Playtest: Tourna Big Red 16
By Greg Raven
Tourna Big Red is a monofilament poly. According to Tourna, Big Red is a soft, comfortable, playable poly that is easy on the arm. Tourna designed Big Red as a control-oriented string with outstanding feel, with medium power to give players excellent accuracy and directional control. Additionally, Tourna tells us that Big Red has great tension maintenance and durability.
Tourna Big Red is intended for intermediate to advanced players.
Big Red is available in 16 and 17 gauges in red only. It is priced from $7.95 for 40-foot sets, and $79.95 for 660-foot reels. For more information or to order, contact Tourna at 800-554-3707, or visit uniquesports.us.
In the Lab
We tested the 16-gauge Big Red. The coil measured 41 feet 10 inches. The diameter measured 1.27 mm prior to stringing, and 1.26 mm after stringing. We recorded a string bed stiffness of 74 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 69 RDC units, representing a 6.8 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 84 RDC units immediately after stringing and 77 RDC units after 24 hours, representing an 8.3 percent tension loss. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Tourna Big Red 16 has a stiffness of 194 and a tension loss of 16.32 pounds. Big Red 16 added 16.3 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.
The string was tested for five weeks by 31 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 5.5. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 23.4.
Tourna Big Red feels stiff out of the package, which is not unusual for a poly. Coil memory made it a bit unruly on the mains, but installing the crosses was nice, as the mains offered just the right deflection during weaving. Even before getting the lab test results, it became obvious that Big Red wasn’t as stiff as it seemed, because we had to trim the end twice while negotiating a blocked hole. Finally, Big Red offers great feedback when cinching down knots.
One playtester broke the sample during stringing, 11 reported problems with coil memory, five reported problems tying knots, two reported friction burn, and none reported other problems.
On the Court
Our playtest team found Durability to be excellent in Tourna Big Red, and Resistance to Movement and Control each to be well above average.
No playtester reported premature fraying or peeling, or buzzing, and five reported notching. Three members of the playtest team broke the sample during the playtest period, one each at 6, 12 and 27 hours.
Big Red’s higher-than-normal installed weight implies a denser material, which might help explain its great durability and truly impressive measured tension maintenance. These characteristics at this price point should be exceptionally attractive to budget-conscious players.
“I really enjoyed this string. This string was very stiff but played very well at 45 pounds. I would not recommend stringing this more than 50 pounds. Using a vibration dampener was a must with this string. This string lasted 27 hours and felt great throughout.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Aero Pro Drive strung at 45 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast 16)
“I was reluctant to string this sample, as I had just strung my frames with some expensive premium string. That being said, when I did string my racquet, I was totally impressed with all facets of this string, especially power, control, and comfort. I am eager to learn what specific brand, model, and gauge this sample is, as I want to play with it in the future.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek 6 strung at 50 pounds CP (Gamma iO 17)
“String has great control and resistance to movement. Plays fairly stiff with average power, but very good for putting spin on the ball. Has a firm feel on volleys and is great for hitting aggressive serves. Easy to keep the ball in the court.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson Steam Spin strung at 64 pounds CP (Head Reflex MLT 16)
“This is a great all-around poly, with easily-measured power and plenty of control and spin. I was really impressed by how well the string maintained its playability, with minimal notching and consistent snap-back, even after 15 hours on the court.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Response strung at 48 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Spin/Luxilon Alu Power Feel 16L/17)
“Frame broke during 9th hour of use. Stringmeter results: Reference tension = 52 pounds, average mains before any hitting = 50.9 pounds, average mains after nine hours = 48.9 pounds. A loss of only 3.93%! No notching, only negligible memory compression marks visible. No surface disruption on mains or crosses. Despite stiff appearance while coiled, this string relaxed nicely leading to simple installation. I really enjoyed this set. Appears to be a sensational product!” 4.5 male all court player using Dunlop iDapt Force strung at 52 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Pro Red Code/Gamma Synthetic Gut 18/16)
“Very good power from the baseline. Good spin production. Slight loss of control probably due to lower tension. Very good tension retention.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince O3 White strung at 51 pounds CP (Ytex Square X/Ytex Touch 16)
