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Playtest: Ashaway Zyex MonoGut

By Greg Raven

Zyex MonoGut is a 100 percent Zyex monofilament string that Ashaway tells us provides exceptional dynamic stiffness, gut-like playability, and superior durability. Because of the difficulties involved in creating a pure Zyex string, Ashaway has been working on perfecting it for some time now.

Despite the fact that it is a monofilament, and that out of the package it looks and feels as if it’s a typical polyester string, there is no polyester in Zyex MonoGut. Thus, you get the increased elongation and lower dynamic stiffness of Zyex, with the superior durability of a monofilament. Ashaway plans to market this string as the “anti-polyester.”

Ashaway recommends Zyex MonoGut for top amateur and professional players, and for players looking for softer feel similar to natural gut.

Zyex MonoGut is available in 16 gauge (1.27 mm) only, although Ashaway tells us that there is a 1.22 mm version coming in Summer 2012. Zyex MonoGut currently comes in natural only, with a red version coming in Summer 2012. It is priced from $15 per set of 40 feet, and $130 for reels of 360 feet. For more information or to order, contact Ashaway at 800-556-7260, or visit ashawayusa.com.

IN THE LAB

We tested the 16-gauge (1.27 mm) Zyex MonoGut. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.28-1.31 mm prior to stringing, and 1.22-1.24 mm after stringing. We recorded a string bed 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), string bed 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 Ashaway Zyex MonoGut 16 has a stiffness of 151 and a tension loss of 18.89 pounds. Zyex MonoGut added 15 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 were 24.

Ashaway advises stringing Zyex MonoGut at tensions of 60 pounds or less, which we passed along to our playtest team members. Ashaway also advises setting the reference tension 10 to 15 percent lower than you would with traditional nylon strings, but Ashaway wanted to allow playtesters to set their own tensions, and see what their impressions were.

As mentioned above, when you first take Zyex MonoGut out of the package, your first impression is likely to be that it is a stout-feeling polyester. As you work with it, however, there are indications that it is not as it seems. Zyex MonoGut stretches more under tension than poly, and it’s easier to handle. With a pre-production sample, we gave Zyex MonoGut the “poly tug” when tightening the knot during tie-off and broke the string, as did a couple of our playtesters.

Three playtesters broke the sample during stringing, two reported problems with coil memory, none reported problems tying knots, and none reported friction burn.

ON THE COURT

The members of our playtest team most enjoyed Zyex MonoGut’s power, rating it 20th best of the 164 strings we’ve playtested to date for publication. In addition, their rating show Zyex MonoGut has excellent Control, Spin Potential, and Playability, and has well above average Durability, Resistance to Movement, and Touch/Feel. As a result, Ashaway Zyex MonoGut 16’s overall score is also well above average.

Four members of the team broke the sample during play, one each at eight hours, 11 hours, 14 hours, and 40 hours.

CONCLUSION

To its credit, Ashaway has created an entirely different type of string with Zyex MonoGut. It may look familiar at first glance, but Zyex MonoGut is liable to feel unlike any other string you’ve ever used. As you read through the comments from our playtesters, you’ll find that many compare its characteristics and performance to poly, but conclude that Zyex MonoGut is different and often better. Keep in mind, too, that these results do not take into account Ashaway’s recommendation to reduce the reference tension by 10 to 15 percent. Staff testing shows that it is possible to retain playability even when reducing the reference tension by 20 percent or more, giving Zyex MonoGut the potential for a wide range of applications.

Playtester comments

“This is one of the most complete strings I have ever tested. The unlikely combination of power and control is remarkable. Serves and volleys left my racquet with thoughtless precision. Extra head speed can be added without worry.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 52 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Blue 17)

“This string adds extra kick to serves. Excellent control on both groundies and touch shots. Outstanding comfort.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Viper strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma Ruff 16)

“Great feel on touch shots. The combination of spin and power creates a very heavy ball form the baseline. Control is outstanding. I found my new string.” 5.0 male touch player using Wilson BLX Blade strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“Excellent spin and power. It stays playable longer than most polys I’ve tried.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Blade strung at 52 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code/Babolat VS Touch 17/16)

“This is a comfortable string with impressive control and spin. The feel is soft without being mushy. It allows me to serve aggressively to different corners of the box.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Tour Graphite OS strung at 55 pounds CP (Kirschbaum Pro Line No.2 17)

“This string plays great from the first hit. Great balance between power and control. Tension maintenance is impressive.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Cierzo Two strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson Hyperlast Spin 19)

“This string plays like a forgiving poly. It has excellent spin and control on both groundies and serves. Volleys are crisp and easy to place.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat AeroPro Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast 16)

“This is a comfortable string with great control. Power is just right.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm LTD strung at 58 pounds CP (Genesis Typhoon 16L)

