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String Playtest Comparison: Polyfibre TCS 17 vs Polyfibre Cobra 17

About the play testerAbout the String

Tester: Diredesire of the Talk Tennis message board

Playing Level: 4.0

Regular playing equipment: Fischer Pro #1 FT, Poly Polar 17g Hybrid (w/ Forten Sweet or similar), 56-58 lbs CP (anywhere in this range).

Game Style: Somewhat of an All-court style, I'm comfortable at the baseline and net. Very fast swing, full western forehand, two handed backhand. I like to slice off both sides (especially approach shots).

Strings being tested: Polyfibre TCS 1.20mm, Polyfibre Cobra 1.20mm

Gauge: 1.20mm (17g, although I'd really consider this a 17L)

Racquet(s) string is in: Separate Fischer Pro #1 FT 98si w/ leather, over grip, slight customizations

Tension: Both @ 58 lbs Constant Pull

Stringing Both racquets strung one piece top to bottom. I string the first cross with the excess of the short side (equal tension across the string bed).

Polyfibre TCS 17/1.20 String
This 17 gauge version of Polyfibre's soft, TCS co-poly string, offers exceptional access to spin, excellent control and a very soft and forgiving response compared to competing co-polys.
Polyfibre Cobra 17/1.20 String
A soft polyester string with a textured surface for excellent spin. Pre-stretched for optimum tension maintenance.

Machine strung on: Laserfibre MS200TT (True constant pull). Polyfibre TCS: Handled much like an extruded crayon, it is sort of waxy in feel, and stretches smoothly. I felt that with all the slack pulled out, the tension would be maintained fairly well. The string weaves very smoothly, due to the waxy coating. I would say this string is easier to string (in general) than other co-poly strings. It is slightly less stiff. It does stretch quite a bit. I would recommend any lock-out users to pull it slowly. Polyfibre Cobra: Exhibited a slightly different characteristic feel. There was a very, very slight texture to the string. It looked like a very subtle notching spaced about 1mm apart all across the string. There was no waxy feel; I could tell this string wasn't designed to be "orange peel-esque" like the TCS. The string felt at first reluctant to stretch, but after the initial "tug," it relaxed and gradually settled. I would recommend a slow pull on a lock-out with this string, also. If you were to crank too fast, it might lock out before this string really settles. Weaving was straightforward. It also glided well, no more difficult than any other poly string. The 1.20mm gauge in both strings lent itself to a little more flexibility than others. Power Comments: Both strings played more powerful than I expected. I typically play with 1.25-1.30mm strings. The gauge difference as expected lent itself to a little more power. Throughout the play test, the power levels stayed fairly consistent with both strings, although both started to lose a bit of tension near the end of my 16 hour play test that caused a bit of an unpredictable response. I felt that the amount of play from both strings, for co-polys was fair. I tend to cut my strings out after about 8 hours due to my inability to break co-polys with any consistency. I don't play as often as I'd like, and I always end up cutting my strings out due to the fact they sit in my frames for 50% of the time as it is.

Power Level ratings: (10 is "good"/under control, 5 is low control/power too high, 0 = nightmare)

TCS 1.20: Initial (8/10) Final: (6.5/10)

Cobra 1.20: Initial (8.5/10) Final: (7/10) Polyfibre TCS: Since I had already done a play test with the TCS in the past, I felt as if I knew what to expect. The major difference from before was this string was in a white color. I felt that this string exhibited more power than the yellow version, and also had a bit less bite. Straight off the machine, I felt that the power level was slightly more than I wanted. Depth control was good, although I had to apply a bit more spin than I usually do to keep the ball in. After about 6 or so hours, the play maintained the same power level, which was a nice surprise. After the 12-14 hour mark, I had lost my sense of control. Balls started to sail a bit, regardless of spin. I would suggest stringing this string approximately 2-4 lbs (per manufacturer suggestion) above your usual reference tension to end up with a more suitable power level. Polyfibre Cobra: Judging just by stringing the string up, I imagined the Cobra to be a lower powered, more spinny string compared to the TCS. I was surprised to find that there wasn't a huge difference between the strings except for the predictability in feel. I felt that the Cobra was more predictable in play than the TCS. The Cobra also had a good bit of power, but the strings felt as if they were slightly stiffer, in other words: they didn't flex and rebound quite as much. The Cobra also eventually loosened up and started launching balls. This was also around the 14 hour mark. I felt that even in the end the Cobra was more predictable than the TCS. This was a bit of a shock, as I had such a strong/pleasing performance from the TCS when I first play tested it.

