Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Wilson Sensation Control

By Greg Raven

Sensation Control is Wilson’s original high-performance multifilament, with a “twist.” Specifically, it’s been updated with wraps of Liquid Crystalline Polymer (LCP) ribbons for added control.

The wraps are woven around the nylon fiber bundles to reduce elasticity. This reduces the power generated by Sensation Control, providing more of a crisp “poly” feel and the control that accompanies it. The nylon bundles themselves deliver playability and comfort.

The string is targeted toward players at all levels who have been playing a polyester string, but strongly desire the comfort of a multifilament. According to Wilson, Sensation Control provides the arm-friendly comfort and feel and power of multifilament with a crisper feel.

Sensation Control is available in 16 (1.30mm) in natural only. Contact your Wilson representative or Wilson customer service for pricing on sets and reels. 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 coils measured 40 feet. The diameters measured 1.31-1.33 mm prior to stringing, and 1.25-1.26 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 78 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 71 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 Sensation Control 16 has a stiffness of 197 and a tension loss of 12.77 pounds. Sensation Control 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 was 25.

Installing Wilson Sensation Control is pretty typical for a multifilament nylon. The end mushes out, but we were able to complete a string job with four blocked holes without dressing the free end of the crosses.

No playtester broke his sample during stringing, three reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, and none reported friction burn.

On the court

Members of our playtest team liked Sensation Control’s multifilament heritage, ranking it 20th best of the 172 strings we’ve playtested for publication in the Comfort category. Our playtesters noticed the addition of the LCD wraps, too, with Sensation Control receiving an excellent rating in the Control category. Sensation Control also received excellent ratings in Playability and Tension Retention, and ranked well above average in Touch/Feel and Power. Wilson Sensation Control’s overall score is well above average.

Six testers broke the sample during the playtest period, one where the string broke while the racquet was in the bag (between stringing and playing), and one each at 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 hours. Four testers reported premature fraying and/or peeling, one reported buzzing, and three reported notching.

Conclusion

If you are looking for a nylon string that says what it does and does what it says, check out Wilson Sensation Control. It promises the comfort of a nylon string, with control, and our playtest team agrees that it delivers. Throw in generous helpings of playability, power, touch, and feel, and top it off with excellent tension maintenance, and you’re looking at a heck of a package.

Playtester comments

“Very easy to string. Good feel and comfort. Tension stayed consistent for four weeks!” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Cierzo Two strung at 57 pounds LO (Wilson Hyperlast Spin/Wilson Extreme Synthetic Gut 19/16)

“Plays and feels great right from the start. No noticeable tension loss. I will be able to use this string longer than normal.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 58 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This is a versatile all-around string. I feel just as confident taking big swings from the baseline as I do hitting drop volleys at net. It provides a little more feel and playability than my typical poly, but does not skimp on control.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 Blue strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Rough 16L)

“This is one of the best strings I’ve tested in years. Great feel, control, comfort and overall playability. It’s versatile enough to work well for different stroke styles and ability levels. I’m definitely adding this to my inventory.” 4.5 male all court player using Head MicroGEL Radical MP strung at 57 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 16)

“This string provides good touch, feel, and power. Players with arm problems will find it quite comfortable and easy on the joints. Great playability.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince O3 Tour MS strung at 56 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG2 17)

“This string plays like Wilson NXT but for the following exceptions. It isn’t as “shocky” on impact, and the tension maintenance is better.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat VS Team 17)

“The excellent feel and control are noticeable from the first hit. This string holds tension better than comparable multis, and it feels quite playable at lower tensions.” 3.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Hybrid Hornet OS strung at 56 pounds LO (Klip Armour Pro/Babolat Pro Hurricane 16/16)

“This is the first time I’ve played with a full bed of nylon in a while. I am impressed by the feel and power. Even the spin is above average. This is a nice option for the player who wants decent control and spin without having to switch to a poly.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Liquidmetal Radical Oversize strung at 58 pounds LO (Pacific X Force/Pacific Powerline 18/17)

“This string enables me to hit strong and reliable groundies and serves. Volleys feel crisp with good feel on touch shots. Spin potential is a little lacking. However, this can be overlooked given the top-notch control and comfort.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince O3 Red MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 Pro Plus 17L)

“I gave these strings a beating and they held up a little better than my typical multi. Less power than I anticipated with good control on touch shots and counter punches.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 White strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Premier LT 16)

“My entire game is better with this string. Every stroke feels better. I especially like the control I get with it.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive Cortex strung at 62 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 16)

“The response is excellent right off the stringer. This string is slightly less crisp than Wilson NXT, but very comfortable.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Prestige Pro strung at 48 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 18)

