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Question of the Day: Desperate for Durability

Friday, July 20, 2012 /by

String Nails

TENNIS.com gear editor Justin diFeliciantonio and his technical advisers answer your equipment questions each day. Click here to send in a question of your own.

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I have a question about string durability. I just started playing again and have gotten my rhythm back, but I've also started breaking strings again at a distressing pace. It took longer to break the Luxilon. But I also tried some synthetic gut, and I literally played only twice before it snapped. I remember this happening a couple summers ago when I was playing regularly as well, and at the time I thought it might even be that the stringer was doing something wrong. I don't think I hit insanely hard, but I do play with moderate spin. I remember trying blends last time, but I felt as though the tougher string just cut into the softer one more quickly—and in any event, I didn't notice much change in durability.

Do you have any recommendations? I play with a pretty light racquet with a mid-plus frame, if that makes a difference. I think it's the Wilson K Tour Team FX.Daniel M.

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It depends on what you mean, Daniel, by “distressing pace.” Of course, if you’re breaking synthetic gut strings after only two playing sessions, they’re definitely not the right choice for you. However, if you’re getting eight to 12 hours of playing time out of the Luxilon, that’s actually ideal. Polyesters can lose 50 percent of their initial tension after only 20 hours of play, altering the racquet’s feel, playability, and, most likely, your game. For this reason, racquet technicians recommend that even players who don’t pop their poly should consider restringing once in double digits of playing time.

Now, if you’re breaking Luxilon only after four of five hours of play—and you’re not on the pro circuit—then you might want to take a second look at your stick. I see two factors that could limit the stringbed durability of your Wilson KTour Team FX. First, its weight. The Team FX weighs in below 10.5 oz. (strung), so in order to get some pop out of it, you have to swing it very fast. (As I’ve stated in the past, force equals mass times acceleration; the less the mass, the more one has to accelerate the racquet to achieve ample force, i.e., pace.) And of course, the higher the racquet-head speed, the more abuse the strings endure. The second factor is the FX’s string pattern. Compared with a closed, 18x20 pattern, the FX’s open, 16x19 pattern places greater stress on the strings, especially for players with faster swings.

So if you’re desperate for greater durability, consider sticks with a little more weight and denser string patterns. Otherwise, you’ll just have to keep swinging—and restringing.

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