By Matt Locke
Tourna, the brand famous for its grips, has been steadily making inroads in the string market over the last few years. Their strings are highly regarded for their exceptional performance vs. cost ratio and their latest offerings seek to continue that trend. The newest string variations from Tourna include Big Hitter Black 7, a 7 sided co-poly string for extreme spin and bite; Big Hitter Black Zone, a slick, low friction round poly for great control and versatility; and Quasi Gut Armor, a multifilament with a co-poly ribbon on the outside that scored 2nd place all time for comfort in a recent USRSA play test. All of these strings are very versatile and Black Zone and Quasi Gut Armor are marketed as being great for hybrid stringing. I took to the courts with hybrids of Black 7/Quasi Gut Armor and Black Zone/Quasi Gut Armor and am happy to share my findings:
Power: The Black 7/QGA setup had solid power off the ground and was just right for my flexible racquet to be able to play offense. I was taking approach shots and finishing them off aggressively. The Black Zone/QGA setup was noticeably lower powered. This was both a pro and con for me. The benefit was that I could swing out on the ball with reliable results and very few shots sailing long. The down side was all the extra energy it took on my end to keep the ball deep into the court. If I wasn’t swinging out on the ball, it tended to be short in the court, putting me on the defense. Both setups benefitted from the extra pop of the Quasi Gut Armor, allowing for more power while still retaining solid control and directional accuracy. Its added co-poly ribbon firms the string up just enough to provide improved control over many of the multifilaments I have used recently.
Spin: If you want spin, you want Black 7. There was a substantial difference in spin generation between these two configurations. The Black 7/QGA hybrid generated plenty of topspin on groundstrokes and also had good bite on slices. This allowed me to dictate play from the baseline with ease. I found great success using my slice serve out wide to keep the ball low and skidding away from my opponents. The Black Zone/QGA hybrid was still capable of spin but not at the same level as the first setup. You can still generate adequate topspin to play shots safely, but there is not as much potential for using large amounts of spin to push opponents off the court. It was better suited to flattening balls out and keeping the trajectory lower. Both of the polyesters probably would have been capable of even more spin if played as full sets. Even though Quasi Gut Armor has a co poly ribbon on it, it is still a bit gummy and after a few hours, the mains start to get stuck and you lose a bit of that “snap back” needed to generate extra RPMs on the ball.
Comfort/Feel: Quasi Gut Armor scored highly in the USRSA play test for comfort with good reason. It makes the string bed exceptionally comfortable, even when only used as a cross string. It plays crisply and with a firmer response than most multis but it doesn’t sacrifice anything in the comfort department. This string will make anything paired with it play softer and would be a great option in a full set for anyone with a sensitive arm or seeking natural gut-like performance. Feel is easily improved over any full polyester setup. I was able to execute touch volleys with ease and had excellent control over drop shots and touch lobs. Both setups provided ample feedback but never in a way that was harsh or undesirable. The best way to describe the feel for both setups is that they strike a great balance between being crisp and forgiving.
Durability: I got roughly the same amount of usage out of both setups. I broke a Quasi Gut Armor cross string on each setup at about the 6-7 hour mark. There was significant fraying of the multifilament and notching of the polyester mains from around 3 hours of use up until they broke. While the co-poly ribbon on Quasi Gut Armor does add some durability compared to what I get out of hybrids with other multifilaments, chronic string breakers would still be replacing the configurations frequently. Both setups were very tension stable, playing with consistent response after an initial break-in period all the way up to the breakage. There is room for some experimentation with things like a thinner gauge main, altering tension, or reversing the setups that could extend durability out beyond what I saw in my time with them.
The latest string offerings from Tourna are versatile, high-performing strings that could be used in a variety of different ways. Black 7 has excellent power and spin potential and would be a great choice for baseliners in both a full set and a hybrid. Black Zone provides low power and excellent control. Those traits coupled with its slick surface make it an ideal hybrid candidate (I would reverse my setup in the future and use it as a cross with natural gut or Quasi Gut Armor). Quasi Gut Armor provides gut-like performance and feel while also emphasizing comfort. All three offerings are made even more attractive when price is factored in. If you have yet to test out the latest strings from Tourna, be sure to order the right one for your game here at Tennis Express.