I am not talking about the “peeking” type of peek but instead the material PEEK. For all of you chemists it is Polyether ether ketone and it is being used as a material for tennis racquet string, which, of course, is what we care about!
I have been working with Ashaway Line & Twine Company for several months to understand how this material can be a viable alternative to very stiff string, and, even a cost effective string for those needing a more “forgiving” gut like impact. In fact the Ashaway MonoGut ZX Pro has a dynamic stiffness similar to natural gut! As most players know natural gut is the very best string for those wanting arm protection but it is sort of expensive.
At first glance PEEK string looks exactly like many polyester based string. But that is where the similarities end. PEEK has elongations of 10% to 12 % at sixty (60) pounds whereas polyesters will be about 4% to 6% elongation. Power Potential is directly related to elongation so the PEEK material should return more energy to the ball.
Player response to PEEK string has been very positive and I see it as a material that will increase durability, stability, and playability in tennis racquet strings. MonoGut ZX can be used as a 100% system, and, in fact, I would recommend using a PEEK material as 100% the first time. I have clients using MonoGut ZX Pro in a hybrid format with natural gut and this may be the ultimate setup!
As with any engineering material some care is required to assure the string is installed in the racquet properly. Through our long association with PEEK material we have developed the techniques that are required to assure a winning result.
So, if you are looking for playability, durability, and stability (tension maintenance) you should consider taking a PEEK!
Many racquet manufacturers include frame stiffness in their specifications that are viewed by the consumer. What exactly does that number mean to you?
Well, very simply, stiffer racquets will provide a little more power because the racquet is not loosing the bending energy, and a less stiff racquet may be a little more comfortable.
As a player there is very little you can do to decrease the stiffness other than bashing the racquet into the court then there is no issue!
However, your racquet technician can make your very own racquet feel “softer”! There is a little used characteristic called “effective stiffness” that I calculate for every racquet I do. I am not going into the formula for that stiffness here but if you go for a lower string bed stiffness it will, obviously, create a more flexible “feeling” unit.
So, if you have a racquet with a stiffness of 70 (RDC) and a string bed stiffness of 65 (RDC) you have an effective stiffness of 32.31 (which is pretty high). Now, if that is perfect for you it can be replicated from racquet to racquet. If you know the racquet stiffness you can arrive at the correct string bed stiffness to yield the desired effective stiffness.