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Racquets/String Tension

Q. "I am considering buying a Prince O3 racquet and am looking for advice from other players who have used it. Does anyone have any thoughts?”

From Jake M.:

I've used the Prince 03 racquet and really like it. But some other racquets worth checking out are the Head FlexPoint and the Wilson nSix-One 95.

From Chip W.:

The Prince 03 is well worth the extra money. I have a Blue 03/OS with 17 ga synthetic gut. There is no vibration, and the sweet spot is generous. Power and control are both there when needed. I own a Wilson N6 OS and a Head Liquidmetal Radical OS, and the Prince is the better racquet.

Anonymous:

I have been playing with the 03 for over a year and find that it has improved my serve, allows better volleys and more control. It has reduced my power slightly but has allowed me to hit with more consistency.

From Roy M., Summerville, SC:

I have been playing with a Prince O3 Silver for about a year, and it's a great racquet. It has a high (1600) power rating, so you don't have to swing fast to develop a lot of pace. The weight at 8.8 ounces (unstrung) makes it maneuverable at the net, and it has good overall balance. You might also consider a Babolat racquet, which I have tried out recently and like.

Anonymous:

I have two of these racquets and have loved them. They give more control for doubles and are very forgiving if you don't hit the sweet spot exactly. I play tournament doubles and would not go anywhere without them!

From Mel C.:

I am a 3.5 player with a short backswing forehand and good net game. I demo’d three Prince O3 racquets before deciding on the O3 White a year ago. It was a good blend of the O3 Silver (more power than I needed) and the O3 Tour (not nearly enough power for me but very maneuverable). I've heard the new Spectrum is good, but I would suggest just demo'ing several before buying. I love my O3 White!

From Andrea S., Clearwater, FL:

In 2006, I purchased a brand new Prince O3 White racquet. I am a strong net player but desired some extra power. It felt wonderful on my arm, and I was able to hit deeper into the court, but after only a few short months of improving my game, I found I didn't need all that power. I needed more control. Originally, I had it strung for power and control, but because of the way it is designed, I was having trouble finding someone to string the racquet properly. Make sure the person you hire to string the racquet has experience with stringing this type of racquet. If not, the strings will come loose very quickly. I've given up on this racquet, and I've switched to another brand.

Anonymous:

I have the Prince 03 Shark, and I absolutely love the way it handles. There is such maneuverability with the holes at the top, and it's easy to really "snap it" when you need to. I am a female 3.0 player, but my daughter, who is a high school player, also uses it and loves it. Maria Sharapova also uses it!

From Loretta O.:

I purchased a Prince 03 Red, and I got results (for the better) right away. However, after doing some research, I discovered that the 03 Silver may be a better choice for me since I have a short, compact swing and my technique isn't up to the point that I generate my own pace. Boy! What a difference. Since using the Silver, I have more pop on my groundstrokes and spin on my serves. It's a great racquet. Good Luck!!

From Denise M.:

I currently am a 3.5 player and purchased this racquet about a year ago. I had always used an oversized Wilson racquet for years prior to buying this racquet. Very pleased with the power and maneuverability around the net.

From Roxanne, Monticello:

I have been playing with the Prince 03 Blue for about a year. It is an oversize and is really lighter than most Prince racquets. It has a power level of 1300, which seems versatile enough for me. I am a 3.0 player and play both singles and doubles. This racquet has helped me improve my groundstrokes and is a very good racquet for net play. I used a Wilson Hyper Hammer for three years and have just loved the new change and feel. I also bought a Prince 03 Silver as a back-up racquet. This one seems lighter than the blue and has a power level of 1600, so I use this one for serving. Both are great racquets. I would highly recommend these, or try using a demo before purchasing.

From Jared, Massachusetts:

Although I am only 13 years old, I love the sport of tennis and have a Prince O3 racquet. Depending on what you are looking for, there are different types of racquets and different colors. I personally have the Prince O3 Hybrid Spectrum, which is the cheapest model in a white color. I do not think that a player is made from what they use, but the Prince O3 models definitely do not hurt your game.

