The Pre-Packaged Poly-Poly Hybrid

Courtesy of Head and the United States Racquet Stringers Association (USRSA), I received a sample pack of a new string from Head recently. Actually, Head Gravity is not a “new” string, per se, but a new combination of strings, which is what caught my attention. It is a pre-packaged “hybrid” that contains 22 feet of a 1.25mm (17 gauge) triangular co-polyester monofilament and 18 feet of a 1.20mm (18 gauge) traditional round co-polyester monofilament. (As the string lengths suggest, the triangular poly is designed for the mains and the round poly for the crosses — on only a few of the rackets I string could I do all of the mains with only 18 feet of string.) By the way,Head Gravity is reviewed in the February 2015 issue of Tennis Industry Magazine.

Head Gravity

What caught my attention is that Head Gravity is a “poly-poly” hybrid. As I note on my “additional string information” page, hybrid stringing capitalizes on the strengths and minimize the weaknesses of different types of string. Typically, a hybrid string job will use a polyester monofilament on the main strings for firmness and durability, and a synthetic gut, multifilament, or natural gut on the cross strings for power and feel. These mains and crosses can also be reversed, though, for a different effect. Roger Federer and some others, for example, do use natural gut on the main strings and a monofilament on the cross strings for more feel and power — and obviously the reduced durability of a such a set-up is not an issue for Federer.

The fact that not all polyester monofilament strings are made the same makes the “poly-poly hybrid” a good option for those who want the durability of a monofilament string but a bit more “pop.” For example, with Wake Forest’s men’s tennis team, we have taken advantage of the range of Pacific’s monofilaments to provide the players with optimal poly-poly combinations. Pacific’s Poly Power Pro is one of the softest monofilaments we have found (stiffness rating of 222 according to the USRSA), and we hybrid it with Pacific’s stiffer Poly Force (294 stiffness) and X Cite (271 stiffness) strings.  Poly Power ProBecause Poly Power Pro is a monofilament, we can use it as a main string for better feel and power without sacrificing much in the way of durability. This has been a popular option for players using rackets with 18 mains and 20 crosses (a tight string pattern), with 17 gauge Pacific Poly Force in the crosses. Poly Power Pro also makes a nice compliment in the cross strings when using Pacific X Cite in the mains.

When someone says “hybrid,” I do still think of someone who combines a monofilament string with a synthetic gun, multifilament, or gut, but Head’s Gravity reminds us that as monofilament technologies evolve, we should all consider the poly-poly hybrid as an option.

Big Time Tennis 2014 Year in Review

2014 was our 7th year in business and possibly our best year yet. Although we strung fewer rackets in 2014 than in 2013 (1,759 compared to 2,149), we had a number of great memories.

Wake rackets

The men’s tennis team at Wake Forest University continues to be our biggest customer, accounting for some two-thirds of our rackets. Each year we welcome new players and say goodbye to “old” ones. This year Adam Lee from New Zealand graduated (pictured below with his mother and sister), a true gentleman and great representative of the university for the past four years.

Adam Lee

Nothing makes stringing better than “the water of life.” We continued our tradition of toasting to Wake Forest tennis greats Cory Parr (Yamazaki) and Amogh Prabhakar (Amrut) at the ACC tennis tournamnet.

NCAA Tournament

Stringing at the NCAA tournament is always interesting because the schedule of play is such that you have nothing to do until the middle of the afternoon and then you (hope to) string into the wee hours of the morning.

NCAA Tournament Selfie

In the summer, the Wake Forest men go away and our attention turns to professional tennis. At the combined ATP/WTA Citi Open in Washington, DC, we get the opportunity to string for some of the best players in the world. I got lucky and drew Kei Nishikori, who a few weeks later would make the final of the U.S. Open.

Kei Nishikori

Citi Open Pandas

It’s always a privilege to string at our home town stop on the ATP Tour, the Winston-Salem Open. It’s especially nice because the other half of our team, Paul, gets to string this tournament.

Paul at WSO

We can also sneak out of the stringing room to say hi to Mark Yamane, who is a ball boy for the tournament.

Mark Ball Boy

Fall is girls high school season in North Carolina, and this fall was the last hurrah for a special customer of ours, Hannah Yamane, who finished her tennis career at Mount Tabor HS in 2014.

Hannah MT

In the end, being a racket technician is not just about installing the strings or replacing the grips or applying the weight. It is about relationships. We’re privileged to have many as a result of our business. Thank you all, and we look forward to working with you again in 2015. Until then, keep it classy!

