Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Wilson NXT Control

By Greg Raven

Wilson NXT Control is a hybrid multifilament composed of four polyester bundles and three nylon bundles. One of the polyester bundles serves as the center core. The three remaining polyester bundles and three nylon bundles alternate in a wrap around the center bundle. Wilson refers to the final arrangement of the four polyester bundles as the “pseudo core” (the cross-section of which is somewhat reminiscent of a trefoil knot), and it is said to provide control and contribute to a “poly” feel. The three alternating nylon bundles enhance comfort. The string is impregnated with polyurethane for shock absorption and a forgiving feel.

NXT Control is designed for players seeking "poly" control in combination with the comfort for which Wilson’s NXT line is renowned, along with a softer
feel. Because of the “internally hybrid” construction of NXT Control, Wilson tells us there is no need to use different strings for the mains and crosses as you would with a traditional hybrid string installation.

NXT Control is available only as a 16 gauge (1.32 mm) in natural only. It is priced from $16 for sets of 40 feet. For more information or to order, contact Wilson at 773-714-6400, or visit wilson.com. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself.

IN THE LAB

The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.31-1.33 mm prior to stringing, and 1.26-1.27 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 79 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 72 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 Wilson NXT Control 16 has a stiffness of 206 and a tension loss of 15.81 pounds. NXT Control added 15 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. Average number of hours playtested was 19.6.

Despite the six wrap-bundles, the polyurethane coating gives the string a smooth outer surface. We had no difficulty installing NXT Control, and there are no special stringing instructions.

One playtester broke his sample during stringing, one reported problems with coil memory, none reported problems tying knots, and none reported friction burn.

ON THE COURT

It doesn’t get much better than this — literally. In the Comfort category, Wilson NXT Control tied for the second-highest score out of the 158 strings we’ve playtested for publication. First place? Wilson Natural, which last we checked had no polyester in it whatsoever. Our playtest team also rated NXT Control 13th overall for Touch/Feel, 17th overall for Power, and well-above-average for Playability. As a result, overall our playtest team rated Wilson NXT Control well above average across our nine categories.

Six playtesters broke the string during the playtest period, one at three hours, one at four, one at nine, one at 10, one at 11, and one at 30 hours.

CONCLUSION

For any synthetic string to have comfort that is second only to a natural gut is astonishing. The fact that NXT Control did it — in spite of being comprised of more than 50 percent polyester — is incredible.

If you think that Wilson NXT Control might be for you, fill out the coupon to get a free set to try.

Playtester comments

“This is a comfortable string with slightly more control than its competitors. It is crisp without being boardy.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Rough 16L)

“This string has a great combination of comfort, feel, and control. It has a very low ‘trampoline effect.’” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson BLX Six One (76 Holes) strung at 65 pounds CP (Kirschbaum Pro Line No.2 16)

“This stringbed feels very smooth and even, with minimal shock and little power loss on off-center hits. Control is excellent across swing speeds. Touch shots exit the stringbed with very predictable speed and trajectory. Depth is easy to measure on groundstrokes. This is a very solid all court string.” 4.0 male all court player using Yonex RDS 003 strung at 60 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 17)

“This is a comfortable string with excellent touch and power. The high level of control is a welcomed surprise. Perhaps it’s time to switch back to nylon.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Youtek Radical OS strung at 57 pounds LO (Luxilon M2 Plus 16)

“This is one of the softest nylons that I have used. The pocketing has the effect of grabbing the ball, which allows for increased spin. Ball impact is extremely comfortable. This is not only recommended to touch players, but also topspin players looking for a softer response.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm strung at 55 pounds CP (Head Synthetic Gut PPS 17)

“This string retains its playability quite well over time. It is responsive, comfortable, and very predictable. Players with high head speeds can swing away!” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Boris Becker Legend strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 18)

“The combination of comfort and durability is outstanding. After multiple hours of hard hitting, this string is still fresh.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 58 pounds CP (Nylon/Polyester 16/16)

“This multi has remarkable feel and comfort. Like with polyester, it is very easy to control the depth when taking big cuts. The feedback is very good.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 Original Midsize strung at 64 pounds CP (Prince Premier LT 16)

“Comfort, comfort, comfort. Plenty of pop on serves and volleys. String breakers might want to bring a back-up racquet to the court. Did I mention comfort?” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head Youtek Radical MP strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma Asterisk Tour 17)

“This string feels great from the very first hit. It has a decent combination of power, feel, and control. There is some string movement and fraying, but tension maintenance is excellent.” 5.0 male all court player using Yonex RDS 002 Tour strung at 56/53 pounds CP (Tecnifibre X One Biphase 17)

“This is a comfortable multifilament with explosive power. Durability and control are surprisingly good. While there is some notching and peeling, this string refuses to break.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince O3 Speedport Pro White MP strung at 68 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation/Prince Synthetic Gut Original 17/18)

“Good feel on off-center hits. Easy on the arm. Depth is achieved with minimal effort.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl V1 Classic strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson Hyperlast Spin 15)

“This is a comfortable string with excellent touch and power. It has decidedly less control than a polyester hybrid. Big hitters might need to raise the tension.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Tour strung at 60 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Pro Red Code/Gamma Synthetic Gut w/Wearguard 18/16)

