Playtest: Tecnifibre XR3 17
By Greg Raven
Tecnifibre XR3 is a multicore multifilament nylon string, made up of 544 fine filaments in bundles surrounding the three larger PHP Monocores, with everything held together by Tecnifibre’s polyurethane.
The Monocores and surrounding filaments provide a firm feel, while the polyurethane is Tecnifibre’s exclusive formula, processed to give up to 400 percent elasticity for maximum comfort, dynamic performance, and power, Tecnifibre says. XR3 is treated with Tecnifibre’s Silicium Pyrogene Lubritec (SPL) anti-abrasion coating, to increase durability.
Tecnifibre tells us that XR3 provides more power to players using lighter (under 300 grams), lower-power frames, and at the same time the polyurethane construction helps to eliminate the vibration and shock to the arm that often accompany lighter racquets.
Tecnifibre XR3 is designed for players who want a comfortable, powerful string that also offers a firm feel and control.
XR3 is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) gauges in Natural. It is priced from $14.95 for 40-foot sets and $229 for 200-meter reels. For more information or to order, contact Tecnifibre at 888-301-7878, or visit tecnifibre.com.
In the Lab
We tested the 17-gauge XR3. (We tested a previous incarnation of XR3 16 in the May 2008 issue of Racquet Sports Industry magazine.) The coil measured 40 feet, 1 inch. The diameter measured 1.23 mm prior to stringing, and 1.17 mm after stringing. We recorded a string-bed stiffness of 80 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 75 RDC units, representing a 6 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 Tecnifibre XR3 17 has a stiffness of 177 and a tension loss of 10.6 pounds. XR3 17 added 13.7 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 38 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 18.9.
Tecnifibre XR3 is easy to install, a point noted by several of our playtest team members. The SPL lube is not so heavy that it gets all over your hands, but it makes installing the crosses and negotiating blocked holes a breeze.
No playtester broke the sample during stringing, none reported problems with coil memory, tying knots, or friction burn, and one reported other problems.
On the Court
Living up to its promise, PolyTour Spin Tecnifibre promises comfort from XR3, and our playtesters agreed it delivers, ranking it second overall (tie) behind only natural gut for Comfort — and some members of the playtest team use heavier racquets than XR3’s target customer.
Our playtesters also ranked XR3 sixth overall in the Touch/Feel category, as well as seventh overall in the Playability category, and 19th overall in the Power category (meeting another of Tecnifibre’s design targets). XR3 also scored well above average in the Control category.
As a result, Tecnifibre XR3 scored well above average overall of the 185 strings we’ve playtested to date for publication.
Eight playtesters reported premature fraying or peeling, one reported buzzing, and 11 reported notching. Twelve playtesters broke the sample during the playtest period, one each at 4, 6, 6.5, 9, 11, 12.5, 14, 18, 19, 20, 28, and 38 hours.
According to Tecnifibre’s Playlab, racquets that weigh less than 300 grams generate 43 percent less power and 18 percent more shock, and XR3 mitigates each of these issues. As mentioned above, though, you still get XR3’s comfort, touch/feel, playability, and power even in heavier racquets. Not only that, but our lab test shows that XR3 17 is the softest string offered by Tecnifibre.
“This is an outstanding all-around string, with the best spin potential that I’ve ever found in a multifilament. The main strings reliably snapped back into place right up until they broke, requiring very little adjustment.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson K Six One 95 16x18 strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon ALU Power Spin 16L)
“The string was very easy to put in my frame. Once there, it played excellently. I could strike the ball with authority with almost no vibration or shock to my arm. Ball placement was easy, as was generating power without any real adjustment to my strokes. I did find that putting various spins on the ball was not quite so easy, and there was some string movement. However, the aforementioned string movement was minimal. I would not hesitate purchasing and using this string. I played for nearly 20 hours and the string still has much more play in it.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Aero Pro Drive strung at 57 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)
“Very soft, comfortable string. This felt great from the first minute and maintained the great feel throughout the test period. Some fraying after 10 hours of play.” 40 male all court player using Wilson Steam strung at 55 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Black 17)
“A really enjoyable string right from the first hit. It provided great control, power/playability, touch, feel, and comfort. This string is very easy on the elbow. I will definitely put it in my string inventory.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson BLX Steam strung at 56 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 16)
“Very nice string. Not a poly so it was easier to string. Like the feel on groundies and serves. Great for topspin, plenty of power when needed. Volleying was good as well. I’ll be recommending this string to my older customers as it’s a bit softer than poly strings, and will be easier on the arm.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Steam S strung at 60 pounds CP (Ashaway Monogut 16)
“This string had great feel. Not sure if it was from the coating or the interior makeup, but it really pocketed the ball well. It strung up easily and felt like it had good vibration dampening qualities. I rated the comfort of this string high as well due to the dampening as well as the feeling of the ball coming off the strings with a lot of pace. Although this felt great in the mains and crosses, I think it would make a great hybrid set with a poly string that would provide a soft, yet durable string bed.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Control Tour strung at 52 pounds CP (Head Fibergel Pro 16)
“The string hit really well! Highly recommend for anyone looking for more power. The softness of the string would really benefit anyone having arm problems. Definitely worth a try!” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 63 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 16L)
