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Tech it out: Gamma Solace

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Tech It Out: Gamma Solace string

ESPN's Prim Siripipat talks to Harry Tong, managing director at Brad Gilbert Tennis Nation Store, about the Gamma Solace, a dual-core string the allows for comfort and more flexibility.

Some people believe the human mind, an eminently complicated structure, is the most complex thing in the world. Others maintain the act of yawning is the biggest mystery not yet resolved. Or, as Albert Einstein argued, “The hardest thing in the world to understand is income tax.”

Bottom line is that there is no shortage in the number of mind-defying concepts we have yet to unravel. I, for one, contend the most difficult thing to understand is string theory -- and no, not the strings used to shed light on the dimensions of time and space in the universe, another phenomena we have yet to fully decode. I’m talking about the strings used in tennis rackets worldwide. Vast and as revolutionary as they are, understanding the nuances of this kind of string theory, while nearly impossible to discern, are essential to winning tennis.

Gamma, which has a long history of producing some of the best strings on the market, obviously has employed the right people to figure these kind of things out. The company recently introduced its latest brainchild, a high-energy multifilament string that’s big on power and touch. Gamma explained the string’s DNA as one with “high-tenacity multifilament outer wraps bonded together by a polyurethane matrix and coated with a soft abrasion resistant TPU.”

I’m not quite sure what all this means, but what I can tell you is that I’ve spent extensive time the past two weeks using Solace-strung rackets. Gamma did not lie. This string made my playing experience extraordinarily comfortable, especially for someone who generally gravitates toward a full bed of poly.

I tried Solace in frames with both an 18-main setup and more spin-friendly, modern-day rackets, including Gamma’s own RZR 100. Solace expanded the sweet spot in my rackets by a large margin.

The RZR series, especially the 100-square-inch head, is a powerful racket with fantastic feel and massive spin potential. But it seems to lend itself better to a full poly setup to offset some of the native power. The last thing any player wants is to not feel confident enough to swing out.

But there are obvious drawbacks to playing with 100 percent polyester, too. The main one being that the response after striking the ball can be unfriendly, if not harsh. That’s where a high-end multifilament helps out.

Initially, I feared using a Solace in the crosses might add too much power, especially to the RZR 100, one of my favorite rackets on the market. But while Solace certainly jacked up the pace, the feel was remarkable. The response was a softer one than I was accustomed to, but it added a deeper pocket off contact, thanks to, as Gamma notes, “greater string bed deflection on impact, storing more energy in the strings.”

The hybrid setup did not compromise control, either. That was the main thing. Solace had a very similar response to Wilson NXT and Head FXP, two of the more popular multifilaments out there.

Gamma also offers Solace as a half-set main string with Glide, an incredibly elastic fluorinated polymer -- basically a very slick string better suited as a cross that allows the mains to slide and then snap back. As you’d imagine, this augments power and spin quite a bit.

When paired with Solace, there was no shortage or power, perhaps too much power. I noticed this more on groundstrokes than serving. But there was plenty of comfort, and the ability to hit with added spin was immediate noticeable.

I actually enjoyed the Solace/Glide hybrid in a couple of lower-powered 18/20 frames, but it’s probably best suited for players who don’t have a natural lively swing.

Solace, though, was a big winner. When paired with a poly, the combination of comfort, power and spin was phenomenal -- in groundstrokes and serving. I was able to place volleys with the same accuracy as I was in a full bed of poly.

If nothing else, Solace offered me a memorable lesson in string theory.