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View Full Version : Adventures of a High Tension Junkie in Low Tension Land


Jagman
12-10-2009, 03:49 PM
Due to the recent interest in performance of polys at low tensions, I thought I'd share the results of my experiments to date. I've played around with various polys and hybrids at low tension in the Wilson K90, Yonex RDS001 Mid, Yonex RDS001 Mid (2008 version), and Yonex RDiS 100 Mid. I've had time now to formulate more extensive impressions of each combination.

Let me begin by defining "low tension". Normally, I string in the 55-60 lb range for everything, including poly. I might generally consider anything under 55 lbs to be low, but since my efforts are concentrated on poly strings and poly hybrids, I'm defining low tension here as anything under 50 lbs --- which also seems to be the range most touring pros have adopted.

Although I normally play a Yonex RDiS 100 Mid, most of my trials have involved other sticks. Basically, I didn't want to take one of my main bats out of circulation for the duration of testing. Provided a setup is playable, one of my aims is to see whether the durability of poly improves at lower tensions.

First up is the Wilson K-6.1 90. This racquet sports a 4-1/2 grip and is completely stock, save for a Yonex Supergrap overgrip and Gamma Shokbuster II dampener.

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o166/GJNozum/Tennis%20Racquets/K90.jpg

The K90 was my initial venture into the realm of low tension. It is strung with a full bed of Gamma Zo Power. Tension is 50 lbs for the mains and 48 lbs for the crosses. Zo Power has a smooth texture and offers, IMO, a soft hit for a poly.

I've used Gamma Zo Sweet before in a K90, strung at my usual 60 lbs. The Zo Sweet hybrid is essentially a combination of Zo Power and TNT2. This provides, for me, a comfortable but crisp hit with plenty of control.

Initial Impressions: The low tension setup, admittedly a babystep, nevertheless provided a very different feel to the ball. Whether caused by the string, low tension, or combination thereof, I experienced very deep pocketing of the ball on the strings during contact. Both feel and sound of impact were slightly muted. The welcoming "thwack" was still there, but I'd stop short of calling it resounding.

Groundstrokes: Although I have added more modern stroking techniques and topspin to my repertoire, my background is steeped in the classical methods, which still influence my play. My strokes are relatively flat unless I concentrate on adding spin. I have added a two-handed backhand following an injury some years ago, but can still hit a serviceable one-hander. In fact, with the K90, I seem to gravitate to the OHB for some reason.

The low tension setup required a lot of adjustment on my part. The deep pocketing had a tendency to trampoline the ball when hitting flat. However, when going for topspin, that same cupping added considerable bite to the ball. I found it fairly easy to apply too much spin, causing the ball to land short. Over time, I found that a smoother stroke offered more control. The vicious cuts that I could get away with at higher tension proved unpredictable at lower tensions.

Groundstrokes had a lot of action on the bounce. Topspin shots really took off; even short balls often went well past the baseline on the bounce. Slice, too, had a lot of bite and stayed low off the bounce, practically skidding away. Form had to be very good though. Add just a bit of upwards motion on the slice follow-through and the ball would float.

The increased dwell time felt very odd and was something I never really got used to; it may be unique to this string and racquet, as I never experienced anything quite as exaggerated in other setups at even lower tensions.

Volleys: Volleys at low tension were excellent. The cupping action of the string gave good directional control at net and outstanding touch. I had the sensation of being able to hold the ball on the strings for an obscene amount of time before committing myself. Drop volleys fell like a stone and didn't come back up. Again, good bite on the ball kept it nice and low, forcing my opponent to hit up on the return, if he got to the first volley at all. Power was impressive. Although the sensation of volleying with a low tension setup was different, the results were uniformly impressive.

Serves: I thought overall pace on the serve picked up significantly with the low tension setup. As with the groundstrokes, I found good action on the ball off the bounce. Flat serves took off like a rocket. Spin was easily accessible, with the only downside being that --- like groundstrokes, again --- they had a tendency to land short in the service box at first. It took just a bit of an adjustment to find the range with the extra spin this setup produced. Kick serves had very good height and seemed to jump off the court. Being an old S&V player, I felt that this racquet, string, and tension combination would really suit that style of play.

