Back when I was growing up in the 70’s, I was thoroughly convinced I was living in the golden era of polyester. Polyester leisure suits were all the rage. They are what all the really cool dudes wore. Me, my father, our minister, my band director and of course, Herb Tarlick from WKRP. Polyester had become the pinnacle of hip and cool. Much better than cotton because it never wrinkled plus the aura of couth was unparalleled.
Unfortunately it was a fad. No staying power. But polyester survived. It was blended with other materials and continually refined so that the strengths would be amplified and the weaknesses eliminated.
The story of polyester in the tennis world follows the same basic path. Polyester tennis strings debuted shortly after the leisure suit. However, it was not until they were blended with other materials that they began to find an audience and truly shine. Today we find ourselves taking the blending concept to entirely new levels while our performance on the court as well as the pleasure associated with playing tennis using these new wonderstrings escalates to new dizzying heights…heights beyond those of the even the finest leisure suit.
Earlier this week I was exchanging email messages with a friend in the tennis business and I declared that it was a great era to be a stringer. I truly believe this is 100% accurate. The new co-poly strings (which we refer to as poly-based because they are polyester blended with other materials) are advancing and becoming more dynamic and sophisticated. The profiled strings are extremely interesting to players because they offer a level of spin and control not previously seen. MSV Focus Hex led the way as one of the first and best selling profiled strings in hexagonal form. It was recognized on a world-wide forum as being the top-rated poly-based string in 2008. Soon after boatloads of companies were jumping on the shaped poly-based string bandwagon. Then in 2009 and 2010 we found the shaped string phenomena reaching new heights as the first twisted profiled strings were introduced. For us, the WeissCANNON TurboTwist was the first of this ilk we carried and it wasn’t too long before other companies were sending their twisted poly-based offerings to market as well.
Forms began advancing. Next on the landscape were strings of various shapes and angles. Babolat popularized the octagonal string with their launching of RPM Blast while Technifibre came on board with a pentagon shaped offering called Black Code. Finally WeissCANNON upped the playing field at the end of 2010 with a pentagon shaped string of their own called Black5Edge which set a new standard in the performance of poly-based strings.
But that standard would quickly be challenged as we discovered a lesser known string company powered by one of the original polyester pioneers, John Elliot. LTEC strings are state of the art poly-based offering extruded in a variety of interesting shapes. From pentagon to triangle to twisted octagon, LTEC strings are offered in a variety of shapes that definitely impact performance in a very positive manner. Yet what is most riveting is the concept of mixing poly-based strings together in hybrid to achieve unique performance.
What??? Naturally we were familiar with the concept of blending poly-based strings with natural gut and synthetics…but blending them with one another? What could that possibly hope to accomplish?
Well, it accomplishes quite a bit. By blending different poly-based materials with varying gauges and shapes, a wonderous world of options is thrust upon us. Different shapes in mains and crosses promote more snapping action and spin than others. Different gauges produce a variety of power levels as well as control. The potential for customization/optimization is absolutely wide open for the serious and creative tennis players. Trying new hybrids, exploring performance elements and projecting how different combinations will interact with each other is a stringing nerds dream come true. So much to learn. So many innovations. Truly the golden era of polyester is now upon us. Be like me. Embrace it with your full heart and soul. Then go to the nearest thrift store, buy yourself a leisure suit to pay homage to the material that has created this perfect era!