Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Pacific XCite 16L

By Greg Raven

Pacific XCite is a new monofilament polyester. XCite uses the patent-pending PolyCite®, which according to Pacific features a molecular structure unlike that found in any other poly string. Pacific tells us that the difference is that, instead of a one-dimensional linear chain of molecules, PolyCite has a multi-dimensional molecular chain. One-dimensional chains line up together to support impact stress equally, while PolyCite’s multi-dimensional chains distribute impact stress differentially. This allows some molecules in PolyCite to remain energized while the others are handling the impact, resulting in maximum return of energy from the string to the ball. XCite is the first Pacific string to use PolyCite, and is manufactured in Germany.

According to Pacific, the benefits of PolyCite in XCite are 25 percent greater energy return to the ball, faster ball speed off the strings, more spin, softer feel, and improved tension maintenance.

XCite is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 16L (1.25 mm) in pearl only (the color provides the “magic” as to why XCite works the way it does, according to Pacific). It is priced from $15 for sets of 41 feet, and $240 for reels of 720 feet. For more information or to order, contact Pacific at 941-795-1789, e-mail usainfo@pacific.com, or visit Pacific on the web at pacific.com.

In the lab

We tested the 16L gauge XCite. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.26-1.28 mm prior to stringing, and 1.23-1.24 mm after stringing. We recorded a string bed 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), string bed 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. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Pacific XCite 16L has a stiffness of 271 and a tension loss of 15.33 pounds. XCite added 17 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 38 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 21.4.

Pacific recommends reducing tension 5-10% from your typical nylon reference, and that is what we recommended to our playtest team members.

Out of the package, XCite feels smooth, and has very little coil memory. The crosses glide nicely across the mains, without being slippery to the touch. The pearl color improves “stringability,” at least in comparison to the spate of black strings we’ve been receiving lately, due to the high contrast between the string and the typical black grommet barrel.

One playtester broke his sample during stringing, nine reported problems with coil memory, five reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

On the court

Our playtest team’s scores put Pacific XCite clearly in the “durability” category of string. XCite scored 7th best overall of the all the strings we’ve playtested for publication in Resistance to Movement, and 17th best overall for Tension Retention. In addition, our playtesters rated XCite well above average for Durability and Control. As a result, Pacific XCite’s overall score is well above average of the 160 strings we’ve tested to date.

One playtester broke the sample after 14 hours of playtesting.

Conclusion

Based on the scores, Pacific XCite seems best suited for big hitters who need a string that doesn’t send the ball into orbit, and can take some punishment. Keep in mind that we tested the 16L version; XCite also comes as a 16-gauge string for what must be even more durability and control. For those who like XCite but prefer a higher gauge, stay tuned, as Pacific tells us it is working on a thinner version.

Finally, if Pacific XCite sounds like a string your customers might like, contact your Pacific representative. Pacific is planning an aggressive seeding program to introduce players to XCite.

Playtester comments

“String breakers and topspin players will have a blast with this one.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Boris Becker London strung at 56 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Tour 17)

“Outstanding control. This string makes for a heavy ball. Passing shots have pinpoint accuracy. Swing away!” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Tour strung at 45 pounds CP (Polyester 16)

“This is a powerful polyester. The ball seems to jump off the string bed. Kick serves definitely have more action.” 5.5 male all court player using Volkl DNX 10 MP strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Great control and tension maintenance! Very little string movement. Extra power on serves.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 Graphite strung at 64 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation/Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17/17)

“Exceptional feel. With a ten percent tension reduction, playability is quite high.” 5.0 male all court player using Volkl Power Bridge 8 (315g) strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Timo/Head Synthetic Gut PPS 18/17)

“This string plays like a combination of the best polys on the market. It has an incredible combination of playability, comfort, power, and control.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Babolat Pure Drive Cortex strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“My control problems are over. I have never hit with a string that allows for such big cuts. The faster the stroke, the more comfortable and juicy it gets. Even after 20 hours, the playability remains. The timid will want to hybrid this.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Timo 17)

“Advanced baseliners with big swings will like this string’s control and durability. Given its stiffness, intermediates with lighter racquets are advised to liven it up with a friendly cross. It definitely takes some swing speed to “release the hounds.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 47 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 16L)

“This poly has a surprising amount of comfort and power. It has excellent control on groundstrokes, along with wonderful feel on touch shots. If strung correctly, it will work for a wide range of stroke speeds.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One (16×18) strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut Original/Tecnifibre Black Code 17/17)

“The ball explodes off the strings on serves. The exceptional control makes it a joy to go for passing shots. Touch shots at net are hard to measure. Bite is a little lacking on some shots.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head Youtek Speed MP (16×19) strung at 53 pounds CP (Gamma Asterisk Tour 16)

“This string is very durable yet surprisingly powerful. It rewards aggressive play. Touch and spin are not strong suits. Poly players looking for more power should give this a try.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive Cortex strung at 62 pounds CP (Babolat Xcel 16)

“Excellent power and spin, especially on serves. Firm feel on volleys. Touch is above average.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl V1 Classic strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson Hyperlast Spin 19)

