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L-TEC: Up Close and Personal

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In fall of 2011 we began exposing tennis players and stringers to a new high performance line of tennis strings.  We confidently and boldly proclaimed that L-TEC was poised to shatter the way the world of tennis has  traditionally thought about strings.  The L-TEC Premium line was the first to promote full-copolymer hybrids.  The first to promote a specific method of stringing to enhance string performance.  The first to recommend the use of low tensions for optimal performance.

Early feedback from players of virtually all ages and levels who have used the L-TEC Premium  strings has been overwhelmingly positive.  L-TEC already has a collection of top-tier college tennis players, blue chip juniors, current and former ATP Tour players, prestigious coaches and a former Wimbledon Men’s Finalist all using and  finding the performance of the strings to be exceptional.

In today’s blog we want to take a step beyond making proclamations about the string.  We want to begin demonstrating how and why the combination of L-TEC Premium strings with the JET Method of stringing delivers an experience that is game changing.

A few weeks ago, Crawford Lindsey published a piece on strings and spin.  He concluded that optimal spin is produced when there is a low coefficient of friction, (COF), between the strings and a high coefficient of friction between the ball and the strings.  Mr. Lindsey’s conclusions support what L-TEC accomplishes through the use of full poly hybrids of unique shapes.

Let’s take a look at two strings in the L-TEC line that are completely unique in shape, the L-TEC Premium 3S Black and L-TEC Premium 4S.  The 3S is triangular shaped with rounded edges while the 4S is squoval shaped (square with rounded edges).

As you can see from the image above, the edges of the L-TEC profiled strings are rounded.  Intentionally designed so that the strings will not cut into each other (notch) prematurely.  Everything about the design from the composition of the materials to the rounded profiles are designed to promote maximum string movement/sliding action.  Take a very long and careful look at the contact surface between these strings.  This is extremely important.  The contact surface is infinitely broader than the contact surface between 2 round strings where the contact between the radius of the circles is initially minute, which leads to early notching, reduces the string movement and leads to premature rupture of the strings.

The vastly increased surface contact between the 3S and 4S strings combined with an extremely low co-efficient of friction (COF), plus the reduced deviation of the path of the strings at each intersection creates an exceptional mobility of the strings in the string-bed. (See image below) The side-ways movement of the mains on the crosses when striking the ball causing “stretch and snap-back” is the most important factor to apply spin to the ball. The triangular shape of the L-TEC Premium 3S provides a large string-to-string contact surface and a relatively sharp string-to-ball contact surface which bites into the ball.  Precisely the formula Crawford Lindsey claims to be highly desirable for maximum spin production.

With round shaped co-polymer strings in both mains and crosses the string-to-string contact surface is initially tiny with a low COF but the COF becomes progressively higher during play. The string-to-ball contact  is uniform (with a low COF) between the mains and crosses so the ball will roll or slide on the string-bed,very little spin can be applied to the ball. Remember, in today’s modern game, applying spin to the ball is one of the most important elements for a player, no matter what the player’s level.

While the unique profiles of the L-TEC Premium strings are extremely important in giving the strings unique playing characteristics, installing them at lower tensions is also an important factor in achieving optimal results.   A lower tensioned string-bed increases the spin because the string movement is accentuated. However, at lower tensions, the string-bed stiffness (SBS) is reduced which can cause a drop in control.  Ideally a higher SBS at lower tensions would give the best overall results and this is exactly where the JET Method of stringing enters the picture.

The JET Method for hybrid stringing has been developed to optimize the performance of the L-TEC Premium strings. Using this method, the full elasticity of the copolymer strings is preserved and a higher SBS is achieved when low tensions are used.  The JET Method of stringing is one of the most important elements in the L-TEC Premium tennis strings concept.

The photo appearing above shows that the “rounded flat sides” of the 3S and 4S strings have a contact surface at the intersections which is curved and this curve, in each direction, follows the path of the string perfectly. As we have stated, the contact surface between the strings is very important. As the strings cross over at a 90° angle and  their paths are a succession of over/under/over/under movements giving each string a path of waves where the deviations in each direction are amplified by the diameters and the shapes of the strings. The shapes of the L-TEC Premium 4S and 3S are “flatter” (rather than round) so the deviations at the intersections are reduced.  During the stringing process this phenomena contributes to lower friction when installing the crosses.  With extended pulling time, the difference in tension between the mains and crosses is reduced and overall SBS is increased even at lower reference tensions.

(Thank you to John Elliot for his contributions to this blog entry, including the photographs which are not to be reproduced without express written permission)

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