Playtest: Ashaway Crossfire ZX Tour
By Greg Raven
Ashaway Crossfire ZX Tour is a hybrid composed of one-half set of polyester and one-half set of Ashaway’s Zyex® monofilament. The polyester is Ashaway’s 1.27-mm MonoGut Original co-polymer for durability, while the Zyex-based string is 1.27-mm MonoGut ZX for power, spin, and feel.
According to Ashaway, Crossfire ZX Tour hybrid allows players to experience similar playability and performance to the polymer/natural gut hybrid that is so popular on the tour, but with the extra advantage of optimum durability.
Ashaway tells us that Crossfire ZX Tour is designed for heavy hitters and power players, as well as for players who want to upgrade from an all-poly stringbed.
Crossfire ZX Tour is available in 1.27/1.27 in Metallic Silver/Natural. It is priced from $10.50 per hybrid set. MonoGut Original is available in 660-foot reels for $85. The MonoGut ZX is available in 360-foot reels for $125 and in 720-foot reels for $235. For more information or to order, contact Ashaway at 800-556-7260, or visit ashawayusa.com.
In the Lab
Ashaway designates MonoGut Original for the mains and MonoGut ZX for the crosses. The coils measured 23 feet, 4 inches and 21 feet, 8 inches. The diameters measured 1.26-1.28 mm and 1.31-1.34 mm prior to stringing, and 1.24-1.26 mm and 1.29-1.31 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. Crossfire ZX Tour added 13 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 27 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 25.8.
Ashaway recommends stringing Crossfire ZX Tour at not more than 60 pounds, with the poly mains at 10 to 15 percent less than nylon reference tension, and the Zyex crosses at 5 to 10 percent less than nylon reference, so that’s how we instructed our playtesters to install it.
The Monogut ZX feels thick, but we found it easier to work with than the thinner version of this string. There was plenty of string in the package for our midplus test racquet, which might be a factor in its favor with super-oversize racquets. The Monogut Original seemed to have coil anti-memory, such that when we cut the bands the string went virtually straight — a nice change.
Three playtesters broke the sample during stringing, four reported problems with coil memory, two reported problems tying knots, two reported friction burn, and three reported other problems.
On the Court
Our playtest team loved the Durability and Power of Crossfire ZX Tour, giving it excellent ratings in each of these two categories. Our playtesters also found the Resistance to Movement, Control, Spin Potential, and Comfort noteworthy, rating Crossfire ZX Tour well above average in each of these categories. These high marks combine to give Crossfire ZX Tour an overall rating that is well above average.
One playtester reported premature fraying or peeling, two reported buzzing, and five reported notching. One playtester broke the sample during the playtest period after eight hours of play.
Some playtesters seemed to think this was a poly/poly hybrid, which no doubt introduced some prejudice against it. But many noted in the comments that it didn’t play like an all-poly stringbed, which is to say that the advantages of the MonoGut ZX are clearly discernable.
It’s also worth noting that even though Ashaway recommends using the poly mains with Crossfire ZX Tour, we’ve had good luck using the MonoGut ZX in the mains and the MonoGut Original in the crosses.
“If you like a stiff string this is the string to try. Great playing string with good control. The power was fantastic. I really noticed it on the serve.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm Tour strung at 50 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)
“Very responsive for spin on groundstrokes with excellent touch and feel on touch volleys. I will be adding this string to my inventory.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Babolat Aero Pro Drive strung at 55 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“Best of both worlds! Plays like a full poly setup, with the power, feel, and arm friendliness of a hybrid. Use without a vibration dampener produces unpleasant sounds on certain shots. The cross string in this setup is the magic weapon.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 58 pounds LO (Luxilon Timo 17)
“Interesting mix of 16 poly and 17 poly … much more playable than a straight 16 mix. The 17-gauge cross gave the mix a very nice feel. The lower tension also softened it up nicely and gave a feel capability not usually found in polys. I loved this string a lot and I have had issues with the stiffer polys at higher tensions. This one gave me the control I demand with the playability I need.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Blade strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast/ Wilson Sensation 17/16)
“Very good string. It rivals my favorite string. Main strings loosened after about five hours and movement started, but this did not seem to affect playability. Also, string seemed arm friendly. Great playing string with plenty of power and easy on the arm. String seemed to increase the sweet spot size of racquet. Off center hits had low vibration. If price is reasonable, I’ll add this string to my inventory.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Thunder Rip strung at 52 pounds LO (Tourna Big Hitter Rough 17)
“Extremely comfortable string that gave a significant pocket feel around the ball. After the initial tension loss after the first few hours of play, the tension maintenance was good.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six One strung at 53 pounds LO (Ashaway MonoGut Pro 17)
“Nice hybrid. I would use and recommend to my clients. Soft, responsive, access to power, yet controllable.” 4.5 male touch player using Head Extreme 2.0 strung at 55 pounds LO (Head Hawk 16)
“I liked this string much better than many of the other hybrids I have tried. The mains helped to produce power and spin, and the crosses — while not really soft — were softer than the mains, but yet still provided the durability wanted and needed. There is quite a lot of upside to this string and would be good for those that prefer a hybrid, but break string often when they go to two types of string to get more control and feel.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Five strung at 56/59 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)
