The Church of Polystringism-- Alidisperanza's PT Thread

Initial thoughts on Diadem Solstice Power-- It feels like it bites into the ball, but where's the snap back? I hit with the string for maybe 30-40 mins and the mains don't even snap back/ return to position if you shift them. What's going on!?
 
FINAL THOUGHTS

String: Tier One Black Knight 128
Frame(s): Vcore Pro 97 330g
Tension: 48

I'll admit it, I don't have terribly high expectations for "new" strings on the market. The last non-major brand of strings that I was pleasantly surprised with was Black Mamba/Discho Iontec. Iontec was an every-day poly that fit a wide profile of needs. I'm happy to report, I think Black Knight fits the same category and then some. The marketing of a "well balanced string" for high level players fits the bill.

TLDR: Swing fast and hard with proper mechanics and you'll be rewarded with a paced, penetrating ball. Don't and you might just find some launchy results. Very well balanced with positive marks in all areas. Notable attributes: pop/ penetration of shot and durability.

Ground Strokes: Above average control all around and through the life of the string. Noticeable pocketing and good pop with increased RHS. Topspin is absolutely necessary for all shots to prevent "launch".

T1BK's strength comes from an all around balance that is focused on long, full strokes. Racquet head speed is essential to produce a penetrating ball. While I didn't find the "ultimate access to spin" as was advertised, control was premium provided I laced every stroke with some topspin. The key here is to maintain proper mechanics. Playing a "rally ball" kept the ball consistently within a foot or two of the service line. Extra knee bend, shoulder turn, and taking the ball on the rise and the ball consistently landed within a foot of the baseline. Angles are accessible as are slices that will penetrate deep in the court. What surprised me most about this string is the drastic discrepancy from stringing to stroke. I was expecting a much harsher play from the plasticky feel and seemingly "hard" construction. Yet, I found that there was a generous amount of pocketing and pop. While you're acutely aware of off-hits, I never found the string to be jarring or uncomfortable to play. What I most enjoyed about this string was that I was able to just play a stable, consistent game without giving up many "sitters". The combination of playing the 330g and T1BK allowed me to play a counter-puncher style game where I could move the ball around, set up points, and shift to offense when I had a court-position advantage, or a shorter ball. Keeping the ball deep in the court on those strokes allowed me to come in and finish at net if necessary.


Volleys: Pocketing and comfort are highlights. Even on blocked balls, there's enough pop and feedback that you'll remain in the point. Again, beware your mechanics. Open the frame too much or react late and it's easy to find yourself long on volleys.

Largely the same as first impressions--Here's where I felt this string/frame combination shined. The extra pocketing and snap on the ball is excellent. I never felt overwhelmed, or like my shot wasn't doing what I wanted it to do. T1BK has a good amount of punch without being unwieldy. The frame and string will return what you put in. Get lazy with your volleys and you'll find you're getting passed. Keep your footwork quick and your volleys crisp and the ball goes where you want it to. I have no sense of touch but a friend of mine was able to hit some beautiful angle and drop volleys with the frame. His feedback was that the noticeable pocketing allowed him to hedge his shots.

Serves and Overheads: Nice pace and punch to the ball. A 60% pace overhead was usually enough to put the ball away without concerns of it coming back.
T1BK packs a good amount of punch behind it. If you're not careful and don't lace a serve with spin you'll find yourself with a beautiful serve that lands a foot long. I found that on both overheads and serves, I didn't have to work as hard to get effective results. 65% power/pace/ swing, whatever you'd like to call it was the sweet spot to maintain enough pace and depth to be effective while still inspiring confidence to go after shots. Ramp up higher than that and there's a nice "BLAT!" as you smash the ball.

Feel/ Durability/ Play-life": Deceptively soft. The string feels hard in the hands similar to Hyper-G (definitely where the comparison ends!). It strings like it's tour-bite or Alu Rough but plays significantly softer. No durability concerns after 5.5h which is shocking.

