Tourna's newest tennis string is the Big Hitter Black 7, a co-poly (meaning a blend of poly with other elements) that is shaped with 7 sharp angles which bite into the ball for what Tourna calls "massive spin production." I'm hearing it recommended for higher level players with a strong baseline game.
"This new Big Hitter Black 7 is pretty cool," said playtester, Jonathan. "It's very elastic for a poly - which gives it comfort and pop and dwell-time, but it also has the spin, control, and durability of a poly. It bridges the gap between poly and multi in a very interesting way, IMHO. I really like it. I knew I'd like it from the second I did the elongation test on it."
MAP is $8.95 for a set (enough for one racquet). Take note, In the world of tennis string, that's a great price; worth a try for sure if it's got what you are looking for.
Tip: If you've got any elbow issues, best to avoid or string more loosely.
Chris Gaudreau* (front row, third from left) was an integral part of team Babolat charged with stringing tennis racquets at the 2011 Paris Open at Roland Garros. Over the course of 14 days and 3,000+ racquets, Gaudreau kept a running diary. Here's a sneak peek at just a very few of Gaudreau's many behind-the-stringing-scenes reveals:
"Nadal had a 5 setter today. Babolat and the Spanish stringers were freaking out...I was the only American so I kept my mouth shut. Nadal had 3 rackets run in and the press followed. Xavie strung 2 rackets in 15 minutes...the fastest I have ever seen..."
"3 rackets were given to me for Kirilenko. It was 11:25 and they were due by 12..."
"When a player is on court and needs a racket strung a special phone rings and giant light goes off...kind of like the "bat phone" but brighter. Gasquet ran a racket in during the match but it didn't help..."
*Chris Gaudreau is a Master Racquet Technician (MRT), USRSA certified racquet stringer and USPTA certified teaching pro. He owns and operates Racket Koop in New Haven, CT (close to the Yale Bowl). He has worked with and strung for some of the the world's top-level tennis players at many world class tennis events. Roland Garros was his first Grand Slam event.
The early days of a big tennis tournament like Roland Garros serve up crazy amounts of work for on-site stringers. With pros requiring anywhere between 3-8 racquets custom strung at absolutely perfect tensions before every match and every court full at the start of the tournament, talk about stress. Phenom stringers are doing up to 38 racquets per day!
Luxilon was recently named the tennis “String Manufacturer of the Decade” by the European Racquet Stringers Association (ERSA) 2000-2010. The brand was given this title because of its dominant use on the men’s and women’s pro tours.
“All of us at Luxilon are very proud to win this award,” Nico Van Malderen, President of Luxilon said. “This furthers our belief that strict quality control and continuous research has helped to produce strings that will improve every player’s game, regardless of ability.”
For more information, visit www.luxilon.com. Find the string at Tennis-Warehouse or tennis retailers/stringers worldwide.
There has been a mysterious new tennis string on the market for the last six months. It was known simply as the green string of 361 nation. The users? Elite juniors participating in high level tournaments such as Eddie Herr and Kalamazoo. Hawked out of tents at these big deal events, young poly string loving players flocked and tried. What young gun wouldn't try something new, cool, dangerous looking and free? The slime green color, sly eye on the package and mystery of a new company all proved irresistible. They gave it a try and yes, they liked. Within the test period over 1,200 players in 50+ countries turned to the string and registered with the nation.
Day 1 at Australian Open 2011 was big reveal day for Prince. Yes, it is Prince behind the test, a company not known for success with poly string, which is why they kept the project under wraps.
With serious research and testing behind them, Prince has officially released Beast XP 1.30/16 g., a new thermo polymer string that is said to perform well at all tensions, create a lower trajectory (allowing you to take a bigger and faster swing at the ball) and offer great spin-ability. It has gotten high ratings from its new users in power, feel, comfort, spin and playability categories. Some players use it as a full set, others as mains in a hybrid job.
Prince says that its ATP and WTA players have been more cautious to transition to the string than juniors have been. Shahar Peer and Martina Sanchez are among the first to use it on the pro tour.
Taking into account the varied playing styles of today’s game, Wilson has just introduced four unique new string offerings for 2011:
For players with arm discomfort (like tennis elbow), new Shock Shield string has a gel filled core which helps reduce shock and vibration. The construction eases tension for comfort and control. The string works in combination with the new Shock Shield Hybrid grip, as well as Shock Shield vibration dampener, made with IsoZorb Gel for maximum comfort.
