Playtest: Tecnifibre Ruff Code 16
By Greg Raven
Ruff Code is a textured monofilament polyester string made using Tecnifibre’s Biphase and Thermocore processes. According to Tecnifibre, the Biphase process, which it has used in manufacturing its multifilament strings, prestretches the string for durability (without reducing diameter) and gives it its surface texture to improve spin. The Thermocore process involves using temperature control during the manufacturing process to soften the string’s structure for shock reduction and vibration. The result, according to Tecnifibre, is a performance polyester with superior tension maintenance and exaggerated spin.
Tecnifibre developed Ruff Code for players who are experienced with the performance of polyester strings who are looking for additional spin in a textured string.
Ruff Code is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 gauge (1.25 mm) in silver only. It is priced from $14 for sets of 40, and $210 for reels of 660 feet. For more information or to order, contact Tecnifibre at 888-TFTennis (888-838-3664), or visit tftennis.com.
In the lab
We tested the 16-gauge Ruff Code. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.31-1.34 mm prior to stringing, and 1.25-1.26 mm after stringing. We recorded a string bed stiffness of 73 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 67 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 Tecnifibre Ruff Code 16 has a stiffness of 263 and a tension loss of 18.26 pounds. Ruff Code added 17 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 34 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 26.4.
Out of the package, Ruff Code is wiry with a fair amount of coil memory. This wasn’t a problem until we reached the last few crosses. Because the texture is below the surface of the string, there is no drag on the mains when installing the crosses.
No playtester broke his sample during stringing, six reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.
On the court
Our playtest team agreed with Tecnifibre about the Spin Potential of Ruff Code, rating it 7th best of the 162 strings we’ve playtested to date for publication. In addition, our playtesters rated Ruff Code highly enough for it to become the 13th best string we’ve tested for Resistance to Movement, and 14th best for Durability. They weren’t done there, though. Their ratings show Ruff Code to be excellent in the Power and Control categories, and well above average in Tension Retention. As a result, Tecnifibre Ruff Code 16’s overall average score is excellent, as well.
Four playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one each at 7, 10, 13, and 16 hours.
With high scores in the five “durability string” categories plus its high score in the Power category, Ruff Code 16 definitely delivers on Tecnifibre’s promises for this string.
“No matter what the situation or head speed, this string has uncanny spin control. The exceptional feel and precision compensate for the low power on volleys. Teaching lessons is a pleasure because of the ability to manipulate pace, trajectory, and depth. Players who like to hit kickers and spin serves will definitely enjoy this one.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 50 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power/Wilson NXT Tour 16L/17)
“Crisp and powerful! Big hitters will get oodles of control without having to sacrifice comfort. This string will definitely add some confidence to your shots. Recommended to those who want to swing bigger.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Team strung at 50 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)
“This copoly has a rare combination of durability and playability. It has amazing control on both hard ground strokes and soft touch shots.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Blade strung at 53 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast/Wilson NXT 17/16)
“Truly exceptional tension maintenance. Spin potential is remarkable, and it doesn’t end after the first few sessions. This one stays fresh longer than most.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive GT strung at 50 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast Team 17)
“This is an arm friendly poly with exceptional spin and control.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Gamma Professional 17)
“This polyester is more comfortable than its peers. The bite is excellent.” 4.0 male serve-and-volley player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)
“This spin-friendly poly makes placing the ball extremely easy. This is a great option for big hitters who make their own power. Despite the limited pop, there is definitely more control and kick.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One (16×18) strung at 54 pounds CP (Genesis Natural Gut 16)
“Great tension maintenance. Volleys have a crisp feel. Comfort is high.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Viper strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 Ruff 16)
“While I am not a fan of poly, I do enjoy playing with this string. It feels friendlier than other polys. Spin control is incredible. I can actually feel the strings gripping the ball. The high comfort level is a pleasant surprise. The power is decent for the breed. All this and touch too!” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Yonex V Core 100 S strung at 54 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 16)
“Though not a fan of poly, I am captivated by this arm-friendly string. Unlike other polys I’ve tried, this one does not feel overly stiff. The excellent touch, feel, and comfort make it seem more like multifilament.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 17)
“This string has good power and great spin. It is comfortable with no noticeable vibration. This is recommended to players who favor durability but require a little extra spin.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson K Three strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)
“This string is comfortable and playable from the very first hit. It offers an outstanding blend of power and control.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Blue strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Touch 16)
“The ‘wow’ factor is not there initially. After a few minutes of hitting, though, the playability and feel improve. This string performs well from all areas of the court. No matter what the swing speed, control is there. Tension maintenance is excellent. String movement is minimal.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“Power comes easy with this durable string. It has outstanding touch and control on volleys. Spin potential and precision from the back court is lacking. Great pop on flat serves.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 58 pounds LO (Luxilon TiMO/Luxilon Alu Power 18/16L)
