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Old 09-16-2012, 11:45 AM   #19
Join Date: Jan 2011
Posts: 4,767

Playtest review of Discho Iontec Astaxanthin 1.20 below.

It never ceases to amaze me how different polys can be....

- Classic 'old school' feeling poly. Nothing like a modern co-poly at all.

- Fairly powerful string, though not in an overpowered or uncontrollable way. At the 53lbs CP I strung it at, you can land the ball near the baseline pretty easily and without much effort. The string encourages a more of a laid back, smooth style of hitting, based around point construction and moving your opponent around positionally. Want to thump the ball into the corner from the baseline for an attempted winner? You can do that with this string. Want to play a delicate drop shop to setup a subsequent volley? You can do that well with this string. You want to play a mid court ball, with the ball staying low and the power tapering off? You can also do that easily with this. In fact, this string has excellent power modulation and adjustability in the terms of the amount of power that you can put on the ball. It reminds me of one of those old hi-fi systems that have those big heavy volume knobs. You want thumping volume? You got it. You want low volume music in the middle of the night? You've got it. You want infinite variations in between? You've got it. Really quite satisfying. Complete opposite of something like Weiscannon B5E which is more like a on/off switch in terms of power levels.

- Feel. Good meaty contact everytime you strike the ball. Some strings feel too mushy, springy or elasticky. Others simply too hard. But there's a nice solid, satisfying, 'thumpy' meaty contact with the ball no matter what stroke you're playing. String feels quite heavy for its gauge. Doesn't feel like a thin string at all despite supposedly being 1.20.

- Volleys. Good. Again a result of that meaty, solid feel when making contact with the ball. Flat, punched volleys were particularly good; much better than drop volleys as a huge amount of underspin isn't really required. Absorbed pace well, ball doesn't spring off the stringbed too much when volleying (BHB7 is a bit notorious for that). Good, controlled repulsion of the ball off the stringbed.

- This string really tends to flatten out the trajectory of the ball that you hit. If you're looking for a 'grabby', 'spin orientated' poly, this absolutely is not it. At times, I felt as if I was back playing with my 6.1 (95/18x20) rather than my more spin orientated current stick (96/16x20). Seriously. It made my racquet feel almost like my old closed pattern 6.1. Obviously, some spin is there but its just not pronounced, and instead I found myself hitting through the court more. You can hit a heavy(ish) ball, but its a flatter heavy ball, rather than a true 'heavy' ball that shoots forward off the bounce ie a ball that has weight, pace, spin and pushes your opponent back.

- Spin. There just ins't much there. It just isn't a super grabby, spin orientated spin. You notice the lack of spin particularly when chasing down short balls and trying to whip the ball up and over the net over a short distance. I hit the tape a few times, whereas I making the same shot with Black Magic 17 just a week earlier...for winners. Black Magic just allows you to stay on the gas and be aggressive with so much more RHS in that situation because you know that string is just going to grab the ball and bring it down even over short distances. Just coudn't manage the same shot with this string. Ended up lifting the ball up and deep onto the baseline, which is fine, but it just keeps my opponent in the rally for longer and gives him the chance of a passing shot or lob, depending on how well I place the ball. Another instance where the lack of grab from this string became apparent was against a S&Ver. Raining outside, moved to an indoor carpeted court. Obviously a fast, low bouncing surface. It was really hard trying to dip returns of serve down at his feet. Much, much harder compared with the noticeably grabbier and more adjustable (in terms of spin), Black Magic 17. I ended up trying pass him on either side which gives him an easier volley. Much harder work to get the ball to dip.