For those looking for a durable synthetic gut, Red Alert is Wilson's newest offering. With a slightly textured surface, Red Alert provides increased bite and the high molecular weight nylon coating creates durability more than 2 times the comparable synthetic gut string. The company says that the triangular shaped monofilament wraps create a crisp feel on every shot.
The newest member of the NXT family, NXT Control combines polyester and nylon fiber bundles with polyurethane. The polyester fibers offer control while the nylon fiber provides power. Polyurethane bonds the fibers together and offers the shock absorption and comfort that NXT strings are known for.
The new SGX 16 is composed of a high energy core surrounded by bi-directional X-bands for a soft and comfortable feel. Available in a variety of colors (lime pictured here), the traditional synthetic gut suits all playing styles and abilities.
Although Roger Federer prominently graces the packaging of all four of Wilson's new 2011 strings, he will not be using them himself. The master uses Wilson Champion's Choice (a hybrid 16 g. 1/2 set Wilson Natural Gut and 1/2 set Luxilon ALU Power Rough that runs around $29 bucks a set-- pricey for string breakers on a budget).
SOLINCO is relatively new to the tennis market. Never heard of them? Neither had I. They clearly have a market however. According to the company, over 1/3 of top tennis colleges in the US are using their string.
Four of the last 6 NCAA championship winning teams use SOLINCO: UCLA, Baylor and Pepperdine are among them. Virginia Tech is another example of a team that has left brands individual players grew up with for newer-to-market Solinco (launched early '09).
If you see an open circle stenciled on a player's strings, that's the SOLINCO mark. Click on the picture right to see the mark on Sebastian Rivera's racquet.
The company's co-polyester strings have a reputation for providing excellent bite, control, pop, comfort, power and tension maintenance because of the company's proprietary composite formula and way they build it. Read more HERE. RSI did a full review on their popular Heaven Strings series Tour Bite, $11.50 per package.
Barb Wire is their newest string (also $11.50). It's twisted, not round, and has sharp edges like the Tour Bite; it's black in color. For spin oriented players, it's serious top making.
SOLINCO racquets were just launched publicly in August. They don't have a big presence yet but are expected to grow as sponsored junior players pick them up and spread the word. "The fact that we are getting a lot of traction with a relatively limited marketing budget says a lot about the quality of our products," says KT Kim, Director of SOLINCO. "We focus and spend our resources on R & D and providing our customers with the highest quality and performance products on the market, and it's working."
There are currently four racquet models in the SOLINCO Pro Series, all midplus in size but differing in weight. The Pro7 is the lightest at 10.1 oz. unstrung, Pro8 is 10.6 oz. The Pro10 and 10x weigh in at 11.5 oz. The sticks run $180.00 unstrung.
These racquets are built around a nickel-mesh material that extends over 32 cms of the frame and is said to enhance the strength, as well as the stability at impact of the racquet by neutralizing the torque and side-to-side twisting of the frame, allowing for a unique solid and crisp feel, with improved control and power. Tennis-Warehouse has a review up that will give you more detail.
If you are a competitive player, NTRP 4.5 and up, you might want to give these new racquets a test drive.
If you are wondering if your tennis racquet needs to be restrung and you have an iPhone, here's a solution. raquetTune is a downloadable app that allows you to check racquet string tension any time, anywhere.
The app uses the sound of the racquet strings to analyze the frequency of the strings when hit with a pen or like object. The frequency is then converted to the tension of the stringbed. The accuracy is shown by an indicator light on the display and can be improved by repeating the "test" several times in a row.
Here's how to run a test: Set your app to register pounds or kilograms, click the racquet button to set your string's linear density (you can find some on the racquetTune website) or set your string type. Polyester, nylon, gut and kevlar are all options, and then set your gauge (string thickness). This part feels a little confusing as there are so many different strings and materials on the market. Again you can use the listing on their website for help. There is an option that enables you to input a hybrid combination. You then set your racquet head size.
Hold the racquet face over your iPhone in a quiet setting and hit the strings a few times with a pen. The results register right away. You can compare the results to the recommended tension printed on the racquet or base it on your particular likes. Here's a video:
The app has gotten great reviews from stringers who are far more concerned about exact measurements than me. I thought it helpful as it indicated that a couple of racquets in this household's arsenal needed a restring despite the face that the strings looked fine.