“This string’s comfort and responsiveness makes it a good option for beginner and intermediate club players.” 4.0 male all court player using Dunlop Aerogel 4D 5 Hundred Tour strung at 58 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 16L)

“Great touch and feel from the first to last hit. The comfort is outstanding and the energy return is high. The ball seems to accelerate off the stringbed with extra pop, but not in such a way that diminishes control. There is a slight clicking noise on impact.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.3 Stretch MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Twist 16)

“This string has a soft feel with great touch. Senior players with compact strokes will appreciate both the easy access to power and tendon friendly response. Big Bangers might need to hybrid this with a stiff control string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 50 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string reminds me of a less powerful version Wilson NXT. Comfort stands out, but spin and power are a little lacking.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 55 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 17)

“This is a decent multifilament with good control and above average durability.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson nPro strung at 52 pounds LO (Signum Pro Poly Plasma 18)

“Tension maintenance is great for such a comfortable and resilient string. After 9 hours there is very little notching. String movement is minimal. This is recommended to players who value comfort above all else.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)

“This string lost very little tension over the first 24 hours. It is both comfortable and durable. While control is decent, power is lacking. Tension maintenance, even after 20 hours, is outstanding.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm LTD strung at 58 pounds CP (Genesis Typhoon 16L)

“This is a very playable multifilament with an extra dose of control. It peels prematurely.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 57 pounds LO (Babolat Superfine Play 16)

“This string represents a nice compromise between power and control. It is a little stiff, so players with arm trouble might want to reduce the tension. I would recommend it to anyone who wants a stiffer feel without having to switch to a poly.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 63 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro 17)

“This string has tons of power and comfort. Touch shots and short strokes are easy to place. Higher tensions are advised for those with control problems.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Rebel (hole inserts) strung at 56 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Multifilament 17)

“I cannot argue with the power or feel. The tension maintenance, however, leaves a little to be desired. Touch and playability are excellent.” 5.0 male all court player using Volkl Power Bridge 8 (315g) strung at 66 pounds CP (Luxilon TiMO 18)

“Very easy on the arm. Superb feel. Lacks the bite of a polyester, though spin is adequate. This string would definitely add comfort to a hybrid. Resilience goes down noticeably after 14 hours.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 55 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 18)

“Comfort is adequate, but power and touch are uneven.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Pro Tour strung at 50 pounds CP (Polyester 16)

“This string would work best if partnered with a snappy co-poly. As a “stand-alone” string, it lacks pizazz.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Cortex strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power/Wilson Sensation 16L/16)

“This string has a nice combination of power and control. The extra dwell time allows you to feel the ball being cupped, rotated, and released. After 13 hours, the resilience dies, and with it the control and comfort.” 4.5 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Radical MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Live Wire 17)

“Given the excellent control, this string allows for some big swings, which leads to some very heavy balls. Bite and durability are below average. Flat mechanics are rewarded with power and control.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson K Pro Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Golden Set Hex Poly 18)

“This string’s excellent feel is noticeable from the first hit. It is extremely arm friendly. Control is better than expected given the soft and powerful response. Durability is lacking.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Six One Team strung at 56 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“Power and touch are lacking. Notching starts early. Extra effort is required to generate spin and depth. Comfort and tension maintenance are the chief selling points.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“The low coil memory makes for very easy installation. Great touch and comfort. String movement is fairly high. Bite is on the low end.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Viper strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Ruff 16)

“The feel is very good, but durability and spin are lacking. Given the power and comfort, this would make a decent hybrid cross.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Cortex GT strung at 56 pounds CP (Isospeed Professional 17)

“This string is perfect for club players with sensitive tendons. The feel is excellent, especially on volleys. There is no need to hunt for the sweetspot. Control definitely suffers after the initial tension loss.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince O3 Speedport Tour (hole inserts) strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“This string is for players who want comfort. Initially, the feel and control are excellent. Over time, however, control and spin go down. Power is lacking, especially after 3 or 4 hours of play.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 58 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast 16)

“The ball feels like it is coming off a springy mattress. The fraying actually leads to better gripping of the ball. This is the first string I’ve used where premature wear has actually lead to an improvement in control and spin.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Kobra Tour strung at 59 pounds CP (Wilson Hollow Core Pro 17)

“The feel and comfort of this multi are substandard for the breed. Perhaps this is because it errs on the side of durability. String movement is very minimal.” 5.0 male touch player using Wilson nSix One (16x18) strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core 16L)

(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 6
somewhat easier 12
about as easy 19
not quite as easy 0
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY (compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 1
somewhat better 8
about as playable 12
not quite as playable 16
not nearly as playable 0
OVERALL DURABILITY (compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 0
somewhat better 3
about as durable 23
not quite as durable 10
not nearly as durable 1
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.7
Durability 3.1
Power (17th overall) 3.6
Control 3.5
Comfort (tied for 2nd) 4.0
Touch/Feel (13th overall) 3.6
Spin Potential (5th overall) 3.0
Holding Tension 3.2
Resistance to Movement (18th overall) 3.1

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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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