String Review: Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 & Quasi-Gut Armor
Anyone who has played tennis regularly over the past 30+ years is undoubtedly familiar with Tourna Grip. The ubiquitous light blue overgrip has been in circulation since 1977 and has covered the handles of legends such as Pete Sampras, and current pros like David Ferrer, Richard Gasquet, and the Bryan brothers. What the general tennis public is probably less aware of is Tourna’s selection of strings. They’re somewhat of an unknown gem in the category as many of their offerings yield great bang for the buck.
In fact, Tourna’s Big Hitter Black 7 ($10/set) was rated #1 for spin in the 2012 USRSA playtest report. It’s a softer co-poly with seven edges to enhance spin production. When I tried it I found an impressive level of topspin—kick serves and groundies had lots of jump—and it was particularly comfortable for a poly. The performance compared favorably to other springier options in the class of string, like Dunlop Black Widow, Volkl Cyclone Tour, or Solinco Tour Bite Soft. It doesn’t provide the control of a firmer poly, but it’s much more forgiving. (To up the control, players may want to opt for the 16 gauge at slightly higher tensions). Those that struggle with arm soreness from stiff polys, or someone looking for an entry into spin strings should definitely take a look at this one.
As popular as polyesters have become, they’re still not for everyone. Some players still prefer the overall feel and comfort of a full string bed of a soft, nylon multifilament; or at least opt for one as part of a hybrid. So we wanted to try out Tourna’s Quasi-Gut Armor ($9/set) string for those types of players. In a blind play test by the USRSA, this string received the second highest rating for comfort ever, behind only natural gut. The thousands of PU coated nylon microfibers have been wrapped with two ribbons of co-poly (hence the “Armor”) for a crisper feel.
I tried the string out in an old-school, flexy, 100 square-inch frame, with a 16x18 string pattern. It was a nice pairing as it really accentuated the string’s comfort and ball-pocketing. The feel was definitely on the soft side, but short of mushy. Power is certainly easy to come by—one of our other testers found it difficult to tame at times. From a control standpoint, I was actually pleasantly surprised at the amount of spin I could put on the ball. It’s certainly no poly, but there was still enough jump on the ball to get above my opponent’s shoulders. The strings moved all over the place and had to be repositioned after each point, but they didn’t fray. And from a durability standpoint they lasted for five sets of singles and three sets of doubles. It’s not superior longevity, but that’s not the purpose of these strings.
For another perspective, I asked one of our equipment testers, Mark Avedikian, for his thoughts on these two strings. Mark played on the ATP Tour, coaches extensively, and spends a great deal of time customizing and tinkering with his gear.
Mark Avedikian: After hitting with a full set-up off Big Hitter Black 7 I found it to be a very comfortable poly, that is easy to string as well. I have heard some people say it’s too powerful, but I didn’t find that to be the case. It is a medium-powered string that does not feel harsh or lose a lot of power outside of the sweet spot, which makes it more attractive to me than many of the firmer options out there.
The string definitely grabs the ball and that gives it above average spin. However, it does not have as much spin as a slippery triangle-shaped string, or even a slippery thin 18 gauge round string. I would definitely recommend it for a stiffer frame like a Babolat Pure Drive or Wilson Juice. For a thin frame like a Wilson Pro Staff, it would combo well in a hybrid with the Quasi-Gut Armor.
Speaking of hybrids, Tourna has a new slippery poly called Black Zone, and I think it would be an even better blend with Quasi-Gut Armor as it will last longer than BHB 7. Regardless of its partner, I will probably switch to Armor as part of a hybrid—I loved the feel, it’s not too soft and has good pop. I volleyed and served great with it. I would use it as a full set in an 18x20 or 16x20 frame, but I use a wider string pattern and have gotten used to not needing to straighten my strings out after every point.
Overall, for the money you cannot beat these strings.