Types of Tennis String

A Comprehensive Guide for the Different Types of Tennis String

22 replies
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hey Michael,

      Thanks so much for the catch!! That was definitely a mistype on my part, which I’ve now updated, so I appreciate you brining it to my attention. Hopefully you enjoyed the article :)

      Best,
      Jon

      Reply
  1. Vaughan
    Vaughan says:

    Great article. Well written and concise enough for a string novice like myself.

    I was wondering if you could recommend what kind of strings would be suitable for me. I’m an intermediate player and for the past 9 months I’ve been playing a couple times a week, give or take, and getting really into my tennis. I don’t play competitions and I generally play socially and recreationally. I play with a semi western forehand and some kind of eastern grip on my one handed backhand. I watch a lot of tennis and the players I like to think I emulate/study are Wawrinka and Gasquet. Which type of string would and complement these two racquets?

    Head Extreme Pro
    Wilson K Blade Tour 93

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Thanks,
    Vaughan

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hey Vaughan!!

      Great question, and thanks for the positive feedback, I’m glad you found the article helpful.

      Let’s first start with the Head Extreme Pro, which is a great racquet.

      To start, this racquet has a 100 sq. inch head with a relatively open string pattern, 16 mains and 19 crosses, and you’re playing with a semi-western forehand grip. As such, it could definitely be helpful to go with a string that has a bit of added durability that can handle the open string pattern and spin you’re likely generating on your shots.

      This racquet also has a slightly higher stiffness rating of 69 (most racquets will fall in the 60-75 range) and a bit more weight at 11.8oz, so you shouldn’t need a string with too much pop as the racquet can do most of the work for you. However, at the same time a string that plays a bit softer would likely be super nice for you. Here would be my recommendations:

      Gamma TNT2 Fusion Plus 19
      This is a hybrid string that uses solid 19 gauge TNT Aramid mains, which are a multifilament string. These will provide you with a bit of a softer playing surface, while also providing you with plenty of durability. At the same time, the nylon 17 gauge TNT crosses will add a bit more playability, which I think you’ll find you enjoy. If you break strings pretty easily, you might consider moving up to the 16 gauge version of this string, but I think you’d be fine at this gauge to start.

      Wilson NXT Duo II Hybrid 16
      As the pricier of the two options, this is a super popular string option that will provide you with similar features to Gamma TNT2 Fusion Plus, but you’ll find it’s going to provide you with a bit more of a crisp feel due to the fact that it uses Luxilon Adrenaline (which I’d recommend stringing as the mains) a durable polyester string that will be more stiff than the TNT Aramid mains. However, combined with the super popular Wilson NXT crosses you should find a nice balance that is another great option.

      Now, let’s check out your Wilson K Blade Tour 93.

      With a smaller 93 sq. inch head, a closed string pattern of 18 mains and 20 crosses and a stiffness rating of 65, you shouldn’t have to worry as much about string breakage, but you’ll likely want to find a livelier string to help give you some extra pop and added playability. Considering these features and again the fact that you’re hitting with a semi-western forehand grip I’d recommend the following:

      Gamma TNT2 17
      Consistently rated one of the top tennis strings, Gamma TNT2 is a great option that will help provide you with some added power and feel. I think you can comfortably go with a thinner gauge in this particular racquet, which will provide some added spin in addition to the ever so slight texture the string provides.

      Gamma Live Wire XP 17
      Another great string, Gamma Live Wire XP will play very similar to the TNT2, however you’ll likely find it’s a bit livelier of a string, which will take the form of providing you with a little extra pop. Again, with the smaller racquet head and a closed string pattern I think you’ll do just fine with the 17 gauge, however you’ll find a 16 gauge version of bot the TNT2 and Live Wire XP if you’re looking for a bit more durability.

      I hope this helps, and I’d love to hear how things work out if you decide to check out any of these strings. If you’re looking for a bit of extra reading, I’d definitely recommend you check out our article on tennis racquet stiffness and tennis string tension.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
      • Vaughan
        Vaughan says:

        Thanks for the recommendations. I’ll be restringing the Wilson next month and I’ll try out one of those Gamma strings. Depends which is easier for me to track down.

        I’ll let you know how it goes.

        I’ll also check out some more of your gear articles!

        Cheers,

        Vaughan

        Reply
  2. Barbara Lewis
    Barbara Lewis says:

    Hi….New to your website and finding lots of very helpful information. I’m excited I found a site so dedicated to tennis.

