End of Year Squash Stringing Review 2020
2020 has been a very strange year, with competitive squash pretty much on hold since March, save for some much needed PSA tournaments in Manchester, Qatar and Egypt towards the end of the year. I've been very fortunate to have strung for some top pros playing in these tournaments, with my players winning or getting to the latter stages!
As is customary, I've compiled an end of year review of the rackets I've strung, strings I've used, Tensions and even the reason for stringing them in the first place. The average tension and gauge has remained consistent with 2019, with the average tension just over 25lbs and the average gauge at 1.19mm - so, perhaps that's a good way of deciding what tension and gauge to use if you just want a 'bit of everything'. High tensions are very uncommon, with no rackets being strung over 29lbs by me this year. The general rule of thumb is that higher tension means more control whereas lower tension provides more power. In my experience, stringing in the mid 20's generally provides easily enough control and also provides plenty of power - it's also kinder to your arm!
I've used a sample of just over 300 squash rackets this year, excluding demo stringing and only including samples where I have all the data, so as to provide fair results. Since tennis stringing has increased dramatically (I've probably strung more tennis rackets than squash this year due to restrictions for squash), I'll most likely do a similar review with tennis too!
The most popular rackets I've strung this year have come from Tecnifibre and Eye, with Karakal, Dunlop and Unsquashable also being strung in high numbers. Tecnifibre X-Speed and Airshaft models have been the most popular, with Karakal's S Pro Elite and various Eye models following closely behind. Given that the Airshaft has only been released in the last 12 months, I have a feeling that I'll be seeing a lot more of this racket next year! It's worth noting that I'm sure other countries may have different trends as some rackets are more popular in countries than others, and certain clubs may favour certain brands more than others. I know that Ashaway and Victor rackets are very popular in Birmingham and the South East Coast of the UK, it's just that I don't see many of them in my area. For next year, I'm expecting a fairly similar story, but perhaps with an increase of Dunlop and Head rackets, with companies heavily promoting new rackets and players at the moment.
Tecnifibre are still the most popular string that I string with, with large numbers of restrings with their most popular 305 string and the X-One Biphase (my personal favourite) leading the way. Ashaway are still a strong performer, with a SuperNick XL Micro being a firm favourite of intermediate/club players and UltraNick and PowerNick being the choice of the more discerning/experienced player. Unsquashable's new Tour-Tec Pro string, as I predicted last year, has really started to make inroads into the market and I've used a few reels of it. It was one of my strings to watch when I published a blog about it in January and it's been a big hit with a lot of players I string for.
Another trend that has carried over from last year is that of players getting new rackets restrung straight away. I've always maintained that the strings make such a difference to a racket's performance and general feel. You wouldn't take a Formula 1 car out on a track with budget tyres, so treat your racket to strings that will give you a better chance of winning too! I've seen far less string breakages at the top and side of the frame this year, perhaps a consequence of my advise on players picking more forgiving strings for serial 'framers', such as Ashaway SuperNick XL Mircro which takes hits around the frame a lot better than most multifilament strings.
So, moving into next year I expect to see the Unsquashable Tour-Tec Pro rising through the ranks, with Tecnifibre and Ashaway still remaining strong. I do a lot of work with Tecnifibre and I can honestly say that their mad scientist string developers in the labs work harder than anybody else when it comes to honing their craft. To any players looking for a restring with Tecnifibre strings, make sure that your stringer stocks the very latest editions as there have been some great tweaks over the last 2 months with durability (especially in the 305 and X-One) and performance (power surge on the Dynamix VP).
Here's hoping for a better 2021 with more tournaments and competitive squash returning. Oh, and the most popular colour strings this year were Green, again, followed by yellow, orange and black.