Return of Serve: This area, for me, required perhaps the biggest adjustment. My ideal return, if I get a good ball, is a hard, flat drive off either wing. There was just too much power with this setup to control a flat ball. Topspin would bring the ball down, but often short on the return. Okay if my opponent was a net rusher, but the short ball gave the baseliner too many options. I had a hard time trying to find a workable compromise that would permit me to be aggressive off the return, but with a high percentage play. Blocking, chipping, and directional bunting were effective, but overall, I was disappointed in my inability to harness the additional power of the low tension setup on the return. There were two unexpected bonuses on returning the serve out wide: the sharp-angled, short, topspin return was very effective, as was the squash player's choppy slice return.

Transition Game: The mid-court approach game required good concentration and very compact strokes. It was easy to overhit on approach shots, half-volleys, and dropshots if I wasn't careful. I found the feel on shots in this area to be hard to gauge, resulting in a fair number of sitters or shots sailing long. This is probably the one category where the difference in feel really made its effect the most known. Technique and focus really had to be sharp here; no room for a let down.

Durability: I've probably got about 20 hours play on this setup by now, although the string has been in the racquet for a couple of months. The string itself doesn't show much wear and is still a comfortable hit, in spite of its advanced age for a poly. It seems to play as well now as it did the day I strung it. I'm not a string breaker and usually hit a fairly clean ball, so I wouldn't normally expect the string to fail before it dies. I should have kept better track of usage. Still, I have the sense that playing life may have been slightly improved by stringing at a lower tension.

Concluding Thoughts: The best single feature of this setup was comfort. I had no arm tenderness or soreness whatsoever following use. While there is a lot of added power found in this string/racquet combination at lower tension, there is a noticeable loss of control, as well. To some degree, it reminded me of a good multi strung around 50 lbs; too much uncontrollable power to suit my taste. Back in the S&V days, this may have been an excellent combo. However, in the modern game, a good baseliner will keep a net rusher at bay and make him bide his time in going forward. The uncertain ground game, along with difficulties on return and transition, make this an undesirable setup for my use. YMMV.

ohplease
12-10-2009, 04:39 PM
It's interesting that you found a low tension poly setup to be non-ideal for groundstrokes, given how pros play nowadays.

Do you think it's just a function of swinging in a more classical way? Or is it something else?

I actually got a chance to hit w/someone's pure drive the other day, and it was strung w/ALU at what felt like a tension in the 40s. It was an absolute disaster if I went straight through the ball. Just putting the string on the ball during reaction volleys launched it. But the ball did crazy things if I laced it w/spin. I'd need time to learn to control a setup like that, but if I ever wanted to play video game tennis in real life, that's exactly the setup I'd use.

nickarnold2000
12-10-2009, 08:42 PM
Using poly at low tension really benefits the player who hits with lots of spin. I use BC at 47 lbs and love the ball pocketing that produces very heavy balls. I think flatter hitters will have control problems with any string strung that low!

downdaline
12-10-2009, 10:54 PM
It's interesting that you found a low tension poly setup to be non-ideal for groundstrokes, given how pros play nowadays.

Do you think it's just a function of swinging in a more classical way? Or is it something else?

I actually got a chance to hit w/someone's pure drive the other day, and it was strung w/ALU at what felt like a tension in the 40s. It was an absolute disaster if I went straight through the ball. Just putting the string on the ball during reaction volleys launched it. But the ball did crazy things if I laced it w/spin. I'd need time to learn to control a setup like that, but if I ever wanted to play video game tennis in real life, that's exactly the setup I'd use.

Yeah, that's exactly how i felt when i went with lower tensions. Flat shots are much more difficult to control, but all kinds of spin came much more easily. I think it is bcos of the OPs classical swing style.

charliefedererer
12-11-2009, 06:10 AM
Due to the recent interest in performance of polys at low tensions, I thought I'd share the results of my experiments to date. I've played around with various polys and hybrids at low tension in the Wilson K90, Yonex RDS001 Mid, Yonex RDS001 Mid (2008 version), and Yonex RDiS 100 Mid. I've had time now to formulate more extensive impressions of each combination.

