Polyester Tennis Strings - Tennis Racquet Strung With Polys in Background

Polyester Tennis Strings

The Ultimate Guide to Polys

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In recent years, polyester tennis strings have surged in popularity as professional players on the ATP and WTA tour have increasingly adopted them as their preferred string.

If you’re looking to learn more about polys, then you’ve come to the right place. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about polyester tennis strings. From their pros and cons to what type of players should use them and how to string them, we have you covered.

We’ve also pulled together our top picks. As the demand for polyester tennis strings has surged, so has the selection. Overall, this is fantastic for consumers. However, the overwhelming number of options has made selecting the ideal polyester tennis string more challenging. Hopefully, our list of the best polys helps you cut through the clutter.

RankStringPrice
#1Luxilon ALU Power$$$
#2Luxilon ALU Power Spin$$$
#3Volkl V-Torque$$
#4Wilson Revolve$
#5Luxilon ALU Power Soft$$$
#6Yonex Poly Tour Spin G$$
#7Volkl Cyclone$
#8Prince Tour XR$
#9Babolat RPM Blast$$$
#10Head Sonic Pro Edge$$
#11Luxilon ALU Power Rough$$$
#12Luxilon Element$$$

While you’re here, be sure to check out our selection of the best tennis strings of 2020, which covers our top picks by type of string and feature, including spin, power, control, durability, and comfort.

If you have questions, or you’d just like to share your feedback, we’d love to hear from you in the comments at the bottom of the article. In the meantime, let’s get started!

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The History of Polyester Strings

Relative to the history of the sport, polyester tennis strings are newcomers, but their impact has helped push the boundaries of the modern game.

Back in 1991, Big Banger became the first polyester tennis string to be quietly introduced to the tennis world by Luxilon. A few years later, in 1994, they would release ALU Power.

However, it wasn’t until 1997, when Gustavo Kuerten became the first pro to win a major, that Luxilon would start to turn heads. The string, allowed Kuerten to hit with a remarkable amount of topspin and remained part of his kit during his march to world number one in 2000.

The reaction to this relatively unknown string at the time was mixed with some players believing it should be banned as an unfair advantage and others seeing the beginnings of a shift in the sport. At the time, natural gut reigned supreme on the pro tour.

Fast forward to today, and polyester tennis strings have cemented their place as one of the most popular on the market. While many consider Luxilon to be the gold standard, other tennis brands like Babolat, Wilson, Head, and Prince have developed their own with great success.

What is Polyester Tennis String?

Polyester is one of the two most popular materials used in the synthetic family of tennis strings with the other being nylon. More specifically, it’s a plastic material with a wide range of applications, and as Luxilon discovered nearly 30 years ago, it makes for a great tennis string.

Poly Advantages

There’s no denying that polyester tennis strings are incredibly popular, but what makes them a highly sought after string? Let’s take a look at why professional to recreational players gravitate toward poly.

Topspin

If there’s one professional tennis player in the past two decades that we can credit with the rise in popularity of polyester tennis strings, it would be Rafael Nadal. He has redefined what’s possible when it comes to topspin, and not surprisingly, he strings his racquet with a full bed of polyester.

Polyester strings are perfect for topspin because of two key factors:

  • Low power
  • Elasticity

First, polyester offers very little power. As a result, players can swing faster without the ball sailing long, which subsequently influences the amount of topspin a player can generate. Racquet head speed is the primary contributor to topspin.

Additionally, polyester strings are smooth, resilient, and quickly snap back into place. As a result, this snapback effect has the potential to increase spin, which is often a goal for players of all levels.

However, there’s one caveat. For a player to benefit from the increased spin potential of poly strings, they need to have the appropriate technique along with sufficient racquet head speed.

Assuming an appropriate grip is in use, higher racquet head speeds increase topspin, but also cause these strings to move out of place or deform and subsequently snap back into place. Unfortunately, if your racquet head speed isn’t high enough, you won’t see drastic increases in spin, which is worth considering as you evaluate polys.

Due to his immense racquet head speed, Nadal’s style of play is well suited for polyester tennis strings.

With that said, if you’re looking to amp up your spin, polyester tennis strings are an excellent option that comes with other benefits, too.

Control

In many ways, spin and control go hand in hand. If you hit with more topspin, you can hit higher over the net and increase your margin for error while still having confidence that the ball will drop back down into the court. As a result, the added spin gives players a greater sense of control.

However, the main reason polyester tennis strings provide players with more control lies in the inherent stiffness of the string. This stiffness results in less power, but it also causes the ball to sit on the string bed for a shorter period – referred to as dwell time.

The shorter dwell time ultimately provides players with a more consistent response from their strings. That, in turn, gives players a greater sense of control.

Today, players are stronger than ever, and their style or approach to the game has become increasingly aggressive. This change has put a premium on control, so it’s no wonder that more players have turned to polyester to provide the control they desire.