The string plays on the soft side. It feels a bit plasticky without a full cut on the ball but once you're playing and truly bending the strings, you'll appreciate the difference. After 5+ hours there's still a decent amount of snap-back on the mains and they're not significantly notched as I'd come to expect. The strings are still sliding over each other and can get out of the notch-channels which is impressive. I know the string is thicker than my typical 17ga but at around 6h I expect poly to be boring, languid, and beaten up. No such thing here. There is definitely a difference from when the string was fresh and still had the shaped edges but I'm pretty confident in saying I'd have no qualms about playing a match with this stick. At 6h strings that are stubborn and won't pop are typically cut out for me or relegated to a hitting frame. I'd still go to war with this hammer.

Final thoughts: Thank you T1 for the playtest. Seriously, it's been a pleasure so far and I'm playing some of the most confident and comfortable tennis I have in months. In large part, I'd say it's because I found a great string/frame combo that's allowing me to elevate my base plateau and experiment with improvements in my game.

T1BK is not for you if you want to step on the court and play your weekly club match, have a couple cocktails and a steak, and discuss tomorrow's golf outing. It's not for you if you want to have the latest-flashy-$17.00-cutting edge-fancy-string on the market. It's not for you if you want instant, free, silly-spin string that's one dimensional. And you know what? I'm so happy that it isn't.

T1BK is the hard-working, no-frills, tournament player string. From my playtest it's an all around, gritty, get your hands dirty string where you want to log hours on court to make your game the best it can be; where you're going to focus on taking that explosive step in with a big cut and healthy knee bend to drive the ball into the corner, time after time. In @J011yroger fashion, if I had to pick a lady, we're talking Lara Croft--tomb-raider; hair in a long braid, dirt smeared on her face, let's do it.

Future: I'm looking forward to putting a set in the 310g despite my growing list of play-test strings that I need to get around to. I'm very curious to see if the 20g diff will impact the feel and play of the string. Also... there's a 123 version... need me some of that!
To the OP - thanks for posting your thoughts, much appreciated! Very informative and a fun read.

Question about these T1 strings - where are you buying these? I don't see them on TW, hence my question.
 
To the OP - thanks for posting your thoughts, much appreciated! Very informative and a fun read.

Question about these T1 strings - where are you buying these? I don't see them on TW, hence my question.
My pleasure, I'm glad you've enjoyed. I've made all my purchases directly from their website. If you google Tier One it should come up right away.
 
Per request by @JOSHL I'll be putting a set of Hyper-G/ Head PPS in one of my frames, hopefully this weekend. Supposedly the VCore Pro 97s are string sensitive. This'll be a pretty good test of that.
 
Initial thoughts. Whoah low powered compared to poly. Significantly lower launch angle. You have to swing out with this one or the ball is going to land short and be punished. Not a bad thing necessarily but very different than full poly.

I take back what I said about this possibly excelling with a syngut. The mains got the shiftys right off the bat and I found myself adjusting them after every hit. I suspect it could be any number of things since pps is pretty slick in the hands. It could be the 16g cross sticking to the 17g main, the square shape, or the pps could just be too soft. Shrug.

We had some crazy heat and humidity so I was forced to switch to the diadem to let the handle dry off a bit. The difference was pretty dramatic. With the switch to solstice power, I was skying balls. When i switched back, I was hitting mid-net.
 
Diadem solstice power 1.5ishh in. Holy shifty-ness. I dropped a cross to show the notches but the mains are as-is from the last ball I hit. Orientation of the pic > Mains are going left/right. Crosses up/down

 
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String: Diadem Solstice Power 18ga
Frame(s): Vcore Pro 97 310g
Tension: 48lbs

Stringing: It feels like any other poly in the hands, perhaps on the more pliable side. You can definitely notice the star/gear shaped structure of the string. It feels rough and you'll definitely notice it when stringing crosses. I wouldn't want to have to string 3-4 frames at a time of this stuff. No issues tying off knots or with blocked holes.

Ground Strokes: The first thing I noticed about this string is the very lazy launch angle that accompanied my stroke. It's much higher than I'm used to and I found that I had a decent amount of trouble flattening the ball out on my forehand. For me it was problems playing doubles because my ball was sitting up ready to be poached. Even playing singles, I was pushed into finding ways to bring the ball down and/or keep it from launching out the back half of the court. At no point in time was I comfortable thinking, "ok, let's smoke this approach shot". It just wasn't there. Angles are good but not great. I never had the confidence to really push to the line here.

