Tennis strings are part of the racket, they have first direct contact with the ball. They are responsible for the feeling, accuracy, power, rotation of the ball being played, and affect the health of the player. Professional and advanced players are well aware that choosing the right strings is as important as choosing the right tennis racket. Beginner tennis players often underestimate this, sometimes they do not even realize that the string is an element that naturally wears out, and it replacement from time to time is necessary. On the world market we can find a lot of types of tennis strings. Due to the multitude of materials from which strings are made, which are still increasing, the most common criterion for string separation is their construction.
We can categorize all tennis strings in one of the 2 following buckets:
- Natural gut strings
- Synthetic Tennis Strings
Natural gut strings
To the surprise of many, manufacturers create natural gut strings from a complex process that transforms cow intestine into tennis strings. At first, this may sound like a shocking material to use in the creation of tennis strings. Despite the unusual material, natural gut is widely considered some of the best tennis string on the market and a popular choice among professional players. Due to their highly elastic properties, natural gut strings offer superior power, feel, and comfort. Beyond that, this category of tennis string does a great job of maintaining tension longer, which to date has been difficult to match even with advanced synthetic materials. However, compared to some synthetic strings available, they’re not nearly as durable, they’re susceptible to moisture, and by far the most expensive due to the complex manufacturing cost. As a result, you won’t typically find many club or recreational players using natural gut strings. Instead, they’re more frequently used by advanced players who demand the best and can afford the cost of maintaining them. Luckily, there are a wide variety of less expensive synthetic gut strings on the market that offer similar characteristics.
Natural Gut Advantages:
- Tension stability
Natural Gut Disadvantages:
If you can afford them, natural gut tennis strings are a fantastic option for a wide range of players, but for most, they’re overkill. For example: Babolat VS Touch, Wilson Natural Gut or Luxilon Natural Gut.
As a beginner, it may be tempting to purchase the best or most expensive gear to improve your performance. However, when first starting, you’ll be hard-pressed to notice the difference between natural gut and an inexpensive synthetic alternative, as string performance is relatively nuanced. Instead, developing sound technique and practice will primarily influence your results. Similarly, if you play casually or infrequently, then natural gut most likely won’t be worth the expense, but it won’t hurt either. On the other hand, if you’re a highly competitive player working intensely on all aspects of your game and looking to find the edge anywhere you can, then natural gut tennis strings might be an excellent fit. With a high level of skill and experience, you’re likely to recognize and appreciate the added feel of these types of strings, as long as you can afford to maintain them.
Synthetic Tennis Strings
As the name implies, this type of tennis string uses various synthetic materials to provide players with a wider range of options. When creating these strings, manufacturers control the material as well as the construction of the strings. The result is the ability to design strings that enhance virtually any feature, such as comfort, durability, spin, and power. For example: Gamma TNT2, Prince Synthetic Gut or Goosen OG Sheep Gutt. Within the synthetic family, there are three primary materials in use to create tennis strings:
- Nylon – Without a doubt, the most popular member of the synthetic string family is nylon. Synthetic gut and multifilament strings are both typically made with nylon, but the quality of nylon and construction are what differentiate one type of string from another.
- Polyester – These are strings consisting of one uniform fiber most often covered with a thin protective layer that reduces friction. This construction is designed to maintain the maximum mechanical strength and control, to generate high levels of topspin.
Polyester Advantages: Spin, Control, Durability.
Polyester Disadvantages: Comfort, Feel, Tension stability.
- Kevlar – kevlar strings provide players with maximum strength and durability, but they are subsequently the harshest strings on the market. This type of string is most frequently used by chronic string breakers in combination with nylon strings to reduce the harsh feel. For example: Prince Pro Blend, Crossfire Plus or Crossfire ZX.
Kevlar Advantages: Durability, Control, Tension stability.
Kevlar Disadvantages: Comfort, Feel, Spin.
I was talking about three main types of string materials, but now l would like to dive into the most common string construction.
- Monofilament – Uniform strings monofilaments are strings consisting of one uniform fiber most often covered with a thin protective layer that reduces friction. This construction is designed to maintain the maximum mechanical strength and control.
- Multifilaments – Multifilaments are strings consisting of many fibers, whose shape, size, arrangement, etc., vary depending on the manufacturer, as well as the type of string itself. Multifilaments are most often built of nylon or polyamide fibers. The multifilament construction is characterized by greater dynamics and lower rigidity, and, what is more, greater comfort.
- Textured – More recently, companies like Babolat have experimented with the shape and texture of monofilament strings, and such is the case with RPM Blast Rough. Textured strings may also be constructed through the addition of an outer wrap or by incorporating a larger wrap within the outer layer, which creates a raised band and gives texture to the strings.
- Composite – Composite tennis strings are a result of combining multiple types of materials or grades of materials. With that said, composites are less a construction and more a method of combining materials to achieve certain playing characteristics. As such, the construction varies among these strings. Wilson NXT Control is an example of a composite multifilament that features polyester and nylon in its creation.
- Hybrid – hybrid strings are the strings where you are using one type of string vertically and another horizontally. Such a combination of natural pull with monofilament polyester is a solution quite popular among competitors using hybrids in the ATP and WTA competition tour. Hybrids can be divided into those in which soft multifilaments are used as vertical strings (in the case of professional tennis often natural strings) and those where the vertical strings are polyester monofilaments. Hybrids, in which the vertical strings are multi-fiber strings are focused on dynamics, comfort and feel, but their weakness is strength, so in such combinations often used multifilament pawns have a slightly larger diameter than horizontal strings. In the professional tour, hybrids in which the sections are natural strings use discipline legends such as Serena and Venus Williams. Hybrids where the verticals are monofilament strings primarily focus on strength and control.
When choosing a tennis string, it is worth following the style of play and what is missing in the racket. The most important features we should remember are: rotation, dynamics, comfort and durability. To use their full potential with well-chosen tennis strings and rackets. The choice of tennis string is influenced by racket parameters such as string arrangement, head size, frame width or stiffness (RA) and string tension. This last feature is very important in tennis.