Not too long ago we got introduced to healing powers of CrampsAWAY Sport, an all-natural, liquid supplement designed to immediately stop muscle cramping. Now comes the Pro model, which has a higher concentration of the secret sauce—a proprietary blend of natural food acids—and a new tri-berry flavor. It’s also NSF Certified for Sport, so athletes can use it without any fear of ingesting an illegal substance. You just swish around the contents of the single-serve packet ($50 for a 5-pack) in your mouth for 30-60 seconds before swallowing, and the solution stimulates the neuro-receptors of the tongue and mouth to suppress the nerves causing the cramps. Or it can be taken before competition as a preventive measure. The supplement has gained popularity with professional and college teams, and on the ATP Tour with players such as John Isner, Jack Sock, and spokesperson, James Blake.
Diadem Elevate and Nova Racquets
For the uninitiated, Diadem first drew notice for its strings, particularly Solstice Power, the star-shaped and incredibly spin-friendly co-poly. Coming August, the company is adding racquets to its lineup. The Elevate (left) has all the hallmarks of a “player’s” frame: 98 square-inch head, thin, flat beam, lower flex, and control-centric. I felt it could use a bit more weight—it’s certainly ripe for customization—but otherwise compared favorably with the competition. A playing partner said it reminded him of playing with a Wilson Blade. The Nova is designed more for the 100 square-inch, 300-gram power and spin crowd. It’s stiffer, lighter, thicker and has a wider string pattern. It’s not as versatile as the Elevate, but it’s extra pop and user-friendly playability should appeal to a wider audience. And for juniors, or those needing a highly maneuverable frame, there’s also the Nova Lite.
Head Speed Racquets
Hitting store shelves this summer, the revamped Speeds from Head own an entirely new mold as well as Graphene 360 technology. Graphene remains in the shaft to counterbalance the polarized weighting of the frame, and now additional rings have been added at 3, 9 and 12 o’clock to reduce racquet deformation and twisting at contact for better energy transfer and more power and control. The 23mm constant beam is slightly larger than its predecessor and the shoulders and shaft have also been strengthened to provide added stability and a more solid feel at contact. While string patterns haven’t changed, the spacing on the cross strings has been widened to increase spin potential, power and control. After some early hitting, the changes seem to have given the updates a softer, friendlier response, with some extra pop. The Graphene 360 Speed line will include the Pro, MP, S and MP Lite. Check back in the coming weeks for reviews.
Started just a few years ago by a group of industry veterans, Laserfibre has developed a line of premium strings, which has been bolstered by the addition of the recently released JB Tour 100—developed in partnership with former world #4, James Blake. We haven’t had a chance to test out the JB Tour 100 yet, but we tried several of the company’s other polyester offerings, including Native Tour. Like the JB Tour 100 ($15/set), Native Tour ($13/set) is also produced in the USA, and is unusually springy and comfortable for a polyester. It’s still control-oriented, but not nearly as unforgiving as other options in the category. I even found myself stringing at tensions closer to what I would normally use for a multifilament. However, as expected with a softer poly, playability duration was a little compromised. Still, players new to the genre, or simply want one that’s more arm-friendly and capable of putting a little more pace on the ball should give it a serious look.
Pickle Juice Sport
As unlikely as it sounds, pickle juice has long been a staple for serious athletes and trainers to alleviate and even prevent muscle cramps. In fact, I believe it was old-time grinder, Harold Solomon, who would swig pickle juice on changeovers during long matches. The Pickle Juice Company has been bottling the stuff as a sports drink since 2001. As you might expect, it possesses a much higher sodium content—470mg in a 75ml shot—than most other sports drinks, which can be a blessing for heavy sweaters. Small amounts of additional vitamins and electrolytes are also present, with no sugar or caffeine. Beyond effectively replacing sodium, there is also evidence that cramping is more nerve-related than muscular, and pickle brine serves as a neural inhibitor. But it is an acquired taste; like a shot of a kosher dill, this sports drink absolutely lives up to its name.
Yonex PolyTour Strike
Used as a prototype by Denis Shapovalov and Caroline Garcia for much of their breakout 2017 seasons, PolyTour Strike is Yonex’s latest spin and control string. The low power level and rather firm response of the round, monofilament polyester make it appropriate for seasoned poly players who like to take big cuts on their strokes. All that racquet head speed results in decent pop with plenty of work on the ball. While not nearly as comfortable as a multifilament, the string settles nicely after a brief break-in period and seemed to maintain its playability better than many competitors in the category. And as you might expect from a tougher polyester, durability was not an issue. PolyTour Strike ($17/set) is available in grey or black in 16, 16L and 17 gauge options.