Having said that, I was fairly content to sit back at a half-stroke and just float the ball into the back corners of the court. Overall it's a comfortable poly to play with and on the powerful end of the spectrum, just not an inspiring one. Generally speaking it feels like the string was biting into the ball, but without that snap-back you'd expect from poly. It grabs and then you feel like it's taking up the slack before launching the ball. Perhaps there would be a benefit to bumping up a lb or two to 51lbs.

Volleys: No major commentary here. Good feel, and a decent amount of pop on the ball. I was ok with it in all aspects except mid-court. A little bit of an open face on half-volleys and the ball flies to the back of the court.

Serves: It was a little difficult to dial in here as the string does not inspire precision and confidence but I'd say this is where I found the most positives. There's a good amount of pop on the ball if you flatten out and enough spin to keep the ball deep in the box for kick serves. I found some trouble especially when going for an aggressive topspin serves as I did not have a great feel for placement on the court. Some serves that felt good were a foot out and some that I suspected would have gone long, stayed in. Action on the ball was above average but nothing out of the ordinary for a good poly.

Durability:
For an 18ga string, I think it held up pretty well at just under 2h. I noticed early on though that there was heavy notching (see above) and abundant shifting of the string after every point. within the first half hour I was fixing my mains like it was a synthetic gut. For some that may not be an issue but it bothered me like crazy.

Overall: I'm curious to see if the 17ga plays drastically different and maybe alleviates a little bit of the consistency/launchiness I experienced. It's not a bad offering especially for a singles player who is looking for a comfortable string to keep the ball deep in the court for long, grind-out rallies. For my playstyle and ability, it's not my cup of tea at 18ga. While I've been working on producing a consistent, higher quality ball, my ability to construct points is hampered when I'm thinking too much about what boxes to check to hit x stroke. For example, if I have an opponent who doesn't have the best mobility or volleys and hit a ball shorter to draw an opponent in, I need to be confident that I can keep the ball low to set up a passing shot. I can't say I felt that here. I never felt comfortable playing aggressively.

Groundstrokes: 3.5-4/5-- great and comfortable for long singles rallies
Serves: high 3.5-4/5
Volleys: 4/5
Spin: high 3.5-4/5 I think the spin potential is there maybe at a higher tension though.
Power:4/5
Comfort:4.5/5
Tension: Shrug-- it started shifting on me right away.
Durability:1.5/5 overall-- I'd say 4/5 for 18ga
 
I hit about 10 strokes after some mini tennis and bye bye diadem. What’s interesting is the mains still have the ridges. The strings were completely shot and shifty though.



 
String: Solinco Hyper G17/ Head PPS 16
Frame(s): Vcore Pro 97 310g
Tension: 49lbs

Stringing: both are super easy to string. Head pps is super soft and decidedly slick. Great cross to work with. Heads up, it’s quite stretchy though for those of us who use crank or drop weight.

Ground Strokes: holy lack of power. This string hybrid really doesn’t have much to it. Control is there in spades because you quite literally have to swing everything into the ball or launch high to get it deep in the court. Maybe in a 100 sq inch tweener frame with a really open drill pattern this could work better but def not in the yonexes. I don’t see it in an 18x20 either. It feels pretty dead/dull and uninspiring.

Volleys: again, the string feels dead/dull/uninspiring. It works but will do you zero favors. Can’t say I had much feel or touch with this either.

Serves: control is high here but it’s more for the lack of ball quality than the precision one could expect from a premium setup. Even when I was serving on point or going for bigger serves, there was just something missing. I didn’t see many free points or winners based off what I was doing.

Durability:
shifty not so nifty. From jump the strings were super shifty and didn’t have the SnapBack I expected to see from this slick syn cross. It’s hanging in there though and that’s definitely a good thing; too bad the combo sucks :/ it’s getting cut out after about 4+ hours of play. The little snap back there was is totally gone and I have to manually reset my mains. No real notching to report although the crosses are about a little less than half thinned out.

Overall: hate to say it but I was terribly wrong. This one is a dud. For someone who just wants a consistent, boring string, go for it. But personally, I never felt like a threat on court. It was a lot of work to keep the ball consistently deep and even then, there was no semblance of confidence. Once I finally adjusted my stroke on the last series of play to get the ball deep, i found i was missing long within a foot or so.