Let me begin by defining "low tension". Normally, I string in the 55-60 lb range for everything, including poly. I might generally consider anything under 55 lbs to be low, but since my efforts are concentrated on poly strings and poly hybrids, I'm defining low tension here as anything under 50 lbs --- which also seems to be the range most touring pros have adopted.

Although I normally play a Yonex RDiS 100 Mid, most of my trials have involved other sticks. Basically, I didn't want to take one of my main bats out of circulation for the duration of testing. Provided a setup is playable, one of my aims is to see whether the durability of poly improves at lower tensions.

First up is the Wilson K-6.1 90. This racquet sports a 4-1/2 grip and is completely stock, save for a Yonex Supergrap overgrip and Gamma Shokbuster II dampener.

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o166/GJNozum/Tennis%20Racquets/K90.jpg

The K90 was my initial venture into the realm of low tension. It is strung with a full bed of Gamma Zo Power. Tension is 50 lbs for the mains and 48 lbs for the crosses. Zo Power has a smooth texture and offers, IMO, a soft hit for a poly.

I've used Gamma Zo Sweet before in a K90, strung at my usual 60 lbs. The Zo Sweet hybrid is essentially a combination of Zo Power and TNT2. This provides, for me, a comfortable but crisp hit with plenty of control.

Initial Impressions: The low tension setup, admittedly a babystep, nevertheless provided a very different feel to the ball. Whether caused by the string, low tension, or combination thereof, I experienced very deep pocketing of the ball on the strings during contact. Both feel and sound of impact were slightly muted. The welcoming "thwack" was still there, but I'd stop short of calling it resounding.

Groundstrokes: Although I have added more modern stroking techniques and topspin to my repertoire, my background is steeped in the classical methods, which still influence my play. My strokes are relatively flat unless I concentrate on adding spin. I have added a two-handed backhand following an injury some years ago, but can still hit a serviceable one-hander. In fact, with the K90, I seem to gravitate to the OHB for some reason.

The low tension setup required a lot of adjustment on my part. The deep pocketing had a tendency to trampoline the ball when hitting flat. However, when going for topspin, that same cupping added considerable bite to the ball. I found it fairly easy to apply too much spin, causing the ball to land short. Over time, I found that a smoother stroke offered more control. The vicious cuts that I could get away with at higher tension proved unpredictable at lower tensions.

Groundstrokes had a lot of action on the bounce. Topspin shots really took off; even short balls often went well past the baseline on the bounce. Slice, too, had a lot of bite and stayed low off the bounce, practically skidding away. Form had to be very good though. Add just a bit of upwards motion on the slice follow-through and the ball would float.

The increased dwell time felt very odd and was something I never really got used to; it may be unique to this string and racquet, as I never experienced anything quite as exaggerated in other setups at even lower tensions.

Volleys: Volleys at low tension were excellent. The cupping action of the string gave good directional control at net and outstanding touch. I had the sensation of being able to hold the ball on the strings for an obscene amount of time before committing myself. Drop volleys fell like a stone and didn't come back up. Again, good bite on the ball kept it nice and low, forcing my opponent to hit up on the return, if he got to the first volley at all. Power was impressive. Although the sensation of volleying with a low tension setup was different, the results were uniformly impressive.

Serves: I thought overall pace on the serve picked up significantly with the low tension setup. As with the groundstrokes, I found good action on the ball off the bounce. Flat serves took off like a rocket. Spin was easily accessible, with the only downside being that --- like groundstrokes, again --- they had a tendency to land short in the service box at first. It took just a bit of an adjustment to find the range with the extra spin this setup produced. Kick serves had very good height and seemed to jump off the court. Being an old S&V player, I felt that this racquet, string, and tension combination would really suit that style of play.

Return of Serve: This area, for me, required perhaps the biggest adjustment. My ideal return, if I get a good ball, is a hard, flat drive off either wing. There was just too much power with this setup to control a flat ball. Topspin would bring the ball down, but often short on the return. Okay if my opponent was a net rusher, but the short ball gave the baseliner too many options. I had a hard time trying to find a workable compromise that would permit me to be aggressive off the return, but with a high percentage play. Blocking, chipping, and directional bunting were effective, but overall, I was disappointed in my inability to harness the additional power of the low tension setup on the return. There were two unexpected bonuses on returning the serve out wide: the sharp-angled, short, topspin return was very effective, as was the squash player's choppy slice return.