Durability

When polyester tennis strings first emerged on the market, one of their top qualities was durability, or their ability to withstand breakage. Not surprisingly, polys have maintained this quality over the years.

At the time, this was a welcome attribute for big hitters and chronic string breakers. After all, breaking strings can become an expensive habit. Moreover, when it happens at the wrong time, it can cost you a point, game, or match.

So, if you’re looking for a string that will stand up to your aggressive style of play, then polys might be a great option.

While we’re on the topic, it’s important to make the distinction between durability and the ability for strings to keep their tension, which players often mistake as the same. The truth is, tension maintenance, or how long the string keeps its tension, is one of polyester strings’ biggest pitfalls.

We’ll cover this more in the disadvantages section of this article.

String Movement

One of the lesser-praised qualities of polyester strings tends to be the fact that they virtually always snap right back into place.

You might be wondering, why should I care about string movement? If so, that’s a great question.

The first and biggest reason you might care about string movement goes back to control and the ability for your stringbed to provide a consistent hitting surface. Theoretically, the more consistent your hitting surface, the more control you’ll have.

Beyond control, some players simply can’t stand having to readjust their strings between every point. If this isn’t a problem for you, then perhaps you wouldn’t consider it an advantage, but it’s worth noting.

Poly Disadvantages

If polyester tennis strings are starting to feel too good to be true, then it’s about time we switch over to their weaknesses and the common complaints associated with them.

Tension Maintenance

Easily one of the biggest pitfalls of polys lies in the fact that they’re not great at maintaining their tension over long periods. This tension loss occurs at a faster rate than other types of strings, both while you’re playing and while your racquet sits in your bag.

This tension loss can be problematic for a few different reasons. First, and perhaps most importantly for recreational tennis players, is that your strings are going to go dead faster, which means you’re going to have to replace them more frequently. That means you’ll be spending more to keep your racquet strung.

However, dead strings will also lead to less control, power, and comfort, which, if not replaced, can contribute to arm injuries like tennis elbow. Combined with the stiff nature of polys, it can make the problem worse.

Comfort

Another drawback to polyester strings is that they’re stiff, which can make them feel uncomfortable. If you’re young and healthy, then you might not think twice about the comfort level.

However, as any player who has ever had tennis elbow can attest, it doesn’t take much when playing to add to their discomfort.

For this reason, polys have often been labeled as harsh, especially when compared with other strings like natural gut or multifilament.

However, there are a few different schools of thought when it comes to the harshness of polyester strings, with some individuals arguing the harsh feel experienced by players is a direct result of stringing at higher tensions. We’ll cover tension at a later point in this article.

Poly vs. Co-Poly

In recent years, the term co-poly has emerged and confused players.

If we take a step back, polyester tennis strings have historically used a monofilament construction. This type of construction means they’re composed of a single solid strand made from one plastic or polymer such as polyethylene terephthalate, or PET.

With that in mind, the term co-poly starts to make a lot more sense because co-polys are simply polyester tennis strings that combine additives to enhance their performance.

As you can imagine, manufacturers are experimenting with co-polys in an attempt to maintain the advantages we’ve discussed while combating their disadvantages.

Another way to look at this is that polys and co-polys are both in the polyester family, so there’s nothing wrong with referring to co-polys as polyester strings.

Who Should Use Polys?

At this point, you may be wondering whether or not you should test a set of polyester tennis strings. If any of the advantages are appealing to you, then you should consider them.

I’d even encourage players who don’t think they’d be a great fit to experiment with them because you won’t know whether or not you like them without giving them a try.

But before you jump in, let’s take a look at three questions you can ask yourself to help determine whether you should stay away from polys.

Do you have the technique?

One of the most frequent reasons players will seek out polyester tennis strings is the potential for greater topspin. While it’s true that polys will help maximize your spin, there is no substitute for proper technique, which is a requirement to get the most out of the string.

As a beginner, you’ll see huge gains in topspin by improving your technique and likely see virtually no increase in spin simply by having your tennis racquet strung with polyester.

However, once your technique, along with your racquet head speed, is sufficient, you’ll be able to give the topspin on your shots an added boost when you string your racquet with polyester.

Do you have any arm injuries?

If you’re suffering from any arm injuries like tennis elbow, then it’s unlikely that you’re going to enjoy polyester strings.

Remember, polyester is a solid hard plastic that is stiffer than other materials and string constructions like multifilament. As a result, you’ll find your arm absorbs more shock from your shots, and because they don’t deliver much power, you’ll have to work harder to achieve the pace that you desire.

Also, polyester tennis strings will lose their tension and go dead faster. If you’re not diligent about restringing, then you’re going to magnify the adverse effects, as you have to work even harder to hit with power.

Frequent restringing leads us to our third and final question.