- Serves. This is an area of weakness caused by the lack of grab that the string imparts (or should I say, the spin that it doesn't impart). When serving, this string is like a shire horse that only wants to move in one direction, no matter how hard you shake the reins, or beat it with a stick, rather than a dancing pony that does all sorts of tricks on command. By coincidence, I had been playing with Black Magic 17 in the same racquet the preceding week. That string offers much, much more variation when serving than the Iontec. For example, I rarely hit slice serves to someone's FH on the deuce side, because if you get it wrong or don't put enough slice on it, they can just tee off. With Black Magic, hitting a hybrid slice/kick serve on the deuce side caused all sorts of problems for my opponent with the ball popping up to shoulder height and pulling them wide into the trams. I couldn't do anything remotely similar with Iontec. If I tried to put pace on the ball, the serve ended up more like a flat serve. If I tried to put a huge amount of cut up and around the ball, the serve didn't seem to penetrate in the same way. It was hard work trying to produce variations. I ended up mostly serving flat down the T or into the body. Black Magic is a lightyears better string for serving than this.

- Slice. Don't ask me to explain why, but this string is phenomenal for playing attacking slices. You can a take huge cut down and under the ball and it really penetrates deep through the court whilst staying low throughout its trajectory. Add some slice across the ball, and it shoots sideways off the bounce, and if you're slicing down the line, it will be penetrate deep into the court as well as pulling your opponent into the trams. It was a surprsingly effective shot. Rarely would I describe myself as someone who plays a good attacking slive, but with this string, half the time I thought about playing a slice on the BH side rather than an overhand BH, whereas with other strings, it will mostly be the latter.

- Stiffness. It's not a super soft co-poly but when first strung its not uncomfortable. Meaty, slightly firm feeling from the stringbed. Some give, but not a huge amount. The problem is that the starts stiffening with increased playing time. After 4-5 hours of hitting, the string has noticeably stiffened up compared to when it was fresh, presumably because the accumulated impact stresses have caused the string to begin to break down and lose its elasticity. In that regard, it reminds me of the characteristics of WC Scorpion on its way to going to dead. That string also stiffens up and loses its elasticity, snap back etc with accumulated hitting. The increased stiffening of Iontec starts to happen from about 4 hours, and I have to admit, that I personally don't like strings that harden in that way because you never know what its going to do next to your arm, rotator cuff etc. You never know whether the next hitting session is going to be one too much. I noticed the increasing stiffness when serving rather than on groundstokes, and I have to say that it does become deceptively hard on the arm.

Overall: Not bad. Interesting string, with good points and not so good points. Enjoyed playtesting it, but its really a string for someone who doesn't mind playing a flatter, more patient game, based on point construction and moving opponents around. I'm always amazed at how different polys can make (or force) you play in different ways. With Black Magic, it encourages to play with blood and thunder, fire and brimstone, rip, rip, rip, and be aggressive with tons of spin, short angles, balls jumping off the court etc. With Iontec, it forces you play in a more laid back, considered way, because you simply can't make the same shots that you can with Black Magic. It feels like a more traditional string, where you either hit through the court, move opponents around, and/or end the point with a volley into the open court. I found myself coming to the net alot more with this string. It's like being one of those B&W tennis films from back in the day. Is one better than the other? Depends how you play, I suppose. For me, Black Magic is noticeably the greater performance string simply because it allows you to stay on the gas for more of the time, and adds something extra in terms of the greater variety of shotmaking that it allows. The fact that Black Magic is also more comfortable on the arm as well makes it a no brainer for me.

(Discho Iontec 53lbs CP in BLX Juice Pro 96/16x20)

Summary Conclusion:

+ Good, meaty, solid contact between stringbed and ball, with good repulsion of the ball off the stringbed
+ Good for flattening out the trajectory of the ball and hitting through the court
+ Good control
+ Excellent power modulation
= Not a particularly soft co-poly in terms of arm comfort, pocketing, or springiness.
- Lack of spin potential
- String becomes harder on the arm with increased hitting, typically from 4+ hours
- Difficult to get variation on serves compared to the best 'spin' orientated co-polys
- Slightly 'one note-ish' compared to some other polys on the market

Addendum: I have several sets of various Discho strings remaining - Iontec Hex, RPM Power, Go4Gold and even some of their natural gut. May try hybriding their natural gut with a Iontec cross. Should work in theory - the meatiness of the Iontec should in theory complement the elasticity of the gut. Doubt that I'll be trying it anytime soon.

Last edited by Torres; 09-19-2012 at 02:34 AM.
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