String choices?

A friend is testing racquets to find a new one that “feels good” to him … but most people believe the feel of

The Shoulder
the racquet (and its performance for you) will be controlled more by THE STRINGS you choose to put in. And since my shoulder is starting to twinge in pain again (!) I am making a change.

TennisLife Magazine had a good piece on stringing options and said, “no other string can equal the elongation (stretching) of natural gut. Plus no other string has better tension maintenance (elasticity) than natural gut.”

But then when compared to the new co-polymer strings, like Luxilon, they say that string has very little elongation and loses its tension rather quickly.

After my shoulder-troubled love affair with the Luxilon Big Banger string two years back, I had been using a hybrid combination of 17 gauge (thinner) Luxilon in the main strings and the softer Technifiber in the crosses – both strung at a fairly low 52 lbs pressure.

I had found what the article continues to point out… because the stiffer polymer strings stretch very little, they let you take a much bigger swing at the ball – thus putting more topspin on the shot.

Buuuuuuut, I am now having shoulder pain starting back up in the same location. So I just cut out the hybrid in one of my racquets and put in 16 gauge gut (for the first time in my life!). Along with ice and Aleve, we will see if that “fixes” my problem. (“Why don’t you stop playing tennis for a couple of weeks?” You don’t need to ask me that, DeDe already has!!!).

Now, there is a new string on the market that is becoming very popular with the pros: Babolat’s new Black String. According to the manufacturer, the black string marked with the white “double-line” has been used since the Australian Open by three Team Babolat players: Rafael Nadal (SPA), Andy Roddick (USA) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA).

RPM Blast (Revolutions Per Minute) is a monofilament string that allegedly 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. We have worked hard with Babolat,” explains Rafael Nadal.

Also, Andy Roddick uses RPM Blast in a hybrid combination with Babolat VS Natural Gut for even more power.

Worth a try? According to Bill Simonton, who beat me in three sets using this new string, it is!

3 thoughts on “String choices?

  1. Hi George,
    Your comments regarding the characteristics of natural gut are
    Babolat RPM is definitely worth a try — as are many of the new co-poly strings.
    But if you have a sensitive arm, beware of the stiffness of co-polys, either as a
    full string job or as a hybrid stringing. Babolat RPM is no exception. It does
    have a slightly “softer” feel than Luxilon ALU, but actually has a higher stiffness
    rating, according to the United States Racquet Stringer’s Association.
    Racquets definitely feel and play differently depending on the type of string that
    they’re strung with, so it may take a couple of different stringings, at different
    tensions, to find the right match of racquet, string, and tension for you.
    Watch the ball, but listen to your body, and keep hitting!

    Jimmy – in your opinion, what are the pros and cons of full gut vs a hybrid with the new string? tks, geo

  2. George,
    I’ve been using 17 gauge Technifibre, too, which in my estimation has good feel with good power and control. I’ve found though that it seems to stretch out and become looser, though, after a couple of months of play.

    On the shoulder – since yours was a biceps tendon if I recall correctly – it might be a different situation than the good advice I received from my sports medicine PT guy – but – I recovered well from rotator cuff microtear and inflammation (shoulder impingement syndrome) .but have had to quell mild pain (after playing) with icing, and more importantly shoulder maintenence with elastics and light weights 3 days per week . (recommended).

    The old story is still true; listen to your body but use the ounce of prevention instead of the pound of cure. Don’t just try to camouflage any pain you have.

    Best of luck.


    Hi Dag – Tks for the advice. I try to do the light weights three times a week (and have, but have not used, the elastic to the door). Ray B must have played well in Longmeadow to beat you. geo

  3. George, a full-gut string job gives you maximum feel ( from ball-pocketing), resiliency ( for power and arm-friendliness), and great tension maintenance.
    On the down side,
    the full gut costs a little more, and has somewhat of a trampoline effect (caused by the resiliency), so control may be an issue for some people with a big swing.

    By combining the gut with a co-poly like Babolat RPM (which is octagonal in shape), the trampoline effect of the gut would be minimized, gaining more control, and allowing you to take a bigger swing at the ball. With the added stiffness of the RPM co-poly, the string bed will bite into the ball more, and that, along with you increasing your racket-head speed (because you can now swing harder, with more control) will generate more spin.

    The down side of adding the RPM to the gut is that the hybrid will transmit a greater shock-load to your arm than all-gut, and tension maintenance won’t be as good as the all-gut string job. In addition, the stiff, wire-like co-polys tend to cut through softer strings like gut as they saw back and forth across each other.

    Ultimately, I think it comes down to personal preference of feel, how much power
    vs. control you want / need, and how your body reacts to the two different string
    p.s. I hope you shoulder feels better soon!

    Jimmy – great! thanks for the amplification. geo

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