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String Playtest Comparison: Isospeed Pulse 17 vs Polyfibre TCS

About the play testerAbout the String

Tester: JCSTennis of the Talk Tennis message board

Playing Level: 3.5 - 4.0

Regular playing equipment: Wilson n6.1 95's 16x18, strung with Pro Supex Big Ace 1.17 at mid +1 or +2 tension, #64 Rubber Band dampener

Game Style: All Court, Serve and Volley... one handed everything. Long, fast swing. Hit flat and topspin.

Strings being tested: Isospeed Pulse and Polyfibre TCS

Gauge: 17

Racquet(s) string is in: Both strings are in matched Wilson n6.1 95s

Tension: 55lbs

Stringing

Both racquets were strung one piece, ATW pattern. Is there much stretch when pulling tension? Felt a little elasticity with the Polyfibre TCS when pulling tension. How stiff is the string? The IsoSpeed felt stiffer when stringing. The Polyfibre TCS was much easier to string. I did not pre-stretch the string. There was no kinking, splintering or breakage.

ISOSPEED Pulse 17 String
A durable polyester monofilament that's a good choice for big hitters seeking control and lots of spin. Offers a softer feel than traditional poly strings and a tad more pop than the 16 gauge version.
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.

Isospeed Pulse: This string was a bit more stubborn to work with than the TCS. It's stiffer and coil memory is firm. I pre-weave my mains when stringing and with the IsoSpeed the feel and feedback when doing so was similar to stringing a poly like Luxilon. Hard weaves where a little tricky, I had to take my time and 'sew' through in order to complete my cross. No problem tying knots. The string has a slight slick coating.

Polyfibre TCS: I have always wanted to try TCS, so I was curious to see how this set up would perform. Once opened, the TCS was easy to unravel, demonstrating only little coil memory. The string has a slight texture to it, but once strung that texture is not as apparent. The TCS is easy to weave and knot. It's a very clean looking string, bright white.

Power

Isospeed Pulse: Power is there, period. Unlike the TCS, where I was trying to hit the ball harder, this string did a lot of the work for me. I relaxed my swing and found very positive results. Always above average depth and fantastic second serves. This is where the string really shined for me was second serving, I found better pace than usual and better depth while taking a more casual swing! Opponents noted that my second serve seemed a few mph faster and heavier!

Polyfibre TCS: I like control. I use my own power, thus my normal stringing is a little higher in tension. Since the TCS was strung at mid tension, the power of the string shined through. I was surprised how lively the string bed felt when making good contact. The ball would 'pop' right off the string with pace and control. The more I played with the string the more I would dig in and try to hit the ball harder. This string rewards those who have good control and want a touch of power

Control

Ah, Hah! Control. My favorite. I am a "Fence Hitter" alumnus. So, control is huge for me when choosing a string

Isospeed Pulse: Again, when I relaxed my swing, everything worked with this string. I never felt confident to just "go for it" like the TCS but I played a more aware game, prepared and positioned better and looked to make a nice shot with the IsoSpeed. Balance... is key here.

Polyfibre TCS: Very happy with the control from this string. That's what this string does best. Pin-point accuracy found with every shot. Serving was awesome. I could "go" for it a little more with the TCS with positive results... with every shot. This is fun for me. Having that little voice in my head that says, "Go for it... it's okay" is what makes this string work. Serving, drop shots, topspin, slicing... it's all there

Comfort

Isospeed Pulse A little stiff and board like when I first hit with it. Took a little longer to "break in". No pain from using the string, but the feedback was harsher than the TCS.

Polyfibre TCS: When freshly strung the TCS felt a touch crispy. But after a couple of hours it settled in nice. I felt no arm pains, etc. This string is a touch softer than what I use and is comfortable for a poly. No bad vibrations from mis-hits. A very playable string!

