Category Archives: String Review

String. What is important?

The essential function of string in your tennis racquet is to return energy to the ball as it collides with the racquet. It is evident that if there is no string or a broken one, the racquet can not do what it is intended to do, and your shot is going nowhere or worse, everywhere!

There are about thirty (30) string brands, and each brand has about ten (10) different models, and maybe three (3) different colors, so there are nine hundred (900) possible selections! Nine hundred is way too many strings!

You and we need to consolidate string data so we can make the right decision for you, your playing style, and your physical capabilities.

We test every string for elongation, creep, (stability), with a little bit of elasticity data observed. This testing returns our exclusive Power Potential© for each string, and that is the basis of our decision-making process. Naturally, the higher the elongation, the more power the string will return to the ball, and conversely, the lower the power potential, the less power that “can” be generated. You can observe this fundamental by dropping a tennis ball on a concrete floor and then on a strung tennis racquet from the same drop height and see which one bounces the highest.

I use “can” because power, to a great extent, comes from how hard you swing the racquet, which, of course, brings the prospect of overdoing it and subsequent injury! A low power string demands a more powerful swing that involves the entire arm, hips, and legs.

Low power, in the form of a stiff string, has been associated with control, therefore, the increased use of stiff strings. However, with stiffness comes another downside, and that is stability. Stiff strings typically lose tension quickly and need to be changed frequently. So here is the real problem; the string may not be broken, but it is not playing well at all. There is a difference between durability and performance! If your goal is long term performance, a stiff string is not the answer.

What, then, is the answer?

Choose a string with an elongation of 10% or higher! Oh, great! You say. How am I going to know that!

Well, beginning January 1, 2020, I will be posting the power potential of every string we have tested over the years! There are over 500 items on the current list sorted by brand. The color coding is RED if 5% or less, GREEN if 10% or higher, and BLUE for everything else. Note, however, that natural gut is included in this data and will probably not reach the 10% Power Potential© threshold, but is still the best performance string available.  This is due to the dynamic properties of the natural fibers, so, until there is a separate classification gut will be included as is.

A previous post, “What is Soft?” goes into graphical detail.

As new strings are added, some older ones may be deleted because they are no longer manufactured. However, some very old ones may remain due to their “legacy” status. This chart is a preliminary format but will get us map toward the right decision!

Click here to see all the current power potential data.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

String News

As you know I do a lot of string evaluations for myself, my customers and some manufacturers. I do this to have a clear understanding of what a string does at various tensions in various racquets ,and, also in a “controlled” environment!

So, if you ask me for a recommendation my answer will based on data, and, of course some anecdotal evidence. I know most manufacturers try very hard to place the string into the correct category but sometime they simply miss!

There is an ongoing conversation(s) regarding the categorization of polyester based strings relative to racquets and player stature.  This may, for example, look like; “If you use Racquet “X” and are under fourteen (14) years old do not use “XYS” string at tensions higher than 40lbs (18.1 Kilo)”.

Linearity Graph

It is well known that it is very “tricky” to use polyester based string for most younger players that are experimenting with stroke production and still do not have the physical strength to really take advantage of what polyester may offer. For the record I do not recommend it.

Durability is always an issue so when I ask for “playing time” it should be in hours, not days or weeks, but hours. It is a big help to know what portion of those hour are training or playing. It is obvious that one (1) hour of training will be more “destructive” than one (1) hour of tournament play.

The more we know about string the better the choices can be.  It is my imperative that the string matches/enhances the application. Tennis Warehouse, the premier online source for tennis stuff, is also very active in the effort to enlighten players in the selection of the string they order. We can do this!

What do you think?

Ashaway Monogut ZX/ZX Pro – Update

As most of you know I am a big fan of Ashaway Monogut ZX (16g) and ZX Pro (17G) string.  These models are PEEK mono filament strings that resemble polyester strings but these contain no polyester!

Here is the latest PR from Ashaway for your review.

Please let me know if you have any questions, and of course if you want to try this string.

Ashaway, RI – In a recent article on the growth and use of its popular MonoGut® ZX family of monofilament tennis strings, Ashaway Vice President Steve Crandall noted that, “it seems we’ve done something more than simply make a successful product.” While the company’s initial goal was to produce “a synthetic string to rival the performance of natural gut,” MonoGut ZX has emerged as a viable — and healthier — alternative to today’s arm shock inducing polyesters.
 
Says Crandall, “testing has shown that MonoGut ZX is indeed closer to natural gut in dynamic stiffness than any other synthetic string material. But it’s in the context of the current craze for polyester, and the need for more and more spin, that MonoGut ZX has made the greatest mark. These days everybody wants to improve their ‘up and down’ game, and play like the top pros with ‘heavy balls’ that drop like stones just inside the baseline. To generate that spin they think they need to use those so-called ‘high-tech,’ high-performance polyester strings, and many are paying a high price in impact related injuries.”
 
