String Review: Wilson Ripspin
Say you just bought a 50-inch high-definition LCD television. It’s got all the latest in terms of picture resolution, frame rate, and color palette. Looking at the model in the store was like staring out of a window. But to duplicate the experience in your home, you can’t use the old-school three-pronged AV cables to hook it up to the cable box. Sure, you’ll still see a picture, but it won’t be nearly as sharp or dynamic as it would be with high-end HDMI cables.
That slightly long walk of an analogy brings us to racquets and strings. To get the most out of a tennis racquet, especially the new spin frames, requires pairing it with the right string. The Wilson Spin Effect racquets have fewer cross strings than mains, making for lots of potential string movement. Using a soft multifilament nylon in one of the racquets will probably feel comfortable and perform well, but it won’t deliver the spin output possible from a more spin-friendly string. Not to mention all the shifting of the strings would negatively impact the lifespan of any string without some backbone.
So to accentuate the positives of their Spin Effect frames Wilson has released the Ripspin ($10) string. It’s a durable, firm polyester with a low-friction coating that helps the strings snap back into place after contact. This has two intended benefits. First, it lessens the abrasion on the strings, promoting longer life. With all that string movement, that's a big plus. Second, the strings are designed to snap back while the ball is still on the string bed, enhancing the spin on the ball.
I don’t use a Spin Effect racquet—mine has a more traditional 16-by-18 pattern—but I do put a fair amount of work on the ball and prefer polyester strings. That still puts me in the demographic of Ripspin consumers, and I tried out the 16 gauge offering earlier this week. My stringer had mentioned that the black version I was demoing—it also comes in white—is slightly softer, so I had my racquet strung at 56 pounds. I had been playing the last several weeks with a softer poly, and probably should have opted for something closer to 50 pounds.
The first few games with the firmer Ripspin was an adjustment; I felt I had to swing fuller and aim higher to achieve the depth I’m accustomed to on my ground strokes. It didn’t help that one side of the court was facing a fairly stiff breeze, which made getting pace even more challenging. The more I played with it, though, the more I liked the strings. When I struck the ball cleanly there was a crisp response and a solid "pop" sound. I felt like I had good control—I could really drive and direct my volleys—and all that extra swing speed helped generate heavy topspin. Big hitters will certainly feel comfortable taking their cuts with this string.
The second time I played with Ripspin was even better. Perhaps it was the handful of days in between that allowed the tension to drop. Or maybe it was the less windy day. Whatever the reason, the strings felt more friendly and powerful this time around. Before using the Ripspin I played several games with a second racquet strung with the looser, softer poly I had previously been using and enjoying. While the softer poly yielded more easy power, when I switched to Ripspin the control and spin on my shots were elevated. The stiffer strings dug deeper into the ball and the resulting bounces gave my opponent more difficulty. I especially noticed this on my kick serves, which jumped up to head level.
Next time around with Ripspin I will probably drop the initial string tension, or perhaps opt for the 17 gauge version. Either way, it’s worth a try for Spin Effect racquet users or free-swinging baseliners who like to put a lot of topspin on the ball.