New Ashaway Cores Allow Thinner Strings
January 13, 2010
Ashaway, RI — Zyex® performance polymers have been used in racquet strings for a number of years, and are known for their resilience and tension holding properties. However, recent advances in material technology have produced Zyex filaments that are even finer and stronger than before. According to Ashaway’s Steve Crandall, the company has begun using these to produce new multifilament core packages with increased linear density and more cross-sectional strength. The results, he said, are thinner, stronger, lighter-weight tennis, squash and racquetball strings which provide softer feel, more power, and improved ball control, yet still offer the well-known Zyex playing characteristics and tension holding properties.
“This is an evolutionary development in string technology,” said Crandall, who is Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ashaway Racket Strings, “and comes at a time when there is increased demand for thinner, stronger strings. Both recreational and professional players are looking for the added ‘bite’ thinner strings can provide to enhance ball control. They also want more power. In addition, the increasingly active senior set wants a string that plays softer and is more forgiving to aging joints and muscles.”
Until recently, however, material technology imposed practical limits on gauge reduction: thinner strings just broke. Now, the combination of newer Zyex filaments and Ashaway’s proprietary core construction techniques are lowering those barriers. Crandall said the company has had developmental sets utilizing the new multifilament core packages out for play testing among both amateur and professional tennis, squash and racquetball players. So far, the response has been uniformly positive.
Players have been impressed with the string on a number of counts according to Crandall. The first is increased power. The ball, said one veteran racquetball player, had “a lot more pop. It literally exploded off the string bed.” He also had more control, especially in cutting his serve. “Thinner strings bite into the ball more than thicker strings,” he said. “So you get more feel, more grip, and can do more with the shot.”
Play-testers were also impressed with the durability and tension holding ability of the strings. “I used one racquet for the entire tournament,” said one, “and here it is several weeks later, and I’m still playing with the same string!”
Power players like racquetball champion Jack Huczek were also enthusiastic about the new strings. “This is hands down the best string I’ve ever played with,” he said. Huczek asked Ashaway to make enough to supply him in his tournaments, and has been using them ever since. “The string maintains its playability for its entire life,” Huczek added. “From a power standpoint, and from a feel and control standpoint, it’s just top notch. The ball seems to really jump off the strings. I’ve noticed maybe 15% to 20% more power, and because the string has a rougher texture, it’s great on the feel shots and the touch shots. You can really carve the ball into the corners and the ball really stays down nice.”
Squash and tennis players also report more power and control, in addition to the well known Zyex characteristic of tension holding. One veteran said the ball “literally exploded” off his string bed. Another said, “You get more feel, more grip, and can do more with the shot.” And one well-known squash pro commented that he could “really carve the ball deep along the rail and then stop the rally on a dime with a drop shot up front.” “Even with the softer playability, I’ve noticed a lot more power, and better control,” said a well known tennis player. “Compared to the stiffer monofilaments, you get a really soft feel and are still able to put a lot of spin on serves and ground strokes.”
Crandall said Ashaway plans to introduce several new lines of multifilament Zyex squash, tennis and racquetball strings this year. “The lines will include several different gauges,” he said, “perhaps even a revolutionary one.”
Ashaway Racket Strings are made by Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co., the only U.S. manufacturer of string for squash, tennis, racquetball, and badminton. Operated by the Crandall family since 1824, Ashaway has been making racquet strings since 1949, and is responsible for several important technical innovations. Ashaway is the Official String of USA Racquetball and the Women’s International Squash Players Association. Ashaway Line & Twine Mfg. Co. also makes braided products for medical and industrial applications.
Ashaway has begun using the latest Zyex material to produce new multifilament core packages with increased linear density and more cross-sectional strength. The results are thinner, stronger, lighter-weight strings for tennis, squash and racquetball which provide softer feel, more power, and improved ball control, yet still offer the well-known Zyex playing characteristics and tension holding properties.