An Interview with Andy Gerst
Dunlop Black Widow is a shaped co-polyester designed with above average comfort and liveliness for the breed. To see what this string has to offer, we had TW playtester Andy Gerst hit with it for several weeks. Here is what he said.
What string do you use most often?
I typically use a stiffer, shaped polyester string, like a Volkl Cyclone or Babolat RPM Blast. I tend to like a thinner 17 or 18 gauge as well. I will string it between 50 and 52 lbs most often, depending on the playing conditions and how I'm feeling.
How did Black Widow compare?
Black Widow certainly delivered a deadly bite! With its multi-sided design, Black Widow grabbed the ball as well as Cyclone, RPM Blast or any other shaped string, and offered exceptional spin potential. However, what sets it apart from other polyesters is how much softer and more powerful it is. Our TW University lab tests show that Black Widow is one of the softer polyester strings available, and I could confirm that even after my very first hitting session. The stringbed felt very lively at impact, and the ball seemed to explode off the stringbed, making it extremely comfortable. Whereas some polys feel dead, you can definitely feel the ball jumping off the stringbed with this one. I wasn't used to all the added power at first, but after tinkering with the tension a bit I was able to dial it in and get Black Widow to respond the way I wanted.
Did you have to make any adjustments to get the most out of this string?
I tried it at all different tensions and found Black Widow actually felt the best about 3-5lbs tighter than normal. Since the string is so soft and so powerful compared to my typical polys I had to go up in tension to get my desired amount of control. When strung too loose this string was too powerful, and almost felt a bit mushy at impact. Once I jacked the tension up I got the crispness and control back, while maintaining the lively stringbed. If you're new to polyesters you should stay at the tension you're at. If you're a polyester player looking for a softer poly then hike the tension up about 4lbs and it will feel great!
What stoke style or type of player would you recommend this to?
Since this is a polyester string it's for intermediate to advanced players with longer, faster strokes. However, since Black Widow is so soft it's easier on the arm and thus more accessible than most other polyesters. This would be a great "starter poly" if you have never tried them before and want to see what all the fuss is about. It would also be great for the developing junior players who are getting bigger, stronger and more powerful, and want to ease their way into switching over to polyester string. Furthermore, anyone who has used polyesters for a while and is just looking for a softer, crisper feel should definitely give Black Widow a try!
Can you summarize your likes and dislikes.
If you're looking for a soft polyester that still grabs the ball and offers great spin potential, look no further. It's a super lively stringbed, it's really soft and comfortable at impact, and the ball jumps off the racquet with power and spin. Remember, I had to go up in tension about 4lbs to get enough control because of how powerful the string was. I also found that since the string was so soft the tension maintenance wasn't great, and that it lasted maybe a week and a half before the strings got mushy. Overall, I'd give it an 8.5 out of 10.