When it comes to polyester strings on tour, Luxilon is king. No other brand can claim a spot in as many players’ frames. And what’s popular in the pros inevitably trickles down to mere mortals at the rec levels.
Yet even with polyester’s popularity, Luxilon has released its own natural gut string. An expensive process two years in the making, the string comes from organic, grass-fed cows to provide a higher collagen level for enhanced feel and durability. It also has a low-friction coating, comes in a re-sealable foil pouch and has a green mark to indicate the halfway point in the set. In other words, this gut is clearly optimized to be combined with another string in a hybrid set-up. Even the pros are realizing that not everyone is meant to play with a full bed of poly.
Julian Li, a pro tour stringer and owner of Racquets Rackets tennis shop, cautions his customers that pros have a very different regimen when it comes to stringing with polyester.
“The window of playability with poly is really small,” says Li, “unless you’re willing to string every week to maintain the tension—which drops instantly and quickly.
“As for the playability, the string will be playing dead. Now you’re having to swing much harder to generate the same amount of speed and power. You don’t realize it, but your body will.”
It’s true that polys are tougher to break, but they don’t age well. During play, a polyester deforms in a disproportional fashion, which Li equates to the uneven stretching of a piece of plastic. On the other hand, fibrous multifilament strings like gut lengthen more evenly with usage.
Polyesters do kick up the RPMs on shots, but only if a player has enough swing speed to cause the stiff strings to bend and create the coveted “snap-back” effect that gives the ball added rotation. Otherwise, it’s almost like smacking the ball with a wooden board.
By no means should polys be thrown under a bus. Paired with a proper frame and playing style, it can be a valuable piece of equipment. More “soft” and thinner gauge varieties are also being introduced to try to lessen shock and improve feel at impact. But in an effort to grab some magic from the pros, many rec players have forgotten what multifilament strings can bring to their games.