“When I opened the package and saw the red string, I thought ‘Wow, I love the color, hope the string is as good as it looks.’ The string maintained tension better than most of the others I have tested. The power and control were definitely noticeable. I love the touch with these strings; you knew exactly where the ball was going to end up. I do not normally hit out, but with this string I could without losing control of the ball. Excellent string!” 5.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 60 pounds CP (Babolat VS 16)
“This string is the best poly I’ve ever tested. It has the playability of a top-of-the-line synthetic gut and the power and control of a poly. Truly a string that maximizes your game. From the baseline controlled game to serve and volley play. For serving, the ball jumps off the strings with accuracy. Also, no significant effect on your arm after hours of play. This string seems to have it all. For me it is time to switch.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Radical Graphene strung at 53 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power Feel 18)
“With the plethora of polyester string choices on the market, this string does stand out from the crowd with massive spin and above average power! Feels slightly softer than my usual very stiff string. But this increase in power was complemented by the huge spin generated by this string. I would switch to this string in a heartbeat if it is moderately priced!” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 58.5 pounds LO (Luxilon Alu Power 17)
“This string hit well! Recommended for anyone looking for a more durable string either in a full poly setup or in a hybrid. The hybrid would provide the durability and control of a polyester with a softer feel and power of a multifilament.” 3.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive Roddick strung at 60 pounds LO (Solinco Tour Bite 16L)
“Dynamic tension was 43 after stringing, so it seemed like a rather stiff string. It was a little bit stiffer than what I normally like, in the 39-41 range. After a few days of teaching it measured 41 and was still at 39 two weeks later. It could be coincidence, but the first several days it measured 39, I played the best I have played in several years. I would definitely try this string again. For a poly, it had very low coil memory out of the package so it was practically a breeze to string.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Speed Pro Graphene XT strung at 43 pounds CP (Head Gravity 17/18)
“Some difficulty stringing the racquet … akin to all polys. For example: Can be tough on the fingers. Some coil memory problems in stringing. In playing, this string didn’t cause a flare-up of my tennis elbow. Test string appeared to be about a 16L gauge size. I would guess not a 16 or a 17 gauge string. Good spin, good power; test string appeared to have good durability. “ 4.5 male all court player using Head Three Star strung at 54 pounds LO (Babolat Addiction 16)
“While it still had a poly feel, the playability was better than expected. This is one of the few strings that I would be willing to switch from a hybrid for.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Textreme Tour strung at 49 pounds CP (Prince Tour XC/Prince Premier Control 16L/16)
“The control on the string was great, but sacrificing power in the process. I felt I had to swing out more to generate the power I needed. I did not have much feel on delicate drop shots or volleys. These strings would be great for a baseline game because you can swing away with reckless abandon. I felt, after a few plays, the strings had lost some tension and did not feel as lively as when I first played with them. The durability seemed good but with the trade-off of losing tension.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7G strung at 57 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power 16)
“Loved the red color of this poly. Seemed to be a softer poly with very good feel. I got plenty of power at 45 pounds tension without the sacrifice of control. There was very little wear after 46 hours of play/teaching time. Very durable!” 3.5 male all court player using Dunlop iDapt 27.5 strung at 45 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation/Prince Synthetic Gut 17/18)
“Overall, it played very stiff. It is definitely a control string with minimal string movement with little or no string notching. A good string for those seeking control and durability. After this first test I would definitely string the next time at 50 pounds or lower, not the 55 I used.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince Warrior strung at 55 pounds CP (MSV Hex 19)
“Not a big fan of the string. To begin with it was tough to string as it would not uncoil, and, as with most polys, it was stiff trying to do the crosses. Once in the frame I found that it was not particularly powerful, and I had a difficult time getting any real spin on the ball. It did hold its tension well and durability-wise it lasted nicely playing on a very gritty hard court. No arm fatigue or problems to report. Feeding balls at camp for a couple of hours presented no problems.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat Aero Pro Drive GT strung at 53 pounds LO (Babolat RPM Blast/Tourna Quasi-Gut 16/16)
“A middle of the road string overall, but better than average in durability and resistance to movement. I don’t envision adding this string to my inventory.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Wilson BLX Steam strung at 45 pounds CP (Wilson Sensation 17)
“It’s not a bad string. Play was average but it lacked the feel compared to the string I normally play with.” 4.0 male all court player using Babolat Aero Pro Team strung at 55 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite Soft 17)
