This is the first part of a series of blog entries designed to share thoughts about the new equipment paradigm that is radically shaping the tennis landscape. There are many myths that need to be addressed and we will attempt to provide a through overview and address many issues, myths and questions concerning these strings.
Chapter 1: Copoly Strings: The New Tennis Equipment Frontier
Fasten your seatbelts tennis fans! Our beloved sport is in the midst of a significant paradigm shift. In the late 1970’s Howard Head’s oversize racquet, (The Prince Classic), revolutionized racquet design and set in motion a paradigm shift away from wooden, standard-sized head racquets. Along the way there were many detractors and those that scoffed at the notion of such a radical equipment change. However, racquet companies did not shy away from the change. Engineers from all racquet companies began designing mid, midplus and oversize frames. The resulting technology took these frames to dizzying new performance heights. Today standard-sized heads are a thing of yesteryear. Thirty years after the introduction of the Prince Oversize Classic, the racquet landscape has changed dramatically. The high-tech frame technology has been embraced by recreational and professional players alike. The reason is simple, easy to understand, and can be summarized in 2 words: “Superior Performance.”
Likewise, near the turn of the century we began to see innovations in string design and composition. Polyester strings had been around for many years. They never gained popularity because the performance characteristics were quite frankly god-awful. They were stiff and lost their playing properties rapidly. A company called Luxilon was among the first to begin revising the performance characteristics of polyester strings with powerful chemical and element additives. As a result of this extreme makeover, “copoly strings” were introduced to the world of tennis.
The additives provided the Luxilon strings, specifically Big Banger ALU, with better feel than traditional polyesters while simultaneously offering improved performance characteristics. The string was amply named. It was originally intended for heavy hitters (aka “big bangers”) because it allowed players to take massive swings and generate tons of power while offering phenomenal levels of control.
As racquet technology increased the inherent power of a frame, all players, professionals included, searched for ways to tame the power. The answer for many, (before copolymers), was to string these new wondersticks at high tensions to gain control. However, when Luxilon introduced new copoly strings, a handful of professionals discovered the string provided plenty of control for the powerful frames.
Copoly strings are a lower powered string that serves as a near perfect compliment to the newer high-powered frames. Professionals found they could generate a nearly insane amount of topspin that allowed for control, precision and angles that heretofore had not been available. The new copoly strings and the new frames were meant for one another as if they were soul-mates!
Credit goes to the dirt-ballers for introducing these strings to the ranks of the professionals. Clay court specialists are the ones who introduced the “Extreme Makeover Polys,” known as copolys, to the professional tour. The best claycourter of the day, Gustavo “Guga” Kuerten, was the first top 10 rated in the Luxilon stable of professionals to use and endorse the string.
Soon many of the top-tier players were experimenting with Guga’s copoly strings and discovering an entirely new level of control and performance. It really wasn’t until Andre Agassi began using and endorsing Luxilon strings that they were even on the radar screens of many recreational players in the USA. Today the top echelon of players, Federer, Nadal, Roddick etcetera all use copoly or copoly hybrids to produce some of the highest quality tennis the world has ever seen. As a result more recreational players, wanting to emulate their favorite professionals, are requesting Luxilon strings for their racquets.
But should league and recreational players be using these strings? What are the pros and the cons? Are any strings as good as Luxilon ALU? Is Luxilon ALU as good for league players as professionals? All of these questions and more will be addressed in “CHAPTER 2: Contextual Thinking: Copolymer, thy name is Luxilon…or is it?” Be watching this blog for further updates!