I am a natural gut player for many reasons. First I started playing with Gut cuz playing with Polyester gave me tennis elbow. Sure it was a lot of reasons like bad form, hitting the ball late, muscling the ball etc but I feel pretty sure that the stiffness of my Babloat Pro Drive married with old Polyester strings did my arm in.
Once Physical therapy was near completion, I started looking at what changes I could make in equipment to make sure I don’t continue stressing my arm. For racquet change I moved to the Prince Original Graphite and played with that for a while until the Prince EXO3 TOUR came out which has a flex rating of 52. That is astoundingly low considering the flex rating of my Bab ProDrive was in the high 70s. Strings was a no brainer as I was told by everyone that Gut is the best most flexible choice for your arm. Sure it’ costs $50 to restring your racquet but my rationale was that my arm and the ability to keep playing is completely worth it. Thankfully I was not a string breaker too so a restring of natural gut would last me btween 3-6 months playing 3 times a week. I also used the Babolat string savers which I found worked great to extend the life of the strings.
Today, I had the wonderful opportunity to try out a semi-new string technology called Zyex. What is Zyex? Ashaway describes it this way. “Zyex is the trade name for a high temperature, engineering grade polymer known as polyetheretherketone, or PEEK. According to Wikipedia, “Polyketones are a family of high-performance thermoplastic polymers. The highly polar ketone groups in the polymer backbone of these materials gives rise to a strong attraction between polymer chains, which increases the material’s melting point. Such materials also tend to resist solvents and have good mechanical properties. PEEK monofilaments and fibers are very tough and durable, and have excellent abrasion resistance, particularly at higher temperatures. In terms of abrasion resistance, PEEK also offers good performance. In tests measuring “thread on thread” abrasion conducted at room temperature, PEEK multifilaments outlasted aramid fibers by a factor of approximately 5.5. PEEK also has very low moisture uptake at 0.1%, which means you don’t need to worry about carrying your racquets around in thunderstorms. And if perchance you want to play outside in thunder and lightning, PEEK is a very good insulator.
In racquet strings, Zyex offers low dynamic stiffness which allows it to deform and recover more completely than other synthetic materials. It can also be made to have exceptionally low movement under continuous tension, allowing racquet strings to maintain tension and playability longer.
So how does it play right? Well this is day one and I have to say I was really impressed.I had my Prince EXO3 Tour 18×20 strung at 50 lbs tension. I had the MonoGut ZX 16 guage set to me but I know there is also a MonoGut ZX Pro 17 guage available now. Being a gut player for 2 years now I was skeptical that any polymer was going to come close but it absolutely did and even added some poly like qualities like spin generation and power while still maintaining control at both baseline and net volleys. Now 5 hours after hitting with this string for 2 hours straight i don’t feel any tiredness or soreness in my arm. This is a very forgiving and flexible string option.
Zyex MonoGut added 15 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame which is comparable to other polys. The cost is approx $15 a set which is a huge savings from natural gut at $50 and just a little more than a good poly.
I will continue hitting with it for a couple weeks and update this blog post with further thoughts. I would love to give you any personal feedback or answer any questions you might have too so leave a message in the comments.
Thanks to Julian at Ashaway for sending these strings for me to test.
p.s. this link shows a complete list of Zyex strings from all manufacturers
UPDATE: found a great review with the Ashaway’s Steve Crandall about Monogut ZX