Transition Game: The mid-court approach game required good concentration and very compact strokes. It was easy to overhit on approach shots, half-volleys, and dropshots if I wasn't careful. I found the feel on shots in this area to be hard to gauge, resulting in a fair number of sitters or shots sailing long. This is probably the one category where the difference in feel really made its effect the most known. Technique and focus really had to be sharp here; no room for a let down.

Durability: I've probably got about 20 hours play on this setup by now, although the string has been in the racquet for a couple of months. The string itself doesn't show much wear and is still a comfortable hit, in spite of its advanced age for a poly. It seems to play as well now as it did the day I strung it. I'm not a string breaker and usually hit a fairly clean ball, so I wouldn't normally expect the string to fail before it dies. I should have kept better track of usage. Still, I have the sense that playing life may have been slightly improved by stringing at a lower tension.

Concluding Thoughts: The best single feature of this setup was comfort. I had no arm tenderness or soreness whatsoever following use. While there is a lot of added power found in this string/racquet combination at lower tension, there is a noticeable loss of control, as well. To some degree, it reminded me of a good multi strung around 50 lbs; too much uncontrollable power to suit my taste. Back in the S&V days, this may have been an excellent combo. However, in the modern game, a good baseliner will keep a net rusher at bay and make him bide his time in going forward. The uncertain ground game, along with difficulties on return and transition, make this an undesirable setup for my use. YMMV.

Thanks for this detailed, interesting post.
I had very similar results as you, as I still like to really pressure an opening when I see one, and the loose tension had too many balls sailing long when I flatten out a shot.

JoelDali
12-11-2009, 07:53 AM
This, my friends, is why I refuse to string poly low on my 88.

Thank you for your findings.

:)

coloskier
12-11-2009, 12:17 PM
I can concur with many on this thread. Low tension on a KPS88 with poly is like turning your racket into a trampoline, especially with classic, mostly flat strokes. Anything below 60# and if I swing out I'm hitting the fences. If you have a fast, classic swing, you better be in the mid 60's, especially on service returns and OHB's.

Jagman
12-11-2009, 01:00 PM
The K90 was an intriguing test, but perhaps a bit atypical. The prostaff family has an odd effect on me. I almost feel compelled to play S&V, hit a OHB, and flatten out my strokes. Take just about any Yonex, by contrast, and I play a THB, hit from an open stance, and throw tons of topspin on the ball, playing more of an all-court game.

Of course, this is 100% mental. I can only surmise that the classic feel of the prostaff takes me back to how I played tennis with the woodies in the 1970's. The Yonex racquets I have always associated with baseliners playing heavy topspin; indeed, I first gave Yonex a try because I wanted to learn to enjoy hitting groundstrokes (a groundstroke to a dedicated S&V player is simply a necessary nuisance on the way to a volley :)).

Next up is the Yonex RDS001 Mid (pre-2008 model). This is the older, all neon-yellow stick that TW regards as the living definition of "crisp". This one is completely stock, other than the addition of a Yonex Supergrap overgrip and a Head rubber vibration dampener. It has a 4-5/8 grip. The RDS Mid is strung with Luxillon ALU Power mains at 48 lbs and Gamma TNT2 crosses at 46 lbs tension.

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o166/GJNozum/Tennis%20Racquets/RDS001Mid.jpg

Initial Impressions: Like the K90, the RDS001 Mid demonstrated an abundance of power at low tension. Unlike the K90 setup, however, the stringbed --- even at a lower tension --- remained relatively stiff. While the cupping action of the ball on the strings was more pronounced than "normal" (anything strung at 55-60 lbs), it was not nearly as exaggerated as experienced with the K90. Similarly, there was more comfort to be found with a poly strung at low tension, but compared to the K90 setup, this was a little harsher. Luxillon is a stiffer poly than the Gamma used in the K90. There was just enough of a difference to take note, but not be uncomfortable by any means. I should mention that the Luxillon strings appeared to require a break-in period. The first three hours of play saw the strings as being powerful, but unresponsive. This situation did not extend into the second hitting session, which gave rise to marked improvement.

