PostHeaderIcon Tennis String Talk: String Modifications, Or Why NXT Black Strings and Emery Boards Don’t Mix

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The broken “modified” strings

(Unpublished accompaniment to my earlier string review on the Wilson NXT “black” strings. 3/11/2012)

In a previous piece, I gave my impressions of the new Wilson NXT 17g “black” strings after having two racquets re-strung with this variant. If you’re a fan of the animated series “Family Guy”, you will appreciate my next reference. In the words of Peter Griffin, “I don’t very much care for these strings. I say good day to you sir”.

I’d find it difficult to recommend these strings for anyone with a game like mine. Whatever gains you might make in terms of longer string life, you pay for with a dramatic offset in loss in topspin, control and feel.

Since I was unwilling to pay for new strings so soon after stringing, I tried some string modification by using an emery board to wear down the black coating. The hope was that I regain the lost feel and control by wearing down the slick coating. I lightly rubbed, so as not to damage the strings. The rubbing was too light, however, and didn’t make much of a difference in the string’s playability.

My second attempt was more robust. My strings got a full mani/pedi this time, as I made sure that every applicable ball-facing surface around the sweet spot was rubbed by the emery board. My next hit ended quickly in disappointment, as both sets of strings broke within the first 15 minutes.

This experiment turned out to be a total bust! Each modified set lasted less than two weeks (3 hits).  I take full responsibility for the shortened string life, since the second attempt clearly damaged/weakened the strings. But it was a risk I was willing to take with racquets that felt unplayable.

I got both restrung: one with the regular “natural” Wilson NXT 17g at 58 pounds, and the other with Wilson Stamina 17g at 60. As I was paying, another patron came in for a re-stringing; coincidentally, because of broken Wilson NXT black strings (16g).

Surprisingly, his strings lasted only two weeks – and with no mods. His game was a lot like mine i.e. baseliner with heavy topspin who also found the black coating difficult in terms of feel and ball control.  Before meeting him, I was certain that mine would have lasted at least 5 more weeks without the emery board intervention. Afterward, I realized that maybe they would have broken anyway.

Wilson, you have a great string with the “natural” NXT. Please don’t change it!

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