Do you have the budget?

Again, since polyester tennis strings don’t do as great a job at holding their tension, they’ll go dead faster than other strings, which means you’ll have to restring more frequently.

Of course, every time you restring, it’s going to cost you, so you’ll want to make sure you’re comfortable with the added expense because it can start to add up.

Hybrid Poly Setups

Many players appreciate the benefits of polyester, but the disadvantages prevent them from stringing their entire racquet with them. Perhaps they’ve tested a full bed of polyester, and it’s too harsh on their arm, or it doesn’t provide enough power.

Luckily these players don’t have to settle for an all-or-nothing approach. Instead, they can combine two different styles of strings, such as polyester and a multifilament, to try and get the best of both worlds.

While stringing entirely with polyester tennis strings has become a widespread practice on the pro tour, stringing with polyester and natural gut or a multifilament is extremely common as well.

Here’s a quick recap of the pros and cons for polyester:

Pros

  • Spin
  • Control
  • Durability
  • Limited string movement

Cons

  • Tension maintenance
  • Comfort

For comparison, here are some pros and cons of nylon multifilaments:

Pros

  • Power
  • Comfort
  • Tension maintenance

Cons

  • Spin
  • Control
  • Durability
  • String movement

As you look through the pros and cons associated with each string, you can begin to understand why it would be highly compelling for a player to want to combine the two.

Helpful Tip
Keep in mind that the above pros and cons are generalities for these types of strings based on how they tend to score in playtests.

Stringing with Polys

If you’ve decided that you’d like to experiment with polyester tennis strings, then you might be asking yourself these questions:

  • What tension should I use?
  • Which gauge is the best?
  • If I’m stringing them as a hybrid, should I use them in the mains or the crosses?

Let’s dive into each of these topics.

Tension

Let’s start with string tension. If you’re moving from natural gut, synthetic gut or a multifilament, then I’d recommend you drop the tension for your polyester string by 5-10 percent.

Therefore, if you typically string your racquet at 55 pounds with a multifilament, then you’re going to want to string 3-5 pounds lower, or anywhere between 50 and 52 pounds.

That kind of tension drop might make many players a bit nervous, with the most common fear being the loss of control, so let’s talk about why I’d recommend the drop in tension.

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that polyester strings are stiffer than other strings. If you string too high, you’re going to enhance the harsh feel of the strings, especially compared with your current non-poly string. Bringing the tension down a bit will help reduce the stiff, harsh feel associated with polys.

Similarly, if you string too high, you’re going to decrease the power potential of the strings further to the point where you may end up feeling like the strings are dead. Since polyester strings are naturally more control-oriented, you can drop the tension while still maintaining fantastic control but allowing the strings to feel lively.

Gauge

The gauge of a tennis string represents its thickness, which can range from 19 to 15 with lower numbers referencing thicker strings. More specifically, strings range from 1 to 1.5 millimeters in thickness.

The thicker the string, the more durable it will be, while thinner strings will offer more topspin. Since polyester strings are more durable, many players will opt for a slightly smaller string to enhance topspin and feel.

If you’re unsure of where to start, then stringing one step down from what you use for synthetic gut or a multifilament should do the trick.

Hybrid – Mains or Crosses

If you opt to use a polyester string as part of a hybrid setup, then you may be wondering whether or not you should use the poly in the mains or the crosses. It’s a fantastic question!

The string you place in the mains will tend to dominate the overall feel of your racquet, so you’ll need to ask yourself which string characteristics are most important to you.

For example, many players who use multifilament will be interested in experimenting with a hybrid setup, but they might be wary of the harshness associated with polys. If that’s you, then you might opt to keep the multifilament in the mains and then string the crosses with polyester.

On the other hand, if you’re looking to maximize topspin and durability without completely giving up the pop of your multifilament, then you might string the polyester in the mains and the multifilament in the crosses.

Again, it all comes back to your personal preferences, along with the specific characteristics of the two strings you opt to bundle for your hybrid string setup.

Best Polyester Strings

Here’s a selection of a few of our favorite polys.

Best Overall

Luxilon ALU Power - Best Overall Polyester

Our pick for the best polyester tennis string is Luxilon ALU Power, which has dominated much of the market since its introduction.

It’s the string all other polys are compared to and, although it’s not a string for everyone, it perfectly exhibits the characteristics of control, durability, spin, and feel that players expect.

Compared to other top polyester tennis strings, the area where ALU Power really shines for us is the feel it offers. Although one of the most subjective qualities, it’s why we give it our top pick.

Best for Spin

Babolat RPM Blast - Best Polyester for Topspin

When it comes to maximum topspin, look no further than Babolat RPM Blast, which is what Rafael Nadal uses.

As with all polyester, your racquet head speed will be the primary factor that determines topspin with your string providing incremental benefit. If you used other polys, you’re sure to notice a difference.