For .99 cents my first thought is why not? It's just about the cost of one tennis ball but you do need to know detail on the string you have in your racquet to use this. Ask your stringer for the string package if you are not completley sure of what you are using. Unless you change strings, once you've input the data it's there till you change it again.
Learn more at racquetTune or download it from the AppStore.
Babolat announces the launch of a new tennis string, RPM Blast. Used since the Australian Open by Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the black string marked with the white “double-line” is already generating a lot of buzz on and off the courts.
RPM Blast (Revolutions Per Minute) is a monofilament string that gives players more spin, more power and a unique feel at ball impact. “With this new string, I have more spin, and it helps me hit deeper..." explains Rafael Nadal.
As for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who joined the Babolat team on January 1, he won his first competition in Kooyong before reaching the semi-finals at Melbourne with the RPM Blast string. “...I’ve never played with a string like this before,” said the #1 French player.
Andy Roddick converted his trial to a victory at the Brisbane tournament. Andy uses RPM Blast in a hybrid combination with Babolat VS Natural Gut for even more power.
“The advice and recommendations of Tour players have been decisive in the development of the string,” adds Cécile Gindre, String Products Manager at Babolat. “The combination of the high-density material and a specific coating gives it both power and spin.”
RPM Blast will be available starting April 2010 in 17 and 16 gauge. MSRP $16.95.
No worries man, peace; I'm just gonna take you down.
Customize your tennis racquet with your initials, monogram, club logo or symbol that identifies you or your team. Stock and custom-made reusable plastic stencils are $9.95 each. Ink bottles are $4.95 and come in a multitude of unusual colors. I did this peace sign in basic black. It took about 5 minutes.
Whether you are a home stringer or use a pro, leave off the manufacturer logo next time and try a funky new stencil. USTA and school teams big on spirit will love these. Fun.
Wondering whether or not to restring your racquet? Some people wait until their strings break. Me not being a string breaker I tend to restring if my game feels like it's going downhill. There is a more exact science available.
Take a look at this little gadget called the Stringmeter; Unique Sports sent me one to try. In less than a minute per racquet (I've got three of the same), Stringmeter revealed that two of them needed restringing. One I already knew about because of sliding strings. Only the one that had been recently strung was pretty close to what I had set it at.
Why the tension differences?
Stringing machines do not always generate a like product. A machine set to string at 58 lbs may result in a deviation of four pounds in either direction. Hit with the racquet for a couple of weeks, check again and you are sure to see even more tension loss. You've seen Roger Federer switch racquets between games. This may be part of the reason. Hard hitting effects tension too.
Additionally, if you use different stringing shops know that stretch, racquet distortion, friction, tension, and stringer technique may all factor into dissimilar tensions on the same racquet using the exact same string. The racquet you had strung at 60 lbs in Florida may not be exactly like the one you had done locally.
At 2.5 or 3.0 this may all be a mute point but the much higher level player can definitely feel the difference when tension is off.
The Stringmeter retails for $34.99 USD and measures string diameter and tension in pounds and kilograms during stringing and after. The techie in me thought it was useful and kinda' fun. Buy at Tennis-Warehouse and UniqueSports.
Tennis racquet stringing machines range in price from $149 USD for Klipper's tabletop USA Klippermate to $8,900 for the Technifibre TF-8000. The more expensive models are those you see in tennis clubs or pro shops; that's not to say you couldn't own one if you had the financial means.
Why buy a stringing machine? The obvious reason is to save money. drgreenthumb, a Tennis-Warehouse forum member and self described string breaker says that he's "a home stringer because [he] could no longer justify $25-30 stringing jobs every two weeks."
Lakers4Life another contributor on the forum noted that "Some have associated [stringing] with..some kind of handicraft...To me it's a hobby that pays for itself. How many hobbies can you say do the same?"
At home stringing also gives players a chance to try a variety of different strings, quickly cutting out those that don't work for them without the wasted service dollars. Once you get the hang of the craft you can also make a little money taking care of friends.
Learning how. Most home stringers I polled got instruction from a pro and/or used the machine manual or online racquet retailer videos. Your first racquets will undoubtedly not be among your best.