Control Comments: My perception of control is closely related to my perception of power. The higher the power, the more out of control a string, and vice versa. I will be commenting below on multiple types of control: spin control, depth control, directional control. Below, for reference are my initial/final scores for each string. TCS 1.20: Initial: (7.5) Final: (6.5)

Cobra 1.20: Initial: (8) Final: (7) Polyfibre TCS: As I mentioned before, the TCS was a powerful string. With this said, there were definite redeeming qualities of this string. It has a natural bite on the ball that lends itself to controllable spin. I think if I had strung this string a few more lbs tighter, it would have gotten much higher ratings. Even with this in mind, I found it hard to give very high marks to a string that couldn't keep the ball in the court. Depth control was not good, spin control was admirable. I was able to generate lots of top and biting slice when necessary. I felt directional control was above average, but I couldn't aim for the lines without second guessing myself. Polyfibre Cobra: The Cobra was a decent string at first. It also had redeeming qualities. I felt that the depth control wasn't as great as I'd like, but with a slight bump in tension, the Cobra would also be a contender for a nice string set up. The depth control initially was better than the TCS, it seemed to be just a "range" calibration for me. I felt that I could adjust more easily to this string than the TCS. I'd give it a pretty good rating for initial depth control. It was predictable, and I could hit my spots with adjustment. Spin control was surprisingly not as great as the TCS. I had imagined that just by the name of the string, the Cobra would be a string designed for intense spin. Even the dimpled/textured surface of the string would suggest this. I felt that even with the thin gauge, texture, and stiffness of the string, the Cobra gave a predictable response without an excess of spin. I ended up liking this feel. I found directional control to be more than adequate. I was able to go for the lines at time, but the initial power level kept me honest. I think the Cobra would be a nice, predictable string for a fall-back racquet when strung at the right tension.

Comfort Comments: I should comment that I have intermittent wrist problems. Typically, poly strings of any type will bother my wrist a little. The Polyfibre line, from what I have experienced has been pretty comfortable. These strings do not produce unreasonable amounts of vibration or discomfort. Although both these strings were impressive, I can't rate them a perfect 10/10 due to the fact that they ARE stiff, and they are poly strings. On an absolute scale, these strings are both very impressive compared with other polys. Overall Comfort ratings:

TCS 1.20: (8.5/10)

Cobra 1.20: (8/10) Polyfibre TCS: Overall, besides the powerful nature of the string, TCS gives a good response, and mutes vibrations well. I never felt much discomfort when striking the ball. I experienced a dampened response with ample feedback. One thing I don't like about co-polys in general is the muted feel. TCS did an impressive job of keeping the dampened feel, but allowing the string to transmit feel. Polyfibre Cobra: The Cobra was also impressive for a polyester string. A slightly dampened feel, with slightly more shock transmitted than the TCS. I could feel the impact of the ball more with the Cobra, whereas the TCS muted the impact well. Although I did enjoy the more "feedback-y" feel of the Cobra, comfort wise, the TCS was tops.

Spin Comments: Spin production was good from both strings. Although they both had an ample amount of power, both strings were able to provide plenty of "bite." The spin I encountered from both strings was slightly different in "feel." Overall spin rating (perceived "RPM"): TCS: (9) Cobra: (8.5) Polyfibre TCS: As mentioned before, I have play tested this string in the past, and it is one of those surprising "gem" strings. There is a very natural, comfortable spin provided by this string. If you are rallying, there is a nice, gentle grip that is predictable in practice. When you really want to crank it, the strings respond accordingly and grip the ball equally well. Simply put, the TCS is capable of providing much more than enough spin when necessary. The ball bite isn't fuzz ripping, but it is natural, and predictable. Polyfibre Cobra: The Cobra spin fell short of my expectations, which turned out to be a good thing! I expected the Cobra to be one of those strings that are catered towards the spin doctors, and I was happy to find that this wasn't the case. I found the spin response of these strings to be predictable, and just about right. The strings felt as if they didn't "give" as much when striking the ball, which in turn translated to excellent grip/bite on the ball. I found the spin to be quite adequate from the Cobra, although the TCS might have been a more natural/spinny feel.

