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.
Hi Justin, I’m curious about your racquet and string setup. What are you playing with these days? And why? I’ve read your gear column for some time now, but haven’t caught any mention of your own personal preferences.—Nicholas D.
To sate your interest, Katie: I currently play with the Prince Exo3 Rebel 95. For years, I stuck with the Wilson Pro Staff Six.One 95, beginning toward the end of my junior days and throughout college. But last year, during testing for the 2012 gear guide, I picked up that yellow Prince and soon was quite keen on its feel. I like the feedback, which strikes me as “springier,” in a good way, than my old Pro Staff. (Surely, some of this is due to the Prince’s flexible frame and open grommet ports.) As for specifications: I find the Rebel’s head-light balance and above-12-ounce weight to be appropriate for my all-court game; I play an Eastern one-handed backhand and a forehand that, right now, is floating somewhere between Eastern and semi-Western. I also prefer a leather grip with a thinly-wrapped Wilson Pro overgrip (white). I’m not a fan of vibration dampeners.
String-wise, my setup is currently Babolat VS Gut (15L at ~55 lbs.) in the mains, and Solinco Tour Bite (19 gauge at ~50 lbs.) in the crosses. This combo is a pretty recent experiment, but so far I’ve been very satisfied. (In the past, I’ve also played Dunlop Silk, a multifilament, with pleasure.) The gut really imparts a supple “give” to the stringbed that’s easy on my arm and helps me put the ball deep; the Tour Bite, on the other hand, which is also rather soft (in terms of monofilaments), puts enough spin on the ball for me to compete with other modern players. While it may not be the most durable or cost-effective tandem, the blend of arm-friendliness and performance makes the strings more than worth it.