Groundstrokes: As I mentioned earlier, I tend to hit with a lot more topspin with a Yonex in hand. The RDS001 Mid is no exception. Mirroring the experience with the K90, low tension poly in the RDS gave you more of everything, including spin. Since the cupping action of the string was not as severe as with the K90, I had less trouble finding my range on groundstrokes with the RDS. Forehands were penetrating and very heavy, as there was considerable action on the ball off the bounce. As long as I applied liberal amounts of spin, I had no problem. Upon flattening out my shots, however, I once again witnessed a tendency for balls to sail. This played havoc with my THB, as it naturally tends to be hit relatively flat. On the backhand side, groundstrokes were reminiscent of my golf game; I hit enough atom-smashers to make it interesting, but it was a statistically losing proposition. I really did hit a few spectacular THB drives, but they were crosscourt, literally corner to corner --- that was the only angle I could hit out on a flat drive and keep it in the court. I had much better luck with slice off the backhand side. Slice off the backhand was very potent; deep and biting. If you want to hit wicked slice like Gonzo at the 2008 AO, this setup will do the job. Very nice.

Volleys: Awesome net game! This setup just crunched volleys. As long as you set up properly and punched through the ball, you couldn't ask for anything better. Excellent stick on the ball. Use good technique with this setup and you'll see very few second volleys. The RDS001 Mid is a great volleying stick. This particular poly hybrid at low tension made it that much better again. Overheads were just gone. Keep a relaxed wrist on the follow through and balls were over the fence on the bounce. The only weakness at net was touch. This would probably come in time, but during this trial the stringbed was too lively. I found it difficult to caress the ball, which resulted in too much depth and too much height on the bounce.

Serves: Serves were a mixed blessing. I have always found the RDS001 Mid to be a fantastic groundstroke machine but just adequate on the serve. I can generally obtain good spin and placement of the ball, but I do not regard the RDS Mid as a bombmaker. That changed somewhat with the low tension setup. I found a surplus of power serving flat, but that power could be difficult to reign in when going all out on serve. And you will be tempted to launch a few V-2's as the power lying right under the surface is too tempting to not unleash. Trying to control that power is another matter. As always, a smoother motion is more rewarding, but good luck trying to be rational. Spin on the serve was more useful. Slice and kick could be devastating. The ball would break away quickly and stay low off the slice. Kick serves seemingly came straight down and launched up over the receiver's shoulder. These were very effective on first or second serve.

Return of Serve: Returns with the RDS001 with a low tension setup were less of an issue than the K90, due to my propensity to hit more spin using the Yonex. Still anything lacking spin (either topspin or underspin) had a tendency to fly. Flattened drives were difficult to control and simple blocking motions could be unpredictable; the stringbed was that lively. Topspin or slice on the return was definitely the high percentage play.

Transition Game: The most remarkable shot here was the backhand half-volley crosscourt. Some of these carried an astonishing amount of pace for a half-volley, although I could not tell you why. Simply one of those things that happened, but with enough regularity to make mention. Go down the line with the half-volley and it would probably go long. Half-volleys on the forehand side, as well as dropshots off either wing, were lacking in touch. Balls off the stringbed carried a lot of energy, which was challenging to bleed away. Again, this is something that may develop with time, but through this trial, the touch and feel required for finesse shots continued to elude me.

Durability: Here's the big downer with this setup. Luxillon strings are not known for their longevity and they did not disappoint (or rather, impress) here either. I probably saw 10-12 hours of life out of this hybrid before play began to drop off and the string feel a little harder. Discounting the 3 hour break-in period, I only saw about 9 hours of optimum play with the ALU Power/TNT2 hybrid. While lower tension made the poly play more comfortably for its life and a while thereafter, overall stringlife for ALU Power did not appear to be at all extended.

