There are a plethora of different tennis strings on the market and one is intrigued by the composition of tennis racket strings. Tennis strings have quite a bit of variety associated with them. Let’s find out what are tennis racket strings made of.
History Of Natural Racket Strings
The pioneer of tennis strings is Pierre Babolat and he came out the first natural gut tennis string in 1875. It was made by drying fibers obtained from a part of the cow intestine known as the serous membrane or serosa which contains a chemical known as collagen which is responsible for controlling the stretching and contraction of the intestine during digestion. It is this quality of being so elastic that makes it ideal for tennis racket strings.
The Benefit of Natural Racket Strings
Natural Strings are ideal for players who prefer high tension in their rackets because they do not stiffen dramatically. This quality gives natural string players the option to not sacrifice power when opting for high tensions while enhancing control. Roger Federer loves natural strings and his all-around play style is ideal for this type of string.
Cons of Natural Racket Strings
The most significant drawback of natural strings is the cost to make them and their quality control. They are significantly harder to make than the synthetic versions. They also suffer from very weak durability when the ball strikes the racket in off-center places which is very typical behavior for beginners. So, if you are a beginner I advise you to stay from these as the cost to durability does not benefit the average beginner.
The other big problem is the variability that comes with them. Due to them being natural they suffer from quality control between different brands and even batches of the same brand. While some players might be able to handle it I generally stay away from them because of this.
They also expire pretty fast and they have to be kept in extremely controlled conditions to maintain their longevity.
Where to Buy Natural Strings
Babolat is my company of choice when it comes to natural string but you can try other brands and see if you like them. Amazon has them in stock throughout the year and you can check the prices for natural gut by clicking the links provided:
- Babolat Tonic+ Ball Feel 15L Natural Gut Tennis String
- Luxilon-Natural Gut Tennis String Natural
- Wilson-Natural Gut Tennis String
They can be pricey but the control and power they provide are second to none and for the pro to seasoned players, I would recommend them 100%.
While natural strings are the best for pro play, a wide range of tennis players from beginners to even seasoned veterans prefer to save their money when choosing strings. Spending $30-$40 every two weeks is a little too steep for most people. So, a lot of companies came out with synthetic versions of tennis strings. These are made from materials ranging from Nylon, Polyester and sometimes even Kevlar but most of the times they are made from Nylon.
Different companies also make hybrid strings which are a mixer of natural vs synthetic materials for pro players. These are significantly cheaper than all natural but also keep some quality of natural strings.
Nylon was one of the first materials that were used to make synthetic strings. They are durable plus very cost effective and are my go-to recommendation for amateur players that are on a budget and don’t want to spend top dollar for the best natural strings.
Benefits of Nylon Strings
They provide a good combination of playability and durability at an awesome price point for beginners to seasoned players. In the old days, people used to stay away from nylon strings as they had the stigma of poor people’s strings. This has changed quite dramatically in the past 20-30 years as a lot of players ranging from total beginners to even good rating players prefer the feel and budget friendliness of nylon strings. Wear-resistant multifilament strings are also being produced by companies so the outer layer starts breaking first without sacrificing the performance of the strings thus increasing the durability.
Cons of Nylon Strings
With any synthetic string, the main caveat is the loss of power with the increase in tension. So, if you prefer strings with a lot of control while increasing tension then these type of strings are for you.
Where to Buy Synthetic Strings
Amazon has a great variety of really cheap and good synthetic strings. Players on budget should be able to find something you’ll like as I have in the past. Some of my suggestions are:
The choice of string preferred by most pros of the ATP and the WTA because of its surgical control for their fast and aggressive strokes.Polyester strings provide incredible speed enabled groundstrokes while also providing a lot of spin to the ball. This enables players like Rafael Nadal to hit balls in extreme places with surgical precision. These strings have changed the direction of pro tennis for the better and it has gotten a lot more interesting to watch and play at the same time.
These strings were predominantly used by pro players and provided a very stiff feeling to beginners or players who low power in their strokes. To combat this problem companies have developed different manufacturing processes to create softer polyester strings. These strings provide for a greater cross-section of players to enjoy the awesomeness of polyester strings. Companies also offer a hybrid blend of poly and natural gut or multifilament crosses.
This is an awesome combination for control and spin provided by the polyester and maintain the comfort and great power and feeling of the softer natural string.
Cons of Polyester Strings
So, beginners who do not have a lot of power in their groundstrokes should stay away from these. They are meant for heavy hitters or intermediate to pro players. I would not recommend them to players who are starting the game or have arm injuries as they are very stiff and can be damaging to players who have tennis elbow or any other shoulder injuries.
Where to Buy Polyester Strings
Polyester strings are the middle of the pack when it comes to price but I prefer them because of the control they provide. You can check the current pricing for some of my favorite Polyester Strings from Amazon here:
Yes, you heard that right the material used for bulletproof vests is also used in tennis racket strings. Kevlar strings are by far the most durable of the bunch but they suffer from a lot of problems due to their composition. These strings are very stiff and get very tight even with little tension. Therefore most manufacturers usually make them with a hybrid blend with some softer materials like Nylon. I would stay away from them if I were a beginner or someone with shoulder injuries as they are very stiff and there is no feeling for the ball when you hit with them You can try them if you are a strong hitter and a string breaker as they are extremely hard to break.
Where to Buy Kevlar Strings
I would recommend staying away from Kevlar Strings but if you feel like you are up for the challenge or you break a lot of strings every week, you can try them.
Let's Talk About Gauges Now
So, in tennis terms gauges are used to measure the thickness of the strings and they have their own system of measuring them. The thinner the string the better the playability and thicker the string the durable the string is. They are measured from a range of 15 to 19, 15 being the thickest end of the spectrum and 19 being the thinnest end of the spectrum. They also have a half gauge increment for more fine tuning which works in L increments e.g. 15L, 16L, etc which translates to light. A 15L string will be lighter than a 15 gauge string and it goes down in that order.