“Looks like a poly, but stretches like a nylon multifilament. Tension maintenance, control, and comfort are outstanding. Playability is remarkable. This is a very interesting string.” 6.0 male all court player using Vantage VT002 White strung at 60 pounds CP (Pacific Tough Gut 16)

“I think a corner has been turned on monofilaments. This string has incredible comfort and touch. Control and spin do not disappoint.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Rebel strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“Crisp and comfortable. Groundstrokes are very easy to place. This is not a niche string. Baseliners will enjoy it as much as touch players.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince EXO3 Tour (18x20) strung at 55 pounds CP (Genesis Black Magic 17)

“This string has exceptional playability at lower tensions. There is no trampoline effect. As a touch player who prefers softer string, I would definitely play with this string.” 4.5 male using Wilson BLX Tempest Four strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This string straddles the divide between polyester and nylon. It strikes a good compromise between control and comfort.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson nPro strung at 52 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“Depth is easy to control, but the sound at impact is a little noisy. Big swings find their target without much fuss. Heavy hitters looking for a little extra comfort and power will like this one.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson nPro strung at 59 pounds LO (Babolat Superfine Play 16)

“With adequate preparation, the trajectory and depth are very easy to control. I don’t have to hunt for the right swing speed. When I’m rushed and hit off center, the response is much less predictable.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 53 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite/Gamma Professional 16L/17)

“Care should be taken during installation as tensile strength is a tad low. Excellent comfort and control. Surprisingly easy power from the baseline. This is a great string for heavy ball hitters in search of more control.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 56 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“Aside from some vibration and buzzing, this string is excellent. The response is predictable from all areas of the court. Baseliners will like this string as much as touch players.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince O3 Speedport Tour (hole inserts) strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Full swings yield exceptional control. Feel on touch shots is a little lacking. This string’s high elasticity makes for a powerful ride. Power baseliners will love it.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 16)

“Swing as hard as you want. This string has amazing control. It plays firm without being harsh. Great pocketing. Decent touch on volleys. It feels a little muted.” 4.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g strung at 59 pounds CP (Prince Lightning XX 16)

“Good touch and comfort. Power is there when needed. Baseliners will like the control.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical OS strung at 56 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“Recommended to hard hitters looking for more control.” 3.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Acclaim strung at 55 pounds CP (Head FXP/Babolat VS Touch 16/16)

“This string plays stiff at 60 pounds. The power and control are excellent. I would string it a little lower next time for a softer feel.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat VS Touch 16)

“Power is definitely there when needed. A vibration dampener is recommended to those who like a quiet ride.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 55 pounds CP (Head Synthetic Gut PPS 17)

“This is an arm-friendly control string with above average power.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Tour strung at 52 pounds CP (Polyester 16)

“This is my first string in 38 years to break when tightening the knot. It is more comfortable and responsive than most polyesters. It has a very compelling combination of durability, playability, and power.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Youtek Radical MP strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel 16)

“This string handles like a poly but stretches like a nylon. It is more powerful than a typical poly. A vibration dampener is recommend to minimize the vibration. String movement is high.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head MicroGEL Extreme MP strung at 57 pounds LO (Prince Twisted/Wilson NXT 16L/17)

“This is a stiff string. Big hitters and aggressive players will like this one more than those who require touch and feel.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince O3 Tour MP strung at 52 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“This string is a little stiff initially. Over time the string bed livens up and the topspin gets heavier. The trajectory and power on volleys is unpredictable.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick + strung at 52 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 17)

“Even at 48 pounds this string plays stiff. I would need to hybrid this one.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Hornet OS strung at 55 pounds CP (Natural Gut 16)

“Touch and feel are lacking. There is a slight buzzing on softer strokes.” 4.0 male all court player using Donnay X-Dual Gold strung at 54 pounds CP (Gosen Polylon SP 17)

“Durability is decent, but comfort, control, and touch are below average. It might take some experimentation to find the right tension.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm Tour GT strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation Control 16)

“This string might make a good hybrid partner. As a full set-up, it lacks the necessary comfort and feel.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Aero Storm Tour strung at 58/55 pounds CP (Babolat VS Gut 16)

“This is the worst string I have ever used. The string broke during installation. The bite is exceptional, but the comfort level is low.” 4.0 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Prestige Pro MP strung at 48 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 18)

“There was a kink in the string that lead to breakage during installation.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat VS Team 17)

(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 1
somewhat easier 5
about as easy 20
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 8
about as playable 13
not quite as playable 12
not nearly as playable 0
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 3
somewhat better 7
about as durable 18
not quite as durable 4
not nearly as durable 1
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.5
Durability 3.5
Power (20th overall) 3.6
Control 3.6
Comfort 3.2
Touch/Feel 3.2
Spin Potential 3.4
Holding Tension 3.3
Resistance to Movement 3.4

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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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