filed in Tennis Product Reviews, Tennis Racquet Reviews
I have been playing sports for most of my life, and a good portion of that time has been spent on a tennis court, trying to control a little yellow ball. For about 16 or 17 years I have also been giving tennis lessons; coaching teams at various levels and trying to get tournament players to compete with some kind of consistency and awareness.
Athletics in this country is always subject to the next great thing kind of talk; the coming big bang theory if you would. People are always raving about X or Y being a game changer, and than six months down the road you can’t even imagine what all the fuss was about.
I say all of this, as a forward, to state that I am not a hysterical seeker who is swept off of my feet, every time a new tennis racquet or a new technology is introduced into the marketplace. I am cautious and judicious in my looking at new things, most of the tennis racquet brands spend more money and time on marketing; then they ever do on research and product design.
For a very long time now, Babolat tennis racquets have been at the top of the marketplace. The Blue Pure Drive frames used by Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters among others have become ubiquitous at junior tournaments, as has the Yellow Aero Pro Drive model used by Rafa Nadal. No matter, I always hated Babolat frames. They were trampolines in my world view, I could never keep my forehand or volleys or serves under control using their frames, plus they made my arm hurt.
The new tennis racquet Babolat Pure Strike Tour plays like a light version of an old time Wilson Pro Staff tennis racquet frame; like the 85 used by Pete Sampras and Stefan Edberg; and the 6.0 whatevers used by Roger Federer for most of his sterling career. The Pure Strike Tour is standard length and weighs 12.0 ounces strung, or 343 grams for fans of the metric system.
The cosmetics are outrageous on this Babolat tennis racquet. The color scheme is red and black and there is lettering all over the thing. I didn’t like the look at first, but as I played with the thing more and more I came to admire the paint job, and you will for sure have no trouble knowing which racquet is your own, if you buy one of these.
The frame comes with a 18 (mains) x 20 (crosses) string bed and I think this is the key to the feel of the tennis racquet. People carry on all the time about access to spin and power, the debate if open patterns produce more string. I have always believed that it was easier to spin the ball, to produce serious game altering string with a smaller head and hence a denser string bed. This frame comes with a 98 square inch head and the 18 x 20 string bed. Welcome to very serious levels of power and spin and control.
I was able to just crush my forehand with this tennis racquet right out of the box, but the thing that the friend I was hitting with commented on right away, was my ability to find angles with this racquet. With the Wilson Pro Staff tennis racquet that I used forever (until today) I was always able to massage returns and approach shots and volleys into narrow little spaces. I never could do that with any of the modern frames to the same degreee or tolerance.
The weight and the stringbed and the larger racquet head, combined to give me more power and spin and accuracy on every type of shot. My kick and slice service balls had more bite and slide with this racquet; I could produce topsin cross court backhands into the service box whenever I wanted to, I had much more feel and control on overheads and lobs.
It took a day or two of using this frame to find the exact correct racquet face angle on touch volleys and drop shots. I think that is an adjustment due to the much larger racquet head size and the squarish sweet spot on this racquet as opposed to the rectangular sweet spot on the Pro Staff 85.
But that was the only wrong note with this frame, and like I said above, it was a matter of adjustment and paying careful attention to exactly where on the head I was hitting those specific shots.
The demo I used had Babolat Origin 125 in the crosses and a Dunlop Explosive poly in the mains. Babolat recommends an RPM Blast \ excel mix for this tennis racquet; I am going to string mine with the Luxillon Big Banger ALU Power 125 that I have used forever. I think this racquet is user friendly and that the power\spin that you can obtain with the Big Banger string will be a nice fit.
I stopped playing competitive tennis for a while the last two summers. The old frames were not working and I couldn’t find a new racquet I liked. That little hiatus is over. I can’t wait to buy some of of these frames and to start playing seriously again.