Best for Power

Volkl V-Torque Tour - Best Polyester for Power

Polyester tennis strings are not known for their power, but some polyester strings do offer more pop than others.

Our pick for the most powerful poly is Volkl V-Torque Tour, which is also another string we’d recommend for topspin.

Best for Comfort

Head Sonic Pro Edge - Best Polyester for Comfort

Like power, comfort is not exactly what comes to mind when you think about polyester. However, there are a few our there that will surprise.

One string that’s higher on our list of comfort-oriented polyester tennis strings is Head Sonic Pro Edge.

Helpful Tip
A more practical route that we’d recommend if you’re suffering from any discomfort in your arm is a hybrid setup. In that case, Head Sonic Pro Edge would make an even better fit to achieve higher levels of comfort.

Which Pro Tennis Players Use Polys?

The vast majority of professional tennis players use polyester tennis strings. In fact, players that don’t have become the exception. However, they’re frequently in use as part of a hybrid string setup.

Here’s a selection of a few of the top players and their string setups – a big shout out to Colin Triplow, who shared these with the community.

RacquetTension Range
Roger FedererMain: Wilson Natural Gut
Cross: Luxilon Alu Power Rough
Novak DjokovicMain: Babolat VS Team
Cross: Luxilon Alu Power Rough
Rafael NadalMain: Babolat RPM Blast
Cross: Babolat RPM Blast
Andy MurrayMain: Luxilon Alu Power Rough
Cross: Babolat VS Touch
J. Martin del PotroMain: Luxilon Alu Power
Cross: Luxilon Alu Power
John IsnerMain: Wilson Natural Gut
Cross: Tecnifibre Pro RedCode
Nick KyrgiosMain: Wilson Natural Gut
Cross: Yonex Poly Tour Pro
Richard GasquetMain: Luxilon Big Banger Original
Cross: Luxilon Big Banger Original
Serena WilliamsMain: Luxilon 4G
Cross: Luxilon 4G
Venus WilliamsMain: Luxilon 4G
Cross: Luxilon 4G
Simona HalepMain: Luxilon Alu Power
Cross: Luxilon Alu Power
Angelique KerberMain: Yonex Poly Tour Fire
Cross: Yonex Poly Tour Fire
Caroline WozniackiMain: Babolat RPM Dual
Cross: Babolat VS Touch
Sabine LisickiMain: Yonex Poly Tour Spin
Cross: Prince Natural Gut
Johanna KontaMain: Babolat VS Touch
Cross: Babolat RPM Blast
Petra KvitovaMain: Luxilon Alu Power
Cross: Luxilon Alu Power

The Future of Polys

While polys have come a long way, there’s no doubt that manufacturers will continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible with this popular type of string.

Most likely, we’ll continue to see experimentation with co-polys and the introduction of new additives that attempt to maintain the advantages of the string while minimizing the disadvantages.

One thing is for sure: Polyester tennis strings will remain hugely popular and likely achieve further market share as the strings evolve to meet the growing demand from players of all levels.

Common Questions

Here are a few common questions we get about polyester tennis strings.

How long do polyester tennis strings last?
There are a lot of factors that can influence how long a polyester string will maintain tension, including the type of polyester. However, it’s safe to say that polyester strings will play well for 10-20 hours of play.

What’s the difference between polyester and nylon tennis strings?
Polyester and nylon are the two most popular materials used to create synthetic tennis strings.

Polyester strings are commonly used by intermediate to advanced tennis players looking for a low powered option with enhanced spin, control, and durability. Nylon strings, on the other hand, are used by players of all ages and levels and will offer power, comfort, and feel.

There is a wide range of quality available for both types of strings, which will give you more or less or the attributes described for each. Players frequently combine polyester and nylon as part of a hybrid string setup.

Are polyester tennis strings good?
Yes, polyester tennis strings are fantastic for players that are looking for spin, control, and durability. However, they’re not for everyone because they’re also low powered, lack comfort, and typically require frequent restringing because they don’t hold their tension as well.

Wrapping Up

Hopefully, this article proves to be useful in providing you with a deeper understanding of polyester tennis strings. Of course, if you have questions, please let us know in the comments below.

We’d also love to hear any of your experiences with polys that you might like to share with other readers!

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10 replies
  1. Kelly
    Kelly says:

    I’ve been stringing for only two years, and I’ve learned some lessons along the way as I’ve reached out to seasoned stringers with questions. They’ve often referenced terminology that was foreign to me, but at that point I wasn’t “ready” for their depth of information. Today as I’m preparing to string two racquets, I had some set-up questions and was fortunate to find this article. It’s just what I needed, and my knowledge base is finally ready to accept and absorb what was said. I appreciate what you’ve put into it, and I also benefited from the links to other articles that were embedded in your piece (ex: string gauge).

    Reply

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