Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Ytex Protour

By Greg Raven

Ytex Protour is a premium monofilament co-polyester containing softer polyester and polyethylene. According to Ytex, Protour provides a better response than other conventional polyesters due to its exclusive patented Low Molecular Weight Technology (LMWT), and its added olefins and lubricants give it a unique appearance and brilliance.

Ytex says that Protour offers a soft yet powerful feel, while maintaining control and a nice “pop” sensation on impact. These qualities make it suitable for younger players, mid- to high-level players, and even advanced players and touring pros.

Protour is available in 1.18mm, 1.20mm, 1.23mm, 1.25mm, and 1.28mm in “Fluo Yellow,” lime, blue, white, orange, and black. It is priced from $5.85 for sets of 40 feet, $70 for 660-foot reels. For more information or to order, contact Ytex at 786-280-2138, or visit ytexstrings.com.

In the lab

We tested the 1.25 (16L) gauge Protour Blue. The coil measured 40 feet. The diameter measured 1.23-1.26 mm prior to stringing, and 1.20-1.21 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed 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), stringbed 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. Protour Blue added 16 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 35 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 26.7.

Ytex recommends a 10 percent reduction in reference tension compared to nylon, so that’s what we recommended to our playtest team members.

The smooth surface and flexibility made Ytex Protour Blue seem a bit easier to handle than some polys, so we had no problems during installation.

No playtester broke the sample during stringing, five reported problems with coil memory, four reported problems tying knots, and one reported friction burn.

On the court

Ytex was correct about Protour being a control string, as our playtest team ranked it 18th overall of the 165 strings we’ve playtested for publication in the Control category. Members of our playtest team also rated Ytex Protour Blue 1.25 well above average in Durability, Resistance to Movement, Tension Retention, Spin Potential, and Power. These scores combine to give Protour Blue 1.25 an overall average that is well above average.

Three playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one each at six hours, 16 hours, and 25 hours.

Conclusion

As good as the scores are, they almost pale compared to the positive comments from our playtesters, which are just about off the charts in their praise for Ytex Protour Blue 1.25. Considering its high scores, favorable comments, wide range of gauges, and selection of colors, in Protour Ytex may have created an entire string ecosystem in which any player can find his niche.

Playtester comments

“This string feels softer and more responsive than other polyesters I’ve tried. Shorter strokes seem to find the back court without much stress on my arm. Spin on serves is remarkable.” 3.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Silver strung at 54 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)

“The power level is high for a stiff string. Volleys feel solid and comfortable. Big swings from the baseline are very easy to control.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Khamsin Five FX strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“This is a decent co-polyester with predictably great spin. Strung at the low end of the tension range, there is still plenty of control. Shorter strokes have a little more zip and touch than I get with most polys.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Red strung at 48 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17L)

“Very solid feel at impact. Great control. I can feel the string grabbing the ball. Power is there when needed. Easy to work the ball around the box on serves.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Juice strung at 50 pounds CP (Prince Beast XP 16L)

“Outstanding feel and playability. Targeting is easy on both long and compact strokes. The power is ample and controllable. This string has no negatives.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Tour (18x20) strung at 56 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut Original 16)

“This string plays with excellent control at low tensions. Players who don’t get a lot of comfort and power from polyester should try this one. They will not be disappointed.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick GT strung at 40 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)

“The predictable response adds confidence on big swings and ambitious volleys. The exceptional control and spin make it easy to find the feet of my approaching opponent. Not many strings provide this level of confidence. This is not a niche polyester; the comfort and touch make it a good option for a wide range of players.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson K Three strung at 60 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 30)

“Excellent spin! The combination of control and power make it easy to play aggressive tennis. This is a very user-friendly poly.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One (18x20) strung at 53 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“This one grips the ball very well on groundies. Excellent pop on volleys and serves.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm Team GT strung at 58 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)

“Incredible combination of spin, power, control, and feel. My slice has extra bite and my serve has extra pop. Tension maintenance is better than with other polys.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One (16x18) strung at 53 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast 16)

“Very comfortable. Spin is noticeable from the first hit. Extra action on serves. Impressive combination of touch, spin, and control. Great option for poly players, or nylon players looking for more control without having to sacrifice too much comfort.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 15g strung at 59 pounds CP (Polyester 16)

“Comfort is quite high considering the exceptional durability. Spin and control are excellent. This is a very playable poly.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 55 pounds LO (Gamma Live Wire 17)

“Spin is simply fantastic. After settling in, the power is excellent. This is more comfortable than other polys I’ve tried.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Yonex V Core strung at 52 pounds LO (Gamma TNT2 16)

“Excellent balance between power and control. Exceptional all-around playability for a poly.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek IG Radical MP strung at 54 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel 16)