Groundstrokes: 2.5-3/5-- the only real plus is it’s comfortable
Serves: 3/5
Volleys: 3/5
Spin: 2.5/5 nein strempf
Power 2/5
Comfort:4.5/5
Tension: Shrug-- it started shifting on me right away.
Durability:3.5-4/5 overall-- gosh darn shifties
 

JOSHL

Professional
String: Solinco Hyper G17/ Head PPS 16
Frame(s): Vcore Pro 97 310g
Tension: 49lbs

Stringing: both are super easy to string. Head pps is super soft and decidedly slick. Great cross to work with. Heads up, it’s quite stretchy though for those of us who use crank or drop weight.

Ground Strokes: holy lack of power. This string hybrid really doesn’t have much to it. Control is there in spades because you quite literally have to swing everything into the ball or launch high to get it deep in the court. Maybe in a 100 sq inch tweener frame with a really open drill pattern this could work better but def not in the yonexes. I don’t see it in an 18x20 either. It feels pretty dead/dull and uninspiring.

Volleys: again, the string feels dead/dull/uninspiring. It works but will do you zero favors. Can’t say I had much feel or touch with this either.

Serves: control is high here but it’s more for the lack of ball quality than the precision one could expect from a premium setup. Even when I was serving on point or going for bigger serves, there was just something missing. I didn’t see many free points or winners based off what I was doing.

Durability:
shifty not so nifty. From jump the strings were super shifty and didn’t have the SnapBack I expected to see from this slick syn cross. It’s hanging in there though and that’s definitely a good thing; too bad the combo sucks :/ it’s getting cut out after about 4+ hours of play. The little snap back there was is totally gone and I have to manually reset my mains. No real notching to report although the crosses are about a little less than half thinned out.

Overall: hate to say it but I was terribly wrong. This one is a dud. For someone who just wants a consistent, boring string, go for it. But personally, I never felt like a threat on court. It was a lot of work to keep the ball consistently deep and even then, there was no semblance of confidence. Once I finally adjusted my stroke on the last series of play to get the ball deep, i found i was missing long within a foot or so.

Groundstrokes: 2.5-3/5-- the only real plus is it’s comfortable
Serves: 3/5
Volleys: 3/5
Spin: 2.5/5 nein strempf
Power 2/5
Comfort:4.5/5
Tension: Shrug-- it started shifting on me right away.
Durability:3.5-4/5 overall-- gosh darn shifties
I wonder how a round poly would be with velocity either mains or crosses. Think I’ll give it a try with Warrior response.
 
True to form, Black Knight in the 310 yonex plays well. I'm still not a huge fan of the way it plays upon first hit but after 20 minutes or so it settles and has great overall feel. I'm glad I bought a reel.

However, I do have to say that my initial impressions of this string were spot on. It's not something you can play slow and lazy. The snap and spin that keeps the ball in is accessible only if you take a full cut at the ball. If you hit off your back foot and play hesitant, the string will do you no favors.
 

SpinToWin

Talk Tennis Guru
True to form, Black Knight in the 310 yonex plays well. I'm still not a huge fan of the way it plays upon first hit but after 20 minutes or so it settles and has great overall feel. I'm glad I bought a reel.

However, I do have to say that my initial impressions of this string were spot on. It's not something you can play slow and lazy. The snap and spin that keeps the ball in is accessible only if you take a full cut at the ball. If you hit off your back foot and play hesitant, the string will do you no favors.
Agree 100%. Play loose and fast and the string performs splendidly. Love how it accentuates both looping dippers and flatter screamers. Best of all for me is that it’s both good on serve and off the ground (plus at net). Had several strings which feel good off the ground and anaemic on serve or great on serve yet erratic off the ground.

The only shot that’s somewhat different is the slice in my opinion but you quickly adjust
 
Agree 100%. Play loose and fast and the string performs splendidly. Love how it accentuates both looping dippers and flatter screamers. Best of all for me is that it’s both good on serve and off the ground (plus at net). Had several strings which feel good off the ground and anaemic on serve or great on serve yet erratic off the ground.

