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Hey Justin! I’ve heard several conflicting opinions about the effects of string savers, and was wondering if you could shed light on the subject. Do they increase durability? Affect string tension? Increase or decrease the stringbed’s spin potential? …In a hybrid setup? What I’m getting at is, should I use them? I am a 4.5 all-court player with a semi-Western one-handed backhand and Western forehand. I currently use a Prince Tour 100 16x18 strung with poly mains (50 to 55 lbs.) and multifilament crosses (55 to 62 lbs.), leaded up to over 12 ounces.—Steve
First and foremost, Steve, string savers increase string durability. It’s a straightforward function of their design: As pieces of plastic installed in between the lattices of crosses and mains, they prevent strings from rubbing against one another, decreasing the strings’ movement upon impact and thus delaying their breakage.
But of course, string savers don’t just extend material durability; they also affect how the stringbed performs. For one, they stiffen up the hitting surface, much like raising your string tension—it’s plastic you’re putting in there, after all—which equates to slightly less energy return on the ball.
And, as I wrote back in the spring, it’s very likely that string savers decrease spin potential. Regular readers of this blog will know that high spin production, at least in part, is contingent on a phenomenon called snap-back—whereby upon impact the main strings deflect out of place and, in the case of monofilaments, return back to their original position, spinning the ball before it leaves the stringbed. Given that string savers hold the strings in place, it stands to reason that they curtail snap-back and, in turn, spin.
All things considered, Steve, if you’re playing a hybrid, I wouldn’t recommend that you adopt string savers. They’re just not appropriate for players with poly in their stringbeds. As Roman Prokes, owner of RPNY Tennis, told me in May, “We generally don't recommend string savers, because they really deaden and stiffen up the feel of the stringbed. The one exception is with natural gut, because it's such a lively string. To be honest, in the last four years I can’t remember once installing string savers into polyester. And I don’t think it’s a very good idea, as it’ll make the poly play even stiffer than it already does.”