Who’s Stringing Your Prince “Port-Style” Racquet?

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Prince tennis has long been an innovator in racquet design. Tennis players throughout the world have flocked to the new design that Prince refers to as O Ports and Speed Ports. What most tennis players do not know is that ALL of the new Prince “port” frames that have ports located on the 3 and 9 o’clock side of the frame present special stringing challenges. If not properly addressed, these challenges can lead to an inconsistent stringbed which negatively impacts overall on-court performance.

When investing in a Prince Port-Style racquet you are paying for innovative engineering to enhance overall performance, but if the racquet is not properly strung the full performance potential may never be realized. Who’s stringing your racquet? Do they know how to optimize the process so that the stringbed will be consistent and you will get the optimal performance? We do!

While the engineers of the Prince racquets are to be commended for thinking way outside of the box, the design does present stringing challenges that I suspect only a small percentage of stringers are addressing in a manner to allow the frame to provide the user with premium performance.

The first and greatest of these challenges involves the side ports. Because the ports are open, with no grommet system to secure the string in place against the frame, the top portion of the cross strings pull at a very awkward angle when tensioning. The severity of the angle varies according to location of string and size of port. This angle must be eliminated to produce a consistent string job.

Prince has attempted to address this issue by providing a special stringing tool which is an adequate alternative, but not as effective as the method we use. Prince also recommends that stringers use a turntable break to hold the racquet in place or that the stringer use brute force to keep the string in proper position while tensioning. Some reputable stringers use the later suggestion and actually refer to it as the “Hip Method.” ALL of these suggestions/ solutions lead to inconsistencies and in some instances can actually cause damage to the stringing machine or possibly the frame itself. With all due respect to my colleagues, “The Hip Method” is not a proper or consistent solution.

At Guts and Glory Tennis we were the first to share reports with fellow stringers (and Prince itself for that matter!) of a solution we found to these issues. By using a stringing technique known as 50/50 we effectively negate all of the negative issues that surround the above mentioned methods of getting the crosses installed. Our method results in the most consistent stringbed possible and allows our customers to experience optimal performance from their racquets.

We caution those not using our services that it is IMPORTANT to make sure your stringer is well versed in the 50/50 method if they are using it. This method involves starting the cross strings in the center of the frame and the starting process is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. If not properly started, the center cross strings will be installed several pounds lower that the rest of the strings and the overall result of this in terms of on-court performance is as bad or even potentially worse than the inconsistencies the ports can produce.

The second issue we have observed is that the Prince engineers have not designed string channels in the top of the frame that are deep enough to provide adequate protection to the strings. When stringing with a two-piece method, (which 50/50 is), this issue is magnified. (We have not yet seen the new EXO3 frames and hope this issue is now addressed). We have developed a stringing process whereby we have reduced the length of string in these channels to help provide extra protection until Prince sees fit to properly address this issue. (For those with Speedport racquets, look at 10 and 11 o’clock and you will see raised ridges on the headguard. This represents Prince’s very WEAK attempt to address this issue!)

The final issue we will address is the bottom ports on some of the Speedport racquets. The bottom port presents the most severe angle of all. This is one where we have not identified any better solution than the one that Prince offers. However, we do make sure to use the “loop over” method which Prince suggests and have found this yields much better and more consistent results than can be achieved without using it.

So, if you are using one of these newer, high-tech Prince racquets, you will obviously want to get the most out of it. In order to achieve this goal the racquet must be strung to optimize performance. I am suggesting in this blog that it is probable your stringer is either not aware or not addressing some of these issues and the result is an inconsistent stringbed and inconsistent results with each new stringing.

To get the best possible stringing job for your Prince Port-Style racquet we suggest using our services or find a professional stringer who is well versed in the issues. Local customers can simply give us a call 404-246-1062 to make use of our convenient racquet pick-up and delivery service. For those at a distance, we offer a mail order stringing service. Details can be found at our web site, under our Racquet Stringing From Afar section.

