Zo Verve is the latest in Gamma’s Zo series of co-polymer strings, and is designed for stronger hitters looking for controlled power with added spin. As of this writing, it is only available in 1.25mm (17 gauge in Gamma’s opinion).
Besides the 1.25 gauge (I actually measured it at 1.27), Zo Verve has an elongation of 5.21% at 60#, and the same at 70# tension . The lack of extra stretch at a higher load tells me that the power potential of this string will be minimal (see In Play for details). The set length was 40′, as advertised, and the 2-tone maroon and black color scheme is pretty cool, even if it doesn’t match your racquet. The edges are quite sharp to the hand; we’ll see how that affects stringing ease.
Based on its wholesale price, I think you can expect an installed "street price" between $32-40, depending on your dealer. This puts Zo Verve in the price range of Babolat’s quite popular RPM Blast string, and Luxilon’s M2 series. What it doesn’t do is differentiate in publicized feel: Blast and M2 are advertised as softer strings, while Zo Verve is promoted as a hard-hitter’s string, implying just the opposite.
Stringing Zo Verve
I strung Zo Verve in 2 different racquets with 2 different tensions. First, I strung it in my Wilson HTour 95 test racquet at a reference tension of 55#, and received a DT reading of 40 on the ERT300 Tenniscomputer, and a string bed stiffness reading of 65 (quite stiff) on the Babolat RDC. After 24 hours of no play, the readings were 37 and 62, respectively, showing a tension loss of 7.5 and 4.6%, respectively, quite good for poly-based strings (by contrast, Luxilon ALU lost approximately 8%, and RPM Blast showed a similar loss). At the end of 1 week of no play, Verve showed no additional tension loss, meaning to me that it will play at a consistent level for a noticeable time. The next stringing was with in a Gamma Tour 330X frame, at a reference tension of 41# (all stringing is done on a babolat Star 5 machine), yielding a DT of 35 and an SBS of 46; after 24 hours, these had dropped ot 32 and 41, respectively.
Stringing Verve was not as hard as I had imagined, as the shape wasn’t a hindrance on weaving, except to be sure it didn’t twist, something I find necessary on all profiled strings. It was a little stiff on weaving, but it didn’t slow me up much, and tying knots tightly was not a major issue. With a little extra straightening, the racquet was ready to go, so I don’t think you need to allocate more than a couple of extra minute’s time to installing it. Now, on to the good stuff: playing with the string.
Zo Verve in Play
Gamma’s definition of Zo Verve as a hard-hitter’s string was right on, as it took a real strong swipe to generate any power at all. The lack of resilience I noted in initial testing proved accurate, as I felt as if Iwas hitting with a board. My normal swing sent the ball nowhere, and spin didn’t seem to take unless I really cut loose.
As my playing time wore on, I actually had to do just the opposite of the string’s intent, and open up the face of the racquet to hit flat or slice shots to get the ballto travel the length of the court. Even after doing this, I still felt like I had no real power, and the racquet twisted mightily in my hand on mishits, and actually almost flew out of it on one shot. I’ve not normally had this problem with poly strings, even the stiffest Kirschbaum models. ZoVerve managed to reduce my racquet’s sweet spot size due to its lack of response.
I found I could actually volley fine with it, as long as the hits were pure, but it gave me no help when I was extended at net. Ditto for serves and overheads, and groundstrokes were a labor no matter how I hit them.
You’d suspect comfort to be lacking on a string this stiff, and you’d be right: my elbow and shoulder really knew they’d had a workout by the time I was done with this string. Movement was minimal, but I’m not sure if it was due to the string’s design or its lack of response (perhaps a stronger hitter could make it move; I don’t know).
I had no notching when I was finished with Verve, but tension loss was noticeable, going down to a DT of 28 from the original 35 (a 20% loss in just over a week). I had hoped I’d pick up some length on my shots as it loosened, but it was dead all the way.
Gamma Zo Verve is a very stiff and unforgiving string that is going to have a small market: very hard-hitting players with young arms that can tolerate its lack of forgiveness. It would be advisable to reduce tension 2-5# over normal polys to bring back some of the loss of length you’ll undoubtedly see, and to replace it regularly as it goes even more dead than when installed, something the price point will make hard on the wallet.