The only shot that’s somewhat different is the slice in my opinion but you quickly adjust
The best way I can describe it is that it's a demanding jack of all trades, master of none. I like it because it forces me to work for what I want instead of encouraging or covering up bad habits. If I'm not making sure my feet are in the proper position, bending my knees, and focusing on the ball, I'm not producing a viable ball, or any ball for that matter.

I was ruminating the other day and grumbling on my ride home about how I lost control of a winnable match/ didn't feel comfortable playing because of xyz-- my first and immediate thoughts were --if I would have played with X string, it would have helped. WRONG-- this thinking has held back my game for YEARS and giving in to it instilled a false sense that it was acceptable.

Sure playing with something like BHBR would have let me place the ball better and hang in points more but at what cost? The glaring failure was that I wasn't moving my feet, stepping into the ball, and striking authoritatively. I was letting my opponent dictate the way he wanted to play and accommodated what I do to compensate; so wrong. Sure, a lower powered control string would have let me move the ball around and given me a larger margin of error but it would have been covering up a fracture with a bandaid. The underlying bone has to be set, not just the skin above. I was flapping my arm at forehands and backhands and making the best out of playing scrappy and chasing down winners. Fix the game not the string.

I have to acknowledge that as much as our group of friends sometimes teases him (on a wide range of things, it's all love), I admire @Pickle9 for the hard work he's put in this year to work on his game and target his strengths and weaknesses; to see where the numbers lie and what he can do about it. It's something I plan on doing this year with my game and hopefully we'll see something dispositive.
 
The best way I can describe it is that it's a demanding jack of all trades, master of none. I like it because it forces me to work for what I want instead of encouraging or covering up bad habits. If I'm not making sure my feet are in the proper position, bending my knees, and focusing on the ball, I'm not producing a viable ball, or any ball for that matter.

I was ruminating the other day and grumbling on my ride home about how I lost control of a winnable match/ didn't feel comfortable playing because of xyz-- my first and immediate thoughts were --if I would have played with X string, it would have helped. WRONG-- this thinking has held back my game for YEARS and giving in to it instilled a false sense that it was acceptable.

Sure playing with something like BHBR would have let me place the ball better and hang in points more but at what cost? The glaring failure was that I wasn't moving my feet, stepping into the ball, and striking authoritatively. I was letting my opponent dictate the way he wanted to play and accommodated what I do to compensate; so wrong. Sure, a lower powered control string would have let me move the ball around and given me a larger margin of error but it would have been covering up a fracture with a bandaid. The underlying bone has to be set, not just the skin above. I was flapping my arm at forehands and backhands and making the best out of playing scrappy and chasing down winners. Fix the game not the string.

I have to acknowledge that as much as our group of friends sometimes teases him (on a wide range of things, it's all love), I admire @Pickle9 for the hard work he's put in this year to work on his game and target his strengths and weaknesses; to see where the numbers lie and what he can do about it. It's something I plan on doing this year with my game and hopefully we'll see something dispositive.




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My latest VCore Pro 97 came strung with Volkl Cyclone Orange in what feels like an 18 gauge at 45lbs; I'm not sure, I'll have to ask the original stringer. Adding it to the (re)play test list.

Dang this string looks pretty good with the Yonex orange running through the racket. Cyclone is advertised as a gear shaped poly that, at around $6.00, sounds like quite the bargain. I played the black 17ga version of it years ago in the Radical Pro and recall it being crisp but very spin oriented.
 
I stand corrected. It's 1.10 19ga!:eek:

Generally speaking, cyclone has sparks of brilliance but doesn’t necessarily maintain that shine. Overall it plays on the stiffer end of poly but it is not uncomfortable to hit with.

I would characterize it as a control string with some decent bite on the ball but lacking in the zip department even at 45#. Curiously enough, despite the thinner gauge I didn't see the monster spin I seem to recall from years ago and wasn’t quite comfortable hitting backhands. Maybe my strokes have changed that much?