    So… I am looking for a new racquet. I play 4 to 5 times a week both singles and doubles and I’m USTA rated 4.0 I’ll be 65 yrs old soon, so not expecting my rating to go up, but I’m alway trying to improve my game. Currently I am using a Prince Hybrid EXO3 Red 102. I was using Wilson NXT 16 strings but changed to the NXT Tour 17 which I like better. I’ve been slowly moving the tension from 54 to 58. Right now I’m looking at a Volkyl Orginix 6 or a Babolat and I was going to try the Technifibre NRG 2 gauge 17 strings. I mostly hit flat…not too much power or top spin either. (This probably doesn’t matter too much, but I also dropped my grip size to a 4 1/8 and took off the grip and only use an over grip, so I’m think of going with a 4.0 grip next time). Anyway, do you have any thoughts for me about strings, tension, racquet. Just trying to get another opinion. Thanks. Barbara

    Reply
  3. TennisCompanion
    TennisCompanion says:

    Hey Barbara,

    I hope you had a great week and thank you for your patience in my reply.

    I’ve started to put together a racquet comparison and some ideas for you, but before I unveil some of my notes I wanted to ask a few extra questions:

    • What is your motivation for switching your racquet?
    • What are your favorite parts about your Prince?
    • What do you dislike about your Prince?
    • What aspects of your game are you looking to improve through the purchase of a new racquet? Do you want more power, control, spin, etc…?
    • Which Babolat racquet were you considering? If you didn’t have a particular one in mind that’s fine.
    • With regards to your string, what was your motivation for switching?
    • When you switched from NXT 16 to NXT Tour 17 what did you like about the switch? More spin, greater feel, etc…?

    Gotta love this stuff :) So many interesting aspects to consider!!

    Looking forward to your reply.

    All the best,
    Jon

    Reply
  4. Barbara Lewis
    Barbara Lewis says:

    You ask more questions than I do…..so… I am switching because one of my racquets has a small crack and I like to change racquets every 3 to 4 years. I like that the Prince is light and elbow friendly. There is nothing I dislike about it but I’d like it even more if it was yellow. I would like to learn to hit with more topspin. I’m working on it, but I still hit mostly flat with an Eastern forehand grip. My inside out forehand is definitely my go to shot. I guess I don’t really know which Babolat, but it’s the racquet everyone is pushing where I play. Switching strings from 16 to 17 just seemed to give me a bit more power and control. Maybe it was just that the strings were new (which always helps). My son in law keeps telling me just to keep what I have and adjust the tension to 62 but I’m ready for a change even if it’s just a small one. Thanks for thinking about this.

    Reply
  5. TennisCompanion
    TennisCompanion says:

    Hey Barbara,

    Haha, yes, I do tend to ask a lot of questions :) Thanks for the extra info, that’s super helpful.

    Since there a bunch of different criteria I find visuals can be very helpful for narrowing down and selecting a racquet. To start, I put together a diagram for you, which you can find here:

    http://www.tenniscompanion.org/comments/barbara/

    Before I dig in, I’d say as a general comment that most brands have a great selection of racquets and Babolat is no exception. Recognizing this, I didn’t explore much futher beyond Babolat and the Volkl Organix 6 since you expressed interest in these.

    All in all, I like the Babolat AeroPro Lite as an option for you. As the “Light” version of the AeroPro I think you’ll find it easier to swing, similar to your current Prince. Here are a few reasons why I think this could be a good fit:

    • At 6.8 oz it’s only .2 oz heavier than your existing racquet
    • The balance, while not exactly the same, is balanced head heavy (HH) just like your Prince, so it will lend itself to a familiar feel
    • The swing weight while slightly lower than your Prince (due to the balance) will be compensated by the added stiffness of the Babolat
    • The added stiffness will likely give the racquet a fresh, livelier feel and result in some extra pop
    • You mentioned you’d love to generate more spin. While this is primarily a function of your grip, the AeroPro is known for helping players tap into added potential for spin, so it’s a great model if you’re looking to develop that part of your game.

    As for strings, here are a few thoughts to consider:

    • Based on your notes switching to 17 gauge vs 16 is likely a good fit. You probably don’t have to worry too much about breakage with the thinner string since you don’t play with a tremendous amount of spin and it also increases the potential for spin on your shots, while providing you with some added feel.
    • The Wilson NXT Tour 17 you switched to is a fantastic string. It should play very similar to the Tecnifibre NRG2 17 as they are both premium multifilaments, so if you feel good about the NXT Tour I think that’s a great string to stick to and play more with tension to dial things in for your game.
    • As for tension with the Babolat AeroPro Lite I’d say you could start right around 62 lbs with a recommended tension that falls about 5 lbs higher than your Prince. You might want to check out my article on string tension for some extra info, but tension can be fickle. The best recommendation I can give here is be willing to experiment and keep them fresh.