“Very challenging string to string with, excessive coil memory during the entire string job. After installation, the strings played well in the beginning, providing plenty of spin potential and control. After a few days, the string lost quite a bit of tension and overall playability went down. A rather stiff poly considering all of the newer softer strings available on the market. The only shining part of this string was the durability. Great durability.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Open strung at 56 pounds CP (Luxilon 4G Rough 17)
“Even though I strung this at recommended lower tension, it still had a stiff, board-like feel. Perhaps blending this with a multifilament in the crosses would buffer the stiffness. Certainly this is not your grandma’s string as it would pretty much destroy her arm, however for those players who have a fast swing speed and like a very firm string bed, it may have some potential. Recommend for players 4.0 and above.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Graphene Instinct strung at 50 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite Soft 17)
“Very durable with power; however didn’t truly have bite on the ball.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Pro Staff strung at 54 pounds CP (Luxilon 15L)
“Found it to be a stiff common poly, good for power, challenging for touch.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Juice S strung at 55 pounds LO (Babolat RPM/Wilson Sensation 17/16)
“I think power baseline players will like it. I could get the power, but it didn’t bite the ball quite as well as my usual string.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Drive + with Cortex strung at 40 pounds LO (Babolat Pro Hurricane/Wilson Synthetic Gut Extreme 17/16)
“Average poly. Had a bit too much power, and not enough control. Nice power on my serve, but some groundstrokes went sailing.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Steam strung at 57 pounds CP (Luxilon Alu Power/Gamma TNT2 16/16)
“This string was very durable and held tension very well. However, I didn’t have much feel or power from it. It appears this would be a great string for someone with heavy topspin and pace who breaks a lot of strings. I would recommend it to one of my strong juniors or college players. But for a middle-aged player, I think there are polyester strings that are softer, with more power and spin potential.” 4.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Head Speed Graphene XT S strung at 44 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Blue/Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 17/17)
“I thought this string had a softer feel than most polyester strings, but not much else was remarkable.” 5.0 male all court player using Yonex Vcore Si strung at 55 pounds CP (Luxilon Timo/Head Synthetic Gut PPS 18/17)
“I really liked it at first, but my love affair faded after five hours of play, and I thought we were not going to have a long-term relationship. However, I continued playing with it and can say I came to not hate it. I could not get my usual spin on a slice serve. Control at the net was good considering it was all poly. Not forgiving on the serves, but good power on serves when I found the sweet spot.” 3.5 male all court player using Wilson Blade strung at 52 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite/Gamma TNT2 17/17)
“A very powerful string but it lacks control and spin potential. I felt that it might improve as it lost tension and ‘broke in’ but it never happened. A little disappointing. It simply lacks feel and playability.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Graphene XT Instinct MP strung at 53 pounds CP (Tecnifibre Black Code/Tecnifibre NRG2 18/17)
“I had a very difficult time untangling the test set due to excessive coil memory. It was the most time consuming de-tangling job I have ever had in more than 15 years of stringing. There was also quite a bit of friction burn while stringing. When played, I was unpleasantly surprised at the lack of control and inconsistency in the string bed. The sweet spot seemed really inconsistent with the ball launching off the bed sometimes and then it felt really dead at other times. As much as I liked the cool red color, I probably won’t carry this string.” 4.0 male all court player using Vortex Pro strung at 50 pounds CP (Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour/Babolat NVY 16/17)
“This was a string I was hoping would break early because I really didn’t enjoy the stiffness this string imposed on my tender arm and rotator cuff. I would hit no more than an hour at a time due the soreness my arm was feeling. I didn’t experience any advantages with this string other than durability. Wouldn’t recommend this string to anyone.” 5.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Storm GT Tour + strung at 52 pounds CP (Yonex Poly Pro Tour 16L)
|EASE OF STRINGING (compared to other strings)|
|about as easy||16|
|not quite as easy||12|
|not nearly as easy||1|
|OVERALL PLAYABILITY (compared to the string played most often)|
|about as playable||5|
|not quite as playable||15|
|not nearly as playable||6|
|OVERALL DURABILITY (compared to other strings of similar gauge)|
|about as durable||7|
|not quite as durable||2|
|not nearly as durable||0|
|From 1 to 5 (best)|
|Resistance to Movement||3.8|
— Greg Raven
(Strings normally used by testers are indicated in parentheses.)
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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