Concluding Thoughts: Different string, slightly lower tension, and different racquet than the last setup. Groundstrokes were more workable, but flattening out balls continued to be problematic in terms of control. Touch also persisted in being elusive, although I feel this would be easier to regain in time with the RDS setup as opposed to the K90. While still lively, the RDS stringbed does not possess the exaggerated pocketing of the Zo Power in the K90. While more suitable for an all-court game than the previous setup, there remains a nagging lack of control on flatter balls (which is the more natural shot for me) and an ongoing struggle pulling together the transition game. Couple that with the short lifetime of Luxillon poly, and this is probably not a good combination for me. However, I will say that the possibilities for another brand of poly at low tension in the RDS001 Mid remain very, very intriguing. As always, YMMV.

Jagman
12-16-2009, 05:39 PM
It's been raining here for the last several days. That and my work schedule have precluded me from getting any recent court time. I was off today and able to hit some balls with my oldest son, who is on Christmas break from college.

We did an extended warmup and played two sets, which took about three hours. I used two racquets with low tension poly hybrids: a RDiS 100 Mid and a RDS001 Mid (2008 model).

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o166/GJNozum/Tennis%20Racquets/RDiS100Mid.jpg

I'll gloss over the RDiS Mid setup, as I have discussed it previously here:
http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=295960

The RDiS Mid is a 4-3/8 grip and is strung with Yonex Tough Brid at 48/46. The racquet is completely stock, other than the addition of a Yonex Supergrap overgrip and a Gamma Shokbuster II vibration dampener. The strings are pearl white and don't have any print on them at all, other than "Tough Brid". The mains are a smooth polyester and the crosses are a textured multifilament.

While I have described Tough Brid as an average performer in most respects and bemoaned the excessive spin produced by the textured cross, this may be as good as it gets for me in terms of poly at low tension. The string produces quite a bit of power at this tension and the added spin tends to keep the ball in play, even when hitting relatively flat. Weaknesses remain, however, which include decreased feel; short, spinny balls; and a propensity for sailing long when flattening out a stroke.

Durability is very good for a poly. As I'm still playing with this setup, I'm going to guess, for me, that playable life is somewhere between 16 (approximately where I am now) and 20 hours. Again, a good value at $8.95 a set.

The Tough Brid seems to play better in the RDiS Mid every time I hit with it. However, today was 50 outside, and just barely. I think the stringbed is tightening up a little with the cooler weather. Being the cynic that I am, I suspect that it is the tightened stringbed that is playing into my predisposition for higher tensions and giving me a skewed impression that this setup is hitting better than the others.

In any event, increasing satisfaction with the Tough Brid hybrid is still a relative thing. The strengths and weaknesses of stringing poly at low tension have tended to remain constant for me throughout my tests utilizing different strings and racquets. On the plus side, poly at low tension provides increased power and spin; and is quite comfortable. Negative effects overall include a palpably different feel; perhaps too much spin; a tendency for flat balls to go long; and a general lessening of control, as compared to higher tensions. There does not appear to be any derivative increase in durability/playability that can be ascribed to stringing at lower tension.

YMMV :)

T1000
12-16-2009, 05:45 PM
Nice carpet :)

Once again, great reviews Jagman! Which racquet do you like the best overall (k90, rds, rds 2008, or rdis) I have played with all the yonexs, but its been awhile since i played with the rds and rds 2008. I played briefly with the k90 but not enough to form a good opinion. Thanks man!

Blade0324
12-16-2009, 06:16 PM
Very interesting research. I have not done anything as extensive as you but in my experimenting with low tensions (I consider anything below 53) I absolutely hate the over all feel and performance. I have found that with lower tensions on full poly or a hybrid either one that the ball is very uncontrollable off the string bed. Direction is less predictable, spin is less and the power is far too great.
The thing I hate perhaps the worst is the movement of the strings. It seems that no matter what string is used at these low tensions that the strings move a lot and that is something I simply will not have.
The low tensions just do not suit my game and liking. I am not a classical style player, I use a SW-W FH and 2HBH with topspin on both sides. I find that higher tensions allow more bite on the ball and a considerable amount more spin as well. My ground strokes jump off the court more as to my kick serves with high tensions.
I am one that will stick with high tensions even on full poly somewhere in the 60-64 for mains and 63-66 for crosses.

Jagman
12-16-2009, 07:26 PM
I want to try and finish this off by describing my last outing with the Yonex RDS001 Mid (2008 model). I expect that I'll be playing a little less often with the onset of winter, and further suspect that results of testing lower tension setups will be compromised somewhat by the cooler temperatures.