Not only do MonoGut ZX and ZX Pro strings generate spin as well as polyester, claims Crandall, but they do so without generating the same arm jarring, injury causing impact shock as the polyesters, and even help players recover from their impact related injuries. In the article, Crandall provides comments and testimony from a number of players and noted stringers on why they switched and continue to use the Zyex® based Ashaway string. These include two rising junior players, Clare McKee and Aditya Srinivasan; expert technician and recent Tennis Industry Racquet Stringer of the Year, John Gugel (www.racquetquest.com); well-known stringer and MRT Geoffrey Jones; and veteran player/stringer Eric Burke (www.hardcoretennis.net).
 
Crandall reports that while players initially switch to MonoGut ZX (or ZX Pro) for its ability to eliminate their arm pain — “its ‘healing power’ if you will” — they stay with it because it provides other playing benefits as well. “They love the power and control,” writes Crandall, “the ‘softness,’ comfort and overall feel of the string.” 
For example: Of his daughter Clare, stringer/coach Geoff McKee said, “since the switch [to MonoGut ZX], my daughter has had no elbow or wrist problems for four years.” And Clare herself: “I get good pop with these strings and good control. It helps me get more spin, especially on my serve and forehand.”
 
The parents of East Boys 12-year-old division player Aditya Srinivasan wanted a string that was durable but not a polyester that might injure him. Well-known stringer Geoffrey Jones said, “With Ashaway Monogut ZX Pro they found a soft durable string that almost has the same resilience, softness and safety as natural gut.”
 
John Gugel says, “The high elongation of the Monogut ZX series almost guarantees no arm issues… It is well known that natural gut is the string to use if there is an arm issue, but now Monogut ZX is an option.” That’s why MonoGut ZX strings have become his “primary strings.” MonoGut ZX, “works and looks like the “other” black string,” he said, “and is a perfect string for the player looking for comfort, spin, power, and durability.”
 
National level player/stringer/coach Eric Burke said: “Ashaway MonoGut ZX is the ONLY string that provides durability, feel, power, comfort, and tension maintenance. It is by far the best string to use as the crosses for hybrid stringing in those popular new ‘spin-enhancing’ racquets.”
 
Writes Crandall, “the MonoGut ZX bottom line for us is more than the business bottom line (which is OK, too!); it’s the satisfaction of knowing that we’ve been able to develop a string that is not only fundamentally healthier than the current injury causing polyester offerings, but one that disproves the conventional wisdom and beats those strings at their own game.”
 
He also notes that many people still want, “More… They want the same ‘healing’ properties as MonoGut ZX in a softer multifilament string bed. So,” he concluded, “stay tuned for some MonoGut ZX Multifilament news in early 2016.”
 
To read the complete article, ” Users Praise the Playability, Spin Generation, and ‘Healing Power’ of MonoGut® ZX Strings,” visit the Racket Stringing Tips section at www.Ashawayusa.com
 
Ashaway Racket Strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racquet strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway has been the Official String of USA Racquetball for more than ten years, and is also the Official String of Professional Tennis Registry. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications. For more information visit www.ashawayusa.com. Zyex is a registered trademark of Zyex Ltd.
 
For additional product information, contact: 
Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co.
PO Box 549
Ashaway, RI 02804 USA
Tel: (800) 556-7260 (U.S. only) or +1 (401) 377-2221
Fax: +1 (401) 377-9091
Twitter: @Ashaway1824

Head Graphene XT Extreme MPA

As you know Head has made incredible strides in terms of racquet technologies and important players using them!

The racquets I received recently  are the new Head Graphene XT Extreme MPA.  Richard Gasquet, a talented and great player to watch, has been using the “Extreme” model for several years and has been making it into the late rounds at more tournaments!

The bright yellow finish with bright red and black certainly makes a statement!  The black grip is a slight departure from the more usual white synthetic grip used on many racquets.

Head Graphene XT Extreme

Head Graphene XT Extreme

The new model incorporates the ASP technology that allows the racquet to be strung either in a 16 x 19 pattern or a 16 x 16 pattern!  One racquet two string pattern options!  Great idea, I think!

DSC01787

ASP Insert

This model weighs in at 319 grams (11.25 ounces) with a swing weight of 322 (11.36 ounces) with a RDC flex of 60 (compare to 71 for the Babolat Pure Drive).

I installed a new Head string that is not polyester!  The new string is Velocity MLT, a multifilament polyamide (nylon) with about 10.2% elongation.  The string bed stiffness is a comfortable RDC 61 and DT of 38.

If you are considering a new racquet consider this one for sure!

Octave String Natural Gut II

This is a quick follow-up to the original post about this natural gut string.  The racquet was used by several players, all of whom are big hitters, so it took longer than I had expected.  The total hitting time was around five (5) hours  That seems low but it took a beating during those five (5) hours.  I am sure the racquet spent a lot of time in the bag before it was returned to me.

Typical Wear Pattern

Typical Wear Pattern

When the racquet was returned to me the string had broken.

In case you don’t remember this string is produced using sheep serosa not beef as is typical for high end natural gut string.  The first observation is that the finished string is not as “clean” and following that is the string is not as strong as it’s beef counterpart.

The most common comment about this string was the “softness”, and gut like feel.  Both if these are good, of course if you are looking for softness.  Which leads me to believe this string would make a pretty good cross string for those using polyester based main string.  I prefer natural gut for the main string but I am not sure this string is strong enough for that format.