Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Wilson Red Alert

By Greg Raven

Red Alert is a new solid-core multifilament nylon that Wilson tells us was engineered to be the most durable synthetic gut produced. Part of that durability comes from Red Alert’s High Molecular Weight (HMW) nylon coating. The single wrap layer alternates triangular and cylindrical filaments to allow for more HMW nylon in the coating. The triangular wraps also provide a slight texture for increased ball bite.

The result, according to Wilson, is a crisp-playing string with more than twice the durability of comparable nylon strings.

Wilson recommends Red Alert to players looking for crisp playability and unsurpassed durability in a budget-friendly synthetic gut string.

Red Alert is available as a 16-gauge (1.32 mm) string in red only. It is priced from $6 for sets of 40 feet, $75 for 660-foot reels. For more information or to order, contact Wilson at 773-714-6400, or visit wilson.com/redalert.

IN THE LAB

The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.33-1.34 mm prior to stringing, and 1.27-1.28 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 80 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 74 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. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Wilson Red Alert 16 has a stiffness of 231 and a tension loss of 11.55 pounds. Red Alert added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 39 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 27.8.

Our sample felt oily when we removed it from the package. We wiped it with a clean towel several times, working from one end to the other, and then washed our hands before installation. Red Alert still had enough lubrication on it to pick up lint and dirt from what we had thought was a clean floor. None of our playtesters mentioned this, though, so maybe we’re just overly sensitive in this regard. Red Alert holds a nice point when you cut it at an angle; blocked holes were no problem. The texture from the triangle-shaped wraps is strong, but did not interfere with installation in any way.

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

ON THE COURT

Red Alert lived up to its durability claims, scoring well above average in the Durability category. As bonuses, it also scored well above average in Tension Retention, Comfort, and Spin Potential. Other scores were nicely balanced, resulting in an above-average overall score.

Two playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one at four hours and one at 11 hours.

CONCLUSION

Several playtesters commented on Red Alert’s durability compared to poly, giving hope to those players who need a more durable string but either need the comfort of a nylon or simply prefer the feel of a nylon string. Given the relative paucity of heavy-gauge nylon strings, having a new, ultra-durable nylon is a wonderful thing — especially considering Red Alert’s high rating in the Comfort category.

Speaking of comments, each one of our testers had something nice to say about Red Alert. This fits well with the balanced scores it achieved from our playtest team. Players in the market for a durable nylon won’t have to forego the other benefits you normally associate with nylon strings.

If you think that Wilson Red Alert might be for you, check out the Red Alert microsite on the web at the URL above.

Playtester ratings

Playtester comments

“Great spin and tension maintenance. Excellent durability for a nylon based string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head Liquidmetal Radical MP strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 17)

“Above average spin, control, and durability, with power to spare.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This is a crisp, arm friendly string with great spin. Big swings are easy to control, especially on serve. Touch around the net is excellent. As with polyester, the best results are achieved with high head speed.” 3.5 male all court player using Volkl Tour 10 MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 17)

“This is a great all around string with high marks for touch and comfort.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Hornet strung at 62 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code 17)

“This is a very responsive string with a little extra power. Easy on the arm. Great control.” 5.0 male all court player using Dunlop 4D Aerogel 5 Hundred Tour strung at 60 pounds CP (Dunlop Silk 17)

“This string does not compromise comfort to achieve durability. There is no noticeable downside. It has something for everyone.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 65 pounds CP (Pro Supex Maxim Touch 17)

“I may have found my new favorite string. The comfort level is high. The tension loss is low.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek Radical Lite OS strung at 62 pounds CP (Kirschbaum Spiky Shark 17)

“This is the ‘feel good’ string of the year! Where to begin? Spin, power, durability, and comfort — these are just some of the things that separate this string from the pack.” 4.5 male touch player using Head Youtek Speed MP (16×19) strung at 56 pounds CP (Genesis Hexonic 17)

“This string has the feel, comfort, and playability of a quality nylon, with the control of a crisp polyester. All that, and tension maintenance too!” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Youtek Speed Elite strung at 56 pounds CP (Gosen OG Sheep Micro 16)

“Excellent control and spin. This nylon gives me the kind of confidence I get from my polyester.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson K Six One (16×18) strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“Control and durability are exceptional. The texture adds bite. While the string appears to be made from a very durable material, my elbow is no worse for the wear. Reducing the tension did not lead to any control problems.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string has a nice mix of feel and control. Durability is excellent, but power is slightly lacking. This is recommended to big hitters in search of feel and comfort.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Hornet MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 18)

“I did not expect such impressive feel and touch from something which handled so stiff. This is a good string for the player who wants both durability and comfort.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 Red strung at 61 pounds LO (Prince Premier LT 17)