The high point was serving. There’s an unholy crack when you lay into the ball that will literally turn some heads. So long as I kept my shoulder up and bent my knees into the ball, I was able to hit damn near 90% top speed and in. Unfortunately, despite the sheer mph one kid manage to return the ball more consistently then I would have liked. That ball should not be coming back!! It was uncanny; speed but no sting. On the other hand he couldn’t return a topspin or slice serve to save his life at 65% pace. o_O
 
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Diadem Elite XT 17ga

String:
Diadem Elite XT 17ga (1.20)
Frame(s): Vcore Pro 97 330g
Tension: 49lbs 1-piece

Stringing: 1.20 17ga? Whaaaaaat? You can definitely feel the edges as you're working with it and I would not want to put 4-5 of these on the machine in one day. Also, you get those hangy-strings while pulling through grommet holes almost as if the grommet is shaving off a super thin strip from the edges. It looks like it's lint or other fuzz but it's actually a tiny strand of string that gets bunched up at the holes. The string is not actually black, it's more of a slate-gray and develops tiny striations as its pulled if you look really closely. I didn't think it was particularly stretchy but found a ton of leftover string from my final clippings. No issues with weave despite the spiky-star nature of the string.
 
In honor of Thiem playing one of the most absurd and mesmerizing sets of tennis I've ever seen against Nadal, I'll be doing a gut mains/poly cross run. If the Yonny agrees with gut/poly, I'll do the VS/RPM official combo #DoItLikeDom
 
I wonder how a round poly would be with velocity either mains or crosses. Think I’ll give it a try with Warrior response.
I tried Velocity 16 (black) mains with Cream crosses and the Velocity mains notched quickly, about halfway through in less than 90 minutes. Didn't have nearly as much spin as I'd hoped, either.
 
Hit 30-40 balls with some RPM rough last night back to back with T1 Black Knight and holy wow, it's as dead and boring as I remember. By no means is BK an explosive string but comparatively, it shined. I really don't understand the hype with this string nor do I understand why it's $17.00
 
Strange initial findings for Elite XT. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that I put it in the 330g instead of the 310. But overall I'm finding: springy; spin; sneaky spin/control; more shiftys than an etch-a-sketch; somewhat locked string-bed.
 
I strung up some econo-gut (Mamba) that I had lying around crossed with Black Knight. Never happened to me before but my first half-set snapped on the machine at around the 7th main tightened. The second was nerve wrecking to say the least. Mamba is fairly tolerable as far as bargain gut goes but it's not amazing. I'm really curious to see what a reputable brand would play like as it's been a while.

With the way my strokes are now, I noticed Three things about playing gut mains and poly crosses.

(1) There's a ton of easy, free depth and power. If I hung tight with a relaxed swing, I was able to hit a great rally-ball but I never felt like it was a threat.
(2) When you strike the ball right, there's a lot of strempf on it. Catch the ball right and the ball jumps off the strings. Noticeable error-generator for free points or easy setup.
(3) Subtle changes in technique yield really big changes in ball production. A slight angle or timing change translated to really extreme misses for me. Someone with finer tuned strokes would really benefit from point 2.

Overall, I think using a better quality gut, and on a better playing day, I'd enjoy this much more. Tonight, def wasn't it.

I'd also string another 2 lbs tighter. Currently, I strung at 52/50.
 
The Gut/Poly Experiment came to an end with a splintering snap of the mains... at the head of the frame on a perfectly well struck ball... so much for bargain gut.

Overall it was a good play and a serious eye-opener to the way that strings have changed over time. The launch angle of the poly/gut vs. my usual full poly is drastically different and the source of control comes from technique, not material. I'm generally a proponent of strokes > equipment make the player but the difference is palpable here. The first ball I hit with a full poly frame after popping the gut landed squarely in the middle of the net off a feed. >.<

I had the opportunity to play with a couple different people with different style games and I found that the Gut/Poly combo worked exceptionally well when either playing someone with high natural spin generation, or when you're whipping into the ball. There's no real in-between to get comfortable with if you're trying to generate a deep ball. The control with the gut comes from amping up the RMPs to bring the ball back down on court. It's an active spin-generation if you will. If you don't do that, or your timing/angle is off, the ball is sailing long. On the other hand, poly lets you put the ball in play with less focus and more of a margin of error; it's user-friendly. That doesn't necessarily mean the ball is better, it's just easier to be more consistent.

Having said that, with a well struck ball, the penetration on the gut overshadows poly by far and the touch is decidedly superior.
 
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