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I used to play with higher string tension. Something around 60 pounds. I have read about how extreme low tensions in polys increases spin. I've been lowering the tension since June 2012 and now I am playing with 27 pounds on the mains and 24 pounds on the crosses. I am really enjoying and haven’t lost the touch for drop shots or drop volleys. What are your thoughts on low tension polys? I read Filippo Volandri plays with really low tension on tour. What do tour players think about it?—Diogo Araujo Tibiriçá
You should be commended: It’s not just anyone who can play tennis with a lacrosse stick. Actually, all kidding aside, there’s nothing wrong with playing with extremely low tensions, especially when it comes to polyester strings. Conventional wisdom dictated that playing with loose strings meant significantly compromised control. But many players have found that’s not the case with polyesters. The low tension softens the string bed—negating the inherent stiffness of many polys—and can enhance spin production, for better ball control. Racquet technician and tour stringer, Roman Prokes, advises players to go as low as they’re comfortable when it comes to polys. As long as you like the feel of it and it works for your game, then there’s no reason to string any tighter.
Roman also confirmed that Volandri (pictured above) was stringing at 23 pounds this past U.S. Open. He said the other Italian players also seem to prefer the feel of very loosely strung polyester strings. And lest you think it’s only spin players looking for a greater cupping effect, according to Roman, big-hitting Jack Sock strings his racquet at 38 pounds. In an interview with TENNIS.com a few years back, string guru Nate Ferguson revealed that Lleyton Hewitt was using a poly/gut hybrid in the 30-pound range at Wimbledon. So there are definitely pros who prefer lower tensions. Who knows, if polyesters continue to gain in popularity at all playing levels, it may become the norm.