“Very comfortable string with decent power and touch. Got some movement after about 10 hours. But, still hit with good spin. Really good feel on the serve.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Steam Spin strung at 55 pounds CP (Wilson Optimus 16)
“Good string! Super easy to string. Would recommend for anyone wanting soft feel and comfort. Good tension maintenance, too.” 6.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Blade 16x19 strung at 50 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)
“An excellent string for playability and comfort.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 59 pounds CP (Wilson NXT 16)
“I enjoyed the comfort of this string, but felt that the string bed caused a little more trampolining than I would like, perhaps because I’m accustomed to a polyester rather than a synthetic gut. That being said, I did sense a nice consistency not necessarily evident in most synthetic guts.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Graphene Speed PWR strung at 52 pounds CP (Gamma Moto 17)
“If you like a gummy thin string, this string is for you. Provided great comfort with excellent touch and feel.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Strike strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)
“A solid multifilament string. Nice control, power, and playability. However, it won’t last if the player hits hard or uses a lot of topspin. A good string for those with wrist, elbow, or shoulder trouble. Or someone looking for a softer string to use in crosses with a polyester in mains.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Graphene Speed Elite strung at 55 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter 7 16)
“This is a low powered string with high spin potential. Control is a major attribute and would complement a high-powered racquet. This may be a great match up for those player who thrive on spin and placement, and generate their own power as well.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop Aerogel 4D 100 strung at 45 pounds LO (Tecnifibre Pro Red Code 16)
“After only 7 hours of play this string showed a lot of wear and began to lose its snap back response. By nearly 12 hours of play it was really thin and by 16 hours it was threadbare. This string was very comfortable right from the start, but had very little durability. It would however be a good string for older players or those with arm problems, perhaps even as a cross string as a blended combo. Players who hit with even moderate spin would not get much love out of this string as it doesn’t provide a grip on the ball. But, it has a soft and forgiving feel.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Graphene Instinct MP strung at 50 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite / Solinco Vanquish 18/16)
“Very easy string material to string with. No coil retention problems at all. This string appears to be a good multi, something similar to Tecnifibre’s NRG2 string. It plays beautifully. No tennis elbow hurt, no vibrations, no need for a damper. Took spin well, both underspin, drop shots, and topspin adaptable. Being a baseliner, the string was easy on the arm. Power was good from both the baseline and on overheads. Groundstrokes were easily firm and deep. Backhands took topspin well. I played very well with this string. Typical of many strings of what I expected of the multi-type; it is expected that the string’s durability will continue to be less than 40 hours, this was perhaps a true indication as noted in my visual inspection of the bed.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Three Star strung at 57 pounds LO (Tier One FireWire/ Prince Lightning XX 17/17)
“When I was installing the string I kept thinking how much it reminded me of one of the Head Gel strings. I like this string, but I initially got some movement on the crosses until they locked in. After perhaps 4 hours of play it seemed to lose a lot of its pop. The string has that sticky feeling like the Head Gel strings and I was able to get some good slice on serves. Soft, comfortable string.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson Blade strung at 58 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite / Gamma TNT2 17)
“A great string for players looking for only playability and easy on the arm. For touch and feel it can’t be beat. This is not for big hitters.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head Radical MP strung at 56 pounds CP (Luxilon ALU Power 18)
“A very responsive string. Very good feel and great comfort. Doesn’t play like my poly blend and it broke sooner as well. But, overall, a very nice string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Asics BZ strung at 55 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code/ Tecnifibre NRG2 18/16)
“This multifilament was a nice string overall. Offered good control for the power it generated. Experienced notching after around 10 hours of play. It is about to break, but overall it is durable for a multifilament.” 4.0 male all court player using Dunlop iDapt Force strung at 59 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation/Prince Synthetic Gut 17/18)
“Nice soft feel string. Good depth on ground strokes.” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl Organix V1 MP strung at 58 pounds CP (Wilson Spin Cycle 16/17)
“I really didn’t care for stringing with this string so much. It had that oily feel on it that you sometimes get with gut or gut-like strings. Because of that, it also did not stay in place very well in the racquet while playing. Now that is the downside. It played like a resilient gut. The benefits of gut with the strength of a poly string! I really noticed increased power, control, and touch. Just like gut, stringing it was PITA, but playing with it was the exact opposite!” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power 16)
“Although I usually play with a polyester string, this played with a good amount of firmness with very little string movement. Power was good, and there was enough spin to keep the ball in the court.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Speed Rev strung at 62 pounds CP (Luxilon Timo 18)
“Despite cold playing conditions, string performed well. However, its high feeling of comfort is probably due to its high degree of tension loss. Surprisingly, it did not move excessively despite being strung in a 14x16 spin frame. Felt after some usage that it was slinging the ball as frequent hits went long.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Warrior ESP strung at 65 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Pro Red Code/Gamma Synthetic Gut 18/16)