The RDS001 Mid with the 2008 graphics is the same racquet as the pre-2008, neon yellow models. IIRC there was a minor change involving softening some grommets. FWIW, to me, the two models play and handle exactly the same.

This RDS001 is stock, with the exception of a Yonex Supergrap overgrip. The grip itself is 4-1/2. Initially, I had installed a Gamma Shokbuster II vibration dampener. However, the Shokbuster broke as the racquet was being pulled from the bag. I played without a dampener for a while and subsequently added a small, Wilson smiley face dampener. It has Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour mains at 48 lbs and Babolat Excel in the crosses at 44 lbs.

http://i120.photobucket.com/albums/o166/GJNozum/Tennis%20Racquets/RDS001Mid2008.jpg

Initial Impressions: The ping would have probably driven me nuts in warmer weather. As it was, the cooler temp --- along with the low tension --- made for a much duller, and more tolerable, sound. The hit was very comfortable with only moderate ball pocketing (i.e., more than normal, but much less than the Zo Power or ALU Power used in earlier tests).

Groundstrokes: Anticipating the now common problem of hitting long with a flatter stroke, I attempted to apply more topspin from both wings. Since my default mode is a flatter ball, I knew I'd be hitting several nevertheless, in the course of play. While this setup, like those before it, gave easy access to power and spin, the spin did not seem unduly excessive. In fact, I had little difficulty obtaining depth on any of my shots.

The ball felt very good as it came into contact with the racquet. There was discernible pocketing, but not too much. While the ball strike was not especially crisp, it remained solid and was very comfortable.

The bugaboo for today was the temperature. The uneven response from the court surface conspired with the cold balls to provide little vertical movement from the ball off the bounce. Not only did this deprive my shots of some expected action on the ball, but it made some of my opponent's shots especially difficult to get under. Even though this setup had moderate pocketing, the stringbed remained lively, especially off of an open face.

Volleys: Volleys were quite good, although I missed the crispness that I have come to anticipate with the RDS. I had just enough added dwell time with this setup for it to actually work as an asset in directing the ball. Good bite and ample power. Touch was outstanding.

Frankly, I was surprised at the control on touch shots as the audible cues and feel were so much different than what I experience at higher tensions. In spite of these differences, however, touch was very, very good. My execution on drop volleys, lob volleys, drop shots, and topspin lobs was quite satisfying. I'm going to pat myself on the back and say this was mostly me :), today, as opposed to the strings; still, unaccomodating strings I would have quickly noticed. And, I can say that while my touch may have been "on", I didn't play these shots as well with the RDiS today as I did with the RDS.

Serves: Serves had good power and spin. However, due to court conditons and cooler temperatures, the balls were bouncing lower than normal and had less action on them than expected. Regardless, power and placement were good. With both the pre-2008 and 2008 models of the RDS, I have noticed that low tension polys provide substantial added power on serve. I consider this a definite benefit for a stick that, while good, has never been considered, IMO, a big hitter on serve.

Return of Serve: I thought I saw quite a bit of improvement here, as compared to tests of other poly setups at low tension. I didn't have any difficulty hitting deep, hitting with power, blocking returns, or just chipping and charging. I will admit, given past experience, that I tried to refrain from hitting too flat on the return. Certainly, my conscious desire to add more spin on the return, added to the success I experienced today, as contrasted with other low tension outings. Still, the overall feel, in spite of aforementioned differences, was better.

Transition Game: Very difficult to tell. Conditons keep the ball very low off the bounce, especially on slice. Hence, sliced approaches down the line worked very well if I could get sufficiently under the ball to have a good follow through. Otherwise, I found myself hitting up with a fairly lively stringbed; not a really great combination. I tried hard to not hit a half volley.

Durability: Too early to say. Probably in the neighborhood of 8-12 hours, given past experience with PHT.

Concluding Thougts: The PHT/Excel hybrid at 48/44 was a good fit, I thought, for the RDS001 Mid. Whether that would work as well in the RDiS 100 Mid, my main stick, remains to be seen. This setup certainly put more punch in the RDS serve, IMO. Like other setups at low tension, there is easy access to power. However, like all other setups, the added power does come at the cost of diminished control, even though PHT/Excel offered better control overall than other combinations I have tested.