From Mike H., Durham, NC:

My wife bought me a Prince O3 White for Christmas. It has been the best stick I have ever had. Previously, I was using an OS Hyper Hammer by Wilson, which I loved. I had it since I started playing. I guess for sentimental reasons I had refused to change, but my daughter went out to hit with the new Prince racquet, and I was blown away at the greater control I could achieve. I was putting the ball wherever I wanted... even on mis-hits!!! Before, with the other racquet, it was very powerful, and when I would hit with it, I would hope it would go in… timing and how much racquet head speed I would use would be a constant worry. But with the new Prince racquet, I can take massive rips, and the ball lands deep (which I love), or a little more spin, and I can achieve killer angles. I can't wait until this cold winter weather lifts so I can get back to work and start tearing up my local tennis ladder!!!

From Colin C., Wilmington, NC:

I have just demo’d the new 03 Speedport Red and Blue. They hurt my forearm muscle -- so no good for me -- even with lead tape. I am a male 4.5 player, 53 years old, currently using the Head Flexpoint 4. I just saw the new 2007 model today, and it looks great. I will demo that when the local store gets one.

From Marie C., Escondido, CA:

Hi there! I demo'd four or five racquets and finally bought the O3 Blue. I love it! I would really recommend trying it first. I wasn't sure I wanted to spend that much money, but after trying a Wilson, a Head and a different Prince, I knew that the O3 was worth it.

From Dave P.:

It took me a few minutes to figure out WHAT the Prince 03 reminded me of. Then it hit me… an AUTOMATIC CAR! The racquet is from out of this world. I INSTANTLY started playing better. My one-handed backhand stayed low like NEVER before. I felt control on my shots much more, and I was amazed at the technology. I have been playing for over 20 years.

Q. "I am a 4.5 player and am frustrated by the drop in my string tension over time. It can make a significant difference in my game. What string is best to hold its tension? I string my own rackets at 64 lbs."

From Rick M.

I have just discovered a string line that is "advertised" to do just the thing you are asking about. It's Gamma's Zo line and features several different models. As I understand this, here’s what happens:

I purchased two models -- one called "True," the other called "Sweet." These strings are to be strung at 10 percent less than the tension you want because they don't stretch very much under the tension! In other words, if you like 65 lbs., string "True" at (65 - 6.5 lbs.), or (round up), 7 lbs. less, which would be about 58 lbs. "True" is supposed to hold that tension, whereas regular string loses about 3 or 4 lbs. within the first few days of hitting.

The "Sweet" is a hybrid string and gives a little more durability and is longer lasting by combining two different string types for the mains and crosses. Only the mains are to be strung 10 percent less then the wanted tension. The crosses are strung to the desired tension. Again, if you want 65 lbs., string the mains at 58 lbs. and the crosses at 65 lbs.

I have tried these two for over a week now and have noticed quite a difference. However, since I'm new to them, I'm still experiencing their capabilities. Hope this helps! Good luck!

From Lindy L., Bensalem, PA

I do not know the exact answer about string tension, but I can offer this suggestion: Go to your match with three or four rackets strung. That way, when you feel the tension going, switch to another. Or switch regardless after every six or seven games. Some of the pros have their rackets strung at different tensions depending on what they feel they need at various times during a match.

From Susan B., Houston, TX

Many things affect string tension -- humidity, your style of play, type of racket, kind of balls used, how you store your racket and the type of surface played on. Also, the number of times you play will also affect your string tension. (If you play five times a week, you should string your rackets five times in a year, etc.)

Research what your racket manufacturer has to say about string type(s) and tension, talk with a stringing professional, get an opinion from them and demo different types of string. Then you can make an informed decision as to what suits you.

From Scott, Chatham, NJ

Without a doubt, the best string to hold its tension is natural gut. It is the most expensive string to purchase, but it also has the best playability. I have found that whatever string tension you like, string the gut three pounds higher, and after approximately two to three hours of play the tension will be exactly what you like. Gut will hold that tension for the life of the strings. You can always count on just what you like to play with until the strings break.

From Ray L., MI

In my experience, the Luxilon Big Banger ALU Power does well with tension maintenance. It is also quite durable.

From Greg B., Renton, WA

I'm a 3.0 player, but I am very hard on my strings; lots of hard-hitting topspin. I’m also very sensitive to my string tension -- just one pound makes a real difference.

