As an integral part of the tennis player's equipment, it is considered that the string represents up to 50% of the performance of a racquet, being therefore a vital complement to that one. However, the hundreds of choices offered can often bring more questions than answers. To guide you in your choice, here is a description of each string family as well as the advantages and disadvantages they can bring you.
In this article:
- THE NATURAL GUT
- THE SYNTHETIC GUT
- THE MULTIFILAMENT
- THE CO-POLYESTER (often just called polyester)
- THE HYBRIDS
THE NATURAL GUT
- Incredible feel
- Holds tension very well over time
- Most expensive
- Less durability
Appeared in 1875 and produced by Pierre Babolat, the natural gut was the only option available for nearly a century. Originally produced from sheep's gut, it is now created from cow gut, which are less expensive and more widespread. The main advantage of the natural gut is its softness; the collagen that holds the membranes ensures a wonderful extensibility and an extreme sensation. Its extensibility also makes it one of the strings that, by trampoline effect, will propel the ball with more power but be careful, its extensibility also decreases control. It is therefore necessary to make sure to adjust the required tension. It should also be mentioned that the natural casing is, by far, the most expensive option.
Strongly suggested for serious players, suffering from lateral epicondylitis (better known by its English name "tennis elbow"), as well as those looking for the best sensation on impact. The natural casing is also frequently used in hybrid with a co-polyester.
THE SYNTHETIC GUT
- More resistant than natural gut
- Less expensive
- Fewer sensations
- Less power
It was in the 70s that the synthetic gut made its appearance. Composed of nylon, it is a much less expensive option than its natural version both initially and in the long term since the synthetic casing is much more durable than the natural one. It allows increased control compared to the natural gut since the trampoline effect is reduced. However, this rigidity makes the experience less comfortable than its predecessor and will naturally be less powerful.
Its lower cost will make it the main choice for beginner players, those who wish to play on a smaller budget or players looking for versatility without specific needs.
- Less control
- Requires replacing it more often
At the end of the 80s, a new option was offered to tennis players, the multifilaments. As its name suggests, it will be composed of different filaments of materials including polyurethane, zyex, kevlar and several others. The combinations offered will be more expensive than the synthetic gut but will offer much more softness and power. In most cases, we can even see more durability.
The player who uses the multifilaments seeks an increased softness and power while saving money against the natural gut. It should also be mentioned that it is more resistant than the latter. The thousands of built-in filaments will also provide an increased feel and the possible combinations can ensure more control, stability and even power and durability. Multifilament is therefore a good alternative to the natural casing.
- More durability
- Best Spins
- Tougher on the player's arm
- Less natural power
It’s in 1997 that co-polyester made its sensational entry on the market. Propelled to the peak of popularity among amateur tennis players by Gustavo Kuerten, who used the Luxilon Alu Power Big Banger. Co-polyester seems to be an answer from heaven for many enthusiasts because its composition of polyester and other material that seemed impossible before is now a reality.
For example, the Luxilon Alu Power Big Banger added nickel and aluminum to polyester, which suddenly increased its extensibility, making it softer and more powerful, while retaining much of its strength and control. Today hundreds of different materials are combined with polyester, including silicone, graphite, molybdenum and nylon, among others. Perfect for control, the material can be formed in several ways, which can help the player produce the desired spin effect. For example, by making the shape of the hexagonal rope rounded, one can increase the return effect (or kick back) of the string to its initial position, naturally increasing the spin effect.
It should be noted that this string also naturally returns to its initial position on the racket, avoiding players having to constantly replace them. However, it will be more difficult to read; unlike guts and multifilament, the string does not fray around, so it is more difficult to predict its break. A tension of 15% less than usual will be recommended to counter the impact on the arm.
This string is perfect for intermediate and advanced players as well as players playing with a lot of spin effects.
- Several possible combinations
- Best spin effects
- Deteriorates and loose tension faster
Although many players are happy with co-polyester, some find it a little too stiff. In recent years, a hybrid option has been available to the players. Hybrid rope is simply a combination of the families mentioned earlier. The concept is to use a stiffer string in the racket main strings (co-polyester) and a softer string in the crosses of the racket (natural gut, multifilament, synthetic gut).
Although some packages of strings offer you an already chosen combination of ropes, there are no limits to the possible combinations. Many professional players use their own recipe that are very popular like Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic, among others. The advantage of these combinations makes it possible to better combine for more spin effects and control or more durability and power, at the player's choice. The disadvantage is that the combination of a stiffer rope that constantly rubs on a softer rope and there will be a faster loss of durability and performance, and a faster loss of tension which will cause more frequent string changes for the players.