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 writing to ask: What types of strings have you used in the past? I’ve read some of your posts, and understand that you’re an all-courter with a semi-Western forehand and one-handed backhand—a game pretty similar to my own.
More about myself: I’m a 4.5 player looking for a new string setup that gives me a blend of power, spin, and comfort. I’ve strung full poly in the past (Kirschbaum, Luxilon, Prince) in the mid 50s, lbs. But now that I’m getting a bit older (in my mid 30s), I think it may be time to switch to something a little more forgiving in order to prevent injury.—Chris H.
Bypassing the generic synthetic gut that I played with during my early junior years, I’ve cycled through only a few different string setups. If I recall correctly, the first “real” string I played with was Wilson Sensation. I must have been about 13 years old, and remember that, unlike the synth. gut, which my pro father culled from a big reel, the Sensation shipped in what seemed to me at the time to be expensive, single-serve packets. The few extra that I had, I kept with me at all times in my tournament bag, alongside my spare Wilson Surge; at the time, I felt like quite the player.
But to the thrust of your question: When I was an older junior and throughout college, I used Luxilon Alu Power 16g in my mains and Head FXP in the crosses of a Wilson nCode nSix-One 95s, with tensions about 55 and 60 lbs., respectively. The Lux/FXP doesn’t make for the softest stringbed, but it’s not the harshest, either. It’s also relatively economical. But in retrospect, my tensions were far too tight. And in the place of the FXP, I probably would have done better to just shell out the extra money for natural gut, for reasons of energy return and arm safety.
Which is exactly what I do now. As I wrote recently in a post explaining the logic behind my equipment choices, I currently string Babolat VS Gut (15L at ~55lbs.) in the mains, and Solinco Tour Bite (19 gauge at ~50 lbs.) in the crosses. I feel the strings give me a good combination of depth, comfort, and spin—which, it seems, is exactly what you’re looking for, as an all-court player concerned about arm safety. Tweak the tensions a few pounds up or down to your liking, but give it a try. If nothing else, this hybrid is a good place for you to start.