Tennis Players Make Custom Hybrids With Ashaway String Reels
Players enhance performance and save by designing their own hybrid strings
An emerging trend for tennis players looking for a little something more from their string, is for players to custom design their own hybrid sets by buying reels of different string instead of pre-packaged sets.
Tennis players have long used pre-packaged combinations of different string types - called hybrid sets - to benefit from multiple characteristics such as increased durability, tension stability, or playability. An emerging trend, according to Ashaway Vice President Steve Crandall, is for players to custom design their own hybrid sets by buying reels of different string instead of pre-packaged sets.
"The practice of hybrid stringing started with elite players customizing their string beds to suit their own styles of play," said Crandall, "and manufacturers followed by offering pre-packaged sets such as our Crossfire® Series. Now, however, players are going us one better and are buying specific strings in reel sizes to design their own hybrids. And they even save money doing it."
Crandall said he first noticed this trend when looking at sales figures. "As one of the only direct sources for certain specialized types of string in reels, it's not surprising we would see it," he said. "But it has since been confirmed by our stringers and distributors who report players are increasingly bringing in their own string for hybrids, or requesting specific combinations."
Crandall reports the company has particularly seen increased demand for reels of its Kevlar® MonoGut® and Dynamite® tennis strings. "Typical pre-packaged hybrid strings include an especially durable string, such as Kevlar, to reduce breakage of the mains by power players. However, it's also typical for pre-packaged hybrids to include a synthetic gut for the crosses, and what we're seeing in these numbers is that savvy players are using different cross strings to enhance their play."
One choice for custom hybrids is Ashaway's MonoGut, a multi-polymer monofilament synthetic gut extruded with a fluorocarbon emulsion to ensure ease in stringing and exceptional bite on the ball. "MonoGut provides players with the durability of a monofilament construction and the responsiveness of a synthetic gut," said Crandall. "When combined with Kevlar in a hybrid, hard hitters get improved feel and control of the ball along with long lasting durability under any conditions."
Other players are finding that crosses strung from one of the new Zyex® strings, such as Ashaway's Dynamite, offer the ideal playing characteristics. "Among stringing materials, Zyex is the closest to natural gut for dynamic stiffness and resilience," said Crandall. Zyex is made from an advanced polyetheretherketone (PEEK) polymer which combines stiffness (for control), with very rapid rebound from impact (for power). Highly resistant to "creep" at the molecular level, Zyex holds tension better than most string materials. Ashaway Dynamite string's Zyex core offers enhanced feel, for superior playability, and is overbraided with high tenacity multifilament microfibers for superior wear and easy stringing.
"Hybrids combining Kevlar and Zyex provide exceptional power and response along with great durability," said Crandall, "although stringers need to tweak the tensions of both materials to eliminate potential vibration."
"For the player who is always looking for a little something more from his or her string, experimenting with different string combinations - as well as tensions - and designing their own hybrid can definitely improve their game," said Crandall. "The trick is understanding their own game and understanding what various string materials and constructions have to offer."
Ashaway Racket Strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racket strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway is the Official String of USA Racquetball, the International Racquetball Tour, the Professional Squash Association and the Women's International Squash Players Association. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications.