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Well, we can credit Roger Federer with another accomplishment: the trend toward hybrid stringing (using two different strings on the same racquet). While it’s been around for decades – the original hybrid setup first used in the 1970’s consisted of gut mains and nylon crosses– it took Roger Federer to introduce it to the “mainstream." The question remains, however: Is it right for you?
Before a player has a hybrid string job installed, the first question he/she must ask is, “What do I want to get out of this change?” Failure to do so will most likely lead to a bad stringing experience. Most players shift toward hybrid stringing to add durability, though some do choose their string combinations to enhance power, comfort, spin, etc. So, let’s examine some of the most typical hybrid scenarios.
If you’re breaking synthetic strings at a rate you (or your wallet) find unacceptable, you might be considering a switch to poly strings. Before doing so, you might want to try poly mains with synthetic gut crosses. Since the mains do most of the work, changing them to poly might just solve your problem. Plus, you’d still have the extra power, comfort and feel of the synthetic cross strings (poly can be unforgiving, especially at high tensions). You might still break the crosses, but it should take noticeably longer. Babolat’s Pro Hurricane + N.Vy and Pro Hurricane Tour + Xcel, along with Prince Beast Attack hybrids will let you try this choice right out of the package.
This choice could also be made with Kevlar mains for the most frequent string breakers. Prince ProBlend and Ashaway Crossfire are pre-packaged hybrids, or you could use a reel of Ashaway Kevlar with the cross string of your choice.
If you’re a poly player who’s starting to get some twinges in your arm, mixing your poly mains with multifilament or natural gut crosses might increase durability while taking the jolt away. You’ll restring more often this way, but your comfort will increase dramatically. Wilson Champion’s Choice and Babolat’s RPM + VS hybrids are already set up for you.
Natural gut players who want more control could take Roger’s advice and put a poly string in the crosses. The higher stiffness of the poly will “de-power” the racquet a bit, giving a big swing more control. Wilson Champion’s Choice and Babolat’s RPM + VS hybrids will also suffice here; just change the order of installation.
Another option for those who really like poly would be to use a softer poly for mains or crosses. Although not as radical a change, it may prove enough cushion while maintaining a “poly feel.” While this setup is hard to find in a pre-packaged set, you could try any and all combinations by purchasing individual sets of string (i.e. like Luxilon ALU Power mains and Luxilon 4G crosses).
If you love the performance of gut, but not its cost, you could try the original hybrid discussed above: natural gut main strings combined with synthetic crosses. You can custom-pick your cross strings to give you the performance you desire, or the price point you like. Solid-core nylon strings will cost (and perform) less, while multifilament synthetic gut strings will offer greater levels of power, comfort and feel, but at a higher cost. Babolat has an option pre-packaged for just this occasion: VS + Synthetic Gut.
An often-overlooked hybrid setup is to use two different gauges of the same string, combining them to increase durability, comfort, or spin. It could work like this: let’s say you love 17 gauge Tecnifibre NRG2, but it breaks too quickly. Instead of going straight to a full set of 16 gauge, put the thicker string in the mains, and keep the better-feeling 17 in the crosses. You just might get the added durability you desire without a total change in feel. You can do this with any string that comes in multiple gauges.
Also, you don’t have to buy reels of string to try hybrids. Simply get one set of each string you want to try, and you have two hybrids to string up. Once you find your magic formula, buying in reels may let you get more string jobs per dollar.
|So, there you have it: a complete primer for trying hybrid stringing. Unless you arm is so sore that only a full set of natural gut will work, experimenting with hybrid stringing could help you gain an edge on your opponents. Consider what you need to improve your game (i.e. more power, extra control, less worry about breaking strings, more comfort, etc.), and work with your stringer to devise a hybrid that will deliver it. You may find, after a little fun experimentation, that hybrid stringing was the missing piece in your tennis puzzle.||
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