    Beyond that, I’d definitely encourage you to get your hands on a demo and ideally the “light” version if possible. The AeroPro Drive has a much different set of specifications including the fact that it’s 1.5 oz heavier at 11.3 oz. Unfortunately, even though everything can look great on paper you really don’t know till you have the racquet in your hand.

    Lastly, since you’ve been playing with your grip you might find my article on selecting a grip size helpful too :)

    There’s a lot of information here, so please let me know if you have any other questions.

    All the best,
    Jon

    Reply
  6. Víctor Flores
    Víctor Flores says:

    Very illustrative article. I’ve been having arm issues. So I changed from Luxilon Alu Power Rough to Wilson Sensation 1.25. Any recommendations?
    Thanks

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hey Victor,

      Thanks for your note! I’m sorry to hear about the challenges you’re having with your arm.

      Your move from Luxilon Alu Power Rough to Wilson Sensation was a fantastic choice. As you may have read or heard polyester strings like the Luxilon set you were using are pretty stiff which can be tough on your arm. So your move to a multifilament is exactly the direction I would have recommended.

      Hopefully you’ve felt the difference between the polyester Luxilon and the multifilament Wilson strings. If you’re looking for another recommendation within the Wilson family of tennis strings then I’d definitely recommend Wilson NXT. They now have quite a few variations on this string and it’s a super popular multifilament that should also provide you with a drastically different feel than the Luxilon you were playing with before.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
  7. armand
    armand says:

    Thanks for the very insightful and easy to understand article. Been playing for years now and I still really don’t know the differences. I’m about to have my favorite racket stringed and now I know which to choose based on what I want.

    Reply
  8. David
    David says:

    Hi Jon,

    Congratulations on a well written piece. You clearly have passion for the subject.

    I’m 44 and have been playing nearly 15 years. I’m roughly a 4.5 and play with lots of topspin and control.

    For many years I have enjoyed playing with a variety of racquets. My competition racquents are modern. But I also play often with a Donnay Allwood Pro (with which Borg won several Wimbledon championships) and – before the strings broke – a Wilson Kramer Pro Staff 4 1/4 grip 12.5oz balanced light-in-head (with which I believe Mcenroe won an early championship or two.)

    I also play with a 1986 Kneisl AreoClub. Lendl used the Whitestar at the time. It is strung with 15 or 16 currently at about 45lbs of tension. The racquet plays amazing.

    I enjoy the challenge of learning to play with these racquets. It is a little more difficult to generate power. But other than that they provoke a more artful and enjoyable game. Watch Bjorn and Johnny go at it. It’s not bad tennis.

    Anyway the Donnay’s string are still intact – they look like 15 guage Nylon – but they are quite loose and the racquet doesn’t feel right anymore. I had the Pro Staff restrung several years ago and it never felt right.

    I’d like to resting and do it write. Any advice what string to get, guage and tension for Donnay and Wilson racquets?

    Thanks

    David

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hey David,

      Thanks so much for the kind words! I’m glad you enjoyed it.

      I absolutely love the fact that you take the time to get out and hit with some of your older racquets – what a blast! Having grown up with graphite racquets it wasn’t until I explicitly made the decision to try out a wood racquet for fun that I was able to enjoy and appreciate how different the game was.

      As for stringing your Wilson and Donnay I’d recommend starting with a tension between 40-50lbs. If you’re looking for a more specific recommendation I’d go with a reference tension of 45lbs. This way you can get a feel for things when you string it and the next time around you can make the call to go a few pounds looser or tighter.

      You will find mention of wood tennis racquets having been string at higher tensions of 55lbs or even above 60lbs, but I’d stay away from higher tensions to avoid cracking or breakage.

      As for the type of string I’d recommend a multifilament – a few great options would be:

      • Wilson Optimus 16: $12.95
      • Prince Premier Power 16: $14.00
      • Tecnifibre NRG2 16: $16.95
      • Wilson NXT 16: $18.95
      • Babolat Xcel 16: $19.95

      As far as price/quality goes I’d recommend Technifibre NRG2, although I think any of these strings would suite both of your racquets. As for gauge, you could of course go lighter, but if you’re looking to get a little more life out of the strings you might appreciate the 16 gauge.

