If you are a long-time tennis enthusiast like me but have never come around to understanding the history of tennis strings and, consequently, the new string developments that evolved over the past decades, this article is for you!
Tennis has been around for many centuries. In its early days, it was played without a racket - players used their hands at first and later added leather gloves for striking wooden balls.
In 1874, Major Walter C. Wingfield was the first who built a tennis racket. Shortly after, in 1875, he visited Pierre Babolat to discuss the possibility of developing a string for wooden racquets. At this point, Pierre manufactured natural gut strings for musical instruments and it was not too far of a stretch to imagine using similar strings for the racquet. One could argue that natural gut strings could, due to their unique characteristics, still be considered the gold standard of today.
It almost took a century until, in the 1950s, technology in the textile industry allowed the manufacturing of the first "synthetic gut" string. Although the quality in many respects was not comparable to natural gut strings, synthetic gut was much cheaper and thus gave the general public access to the sport of tennis and not just the elite.
This consequently leads to an explosion in the popularity of the sport in the 80s and 90s.
At the French Open in 1997, a relatively unknown Brazilian player named Gustavo Kuerten won the Grand Slam tournament. This year not only has significance in tennis history for his victory per se and continued French Open legacy after that but also for "Guga" winning the tournament with a new secret weapon - the first polyester-based string created by Luxilon.
How this revolutionary type of string has impacted, our sport can still be seen today. Not only changed this string material the way racquets are being strung (at a much lower tension), but it completely revolutionized the way the game is being played, not only on a strategic but also on a technical level.
Because natural gut strings have been around for centuries, many in the tennis industry argue that this string type is still considered the gold standard. On the other hand, we stated that polyester was the string type that revolutionized the way the game is being played to date.
If you are curious:
REMEMBER: it has been said, "the string is the soul of your racquet." Players test all kinds of racquet frames for weeks but completely underestimate the game-changing significance of finding the perfect string match!
We are happy to be part of this great sport!