When I first heard the name "Hawk Power," I thought it would be another one of those super soft polyester strings designed to give the comfort of a multi, with some of the properties of a poly. I generally associate power with softness, feel, and comfort, at least regarding strings. I wasn't all that excited because Head already has their ultra-soft poly in the form of Head Lynx Touch, so I was a bit confused.
I forgot one big string, though, Luxilon ALU Power. ALU Power is most definitely not a new-era soft poly. It's stiff, spinny, and controlled; for many out there, it's the best. It turns out Head Hawk Power is targeting similar playability to the Belgian brand's best-selling string.
I'm always hesitant when I hear talk of these ALU replacements because I have been down the rabbit hole of trying every other silver string on the market to find a less expensive alternative, but it has never amounted to much.
Still, I was excited to get on-court with the new, classified string. I strung it up at 53 pounds in a Head Extreme Tour and my own Gravity Tour.
Strings make up 50% of a racket's playability, at least on contact. Having the right frame is all good, but you'll never feel dialed in if you pair it with the wrong string. That's why the "feel" from a tennis string is paramount to optimizing your setup.
When you look to dethrone ALU Power, here's what you're up against: a string with an inexplicably magical pop. It feels like there's some sort of ingredient inside of ALU Power that gives it an addictive sensation you start to crave. Many strings can get close to its spin, power, and control properties but fail to mimic that feel.
There's something inside Hawk Power that gives it a similarly magical pop. It's not the same sensation, but it has a unique feel I came to love during my playtest. The more I played with it, the more I appreciated that sensation when I made proper contact. When you get the strings moving and hit inside the sweet spot, it almost seems to "zing" the ball out with power, spin, and control. It makes a sound that's a bit metallic on off-center shots but then sounds like you're strumming a guitar during proper contact. Feedback, both positive and negative, is critical to providing the best feel, and Hawk Power has that in spades.
One aspect of the string I didn't love was the feel during flat shots and touch shots. This is where polys suffer compared to softer strings, and when I wasn't hitting with spin, there was a muted and dead sensation that felt a bit "blah." Hawk Power comes into its own when you get those strings snapping back.
It's a good thing, then, that the string has excellent spin potential. I prefer round (or rough) strings to shaped ones because they provide better snapback. Shaped strings dig into the ball well, but they also dig into each other and take away from that snappy feel.
Hawk Power is much more spin-friendly than I thought it would be while stringing it up. It was soft and malleable, which usually translates to a stickier response off the string bed, but that wasn't the case on-court. It has a snappy response that produces plenty of string snapback and spin potential. It's as high as some of the most spin-friendly strings like Babolat RPM Blast or RPM Rough, but it certainly won't limit you. Spin production here is more on the natural side, so what you put in is what you get out.
Polyester strings are meant to excel in two categories: spin and control. If you're good at those, you'll at least be competitive in this market. Hawk power is softer than your average poly but doesn't suffer for control because of how consistent it feels.
Two things take away from a string's consistency; shape and softness. Sharp strings can feel unpredictable because they vary in response depending on which part of the shape you make contact with. They also tend to get stuck on themselves, making them less consistent. Soft strings have a similar issue.
I know I said that Hawk Power is pretty soft for polyester, but it doesn't have that same lack of consistency. The string doesn't dig into itself quite as much as other soft polys like Luxilon Element, and it has that ultra-consistent feel of a stiffer, round poly. That's impressive engineering by Head.
Hawk Power is a bit more powerful than your average poly. This is marginal, and it's definitely not a "powerful" string (it's a poly, after all), but it comes back to that extra little bit of "zing" I felt with the ball coming off of the string bed. It propels the ball with a bit more pop, another characteristic comparable to ALU Power.
Durability & Comfort
One of the biggest issues with ALU Power is how its playability drops off a cliff after very little time. Professional players couldn't care less about that because they re-string whenever they please, but that's not so easy for the general populous.
Hawk Power is more durable than ALU. I didn't feel it lost playability so quickly, and even once it notched, it still felt good. Like all polys, it does play better when it's fresh, but the drop-off is much more gradual than some of its competitors.
It was also plenty comfortable for a poly. It's a bit softer than most, and because it has excellent snapback, there is no abrupt stop to the string's movement, which can make some strings feel uncomfortably stiff.
Hawk Power is a fantastic all-around polyester that will excel for most players who enjoy poly playability and are willing to give it sufficient time to adjust. It has that addictive sensation that so few polys provide, so once you get used to its playability, it will be easy to fall in love with. Does it take ALU Power off of its throne? No, not for me. It's similar in many ways, but because the "feel" isn't the same, I can't say it's a better or worse string. ALU feels like ALU, and Hawk Power feels like Hawk Power; it's as simple as that.
The string is still in its super secret (not so secret) development phase, but if you'd like to try it out, it'll be available to string in-store very soon. Remember, you can always book an appointment!