“This string was very flexible and easier to string than most. Overall, I would say it is a good to very good string. It is not the most powerful string I have ever played with but I do have to say it is a very nice all court string and I would highly recommend it.” 5.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat VS Gut 16)
“Haven’t strung a soft string in a while which was a treat! It held tension better than expected and provided a nice pocket feel similar to a high end multifilament, but I didn’t have the power on the strokes that I needed. A shot where I was on the run and had to reach for ended up in the net with these, where with my normal string I get that same ball in the court.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Staff 6.0 strung at 63 pounds LO (Ashaway MonoGut ZX Pro 16)
“A very nice comfortable string that provides some nice power. This string would be a great fit for the 3.5-4.0 club player looking to fill a lot of their needs.” 4.0 female all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Natural Gut 16)
“Very nice to string. Comfortable in hand, easy gliding with little coil memory. Did not pre-stretch. Strings felt good. Lacked a little bit of power. Limited spin. Strings did not move any during play. Heavy notching and ultimate breakage in 2 middle mains L1 and R1, right in sweet spot of racquet.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson Blade S strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat Origin 16)
“I mainly hit with poly strings for the power, spin, and durability. So, I didn’t expect much from this nylon, and average playability is what I got. compared to other nylons I’ve hit with, I was impressed with the power and spin when perfectly hit in the sweet spot. I would recommend this string for any casual player, anyone suffering from elbow or shoulder pain, or as a hybrid.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Storm GT Tour + strung at 58 pounds CP (Yonex Poly Tour Pro 16L)
“I consider stocking this string with balanced power and control. Probably recommend plus 2 pounds higher tension. A good choice for comfort string. It would be nice to know list price of string.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Yonex EZone Ai strung at 52/50 pounds CP (MSV Hex 19)
“Nice power, touch, and feel from this string. Spin and control lacking when compared to my usual stiff polyester. Would love to try this string in a hybrid, where I think it could really shine.” 5.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 58 pounds LO (Luxilon ALU Power 16L)
“It’s been a long time since I used a non-polyester string. My first 5 minutes I had trouble lifting the ball over the net! After that, it felt very solid without being harsh. I unfortunately would not be able to use it because of the lack of durability.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Head Graphene Prestige MP 18x20 strung at 55 pounds CP (Head Sonic Pro 17)
“Very easy to string and gave the impression it would be a very soft string. The string started out playing stiff and unresponsive. After about an hour the string started to peel a bit and it began to really grab the ball. As spin increased, so did the wear, this the string did not last very long. Good string for a middle school player or 3.0 lady looking for a string a step above synthetic gut or nylon.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Steam strung at 58 pounds CP (Luxilon 4G 17)
“I really liked how soft it felt, even though it did break sooner than my regular polyester. I think it would work well as a cross string supporting a polyester main string. Not the best string for baseliners with heavy spin, but good for serve-and-volleyers and doubles players.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive with Cortex strung at 43 pounds LO (Luxilon ALU Power/ Babolat Pro Hurricane 16)
“String was OK but not as aggressive as I’d like.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Aero Pro Drive strung at 57 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 16)
“The outer coating on the string is very soft and easily damaged, which is a major disappointment. While the string was soft and comfortable, there was nothing about it that would lure me away from my current string.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Warrior L ESP strung at 63 pounds CP (Prince Premier Touch 16)
“What if they came up with a string that strung like a nylon and played like a poly? This might be it. Plays like a 16 gauge poly (boardy, stiff, demanding head speed) and without being told to string it down it was pretty well unmanageable for me. Beyond that, I found that the string had an intrinsic slipperiness to it that made it nearly impossible to get any bite on the ball. In strong play, I found myself fighting the strong as much as I did my opponents. The bad news was that was it was hard to manage at manufacturers specs. The good news is that it might be a really nice poly at lower tensions. And the best news is that it strung really easy for a string that played so stiffly.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Blade strung at 60 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)
“It has been awhile since I’ve played with an all synthetic string bed. So, it was soft even though I strung it tighter. There was nice feel. I was expecting more ball-pocketing feel, which I did not get. I did feel it lacked control or power compared to polys. I had a hard time finding the balance, which also could be that I didn’t get as much spin.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7G strung at 60 pounds CP (Luxilon Big Banger ALU 16)
|EASE OF STRINGING (compared to other strings)|
|about as easy||11|
|not quite as easy||2|
|not nearly as easy||0|
|OVERALL PLAYABILITY (compared to the string played most often)|
|about as playable||10|
|not quite as playable||10|
|not nearly as playable||2|
|OVERALL DURABILITY (compared to other strings of similar gauge)|
|about as durable||8|
|not quite as durable||17|
|not nearly as durable||6|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Playability (7th overall)||3.9|
|Power (19th overall)||3.6|
|Comfort (3rd overall)||4.2|
|Touch/Feel (6th overall)||3.8|
|Resistance to Movement||3.3|
See all articles by Greg Raven
About the Author
Greg Raven is an associate editor for Tennis Industry 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 email@example.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis three to five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.
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