Keeping it Classy

2014 String Pricing

We recently updated our stringing price list for the 28 different strings from 8 different manufacturers that we regularly stock, including: Babolat, Gamma, Luxilon, Prince, Tecnifibre, Volkl, Wilson, and Yonex. 12 of the strings on our list are by Pacific — the major brand we carry and use for ourselves, as our default for our clients, and for the Wake Forest men’s tennis team.

The prices on our list include installation. If you have your own string, that is usually your least expensive option — cost is $17 for installation for new customers. Existing customers, will continue to pay $15 through 2014 as a thanks for your support of our business. Wake Forest University students get a student discount, paying $15.

Consider taking advantage of our “off list” special on LUXILON SAVAGE: $25 installed while supplies last.

We also have random sets of strings that we have accumulated along the way — over 100 — so if you don’t see what you like on the list, please ask if we have what you want.

PDF Price List

 

Great 2012, Looking Forward to an Even Better 2013

2012 was another great year for Big Time Tennis, many thanks to our customers and opportunities to string at some big tournaments. For the fourth straight year we increased the total number of rackets strung:

  • 2012: 1,467
  • 2011: 1,265
  • 2010: 1,171
  • 2009:   750
  • 2008:   251

Once again, the Wake Forest University men’s tennis team was the backbone of our business. Just over half of the rackets we strung in 2012 were for the Wake men. We are proud of our affiliation with Wake tennis and happy to do our part to keep the team moving forward, even on a 20 racket night like the one pictured below from the spring season.

P1000699

The second largest group of rackets came from three tournaments, two of which we have written about: the NCAA Division I tournament in Athens, Georgia, the combined ATP World Tour and WTA Citi Open in Washington, DC, and our hometown ATP World Tour event, the Winston-Salem Open (motto: Big Time Tennis, Served Southern Style!). We did almost 500 rackets at these three tournaments. Even the junior member of Big Time Tennis had a chance to chip in at the Winston-Salem Open.

P1010198

We learn so much stringing in tournament settings, where people’s livelihood’s are dependent on their equipment and nothing less than perfection is acceptable. We have said many times how much we have learned from Jay Lewandowski, owner of Game.Set.Match tennis, who hired us to work at these tournaments. At both the Citi Open and Winston-Salem Open we also benefited from working with Dustin Tankersley, a member of the Wilson stringing team, who is in Australia right now working at the Oz Open. In Winston-Salem, we also enjoyed working alongside RPNY stringer  Benoit Mauguin, who as you can see in the photo below was personally responsible for Andy Roddick’s rackets on tour.

P1010216

We try to bring the professional tournament stringing attitude to every racket we string. Although non-Wake Forest and non-tournament rackets are just a fraction of all of the rackets we string in any year, we value those clients very much and appreciate their entrusting their rackets to us. We truly see them as clients rather than just customers.

Having strung nearly 1,500 rackets in 2012, we begin to wonder what our total capacity is annually. But believing there is still room for growth, we have made a significant capital investment recently, adding to our arsenal a new stringing machine, the Wilson Baiardo (pictured below), to go along with our Babolat Star 5.

P1010245

Thanks to everyone for a great 2012. Here’s looking forward to an even better 2013!

Pacific X Force Powers HS State Champion

In this post, I am going to do a little personal bragging on my son, Paul — but it also has a business angle. So, the business angle first: Pacific tennis.

Pacific ATP Image

Paul recently switched to the Pacific X Force racket. In 2009, Pacific acquired Fischer’s racket sports division and has been producing Pacific rackets with Fischer technology since then. The X Force is a 98 square inch, 295 gram (10.4 ounce) racket with a head light balance and soft feel.

Paul Pacific

Using the X Force, Paul teamed with Chad Hoskins and won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 4A doubles championship.

2012 NC State Doubles Champions

Paul’s team, RJ Reynolds High School, entered the team tournament as two-time defending champions. As described in the Winston-Salem Journal, Paul saved 3 match points and won 14-12 in a third set match breaker to help Reynolds defeat Raleigh Wakefield for their third straight NCHSAA 4A Championship.

Paul Backhand

Go Demons! 3 Peat!

Team Photo

Back row (L to R): Coach Brad Fisher, Oliver Otero, Jack Riazzi, Avery Hale, Paul Yamane, Thomas Edmundson, Chad Hoskins, Coach Christofer Wiley.

Front row (L to R): Nicholas McDaniel, Nate Rowell, Jimmy O’Brien, John Kretzchmar