“Very comfortable and tons of pop! Polyester users might try higher tensions for more control.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Khamsin Five FX strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough/ Wilson Hollow Core 16L/16)

“For a thick nylon string, this is quite a surprise. It is very comfortable and the playability does not waiver over time. With its exceptional durability and arm-friendly response, this would be a good string for demo racquets.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Graphite Classic OS strung at 66 pounds CP (Kirschbaum Pro Line No.2 17)

“Nice pop on ground strokes. Excellence tension maintenance.” 4.0 male all court player using Head CrossBow 4 strung at 57 pounds CP (Wilson Enduro Pro 16)

“This is a playable nylon with a durable coating. It is recommended to string breakers in search of an arm friendly solution.” 5.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 White MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Polyester/Natural Gut 17/17)

“This is a comfortable string with good control. Recommended to finesse players who appreciate a soft response.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince EXO3 Blue strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Touch 16)

“This is comfortable string with decent touch and spin. Tension maintenance and resistance to movement are outstanding. The high power level causes control problems.” 4.0 female baseliner with heavy spin using Head Flexpoint 4 strung at 61 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 17)

“This string’s textured surface provides increased bite. The feel is crisp and responsive. Topspin players with open patterns will have to contend with some string movement. Exceptional durability for a nylon based string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 59/61 pounds LO (Gosen Polylon/Gosen OG Sheep Micro Super 17/17)

“This string plays stiff during the first several hours. It has a slight buzz. The lack of pop makes it hard to achieve depth. Spin shots with high head speed produce the best results.” 4.0 male all court player using Head i.Radical OS strung at 63 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 17)

“Excellent tension maintenance and durability. This string is on the stiff end of the nylon spectrum. Lower tensions are advised.” 5.0 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige Pro MP strung at 62 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 16)

“This is a durable nylon string with a slight texture. At 52 pounds in my ‘rocket launcher,’ power is anemic at best. Big hitters looking for something besides polyester or Kevlar might like this one.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Thunder Rip OS strung at 52 pounds LO (Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17)

“Nice mix of feel, comfort, and power.” 4.5 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Monster strung at 60 pounds LO (Polyester/Nylon Multifilament 16/16)

“Good blend of feel and power. I would definitely recommend this to my customers.” 6.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 White Lite strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 17)

“Easy installation. Great spin and power. Pocketing and feel are on the low side.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek Radical OS strung at 57 pounds CP (Pacific ATP Hybrid 17)

“Nice spin, especially on serves. Very comfortable, but not enough power.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince EXO3 Ignite Team strung at 60 pounds LO (Luxilon Adrenaline 16L)

“Spin potential is slightly lacking. Power and playability are decent.” 4.5 female all court player using Head Youtek Six Star strung at 58 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)

“Comfortable, but not as much control and spin as I expected.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One (16×18) strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Magic 16)

“Feels like a solid basic nylon. The coating seems to grip the ball and add a little extra spin. Perhaps a thinner gauge would truly unlock the spin potential.” 5.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson K Blade Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon M2 Plus/Wilson NXT 17/17)

“While I detect some extra spin on ground strokes and serves, the harsh feel makes it hard to control touch shots and shorter swings.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson K Six One (18×20) strung at 64 pounds LO (Wilson NXT Tour 17)

“This string lacks the ‘wow factor.’ Off center shots are a little unforgiving. Tension maintenance is decent, but too much effort is required to achieve results. This is recommended to big hitting baseliners.” 3.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 56 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string becomes much more comfortable after the first five hours. Spin is lacking, which leads to control problems at higher head speeds. Good touch on volleys.” 3.5 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Radical Team strung at 56 pounds LO (Pro Supex Blue Gear 17)

“Comfort is above average, but spin is a sub par.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Viper strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 Ruff 16)

“Feel and power are on the low side. Comfort is adequate. Control is the strong suit.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson K Six One (16×18) strung at 62 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)

“Power is decent, but there is not nearly enough bite or control. Perhaps this would work best for flat hitters.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson K Four strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 17)

“This is a comfortable string that provides some extra grip on the ball. It is adequate in most categories, but not remarkable in any one area.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“Great tension maintenance, but lacks the feel and playability of a hybrid.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Aero Storm strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon TIMO/Babolat Xcel 18/17)

“While this string has a decent combination of control, comfort, and durability, my typical string has nothing to worry about.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Tour strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

(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 2
somewhat easier 11
about as easy 22
not quite as easy 4
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 7
about as playable 11
not quite as playable 15
not nearly as playable 4
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 4
somewhat better 12
about as durable 20
not quite as durable 3
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.3
Durability 3.7
Power 3.3
Control 3.5
Comfort 3.5
Touch/Feel 3.2
Spin Potential 3.3
Holding Tension 3.6
Resistance to Movement 3.2

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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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