Tennis Industry magazine

 

Outlook 2015: Strings — In Search of Perfection

Technology in strings continues to get better, while marketing is getting more focused.

By Bob Patterson

Just like racquets, string manufacturers are constantly tweaking their lines seeking perfection. Although the number strings being introduced has slowed this year, manufacturers are continuing to push the envelope with new technology and a variety of material combinations to produce a broad selection of strings to suit every player type.

We are seeing new materials, new combinations of materials and a variety of gauges and shapes being introduced. As a matter of fact, we recently made the decision at the USRSA to drop our label of string type in our database. Once upon a time, most every string fit into one of four categories — Natural Gut, Kevlar, Polyester, and Nylon — but that is no longer the case.

The lines are blurred as manufacturers combine materials and discover new materials, so pigeon-holing strings into one category is really impossible. In our lab tests we are seeing co-polyester strings that originally were among the stiffest strings tested, but have now become softer than some nylons. So, rather than divide strings based antiquated labels, we will let each string’s specs speak for themselves.

USRSA members can take advantage of our string selector tool to get the specs of each string on the market and do your own comparisons. We still feel that the most telling stat is that of stiffness. That number tells a lot about the playability of the string, and just like with racquets, no one size fits all. Some players prefer a stiff string, while others like a soft feel, and still others will like something in between.

Ultimately, it is up to the stringer and the player to decide what will work best in their racquet for their particular type of game. This provides the stringer with a great opportunity to use their expertise to determine what the player likes and guide them through the process. Be sure to look into the newer introductions as a replacement for some older stagnant inventory or just a fresh infusion to your mix.

ASHAWAY • ashawayusa.com • 800-556-7260

As an innovator of technical advances in string material, Ashaway has done it again with two new racquetball strings, PowerKill Pro and PowerKill 17. Both strings utilize the company’s new Power Filament Technology (PFT), which creates a new surface of Zyex fibers, increasing durability and tension-holding capabilities.

BABOLAT • babolat.com • 877-316-9435

Even the company that invented tennis string continues to develop new and innovative strings. M7 is the newest to the Babolat lineup. The string is composed of seven 100 percent polyamide monofilaments and an innovative PA + PU matrix to provide a long lifespan and a high level of comfort, according the company. Another addition is a 15-gauge (1.35 mm) version of the popular RPM Blast.

DIADEM • diademsports.com • 844-434-2336

A new company, Diadem Sports has spent two years developing the patent-pending Star Core Technology that is the foundation of its line. The company offers two co-poly strings: Solstice Power, available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) and designed with increased elasticity for easy power generation and excellent feel, and Solstice Pro, available in 15L (1.33 mm) and 16L (1.27 mm) and designed for the heavy-hitting player demanding ultimate precision and performance.

HEAD • head.com • 800-289-7366

Gravity is a new, unique hybrid string designed to maximize spin potential. Both strings are poly but have different shape profiles. The triangular-shaped main string increases the friction between the ball and string bed, while the thin, round cross string allows for a faster snap-back.

Head also adds Hawk Touch to the lineup in 16, 17 and 18 gauges. Hawk Touch utilizes a unique string manufacturing process — Crystal Core Technology — that utilizes a complex, multistep heat treatment that allows Head to control the molecular crystal structure within the string, setting it apart from conventional polyester strings.

LUXILON • wilson.com • 800-272-6060

Luxilon has new additions to two of its most popular strings — ALU Power Soft and 4G Soft. For comparison, the Soft version of ALU Power 125 measures 185 on our stiffness test, vs. 242 for the regular version. 4G soft is 214 compared to 249 for the regular 4G 125.

SOLINCO • solincosports.com • 310-201-0166

Solinco adds two new strings to its formidable line. Tour Bite Diamond Rough is new to the company’s flagship line. Instead of the edged design of previous Tour Bite strings, as its name implies, Diamond Rough features a rough texture. This allows for superior spin/bite, but also the modified composition allows for better ball pocketing, according to Solinco. Also new to the lineup is a very soft, arm-friendly multifilament — X-Natural. The string utilizes a thermoplastic polyurethane resin for bonding the high-modulus fibers, as well as TPU-Silicone coating for superior playability and maintenance, says the company.

TECNIFIBRE • tecnifibre.com • 888-301-7878

XR3 is latest introduction from the French company and is marketed as an all-around string hitting that middle ground between the company’s softer multifilaments and the co-polyesters. The string features a hybrid construction with a mixture of three monofilaments and multifilament impregnated polyurethane heart. XR3 is available in both 17 (1.25 mm) and 16 (1.30 mm) gauges.

TOPSPIN • alphatennis.com • 800-922-9024

Alpha is now the official U.S. distributor for Topspin strings. The company is launching several new strings: Sensus Rotation (1.27 & 1.31 mm), Cyber Delta (1.25 mm) and Ferox RoundString (1.25 mm).

VOLKL • volkltennis.com • 866-554-7872

Volkl adds two new gauges to the popular Cyclone string introduced last year. The string is now also available in a 19 gauge (1.15 mm) and a 20 gauge (1.10 mm).

WILSON • wilson.com • 800-272-6060

Revolve is the latest introduction from Wilson and is available in 15 (1.35 mm), 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) gauges. It’s a co-polymer with two unique features. First it contains an additive (UHMW) to create a low-friction surface throughout the string. According to the company, this means that even when the strings become notched, they will still have ample “snap-back.” Second, a cross-linked polymer has been added, which allows the string to play more lively while increasing ball pocketing.

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About the Author

Bob Patterson , the founder of the RacquetMAXX customization service, is a Master Racquet Technician with more than 20 years of experience. He was RSI's Stringer of the Year in 2005. He is Executive Director for the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association.

 

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