For durability reasons, I used to play with Kevlar on my mains and synthetic gut on my crosses, but I was getting concerned about the wear and tear on my arm. The reason I went to the Kevlar combo was mainly due to cost. Otherwise, I would be restringing my racket every week or two.

After trying out (and going through) several types of strings, my stringer suggested I try string savers -- little plastic inserts to keep the strings from rubbing against each other. I found that these not only made my strings last longer but also extended the playable lifetime of the strings.

One combination I have found that works for me (on my Prince O3 Tour racket) is using a Prince Synthetic Gut 17 gauge with Babolat Elastocross II string savers. I've tried Gamma's string savers but found them to not work as well as Babolat's -- the Gammas were more difficult to install, they would pop out, and they didn't slide as well. Also, I would have never thought that a 17 gauge would stand up to my game, but with the string savers, I can play for about four to six weeks before I need restringing, or it breaks.

The other critical thing you need to do is find a good, consistent stringer and stick with him. One stringer's 58# is another's 59 or 60#. One thing my stringer told me, why his stringing is so much different from others, is that he lets the string settle into the tension longer, rather than rushing through the job. After he explained it to me, it made perfect sense. I hope this helps, and good luck finding your perfect stringing combination!

Q. "I play often, at least four or five days a week. I notice that my strings tend to lose their "feel" a week after stringing my racket. They can last for about another week before breaking. Because of this problem, I need to re-string my racket within two weeks. Does anyone have any suggestions on strings that have great feel but last long?"

From Gonzo N.:

This may make you feel better. At one time, I was playing as much as you are now and was re-stringing my own rackets two to three times a week. When I would go to a more durable string, I would not get the same performance, and my arm would get sore. Bottom line, we can’t have it both ways. It's either your arm or your pocket.

From Steven:

Well, when it comes to strings, I play with a Wilson [K] six-one tour 90. I use the Luxilon strings. I play four to five days a week, also. The strings are durable, and they break for me three weeks to a month, when I use it.

From Zack, Boca Raton, FL:

Consider Kirschbaum Competition 16.

From Kenny, Highland Park, IL:

First, make sure you keep your rackets stored in a nice environment – not too much humidity or cold. Also, there is a new brand of strings that are polyester and are amazing. Agassi said, "We should all be able to use them, or they should be banned." You can also get the cross strings in a more lasting kind of string and the others in a more power type of string. Ask your stringer about all of this, and go for it!

From Coach Poppie, Palm Bay, FL:

String is probably the least understood item for most players. Assuming you are playing with synthetic string, you have polyester and nylon as the most common solutions. There are aluminum and graphic impregnated solutions; multi-filament and solid core; big-hype, high-cost string; and low-budget string.

String comes in many gages. The higher the number, the thinner the string – 15, 15L, 16, 16L, 17 and 18 gage for other racket sports.

I play with 17 gage. I can increase control and speed at low tensions.

The higher the tension, the more control, while lowering the tension will increase speed (all things remaining equal)

Hey, I don’t make this stuff up! Read Bodie.

Go to 15 gage. Polyester wears better, but you can lose tension – it is a tradeoff.

Since I own a machine, last year I bought five different 17-gage sets of string. I played with each set up to a week and cut them out immediately if less than what I wanted. You do not break in strings; they at their best the moment you lift the frame from the machine.

Once I decided on the string, I bought a reel online and then adjusted the tension, as needed for my game. Now that I have tune in my tension, I lock it down and leave it alone.

As you see, there is no white or black answer – just an infinite array of gray when it comes to string.

I stick with Head. I play with Head rackets, although I like gamma synthetic gut. I got a better price the last time I bought a reel for myself.

Bottom Line:

* Invest in multiple rackets for obvious reasons.

* Buy your string online in reels and align with a competent stringer for installation only.

* Invest in a machine. Do yours, and pull a little on the side to help with the cost.

* I bought my machine more than 20 years ago, maintained it, and it has paid for itself many times over.

Do hope this helps. Good luck.

From Phil, Briarcliff Manor, NY:

Use the strings you have but put string savers in. They're little plastic things that fit in between the string at the intersections and prevent the movement of the strings from slicing through one another. Be generous and cover the sweet spot and then four strings up, down and sideways to be sure, especially toward the tip of the racket, where string tension is very high.

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