“This is a nice all-around polyester. It feels a little stiff at first. After it loosens up, power and spin come easy.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 17)

“Playability is average and the feel is stiff. This string holds tension well. Given the high durability and control, it would work well in a hybrid.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 51 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“As a flat hitter, I am impressed by the amount of spin I get with this string. The playability and tension maintenance are also noteworthy. ” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 50 pounds CP (Signum Pro Poly Plasma 17)

“This is a pleasantly crisp string. Control is fantastic. Touch and comfort are surprisingly good. Overall, this is a highly playability poly that possesses lower power than some of the recent co-polys to hit the market.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Hyper Hammer 4.3 MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Twist 16)

“Very solid feel. Lively response on serves and volleys. Overall, this is a decent string.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson nPro strung at 55 pounds LO (Signum Pro Poly Plasma 18)

“The stiff response provides great bite. Spin shots have explosive action after landing. Tension maintenance is excellent. This is recommended to big hitters who want some extra revolutions on their ball’s rotation.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Tour (18×20) strung at 50 pounds CP (Head Synthetic Gut PPS 17)

“This is a solid all-around string with good control and tension maintenance. Given the high stiffness level, lowering the tension will likely unlock the playability for a wider group of players.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 57 pounds LO (Babolat Superfine Play 16)

“For a durability string, this plays with a surprising amount of comfort. Spin shots feel like they are heavier. This is the first full poly setup that has given me more playability.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Kobra Team FX strung at 50 pounds LO (Prince Beast XP 16L)

“This string has some serious pop when going for big topspin. After several hours, it begins to lose some punch. As the hours tick away, more shock finds its way to the arm. Ultimately, this string plays great during the first fifteen hours, which suggests an above average life span for the breed. At the twenty hour mark, the resilience goes away and the string bed feels a little dead.” 3.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive strung at 56 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)

“This is one of those polyesters that allows for an almost instant improvement in control. Lower tensions give it playability, touch, and spin without the dreaded “trampoline effect” that wrecks trajectory.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 51 pounds CP (Volkl Cyclone 18)

“The incredible control compensates for anemic power. This is a great string for those who take big swings with controlled aggression. Without high head speed, power definitely drops off. This is a solid option for players who bring their own power and need high levels of control in order to play confident tennis.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g strung at 59 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“This poly has decent spin and low power. Tension maintenance is not stellar. Pretty easy on the arm for a stiff string.” 5.0 male all court player using Dunlop M Fil 200 strung at 55 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“This is an extremely average poly. It does not possess any qualities that separate it from the pack.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head FXP Radical Team strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Touch/Head FXP Tour 17/16)

“Tension maintenance is excellent. The strings do not move. As a full setup, it lacks comfort and power. Great for younger players with big strokes, but not as good for older players with sensitive elbows.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 54 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Red Code/Gamma Synthetic Gut 18/16)

“This strings plays well if you get the stiffness right. Reducing the tension by five or six pounds creates a lively and playable string bed. Great tension maintenance. Touch is on the low end.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Six One (16×18) strung at 52 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This string has great power on ground strokes. Spin on slice serves is underwhelming.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 52 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 16)

“This is a very durable string. Power is decent, but touch and feel are below average.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Youtek Prestige Pro strung at 57 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16)

“This is a very durable string that lacks the liveliness of some of the other co-polys on the market.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 58 pounds LO (Luxilon Adrenaline 16L)

“Given how stiff this string handles, the comfort and playability are surprisingly good. As a fan of softer strings, this plays a tad too stiff and powerless for my game. However, I have some big hitters who would really like it.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive GT strung at 54 pounds CP (Isospeed Control/Isospeed Professional 16/17)

“This is a stiff string with high power. Nylon players are advised to lower the tension or go with a hybrid.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Six One (18×20) strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“Power baseliners will find a great combination power and trajectory-control, but not quite as much spin.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick + GT strung at 57 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 17)

“Two words: power and control. Great for players who favor a stiffer feel. Folks with arm trouble are advised to lower the tension.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 60 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Fluoro 17)

“This is a very stiff poly with little feel and touch. Spin shots feel like they are not being grabbed by the string bed, almost as if they are sliding off too quickly. Great durability and resistance to movement, but the harsh response causes too many errors.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Kobra Tour strung at 59 pounds CP (Wilson Hollow Core Pro 17)

“This strings seems designed for big hitters in need of more control. This is hard to describe, but over time it starts to play at once stiff and mushy.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 45 pounds CP (WeissCannon Black 5 Edge 16L)

“I am unable to get a comfortable response with this string, even on good shots. The feel is not quite right.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Youtek Radical OS strung at 57 pounds LO (Luxilon M2 Pro 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 0
somewhat easier 2
about as easy 27
not quite as easy 8
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 0
somewhat better 7
about as playable 10
not quite as playable 16
not nearly as playable 4
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 6
somewhat better 11
about as durable 20
not quite as durable 0
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.2
Durability 4.2
Power 3.3
Control 3.6
Comfort 2.7
Touch/Feel 2.8
Spin Potential 3.3
Holding Tension (17th overall) 3.6
Resistance to Movement (7th overall) 4.2

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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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