Luxilon ALU vs PolyStar - Strike 18x20 vs 16x19


New User
Hi everyone!

First a bit a background info on myself. I'm 28yo, 6'2", pretty strong physicasly. Been playing rec tennis ever since I could remember. Never seriously, just here and there with my dad and friends when I was younger. For the past 2 years, I've really picked it up and started playing "seriously" and work hard on improving as much as I can. I take private lessons with a local coach and try to play as much as possible.

I would consider myself a 3.5 to 4.0 player with 4.0 to 4.5 ground strokes. Reason for that is that I've always just rallied balls around, so my groundstrokes are a good step or even two ahead of my serve and match play. I'm an agressive baseliner but I like to move up every opportunity I get. When I get the point, it's most of the time on forehand winners from the baseline, or on short ball opportunities, which I'm fairly good at putting away. My volley skills are ok, yet inconsistant, so although I can create the opportunity with agressive balls, I will fail on the finish more often than I should.

I used to play with an oversized Head Radical, but with my coach's advice I went ahead and picked up a Pure Strike (the 2014 version) because I really don't need the racquet to generate power for me. I got a sweet deal as the local store was selling their demo units. I did not realise at that moment that it was the 18x20 version, and no return possible. After looking up reviews online, almost everyone was favouring the 16x19 version with great reviews, and not so good for the 18x20.

My game has been good ever since and improving, I got used to the lower powered racquet and gained a lot of control. But, being so passionate about tennis, I always had that "what if" in the back of my head about the praised 16x19 version. I finally decided to pull the trigger on one last week as they were discounted. Still the 2014 version, black and red. Figured I'd finally know the truth about the two versions and at worst I'd have a backup racquet when my strings would break.

I've recently started playing with ALU Power in the 18x20 at a tension of 55. The first week it felt way too stiff and underpowered, but then started to play very good. I can really rip the balls and attack aggressively without holding back which I love doing. That said, in defensive situations it does feel like it's lacking some pop, as I really need to get a good swing at the ball to keep it deep. Yet I can still generate some baseline winners with it, and my consistency is pretty high in terms of keeping the ball in, as the lower power keeps the ball in instead of out deep if I miss by a bit. Backhands feels awesome and effortless, I can direct the ball very well and deep consistently.

I strung the 16x19 with Polystar (classic I believe - yellow version), thinking that it might be wise in the long term for my forearms as I had read on here that Luxilon probably shouldn't be used by most. Not that I'm experiencing pain at the moment, but I do have a bit of tightness when playing every day and it just got me thinking in the long run. I strung the Polystar at a tension of 60, as recommanded by my stringer because it's a softer string.

Played with the 16x19 Polystar yesterday, and it felt like a rocket launcher compared to my 18x20 with Luxilon. Had a hard time keeping the ball in. Crazy power! Tried it again today, and I realised the only way I can play it is be really hitting effortlessly, the strings do all of the work. I wasn't as consistent, balls would fly out much more often, but I could still manage some very aggressive shots from the back here and there. I was missing a lot of short balls also, which is usually my strenght, landing a little deeper than expected. Obviously I'm used to the other racquet and the lowerer and stiffer power, so I could probably adapt with time. Defensively though it helped a lot, I could still keep the ball deep even with smaller cuts. I also noticed slightly more spin, especially on my slice. On the return of serve, it helped immensely aswell, as I could redirect the serve deep with less effort.

I now realize I should probably string my racquets to find a happy medium between both setups. The ALU Power is very fun as I can take huge cuts at the ball with it and keep it in play consistently, which as said before, is what I enjoy doing! The Polystar is simply too powerful at that tension, I can generate my own pace and don't need my strings to bounce that much. Maybe the 16x19 is that much more powerful too.

Now here are my questions (finally)!

Should I keep playing with Luxilon and string it at a lower tension (I'm thinking 50?) to get more power out of it for those defensive situations?

Or should I play with Polystar for the sake of long term, pain free tennis, and simply bump up the tension to reduce it's power? (currently 60, thinking 65?) Maybe another version of Polystar wouldn't be as powerful? I read that stringing Polys too high really reduces their durability aswell,..

I could play with the Polystar at 60 with more adaptation. I'm just used to being very reactive and hitting hard and always felt like I play better if I'm really going for it.

Also, if a string or racquet feels too powerful, does that mean I generate my own power and don't need help from the equipment? Or simply that I can't yet control the extra power and should learn to tame it and that would improve my game in the long run?

Sorry for the long first post on here, I've been waiting a little while to ask questions and read around as much as I could instead... But now I'd really like your opinion on this matter!

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