I rarely write equipment reviews but I’ve been using TSP Curl PH for so long that it seemed like a good time to write something about this somewhat unique rubber. Thanks to Matt Deane for giving me my first sheet which I have been using primarily as my forehand racket covering ever since.
While PH is a long pips rubber, most long pips players don’t seem to like it. Since it is quite different than most long pips it has to be used differently. It is not great at chopping and does not reverse spin on blocks to any great extent. Some players feel that it’s not particularly great for receiving serves because it has quite a bit of grip. I find that any thickness of sponge completely changes it’s playing characteristics which is why I will only use the no sponge version.
Given all the things it doesn’t do well one has to wonder why anyone would use it. While some players might be able to use it successfully as a backhand rubber, it actually works best on the forehand. What makes PH special is control. Certainly placement is easy and small loops and pips rolls are especially effective because of the extra grip. The control of speed is however what frustrates opponents. Short blocks and drop shots throw off opponents timing because they can be done unimaginably slowly. What is surprising is that attacks can be done with the same stroke short pips attackers use. The result is a quick well placed ball that has little topspin. A loud cracking sound accompanies strong shots since there is no sponge to muffle it.
Unlike many long pips, the pips on PH are stiff which allows for more possibilities for hitting. Using PH has been compared to playing hard bat. The difference is that the length of the pips and the extra grip provide control that short pips and hard bat rackets cannot duplicate. Balls hit with PH are similar to typical medium pips attacks that tend to stay lower than balls with more topspin. Essentially no spin balls can easily be produced without sacrificing control as with anti-spin.
The best backhand rubbers to pair with a PH forehand can be any type of inverted rubber that has good control and can generate spin. Opponents may try to avoid your forehand so a steady backhand will compliment an attacking pips forehand.
TSP Curl PH is unusual and very versatile. The joy of using it is that it can be used in much the same way inverted rubber is. The control is exceptional considering how deceptive it is when paired with a more conventional backhand rubber. A added bonus is that the ox version comes with an adhesive backing which eliminates the headache of gluing rubber with no sponge. Why Curl PH? It’s a long pips rubber that is easy to attack with. That’s reason enough.