With their added durability, enhanced spin potential, and overall control, it’s no wonder so many players gravitate toward polyester strings. The trouble is that not everybody has the game to match, especially if they don’t have the requisite swing speed to earn some flex from the stiff strings. Fortunately, the variety in polys offered has spiked in recent years, and there are a greater number of forgiving options with more of an emphasis on comfort and power.
The Prince Tour XP ($15/set) is certainly a firm, control-oriented string, but it’s designed to give users slightly more pop than a typical poly (the XP stands for Xtra Power). It’s an update to Prince’s Beast XP, and the new formula is intended to improve the string’s durability. We gave it to one of our string gurus, Max Callahan, to size up its pros and cons. Here’s his assessment:
Max Callahan: One of the difficulties in reviewing strings is that many of the descriptive words used to define the experience of hitting with them are flawed. One player’s crisp is an other’s stiff; what feels muted to one player might be described as dead by another. That philosophical question about whether we all see colors the same way, and whether what I call red is the same shade that you see, is even more difficult when dealing with adjectives rather than nouns. So here comes a bunch of adjectives that may not match up exactly with your impressions of the string should you decide to try it.
For me, Prince’s Tour Xtra Power 16 was soft as opposed to stiff, but the stringbed didn’t provide the degree of dwell time that I've come to enjoy with a string like Solinco’s Tour Bite (at the same tension). I like to string my full beds of polys on the low side—in this case, 53lbs/51lbs—and with a string like Tour Bite I get that distinctive feeling of the strings taking the ball in for a long, deep hug before snapping violently across it to impart that hefty spin. Plush might be a better way to describe the feel of the ball’s contact with the Tour XP strings, and I enjoy a springier effect.
The tension has held up well with about eight sets on the strings and it certainly excelled in the comfort department. But the Tour XP fell short in regards to spin potential. It reminded me a bit of Tecnifibre Black Code (although the Tour XP has a round profile to Black Code’s pentagonal), but I remember more bite from Black Code than I felt from this string.
I found the control on flatter and moderate topspin shots to be sufficient with the Tour XP, and there was acceptable, if not aggressive, spin on sliced backhands and serves. But a heavy topspin forehand just wasn’t available for me with this string. It wasn’t as if I couldn’t keep the ball in the court with topspin off the ground, but when I tried to produce a higher ball with extra top on my forehand side, I just didn’t get the late-breaking heavy topspin that I rely on from a string like Tour Bite or Luxilon Big Banger.
Much like a breaking-ball pitcher, it’s as much about when the ball breaks as it is about the distance it falls. Watch the trajectory of a Rafael Nadal forehand from the side of the court and you'll see just how high the ball remains as it approaches the baseline before it drops like a stone in a mind-blowingly short period of space and time. I can't claim to produce Nadal-like spin, but that ball is an integral part of the design of my game and it’s what I look for first and foremost in a polyester string. This offering from Prince just didn’t deliver in that respect. Again, for me.
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