite OS strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Power 18)
“Great feel. Amazing bite. Easy on the arm.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Tour strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“The power, control, comfort, touch, and feel are exceptional. After just 15 hours of play, I think I have discovered my new string.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)
“Great playability. Amazing combination of comfort and control. I will recommend this to my customers.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson BLX Six One (68 Holes) strung at 62 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)
“Great playability and tension maintenance. The extra pop creates a very penetrating ball.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“Above average playability, control, and spin. This is not your average nylon string.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince EXO3 White MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Hybrid Spin 3D 16)
“This string has a soft impact. The pocketing is pronounced. Control suffers slightly at higher head speeds.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One (68 Holes) strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)
“Players who favor tight string beds please take note: this string remains playable at high tensions. Control and spin are slightly lacking.” 5.5 male all-court player using Babolat Aeropro Drive GT strung at 62 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger Original Rough 16L)
“This string plays with comfort and power. The spin is excellent. String movement is high. It is recommended to players in search of comfort, spin, and power.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Storm MP Team strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)
“This is a comfortable string which adds noticeable pop to serves. The mix of control and power will definitely turn some heads. Touch is slightly lacking.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince EXO3 Red strung at 62 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 Touch 16)
“Given the tension loss, I recommend higher tensions and pre-stretching.” 4.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Four strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 17)
“This string has a remarkably soft feel from the very first hit. String movement is a tad high.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Aero Storm GT strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger TIMO 18)
“Installation is a breeze. Playability is excellent. There is a little bit of tension loss and string movement after four sets.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 58 pounds CP (Kirschbaum Super Smash Spiky 17)
“This is a soft multifilament that has wonderful touch and feel during the first ten hours. After some tension loss, control goes down, but power goes up. Controlling the depth on serves and volleys is very easy. This leads to confident targeting. Given the comfort, higher tensions are not a problem.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head i.Radical OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 17)
“Great string for doubles, where touch volleys land on a dime. This string errs on the side of control. Power must come from the player. After thirty hours it goes dead.” 4.0 female all-court player using Prince EXO3 Speedport Blue strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Touch 16)
“This string has the right mix of power and control. Playability is high. String movement is the only negative.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Triple Threat Hornet strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17 17)
“Great feel and touch. Signs of wear emerge early. Players with sensitive tendons will like it. String breakers might consider a hybrid.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 Red strung at 61 pounds LO (Prince Premier LT 17)
“This string is easy on the arm. Comfort is high. For a soft string, spin is exceptional. Big swings from the baseline tend to fly long.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire Pro 17)
“Soft feel. Great for beginners or folks with tennis elbow. I let a 3.0 player borrow my frame and he offered to purchase it on the spot. Advanced players might need more bite.” 5.0 male all-court player using Head Youtek Speed Elite strung at 64 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 16)
“Initially, this string feels sluggish. Over time, the playability, spin, and control increase. Power is lacking, but durability is impressive, especially for the breed. Given the abundance of new polyesters on the market, it’s nice to see such a solid nylon offering.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head MicroGEL Prestige MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Pro Supex Big Ace 17)
“This is a powerful string with a comfortable response. Volleys feel very solid. Tension does not hold as well as expected. Overall, I like this string.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson Khamsin Five FX strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger Original Rough/Wilson Hollow Core 16L/16)
“This string has a great mix of power, feel, and control. It is very comfortable. It does not ‘grab’ the string like some of the high end polyesters, but it will definitely find a wide audience.” 5.0 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 54 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger Alu Power Fluoro/Wilson NXT 17/17)
“This is a comfortable string with decent spin. As a polyester user, however, I prefer a slightly more crisp response.” 5.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Natural Gut/Polyester 16/16)
“This string initially made me want to return to the nylon universe. It is quite comfortable. After a few hours, though, the strings start to move all over the place. After a week, resilience goes down.” 4.5 male all-court player using Head MicroGEL Monster strung at 60 pounds LO (Kirschbaum P2/Wilson NXT 16/16)
“From handling it, I was expecting a much softer response. Overall, the comfort, touch, and power are decent, but not ‘off the charts’.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head MicroGEL Radical Team MP strung at 57 pounds LO (Gosen OG-Sheep Micro 17)
“I love the feel, touch, playability, and comfort; string movement, not so much.” 4.5 male all-court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Twist/Wilson Stamina Synthetic Gut 16/16)
“The string has a crisp response in the beginning. It is responsive and easy on the arm. Over time it becomes mushy and develops a buzzing sound.” 5.0 male all-court player using Dunlop 4D 5 Hundred Tour strung at 60 pounds LO (Dunlop Explosive Polyester 17)
“This is the softest string I have ever used. The word ‘buttery’ comes to mind. The absence of a crisp response leads to control problems. Interestingly, this string lacks the power which is usually found in soft strings. Pre-stretching and higher tensions might ‘cure’ the mushy feel and excessive string movement.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Thunder Rip OS strung at 60/62 pounds LO (Unique Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)
“Topspin players with open patterns will have to contend with some string movement.” 6.0 male all-court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Comp MP strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)
“This string lacks sufficient durability. The strings move too much.” 4.0 male all-court player using Head CrossBow 4 strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon M2 Pro 17)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as easy||14|
|not quite as easy||0|
|not nearly as easy||0|
(compared to string played most often)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as playable||9|
|not quite as playable||13|
|not nearly as playable||2|
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as durable||18|
|not quite as durable||7|
|not nearly as durable||2|
From 1 to 5 (best)
|Comfort (3rd best)||4.0|
|Touch/Feel (9th best)||3.7|
|Resistance to Movement||2.9|
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.