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String Playtest Comparison: ALU Power Rough vs Kirschbaum Competition

About the play testerAbout the String

Tester: Kevo on the Talk Tennis message board

Playing Level: 4.0

Regular playing equipment: Babolat Pure Storm Team 98 with Cyberflash 17g at 58 lbs

Game Style: Mostly baseline when playing singles, but I play doubles about half the time.

Strings being tested: Luxilon ALU Rough, Kirschbaum Competition

Gauge: ALU Rough: 17, Competition: 16L

Racquet(s) string is in: Babolat Pure Storm Team 98

Tension: 55 lbs

Luxilon ALU Power Rough 16L String
A textured version of ALU Power designed to grip the ball for increased spin. Not quite as durable as ALU Power, but still a very durable string.

Get 4, Pay for 3!

Kirschbaum Competition 17 (1.25) String
An advanced Polyester tennis string designed to offer increased control, comfort and playability. Good tension maintenance compared to traditional Polyester strings.

Stringing

ALU Rough was strung one piece and has what I would consider normal stretch for a poly. About half the stretch of a basic Syn Gut. It is stiff but not that difficult to weave except on the last couple of crosses. It does have a lot of coil memory, so it can kink if you don't manage the slack string well. Kirschbaum Competition also strung up like a typical poly. A little less coil memory than the ALU, but you still have to manage the slack to avoid kinking.

Power

ALU Rough is not really a power string. It definitely has less power than the typical multi at a similar tension. It does, however, work well for hitting with power because of the added control. Kirschbaum Competition has slightly less power than the ALU. It is definitely a control string that works well for hard hitters.

Control

ALU Rough has plenty of control. Like most poly's, the stiffness of the string really seems to reduce power and add to spin. This string seems to perform best when taking big cuts at the ball and hitting with spin. Control doesn't seem nearly as precise when hitting soft shots or hitting flat. Kirschbaum Competition has marvelous control. It works especially well when hitting hard like the ALU Rough, but it doesn't have quite the same loss of control when hitting flat or slow moving shots. There are no surprises from the stringbed. It's a very consistent string unlike some of the other poly's I've tried. You always seem to get out of this string what you put into it.

Comfort

ALU Rough is fairly comfortable for a poly. I didn't have any discomfort after some heavy hitting and I found that even on mis-hits it didn't seem any worse than a Syn Gut. I did string this about 5 lbs. looser than I would a Syn Gut though, and that may account for some additional comfort. Kirschbaum Competition is one of the most comfortable polys I've hit with. It has a very nice feel and very little excess vibration. It seems to pocket the ball a little bit more than a typical poly and that seems to soften up the shock of the hit. This one is a notch or two above ALU Rough as far as comfort is concerned.

Spin

ALU Rough works well for spin, but I didn't think the "rough" added much over a standard poly. I was able to hit with pretty much any level of spin I wanted, and I think the overall balance of characteristics of this string lend themselves to spin production. It's not too powerful, and it has decent feel and control. Taking big cuts at the ball will produce more spin than a slower swing. Kirschbaum Competition's spin production was similar to ALU Rough. I would say that the softness and extra dwell of the string actually produced a little more spin, but it wasn't enough to really stand out more so than other poly's.

Feel

ALU Rough has good feel. The feel is even better when hitting hard, and I think that more than anything else concerning the ALU Rough makes it a good string. When hitting hard you get a better pocketing feel and a sensation of more control rather than less. Volleys even felt good when taking a ball with some pace, but soft shots didn't have much feel so there is a trade off. Kirschbaum Competition has a really nice feel for a poly. It's a little more muted than the ALU, and the strings seem to pocket the ball and give a better sense of the contact. The frame I had strung with the Kirschbaum Competition quickly became my go to frame for matches because of the softer more refined feel. It is really a pleasure to hit with.

String Movement

No string movement to speak of with either string. I maybe straightened strings twice during the test period where I actually noticed movement.

Tension Maintenance

After playing the ALU Rough for about 12 hours I noticed a significant drop in tension. Up until that point tension maintenance seemed quite good. After that point I started hitting shots that were dropping in about 6 to 8 inches long. I had to add even more spin to keep the ball in play. After about 45 minutes of struggling with the additional power I switched to my backup and the difference was immediately noticeable. Control returned. Kirschbaum Competition had no noticeable tension loss before it broke.

Durability

The ALU Rough seems quite durable. It had very little notching at 12 hours of play. The tension loss was bad enough at that point that I wouldn't play any more with it, so I don't know that the durability is all that useful unless you like a low tension to start with maybe. Unfortunately the Kirschbaum Competition was not as durable. It only lasted about 8 hours and broke near the top of the head on a serve. I frequently hit serves high in the head with my normal poly and have only experienced a shear break once after more than 20 stringings. However, for people who can stay away from the top of the frame, the string was barely notched when it broke so it seems durable in that sense. I was seriously considering this string as a replacement for my current poly, but this type of breakage is a deal breaker for me.

Weather/Temperature: Mild. Between 65 and 80 degrees

Court Surface: Hard Court

Final Comments:

Alu Rough and Kirschbaum Competition are both excellent polys. They are comfortable with good control. The Competition was one of the best feeling polys I've tried. It was very comfortable and felt great when hitting hard. Alu Rough had a more crisp feel to it, but was still a comfortable string. Overall the only complaint I had with them was longevity. I expect polys to last substantially longer than multis or synthetic gut strings, but it turned out that these two didn't last that long. The Competition had a shear break near the top of the frame after 8 hours and the Alu Rough lost a lot of tension all at once at about 12 hours of play. So it seems that these two polys would be used more for the control and feel that they provide rather than the durability. I could imagine that the Competition might be great for someone who doesn't break strings frequently although I don't know what the long term tension holding characteristics would be. If you like hitting with polys I think these two are worth a try. The Competition especially if you are looking for a comfortable poly with good feel.

Comfort
Kirschbaum Competition/17 75
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 70
Control
Kirschbaum Competition/17 85
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 80
Feel
Kirschbaum Competition/17 80
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 70
Power
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 70
Kirschbaum Competition/17 65
Spin
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 80
Kirschbaum Competition/17 80
String Movement
Kirschbaum Competition/17 95
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 90
Tension Maintenance
Kirschbaum Competition/17 90
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 65
Overall Playability
Kirschbaum Competition/17 85
Luxilon ALU Power Rough/16L 75


Playtest date: November, 2006.
All content copyright 2006 Tennis Warehouse.

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