Bottom Line: We understand the challenges these frames present and are eager to show you that our methods to address these challenges result in the best-playing, most consistent stringbed for your Prince port-style racquet.

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5 Responses to Who’s Stringing Your Prince “Port-Style” Racquet?

  1. JES says:

    How is using a 1-piece with a turntable brake (on a quality machine like 5 star or P 6000) any inferior to 50-50 method? The 50-50 method will have 4 knots versus only 2 knots on the 1-piece. The 4 knots may result in greater tension loss?

  2. ggtennis says:

    @JES – thank you for your post. The quality of the stringjob will depend largely on the skill and attention to detail of the stringer. I can tell you that on both the Star5 and the P6000, the angle of the pull on the tension head adds stress and may not be good for the health of the equipment over the long haul. The 50/50 method eliminates this angle which I believe is better for the machine.

    As for the quality of the stringjob…With the 50/50 method you will be getting a UNIFORM pull (no angle) with every cross string. This reduces chances of variance and leads to overall consistency on the pull of each string. Having the Star 5, I can tell you that using the break method or hip method CAN easily result in angles that are not uniform and ultimately tensions that vary. Again, it will depend upon the skill of the stringer.

    As for the # of knots, I do not believe there is a great deal of difference. Again, it depends upon the skill level of the stringer. There are clearly stringers who lose a lot of tension at the tie-offs, but those who are skilled will lose very little. So as not to confuse readers, you are referring to tension leaked in the tying of knots. You are not referring to tension loss over time. (Some people get these confused).

    When I tie off using a two-piece method, I always increase the tension on the last pull 8 – 10 lbs to compensate for tension leaked when tying off.

    The key to professional stringing is consistency. I firmly believe using the 50/50 method for port style racquets leads to far greater consistency than other methods.

  3. ggtennis says:

    I have strung 100’s of Prince port-style racquets with no issues over the last several years using the 50/50 method. I contacted a technician at Prince and during our conversation he indicated that Prince found the 50/50 method perfectly acceptable for these racquets. It does not void the warranty, and in my experience does not cause any damage.

    When I was first experimenting with the 50/50 method on these frames, I took several measurements. I can tell you that the end results are identical when comparing 50/50 with top-down methods. No distortion in final product. I also believe that if you are using a solid 6 point mounting system (real machine like the Prince 6000 or Babolat Star5…not the toys on the market!) the distortion is minimal during stringing.

    I have read the USRSA take on the 50/50 method and I appreciate the work they do, but do not always agree with them. I can site specific examples of using 50/50 without causing damage to the frame. I wonder if they can site one specific instance or more of frames actually being damaged by this method? I believe they are speculating about potential for damage and actually this is good. If you have stringers using 50/50 improperly, it does have potential to cause problems.

    Kepp in mind that frames are made to flex. The fact is they flex quite a bit when stringing using either method. While I was extra cautious when I first started using this method because of their warnings, I did not find the method to cause any damage with the Prince frames.

    Also note that in 8/10 or more of these frames I string the top two crosses with the same string as the mains. This is done prior to installing crosses 50/50. I do not do this to add support at the top of the hoop, but it is an unintentional benefit of trying to keep things clean in those narrow channels.

    Hope this helps.

  4. Allan Cooper says:

    Hey, this is a wonderful post, there is a LOT of confusion out here about 50/50!

    Can you give us some pointers to how to overcome the issue of starting the crosses EXTREMELY IMPORTANT? Where can I find a discussion / instructions on how to do this properly?

    Thanks!

    >> We caution those not using our services that it is IMPORTANT to make sure your stringer is well versed in the 50/50 method if they are using it. This method involves starting the cross strings in the center of the frame and the starting process is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. If not properly started, the center cross strings will be installed several pounds lower that the rest of the strings and the overall result of this in terms of on-court performance is as bad or even potentially worse than the inconsistencies the ports can produce.

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