“At the recommended lower tension this string offered ample power combined with surprising control. It never gave any indication that the ball would fly off target even as the pace was increased. It had the added benefit of a very high level of comfort.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince 100T ESP strung at 55/53 pounds LO (Prince Tournament Poly 16)
“Pleasantly surprised with this hybrid. Followed the tension recommendation and play was excellent. Great power, control, and spin. Nice pop. Good for aggressive players.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Aero Pro Drive strung at 50/47.5 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 16)
“This is an interesting string. It appeared to be two different polyester strings. Weaving was easy because of the string coating. Playing-wise I had great power with this string. Nice pop on my serves and groundstrokes. Not quite as much control as my other string.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Aero Pro Drive with Cortex strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power/Gamma TNT 17/16)
“Easy on the arm. Good playing string with touch and control. Only lacking power. Would recommend string to others.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Prestige Pro strung at 57 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 16)
“This string was a nice hybrid. The crosses softened up the stringbed nicely. I enjoyed the playability. This is a nice alternative for someone who doesn’t want to pay for a poly/gut hybrid.” 4.0 male all court player using Boris Becker London strung at 48/50 pounds CP (Volkl Cyclone Tour 17)
“Good durability. Decent power and spin. Not a lot of touch. Lost tension after 6 hours of play.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Steam S strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson Optimus 16)
“String was a mediocre experience with the control being difficult to gauge.” 5.5 male all court player using Dunlop Biomimetic M 2.0 strung at 55 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro Edge 16)
“It was a little bit more powerful than I was expecting, and so it took a while each time I used it to adjust to touch shots as the ball seemed to come off the strings quickly. Immediately after stringing it registered 42 with an ERT 300, and 2 weeks later with all the playing it measured 35, which seems about average. It does feel a little bit stiffer than my normal string, but this might be attributed to installing it in a brand new frame and comparing it side by side with a 4-month-old frame. I certainly did not dislike it, but it didn’t stand out enough to make it a number one pick.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Graphene Prestige MP strung at 50 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro Edge 16)
“String dwell was insane. It felt like it stayed on the racquet forever, then exploded off it. I am used to a more crisp feel, so stringing looser made a big difference. The string was soft, and lost tension very fast. Spin produced was less than I would have thought given its composition. Easy on the arm and very easy installation. Conclusion was that it was an OK string, but not one I would sell or recommend.” 6 male all court player using Wilson Steam strung at 52/50 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“I honestly can not value this co-polyester string over any other co-polyester string. Nothing fantastic.” 5.5 male all court player using Mantis 295 Pro strung at 58 pounds CP (Voodoo Wicked Braid 16)
“I liked it very much. It played very well, especially just after I strung my racquet. I was surprised that the string was as comfortable as it was. I was afraid that stringing my racquet with all poly would not be arm friendly, but I was wrong. I was also extremely pleased with the power and the ability to impart spin on the ball. My only disappointment was that it lost much tension and very quick. At the end, the string bed reacted like a very lively trampoline.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson Steam S strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon 4G/Tecnifibre NRG 17/16)
“I felt that I had to provide a lot of effort to get the ball to do what I wanted it to do. I got good spin and control, but I had to work hard to get it. I don’t feel that this is a good string for an older player. It would be a good string for someone who is a younger player that has a big game. A better way to get across what I thought of the string would be for me to say that once I did put a lot of effort into hitting the ball, I got good spin and control. I just felt that I had to work too hard to get it. It was unforgiving on off-center shots and it never felt comfortable hitting. Little to no feel.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Steam strung at 52 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger/Wilson NXT 18/17)
“A solid middle of the road string. I would have to say that all aspects are adequate with nothing to really glow about or moan about.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Yonex Ezone Team + strung at 44/47 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)
“I am not a big fan of polyester stiff type strings. A big hitter or frequent string breaker might enjoy this string. Players who play with feel and touch or are susceptible to arm problems may not find this to be the best fit for them or their style of play.” 4.0 female all court player using Head Youtek Graphene Speed Pro strung at 52/50 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG 17)
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
|Ease of Stringing (compared to other strings)|
|about as easy||15|
|not quite as easy||8|
|not nearly as easy||2|
|Overall Playability (compared to the string played most often)|
|about as playable||6|
|not quite as playable||10|
|not nearly as playable||1|
|Overall Playability (compared to other strings of similar gauge)|
|about as durable||12|
|not quite as durable||0|
|not nearly as durable||0|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Resistance to Movement||3.6|
Zyex ® is a registered trademark of Zyex Ltd.
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.