“Incredible tension maintenance and feel. Strung at a low tension, this string has phenomenal spin, control, and comfort. The impressive range of features makes this a great string to stock for your poly players.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 50 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 18)

“The high level of comfort and power make this a good option for players making the switch from nylon to polyester. Tension maintenance and spin are excellent.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Yonex V Core strung at 48 pounds CP (Topspin Cyber Twirl 16L)

“This string provides an amazing combination of power, spin, control, and feel. Players are not likely to find a polyester with more playability. This string is perfectly crisp. It is comfortable without being mushy. Big hitters can take huge cuts with impunity.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 58.5 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“Low coil memory makes this a joy to string. This string has exceptional control, playability, and spin. Not quite as crisp as my typical string, but no glaring downside.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Thunder Rip OS strung at 52 pounds LO (Tourna Big Hitter Blue Rough 17)

“Very comfortably poly. The feel is plush. While there is no “wow” factor, I really enjoy the crisp, clean response. I can swing big and the ball goes where I want. Given the comfort and playability, this is a great option for the first time poly user.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 48 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power Fluoro 16L)

“This string is for hard hitters looking for more control. Touch players with shorter strokes will not get enough feel. Spin is decent, but flatter strokes seem to work better.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl Boris Becker 10 strung at 54 pounds CP (Gamma Synthetic Gut 16)

“This string has a softer response than most co-polys, with only average bite. Power on groundstrokes is exceptional. Not a bad option for players who like to keep their opponents on their heels.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Head MicroGEL Prestige Mid strung at 52 pounds LO (Tecnifibre Black Code 16)

“This is an arm-friendly poly with low power. It does not bother my sensitive elbow. Recommended to players looking for a nice blend of comfort and control.” 5.0 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Extreme Team OS strung at 57 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 16)

“Aimed a strong players and string breakers. Not quite enough pop or feel. This one does not soften much over time. The durability, control, and tension maintenance would make this a good hybrid main.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six One strung at 58/55 pounds LO (Luxilon Adrenaline 16)

“This is a very balanced poly — not to stiff or soft. Excellent spin. Feels great and performs well on every swing speed.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Solinco Tour 10 strung at 43 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 17)

“This played like a typical “old school” polyester. Low power and fast fading resilience. Spin, control, and durability are the main positives.” 4.5 male all court player using Volkl C10 Pro strung at 50 pounds LO (Tecnifibre Black Code 18)

“Great spin. Power and touch are a little lacking. While I can hit effective drop shots with this string, I don’t have quite enough feel for the full range of shorter strokes.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six One strung at 50 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“This string plays exceptionally in the beginning. It has a very firm feel with excellent control. Volleys are crisp. Spin is slightly lacking. For maximum playability and no loss of control, I would recommend stringing it even lower than the manufacturer’s recommendation.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson K Blade strung at 52 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“This one starts off too stiff. I could feel the shock in my wrist. After settling in, control and feel improve.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 strung at 48 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code/Babolat VS Touch 17/16)

“This string softens over time, allowing me to swing big with more control. The lower tension makes it harder for the strings to grab the ball. Polyester veterans are advised to string this one at their normal poly tension. As silly as this sounds, I would not pay for a blue string.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl Power Bridge 7 strung at 52 pounds CP (Volkl Gripper 17)

“Comfort is high, but I lack pace and spin on my groundies. Drop volleys do not seem to have the correct trajectory. I have difficulty finishing volleys inside the lines.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Tour strung at 45 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power/Wilson NXT 16L/16)

“Above average control and decent spin, but too stiff.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Hornet strung at 52 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)

“This is an average polyester that doesn’t shine in any one category.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 56 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 17)

“This string was not lively enough for my game. Control is excellent, but power and touch are on the low side.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Pro Kennex Q15 strung at 52 pounds CP (Spintex Exclusive HD 16)

“Great for aggressive targeting. Finesse shots, not so much. Weaker players might have to hybrid this with something powerful in order to get sufficient depth and touch.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince O3 Tour MP strung at 48 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 16)

“Incredible control on big swings. Great for power baseliners. Not quite enough touch at net. Plays a little harsh in a stiff pattern.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six One Team strung at 52 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast/Wilson Sensation 17/16)

(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 3
about as easy 25
not quite as easy 5
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 9
not quite as playable 14
not nearly as playable 5
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 2
somewhat better 16
about as durable 15
not quite as durable 2
not nearly as durable 0
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.4
Durability 4.1
Power 3.4
Control (18th overall) 3.8
Comfort 3.3
Touch/Feel 3.0
Spin Potential 3.5
Holding Tension 3.5
Resistance to Movement 3.8

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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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