      I hope this helps, but of course let me know if you have any follow up questions. I’d love to hear how things go for you once you’ve had the opportunity to restring them.

      All the best,
      Jon

      Reply
  9. Helen
    Helen says:

    Thanks for all this information!! I am a Highschool tennis player and I am currently going to change strings. I have a Wilson Women’s HOPE Tennis Racquet and I haven’t changed the strings since I’ve had it. I’ve recently had an arm injury so I’m leaning towards a multifilament nylon string but I don’t know what brand or gauge to get. I’m also learning to play with more topspin since I’ve been playing with competative players. I play daily and want a racquet string that won’t be too hard on my arm. Any recomondations on which sting brand, gauge and tension I should get?

    Reply
  10. TennisCompanion
    TennisCompanion says:

    Hey Helen,

    Thanks for your note! I’m sorry to hear about your arm injury, but I hope you’re healing up nicely.

    You’re on the right track with a multifilament as a solid option. Here are two that I’d recommend:

    • Wilson Sensation 17 or 16 $9.95
    • Babolat Addiction 17 or 16 $11.95

    In terms of gauge you’ll have a bit of a tradeoff decision to make. You’ll find more potential to generate spin with the 17 gauge (a thinner string with more bite), however you’ll find more durability with a 16 gauge string.

    My recommendation would be to go with the 17 gauge, which I think you’ll still find to be plenty durable.

    If price is a concern here are a few additional options, which are not multifilaments, rather arm friendly nylon synthetic gut strings at wallet friendly prices:

    • Wilson Synthetic Gut Power 17 $4.95
    • Donnay X-Syncore 17 $5.98
    • Volkl V-Wrap 17 $8.99

    One other note that I want to mention is that while strings can certainly help ease stress on a players arm both your technique and the racquet you play with will have a strong impact on comfort. Of course, not everyone has the luxury of being able to purchase a new racquet, but I did want to at least mention so that you can consider these as you go.

    Hopefully this helps point you in the right direction! If you have any other questions please don’t hesitate to ask.

    All the best,
    Jon

    Reply
  11. Jeff
    Jeff says:

    Hi. I’m a mediocre club player and have been using a 300gm +Wilson hammer for years. Currently with polymer strings.
    Due to age and not so strong wrist, I have purchased a Wilson blade 101l of 274 gms. I play an uncoached flat hitting game and wonder which strings would suit. I prefer to play doubles and enjoy the volley net game.

    Reply
    • TennisCompanion
      TennisCompanion says:

      Hi, Jeff! Thanks for visiting and for sharing your question. I’d love to provide you with a few recommendations. If you don’t mind it would be great to get some additional feedback from you. Here are a few questions I have:

      • What do you dislike about your current polyester tennis string?
      • Do you have a price range that you’d like to stay in?
      • How often do you play tennis?
      • Is there a particular brand you prefer?
      • Would you rather air on the side of more control or power?
      • Do you have pain in your wrist?

      Looking forward to sharing my thougths and providing you with a few recommendations!

      ~ All the best, Jon

      Reply
      • Jeff
        Jeff says:

        hi Jon. No dislike of polyester. Price is not an issue. I play usually twice a week or more if matches are on in season or vets league. I’m ignorant of brands and probably require control over power as I prefer to charge in slowly. No pain in my wrist but occasional elbow issues. Mostly down to my unorthodox technique.

        Cheers

        Jeff

        Reply
        • TennisCompanion
          TennisCompanion says:

          Thanks for the extra info Jeff. Here are a few polyester string sets I’d suggest:

          Since you’re already in the polyester family of tennis strings and don’t dislike them for any reason I didn’t stray too far from there. All of these strings are going to offer 3 key features: control, durability, and spin. However, within that in mind, I did opt to recommend these three strings because they each have a comfort slant to them that I think you’d appreciate with your occasional elbow issues.

          If you do at any point find your occasional elbow issue transitions to a more frequent discomfort I’d suggest you consider moving to a hybrid string setup to maintain the control that it appears you appreciate while giving your arm a bit of relief. With a hybrid string setup, you’d simply string with one of the above polyester strings in the mains and then combine that with a softer multifilament in the crosses.

          Best of luck and let me know if you have any other questions.

          ~ All the best, Jon

          Reply

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