“This string has some serious bite and power. You can feel the string gripping the ball. Some shock reaches the arm, so non poly players are advised to tension or hybrid accordingly.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One (18×20) strung at 51 pounds LO (Luxilon Savage 16)
“Will someone please explain how such a stiff handing string plays so comfortable? It might finally be time to kick my nylon habit.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 56 pounds LO (Babolat Superfine Play 16)
“Great spin and power. Heavy topspin players might want to consider using string savers to counter the notching and breakage.” 3.5 male serve-and-volley player using Prince EXO3 Hornet OS strung at 56 pounds CP (Signum Pro Poly Plasma 16L)
“The extra spin is noticeable, especially in an open pattern.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 59/61 pounds LO (Gosen Polylon/ Gosen OG Sheep Micro 17)
“Great control! Big swings produce explosive spin. Some players may want a dampener as the sound is not ideal.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson nBlade strung at 56 pounds CP (Prince Beast XP 17)
“This is recommended to hard flat hitters in search of power and durability. Spin players and touch artists might not get as much out of this string.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Boris Becker 10 strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma Synthetic Gut w/Wearguard 16)
“This is definitely a high-end copoly. It has tons of control. Power is high, but the feel gets worse after ten hours.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm Tour GT strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast 16)
“Great overall string. It definitely feels better on heavy ground strokes than on touch shots and soft volleys. I would have no problem recommending this to baseliners.” 5.5 male all court player using Solinco Pro 10 strung at 42 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 17)
“Soft and comfortable with good power! While this string will provide enough spin for most players, those who require supreme bite will have to look elsewhere. The texture wears out pretty fast. String movement increases after five hours, which eventually leads to premature breakage. The outstanding power makes for some big serves. These strings cup the ball nicely. Power baseliners might want to get a set of string savers.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Yonex RDS 002 strung at 52 pounds CP (Genesis Hexonic 16L)
“This string gets more forgiving after the first session. While the bite is good, flat shots feel amazing. This copoly possesses my favorite combination: power and control.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek IG Radical OS strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)
“This string has better playability and feel than most of the copolys I’ve tried. Spin potential is excellent, touch not so much.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Pro Kennex Q 15 strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 16 16)
“Good control and spin. Above average power. As with most polys, this string goes dead after about ten hours.” 4.0 female all court player using Wilson BLX Six One (16×18) strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson NXT Control 16)
“While spin is really easy to produce and control is quite high, this string does not rise above the bulk of playable polys on the market.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl C10 Pro strung at 50 pounds LO (Tecnifibre Black Code 18)
“This string made my arm sore initially. Over time it gets much friendlier. What I gain in spin, I lose in feel. Off center hits lack power. Slice shots stay low but they lack some directional control.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl Power Bridge 7 strung at 55 pounds CP (Volkl Gripper 17)
“While durability and control are predictably high, nothing about this poly grabs my attention.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Tour (18×20) strung at 53/56 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16)
“This string has a lot of bite. String movement is very minimal. Unfortunately, it lacks the comfort, control, and touch of a nylon multifilament.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Dunlop Biomimetic 600 Lite strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)
“The trampoline effect results in slightly less spin control. Perhaps a higher tension would fix this problem.” 5.0 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme Team Oversize strung at 57 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 16)
“This is a stiff poly. Power is low initially. Off center shots feel boardy and cause some vibration. Over time it gets softer. Using higher head speed allows me to get some very good results. Given the increased tendon load, I recommend stringing in the mid forties. Since this string errs heavily on the side of control, a lower tension is not likely to cause any big control issues.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Thunder Rip OS strung at 52 pounds LO (Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)
“Excellent power, spin, and durability. Comfort and touch are lacking. This string would make a great hybrid main.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive + strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat N.vy 16)
“This string is too stiff for my multifilament taste. Those who prefer soft strings are advised to lower the tension.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson nPro strung at 56 pounds LO (Tourna Quasi Gut 16)
(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||18|
|not quite as easy||10|
|not nearly as easy||2|
| OVERALL PLAYABILITY
(compared to string played most often)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as playable||8|
|not quite as playable||17|
|not nearly as playable||3|
| OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
|Number of testers who said it was:|
|about as durable||15|
|not quite as durable||2|
|not nearly as durable||0|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Durability (14th overall)||4.4|
|Spin Potential (7th overall)||3.9|
|Resistance to Movement (13th overall)||4.1|
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.