The question, for a classically trained all-courter (suffering at last from the viscituddes of age), who hits with a mixture of spin and pace, is "do the benefits inherent in a low tension poly setup --- power, spin, comfort --- negate the associated costs --- less control, different feel?" I think, for me, the answer is "No".

Nickarnold2000 said it best:
"using poly at low tension really benefits the player who hits with lots of spin. I use BC at 47 lbs and love the ball pocketing that produces very heavy balls. I think flatter hitters will have control problems with any string strung that low!"

It really does come down to control.

I really like the added power that I find at lower tensions. Power, unfortunately, can be addictive and defy reason. I generally hit a flatter ball, applying topspin usually for variety or to press a tactical advantage. This style of play, IMO, does not offer sufficient control for the surplus of power that is inherent in poly at low tension. Uncontrolled power is not a part of percentage tennis. At my age, its better to be smart than pugnacious.

If I were still primarily a S&V player, I could see some definite advantages in using poly at low tension. Sadly, I don't have the wheels to do that consistently over a long match anymore.

Comfort is indeed a factor when playing with poly. Low tension setups do offer comfort, but no more than higher tension stringjobs that are still fresh. The key is to restring before you get to the end of the string's playable life. I would strongly suspect that continued playing with dead poly, even at lower tensions, would inevitably result in the same arm tenderness down the road.

Now, if you already hit with a lot of topspin and don't demand pinpoint accuracy --- give poly at low tension a try. Free power in the present economy is a bargain! :) It will be interesting to see if my 15 year old junior player takes to this type of setup.

As for me, the experiments I consider a resounding success as I did learn something. Stay with what you know, and --- more importantly --- stay with what you know if what you know works! :wink: YMMV.

Cheers!

Jagman
12-16-2009, 07:36 PM
Thanks for the responses! I was busy trying to knock out the remainder and missed your replies during the interim.

The experiments have been interesting, at least to me. The feel of hitting at much lower tensions is quite different. Not necessarily bad, but definitely different. It can be most disconcerting at first.

The thing that gets to me is the lack of control at low tension, compared to what I am accustomed to feeling at higher tension. It has a direct effect on my game in the form of percentages, and an indirect effect in lowering my confidence.

I wouldn't try to dissuade anyone from giving poly at low tension a try. Tennis is as much art as sport, with so much resting on individual abilities and preferences.

My favorite stick is the RDiS 100 Mid, which is my bat of the moment. I played the RDS001 Mid for several years and like it well, too. Having played the PS85 for some time before that, I have a certain affinity for anything in the prostaff family. While I did not like the K90 when I first demo'd it, I find that it has grown on me over time. I generally favor racquets over 12 oz that are fairly stiff.

Cheers!

Oh, I almost forgot, the rug! It's an Afghan carpet I picked up in the eastern part of the country on one of many forays into that particular sandbox. Actually got a pretty good deal on it, although prices have since gone up along with the number of foreigners who have a little cash in their pockets. It was a gift for my wife. Thanks for the compliment!

lawlitssoo1n
12-16-2009, 10:56 PM
man i cannot use low tension! i feel that if i do ill end up just cutting them out and it's going to be a waste!!

alidisperanza
12-17-2009, 09:45 AM
Great and informative post Jag! Very eloquent.

I used to be a 60#+ guy but have recently toned it down to the 58ish range. I'm tentative but curious to see what 52-3 would do to my game. As soon as I get an extra fame in hand I'll try it out and report back on it.

bee
12-17-2009, 09:48 PM
Very nie reviews. Thanks. I tend to go with somewhat low tensions mostly for arm safety and comfort. Tonight I hit with a new set of Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17 in the mains and Klip Legend 17 natural gut in the crosses, both at 55#. Felt good to me in my Head PT280. May be the best of both worlds. For me, even at low tension, I don't like full polys.

Thanks!

alidisperanza
12-18-2009, 10:32 PM
I set up PHT/Super spin @ 53 in a prestige today... will get a chance to hit a bit tomorrow and report!