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!
As we know “tennis elbow” is a term for extreme pain in the elbow! Sounds simple but what can we do to preclude a case of “Tennis Elbow”? For one we could simply not use our arms because tennis elbow can be a result of any number of activities.
Enough! We are tennis players so what can we do? Generally speaking we need to understand that repetitive shock on the arm, wrist, and shoulder is, at some point, going to hurt. So, shock is the problem! Not high frequency vibration that can be damped by a 3 gram rubber vibration damper inserted into the string bed.
Shock is the initial impact that sends the force as far as it will go! Eliminate shock! That’s the answer but total elimination of shock in a tennis racquet, string, and ball unit is difficult. When I prepare a racquet one of the characteristics I calculate is effective stiffness. Effective Stiffness is the combination, and product of, racquet stiffness and string plane stiffness.
I have found that effective stiffness of 30 or below is highly unlikely to “cause” tennis elbow. If you don’t know what your effective stiffness is simply consider using a string with low dynamic stiffness like natural gut or multi-filament synthetic. Very simply low dynamic stiffness means the string continues to stretch while in contact with the ball whereas a high dynamic stiffness will get much stiffer at impact. Please eliminate the use of very “stiff” polyester based string at high tensions. If you need to use polyester, for any reason, consider staying below 50 pounds when requesting tension.
Please give me a call if you have any questions or need string recommendations.
For nearly thirty (30) years I have been stringing racquets using tension settings much lower than the prevailing “normal”. There are a few reason for this. I use a totally unique stringing machine(s), I pre-stretch every string, and I use vario tensions within the total racquet pattern. Now it is becoming the “norm” to use lower tensions. Why?
During the past fifteen (15) years string materials have changed to the extent that lower tension settings are virtually required! This requirement has been met with disdain, reluctance, disbelief, animosity and other thoughts and actions! In most cases, therefore, the racquet technician continued to use the same tensions regardless of string material. Well, that is changing and none to soon! But why is it important?
In the past strings were very elastic and exhibited high elongation which means the string will stretch as the ball hits it and absorb some of the shock associated with high tensions. Most of the “newer” materials exhibit substantially less elongation and in fact become stiffer as the load is applied meaning the shock associated is going to be higher. This can lead to “uncomfortable” and possibly damaging impact over time.
If you are considering using polyester based string please be prepared to “take it easy on the tension” and lower your tension request to the fifty (50) pound range (22.6kg). Also, ask your racquet technician to pre-stretch the string. This will increase the elongation and stability of polyester based string. There is no scientific data to support the fear that pre-stretching will damage polyester based string as long as the elastic limit of the string is not exceeded.
Of course the object of the stringing procedure is to provide a racquet that will compliment the needs of the player. Period! So any technique you use must satisfy that requirement.
My advice is to try several string and tension combinations and decide for yourself. Your racquet technician should be in a position to help with your transition to a new string and tension. Please call me if you have any questions.