Feel Comments: Feel was pretty consistent for both strings throughout the review. The Cobra softened up a little bit in feel towards the tail end of the review. I found that balls struck especially hard started to feel a bit more comfortable near the 10 hour mark. Things I keep in mind when I review for feel: Drop shots/touch shots: do I get the expected outcome? Volleys: Does the feedback match the desired shot? Groundstrokes: What kind of impact to I experience, and how does that translate into feedback that I can use? Ratings: TCS 1.20: (7) Cobra 1.20: (7.5) Polyfibre TCS: For a poly string, the TCS performs admirably. The feel is muted, which is similar to other co-poly strings. Vibrations and shock are dampened well before they reach the arm. I personally am not a huge fan of this feel, as I like a raw feedback when striking balls. I felt that touch shots were pretty sub-standard, drop volleys, and the occasional "surprise" drop shot from the baseline were unpredictable, and I really had no idea if I had struck them cleanly. I find that it is effective to follow a well-executed drop shot into the net at times, and I found myself following a ball that turned out to be a sitterÉ not smart. Volleys were "OK," depth control was difficult, although I was able to place the ball to an adequate amount. The feedback I experienced was unpredictable. I had only a rudimentary idea of what was going to come off the strings. I am a bit of a feedback/feel player, but I felt that the TCS left me a little more to be desired. Groundstrokes were a different story, the "give" and the dampening gave me a comfortable ride with just enough feedback so I knew what was going on. It seemed to me that balls struck hard overcame the muted feel. Polyfibre Cobra: I felt that the Cobra compared to the TCS performed pretty darn well. Like I mentioned before, the Cobra is less forgiving when striking the ball. It seems that the Cobra does not deform and rebound as much as the TCS. I found this resulted in a less muted feel, although there was certainly still some dampening to be felt. I found volleys to be predictable, with the feedback much more easy to "read." Drop shots were mediocre, but I had a better idea of what was coming off my strings. String Movement Comments: Polyfibre TCS performed very well, while I was surprised to find that the Polyfibre Cobra strings began to move after about 8 hours. This was a definite surprise for me, as most poly strings lock into place and do not move at all! The TCS would rarely be out of position, but this movement might have been contributed by the thinner gauge than I am accustomed to. TCS 1.20: (9/10)

Cobra 1.20: (7.5/10)

Tension Maintenance Comments: Both strings performed relatively well for their construction and gauge. I felt that both strings started to lose control after about 12 hours of play, which is about in line with other strings that I have hit with of the co-poly type. I usually cut out my strings once I experience this phenomenon, but I continued to hit with these strings for the sake of play testing, and I found that the drop was not huge, but definitely an appreciable one. I found that although the TCS held it's tension better, the actual drop in the Cobra was more pronounced.

TCS 1.20: (6.5/10)

Durability Cobra 1.20: (6/10) Durability of both strings was typical of co-poly strings. I played both strings for about 14 hours each. I usually cut out my co-polys once they start to get unpredictable. I found that the TCS notched more, probably due to it's waxy/sticky feel. It seems to burn a little more on itself once it moves. The Cobra held up surprisingly well. There was minimal notching. For the gauge of both, it was surprising how little each wore over the course of 14 hours. I am not extremely tough on my strings, but I break syn guts in about a week. These held up very well! TCS 1.20: (8/10)

Weather/Temperature: Cobra 1.20: (8.5/10) I play tested these strings in Seattle, WA. Weather up in the Pacific NW is pretty unpredictable. I hit with these strings in typically cold weather, with a bit of rain here and there. I played these strings mostly indoors, with a few hours (3-4 each) outdoors.

Court Surface: Hard court

Comments: Main surface (indoors) is a relatively smooth, medium fast court. Outdoors, the courts are slightly more rough, and bounce up a little. Overall Summary: Polyfibre TCS: String this string up a few lbs from the start! It is powerful at regular tensions. The spin control is simply out of this world. It has a natural, smooth spin. This string, while muted, provides a good amount of feedback. Touch shots are lacking, but with a little bit of a firmer string bed (read: bump the tension!) this string will give a nice ride. Bottom line: Comfortable co-poly with excellent spin characteristics. Worth a try. Polyfibre Cobra: Firmer feel than the TCS, but still a very comfortable string. Don't let the name fool you, while there is good spin in the reserves, it is not a string designed for ultimate spin. I find the response to be more linear than the TCS, which tends to adjust well for hard struck balls. The TCS is more predictable, and finding one's range is not a journey. I found it better in the touch/feel category, with a respectable amount of everything else. Bottom line: Nothing jumps out at me from this string that says "BUY ME!" However, I do think this could be a dependable string for a "go to" type situation as long as the price is reasonable.

Comfort
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 84
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 77
Control
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 77
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 68
Feel
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 76
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 70
Overall Playability
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 76
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 74
Power
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 79
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 72
Spin
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 92
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 84
String Movement
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 88
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 73
Tension Maintenance
Polyfibre TCS 17g (1.20mm) 65
Polyfibre Cobra 17g (1.20mm) 60


Playtest date: April, 2007.
All content copyright 2007 Tennis Warehouse.

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