My family uses the Gamma 6004 with 2 point mounting (pictured above left), $1299. It is not a new to market model. The first racquets we strung took an hour each. We can now do them successfully in 30 minutes. With five players, two of them breaking strings almost weekly, we save quite a bit of money and the biggest bonus -- we get the racquets done when we need them -- right away. Quick set up means no issues with different frame sizes. Next step up would be to get something that has electric tensioning but that comes with a bigger price tag.
Bret Meyer, Gamma's stringing machine engineer, says that "more money buys you better accuracy, consistency and convenience. A spring tension machine generally strings 2-4 pounds more or less than you set it at. Electric tensioning ensures each racquet is exactly the same."
Just hitting the States this year is the Wilson Baiardo, $6000 (pictured right), a dream machine with multiple ergonomic and other features. This is what they used at the Open....no one NEEDS a Porshe either.
Racquet Sports Industry Magazine released its 2009 Guide to Stringing Machines earlier this year. You can find it HERE if you want more info on the 15 stringing machine brands in the offing.
Gamma stringing machines are sold by Tennis-Warehouse and other tennis specific retailers. Find a listing on the Gamma site. Contact Wilson re the Baiardo. The RSI article provides info on how to contact the other brands.
Luxilon today announced the signing of Bob and Mike Bryan, the world's number-one doubles team and two of the most successful players on the ATP tour. The 31 year old twins will now use Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power Rough string exclusively.
“Everyone at Luxilon is thrilled to have Mike and Bob on our team,” Nico Van Malderen, President of Luxilon said. “Luxilon has proven to be a key ingredient for Tour players’ success and we are proud to offer the #1 doubles team a superior product.”
The 16 gauge Big Banger ALU Power Rough, $15.75 USD is a great choice for a string breaker but is not as resistant to breakage as the Big Banger original 130. The monofilament construction of the string enhances feel and control over the ball and the rough texture makes it particularly spin friendly.
It's difficult to determine what string most players are using from a distance but Luxilon is said to be one of the more popular brands on the tour. Roger Federer, for example, used Luxilon at Wimbledon.
The Bryan brothers use: the Prince O3 Speedport Black racquet, Tourna Grip original over grip and wear adidas. Pictured here they are in the adidas Men's Summer Competition Crew, $39.99 and Summer Competition short, $37.99.
Racquet Sports Industry (RSI) magazine has just reported that Prince Premier LT 16 has been chosen as the #1 overall synthetic string ever tested by the United States Stringers Association. Wow. That's quite a statement seeing as the team has tested 124 kinds of synthetic string over the years. "With Premier LT, the excellence was virtually across the board," reports RSI's March issue. "The only other string we've tested with similar across-the-board scores is a natural gut."
Prince Premier LT is a multifilament string offering Linear Technology for great control, comfort and touch, like gut but without the price tag. It was included in my recent article on string choices in on THE BASELINE. Premier LT 16 is an excellent choice for players with a tendency to tennis-elbow. It is also the recommended string for the Prince EXO3Red 105 and EXO3 Silver 118.
Ever wonder where the pros get their racquets strung? The names are tough to read here but believe me, this line-up covers an international spectrum of players: Tommy Haas, Andy Roddick, Ivan Ljubicic, Maria Sharapova, Andre Agassi, Stephi Graf, Nicole Vaidisova and more. The place, RPNY Tennis in New York City. The man, Roman Prokes, who has been customizing tennis racquets for 25 years.
Most recreational players merely change string and overgrip. Tour pros and others in the know (possibly those with a little extra dough) have theirs customized. Weights can be changed, tension, mix of string, balance and length as well. Want to add a little more zing to your spin? Prokes can help. Pros actually have molds made and notes taken on their specific racquet wishes and that stick is duplicated by the RPNY crew time and time again. Many of Prokes' innovations have been incorporated into production models over the years.
Prokes and his team will be on site at the Australian Open where they will become part of the official Wilson sponsored stringing team. They will be at all of the 2009 slams and at eight masters events. When not at these venues, client players needing customization ship their racquets directly to New York.
Prokes meets players on court or by phone to discuss specific racquet needs. Locals and NYC visitors itching to play can also talk with him at the very posh CityView Racquet Club where RPNY Tennis has a satellite shop. Visit RPNY Tennis to learn more.