Spin

Isospeed Pulse: Right out the box, the string felt slippery. The ball would not stick to the strings... I found that I needed a little extra racquet preparation before hitting a shot in order to dial in a good amount of spin. But, once I did the ball would drop in when I was expecting a long shot... even with serves, the ball would hang, then drop in nicely. I liked my one-handed back-hand slice. Not a ton of "junk" on the ball, but good pace and control.

Polyfibre TCS: Ohhh, gobs of spin here. This string really cups the ball. The ball pocketing is excellent. Those who use a more conventional grip to those who use a more extreme grip like a Western will love the spin potential with the TCS. It works well with any grip style. I found that I was ripping my forehand with more action than with any other string I have tried, even "spin" strings! The TCS just grasps the ball, waits... then allows you to unload your shot with pace and control. The faster you swing and the more clean your swing is, this string responds! Great top spin. Deadly underspin. Kick serves were fun ( I found myself admiring my serves as they would just drop in and kick right up).

Feel

Isospeed Pulse: Felt a little plasticy. Plus, a little slippery when I first hit it. The string reminds me of a stronger/firmer version of a Head Sonic type string, but with more vigor to the string. Feel is not really the stand out quality of this string. The string is well made, it holds up well but may make out better in a hybrid set up with a softer, feel type string.

Polyfibre TCS: Exceptional... If I was playing blind folded, when hitting with the TCS, I could feel the ball so well, I could tell you exactly where on the string bed I just hit the ball and how much of the ball made contact with the string bed! Well... maybe not, but you get the idea... nice feel and touch. Around the net, this string really shows off.

String Movement

Isospeed Pulse: No string movement noticed... if any it was slight and required very little correcting.

Polyfibre TCS: After about 10 hours the strings were moving more and more.

Tension Maintenance

Isospeed Pulse: After about 18-20 hours of play, I still have this string in one of my racquets... it has not "died" yet! Great, I love when I get 20+ hours out of a string! Plus, there is no sign of wear. The string job still looks fresh, and still feels and plays well. This is a thicker gauge string... I expected for it to last longer than the TCS, and I am impressed with the life still left in it!

Polyfibre TCS: After 10-12 hours tension stability was challenged. 15-18 hours, the string has lost most of its qualities and attributes and playability was challenged. I wish this string would have held its tension and playability a little better. But for a thinner gauged string I expected tension loss, but did not expect the characteristics/playability of the string to change so drastically.

Durability

Isospeed Pulse: Very durable. This could be a popular string for those who are looking to hybrid with a firm, powerful new poly string.

Polyfibre TCS: I did not break the string. I usually don't break strings. This is a very nice string. I may opt to try a thicker gauge next time. But for the first couple of matches I played with it, it really held up nice. This string, though a co-poly, reminds me of good high-end multi's that have good control and feel, but lack longevity.

Weather/Temperature: Cool-warm dry weather. Average of 60-80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Court Surface: Outdoors. Hard surface.

Overall Summary:

TCS is the style of string I currently play with and use in a one piece... the IsoSpeed is the type of string I would hybrid with a good multi in order to let its qualities shine through. Those who change their strings frequently that are looking for an excellent playing string that produces control, spin and touch... TCS is the string. Especially if the racquet you use is stiff and/or is a closed pattern. The string is thin and comfortable enough to work well with those style racquets. The Pulse will reward those who are looking for a good power style string that has long life potential. Scoring:

Comfort
Polyfibre TCS 17 93
Isospeed Pulse 17 87
Control
Polyfibre TCS 17 95
Isospeed Pulse 17 90
Feel
Polyfibre TCS 17 95
Isospeed Pulse 17 83
Overall Playability
Polyfibre TCS 17 91
Isospeed Pulse 17 88
Power
Isospeed Pulse 17 94
Polyfibre TCS 17 88
Spin
Polyfibre TCS 17 95
Isospeed Pulse 17 83
String Movement
Polyfibre TCS 17 94
Isospeed Pulse 17 88
Tension Maintenance
Polyfibre TCS 17 92
Isospeed Pulse 17 88


Playtest date: May, 2008.
All content copyright 2008 Tennis Warehouse.

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