In two recent Q&A’s we did with pro tournament stringers (Part 1 & Part 2), both revealed that the top players largely use hybrid string combinations. It’s a great way to cherry-pick the best qualities of a string while minimizing it’s deficiencies. So you can exploit the spin potential and durability of a polyester string by placing it in the mains, while lessening its stiffness by putting a softer multifilament in the crosses.
The most popular duo according to the stringers was natural gut in the mains with Luxilon in the crosses. I’ve tried this setup—Wilson packages it together in their Champion’s Choice—and it’s a potent blend. However, it is quite expensive ($32/set). Those looking for a more affordable pre-packaged hybrid may want to try out Prince’s Warrior Hybrid Touch ($16/set). With Tour XT poly there’s plenty of spin potential, and the Premier Touch does a good job of softening up the string bed.
For a more detailed review, we turn The Pro Shop over to Max Callahan. Max played open-level and was a hitting partner for satellite players in the late 90’s before injuries slowed him down. Today he still coaches and provides racquet customization to many of his clients. He tried the Warrior Hybrid for several sets and offers the following review:
Max Callahan: The experience of hitting tennis balls is the combinatory product of racquet, strings and, of course, player. I've always been of the mind that the string is the least impactful of these constituents, but it’s also where you have the widest opportunity for experimentation. And when you dive into the hybrid category, you're essentially squaring that variable.
Prince’s Warrior Hybrid Touch is an affordable combination of a firm, thin-gauge polyester with a soft multifilament whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The 18-gauge version of the Tour XT in the mains allays what I imagine would be a rather stiff 16 or even 17-gauge poly string, particularly in a full-bed. The thin-gauge certainly adds to the spin potential of the poly mains here, but if you're a fan of the monster spin you get from a string like Luxilon Big Banger or Solinco Tour Bite, Prince’s Tour XT is not quite in that class. The ultra-comfortable Premier Touch in the crosses does its job to soften impact and provide a satisfying degree of dwell time that I imagine would be rather limited with a full-bed of the Tour XT. So while neither string would make my short list on their own merits, together they complement each other nicely.
I do my own stringing with a simple drop-weight machine, and I typically string the crosses a couple of pounds lighter than the mains for a full-bed of polys. But with a multifilament cross string like the Premier Touch, I only took off a single pound for the crosses and went with a 53lb/52lb setup for this hybrid.
I'm a far cry from an expert stringer but I can Google with the best of them, and there are a lot of great stringing resources online if you're looking for pointers. When I first began stringing about five years ago, my early attempts with polyester strings invariably produced an uncomfortably stiff feel and I had no insight into how to get better results when stringing a full-bed of them. Fortunately I stumbled onto a fantastic stringing blog (gutsandglorytennis) and found a mother lode of useful tips and techniques.
They explained that polyester strings were analogous to a metal spring: Stretch a metal spring slowly and it maintains its springy action; but pull it too fast or too hard and it deforms, turning that area of the spring from supple to rigid. So the suggestion was to pull tension slowly and carefully for each string and then wait five seconds before clamping it off. It takes a bit longer to string polys in this manner but it makes all the difference in the world and the results are well worth the extra time.
Most string tinkerers out there are likely aware that strings often require a breaking-in period before you feel their true colors, and this is certainly the case for the Warrior Hybrid Touch. I struggled to find its virtues in the first half hour of my initial outing, but after that the strings settled in nicely and I was happy, if not blown away, by the spin potential, comfort and control. There was a clear drop in tension towards the end of my third roughly two-hour hitting session with the strings, but nothing that sent me looking for my scissors.
Personally I'm partial to hybrid setups in which a multifilament is used in the crosses to provide some added control to a poly that I would be more than comfortable using in a full-bed. But that can often be a bit pricey for the average weekend warrior. So if you're looking for a competitively-priced single-set hybrid, you could certainly do worse than this offering from Prince. You'll pay a below-average price for the Warrior Hybrid Touch and get an above-average experience. Not a bad deal.
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