“This is a great feeling string with an impressive combination of comfort and control. It began fraying after 10 hours; and then it broke at around the 12 hour mark.” 4.0 male server-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Six One Team (16x18) strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“Exceptional blend of playability, spin, comfort, and control. Power is on the low side.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six.One (18x20) strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson Hollow Core 16)

“Even at 58 pounds the sweet spot seems fairly generous. The feel is crisp and comfortable. After a week of hard hitting the stringbed relaxes and the control goes down.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One (16x18) strung at 58 pounds LO (Tecnifibre Red Code 17)

“Plays with a very nice balance of power and control.” 3.5 male all court player using Pro Kennex Composite Destiny strung at 40 pounds CP (Head FXP/Babolat VS Team 17/17)

“This string does not have a lot of power and the feel is a bit dampened. The control and comfort, however, are excellent. At the right price, I would take another look.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick GT strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat RPM Blast 16)

“Given the relatively low level of elasticity, this string performs best at the low end of the tension range. High marks for comfort, spin, and tension maintenance.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson nRage strung at 52 pounds CP (Prince Premier w/Softflex 16)

“This string has adequate comfort and shock absorption. The feel is decent. It’s crisper than your average multi.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Six.One (16x18) strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This is a stringer’s dream. It is easy on the hands, and it weaves fast. Knots cinch up tight. It plays crisp with very little vibration. While the spin potential is only average, the playability and control hold steady over time.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200g (Muscle Weave) strung at 65 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 16)

“Nice combination of control and comfort. This is a good option for the player who wants more control but does not want to switch to a stiff string. After a week it loses some of its slipperiness and begins to show some signs of surface wear.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Aero Storm Tour strung at 58/55 pounds CP (Natural Gut/Polyester 16/16)

“This is an arm-friendly string that offers good pop on serves and volleys. It doesn’t hold tension as well as I prefer, but the overall playability doesn’t suffer that much.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Storm GT strung at 58 pounds CP (Genesis Spin X 17)

“Superb playability with an abundance of power, feel, and comfort. Unfortunately, it lacks durability. It’s nice to hit with something so comfortable. This is a good option for non string breakers.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Tour strung at 54 pounds CP (Luxilon ALU Power Rough 16L)

“There was some buzzing in the beginning, but it eventually stopped. Nice mix of control and playability.” 5.0 male all court player using Prince EXO3 Red MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Prince Synthetic Gut w/Duraflex 17)

“Very comfortable string. The feel is soft but not mushy. It holds tension pretty well for this type of string. I would use it in tournaments.” 6.0 male all court player using Vantage VT002 White strung at 60 pounds CP (Natural Gut 16)

“A nice playing string that holds tension better than most of its peers. Playability, touch and feel remain consistent through multiple sessions.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Boris Becker London strung at 58 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Tour/Gamma Professional 17/17)

“Control is definitely good, but overall it lacks the “wow” factor.” 3.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm Tour GT strung at 52 pounds CP (Gamma Zo Verve 17)

“This is a very quiet string. The control and comfort stand out. Everything else is just okay. I think it would need to be at a lower price point to make a splash.” 5.0 male server-and-volley player using Volkl Tour 10 V Engine MP strung at 40 pounds LO (Gamma Natural Gut Tour 16)

“This is an average all-around string that popped after eight hours of use. It is best suited to the 3.0 to 4.0 level player that doesn’t use excessive spin.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Steam strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code/Babolat VS Touch 17/16)

“This is a comfortable string with good playability. However, as a poly player who prefers a firm response with a nice snapback, I found that it unremarkable.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson nTour strung at 50 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 17)

“I experienced the typical wear patterns for a nylon-based string. Tension holds well for several hours, after which the strings start moving around. There is not much power or feel. This string may work well in a hybrid or at a low tension, but overall performance was not impressive at 58 pounds. Very average in my opinion.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Pro Staff strung at 58 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 16L)

“I expected a soft and powerful feel but got a stiff and dead performance. It holds tension remarkably well. The only success I had was hitting high and deep lobs. I’d recommend this in a hybrid.” 4.5 male all court player using Dunlop Aerogel 3 Hundred strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane/ Ashaway liberty 17/16)

“Probably due to deterioration and tension loss, this string goes dead too quickly and loses its performance qualities.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Blade strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

Playtester ratings

EASE OF STRINGING
(compared to other strings)
Number of testers who said it was:
much easier 3
somewhat easier 8
about as easy 19
not quite as easy 4
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 10
about as playable 7
not quite as playable 15
not nearly as playable 1
OVERALL DURABILITY
(compared to other strings of similar gauge)
Number of testers who said it was:
much better 3
somewhat better 5
about as durable 17
not quite as durable 6
not nearly as durable 2
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.6
Durability 3.6
Power 3.4
Control 3.7
Comfort (20th overall) 3.8
Touch/Feel 3.5
Spin Potential 3.3
Holding Tension 3.6
Resistance to Movement 3.3

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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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