1st Impressions: BLX Blade, BLX Pro Open, Prestige S, Pure Storm GT demos

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by TripleB, Apr 12, 2012.

  1. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    I received four demos yesterday and headed out to the courts for 3 hours of singles. Below you will find my first impressions on each racquet.

    Demos with one overgrip and a rubber band:
    Babolat Pure Storm GT '09: 319g, 4.5 points headlight, Babolat string (maybe N.VY 16)
    Head YouTek IG Prestige S: 330g, 6 points headlight, Gosen OG Sheep Micro 17
    Wilson BLX Blade 98: 338g*, 4 points headlight, pale green string (maybe Lux Savage)
    Wilson BLX Pro Open: 327g, 6 points headlight, Enduro Tour 17

    * 10 grams over T-W specs, was a bit disappointed it was that much heavier than I expected

    Babolat Pure Storm GT '09: very solid feel to be the lightest racquet in the group, I felt like I could really block back hard serves with good success but would need to adjust the string and tension to try and get more depth on those shots, more headlight than I expected it to be but I still didn't feel like I could 'whip' this racquet around quickly on my forehand, topspin was average at best, slice was very good and I really liked how low the ball stayed, strings felt (and looked) old which really made the racquet seem dead at times, power level was lower than what I typically get with my Dunlop AG 4D 200 Tour, the control of the racquet was decent but for me it wasn't great because I found myself having to swing harder than normal to get the pop I was wanting, really struggled on serves with the racquet because it didn't give me any extra pop and I really couldn't get much spin when going for the kicker, the butt cap on this one seemed loose and squeaked on every shot, at net I liked the solid feel but found myself wanting more pop on put aways and a little more feel on touch volleys; Overall this racquet seemed too low powered (at least with the strings in it) for my game, control paled in comparison to my 200 Tours, and the maneuverability just isn't good enough for me to find the sharp angles

    Head YouTek IG Prestige S: this racquet has a very crisp feel to it (I'm not sure what it's strung at but I think it's higher than the 53 mid tension), I really loved the topspin and slice I got out of this racquet…too bad my shots rarely got passed the service line, this racquet is extremely low powered, I just couldn't get any pop out of my serves/groundstrokes/volleys/etc., control with this racquet seemed decent but the ball was moving so slow that it didn't matter if I hit the lines or not because my opponent could run everything down, the sweetspot seemed pretty small with this Prestige…I'm not really sure this racquet should carry the Prestige name (the solid feel I associate with the name 'Prestige' just isn't there), kick serves had some good spin but again they were moving so slow they weren't effective, touch at the net was nice but other than good spin that's the only positive area I found with this racquet, in looking at the specs I had high hopes that this racquet would be what I'm looking for; Overall the lack of power and small sweetspot really left me disappointed in this racquet

    Wilson BLX Blade 98: such an amazingly solid feel to this racquet…but of course it is a bit heavier than the other racquets (and 10 grams over listed specs) , although listed as 18x20 this racquet has a pretty open string pattern - comparing it to the Pure Storm GT the string spacing looks almost identical, I got fantastic topspin with this racquet and it seemed only slightly less than what I get with my 200 Tour, slice stayed nice and low and really had some good pace, I had good success keeping the ball deep in my opponent's court with this racquet, the power level of this racquet is almost perfect and when I had time to set up I could hit some beautiful winners cross-court and down the line, the one area of this racquet that wasn't stellar was maneuverability - may have been the balance but I'm thinking without the extra 10 grams (over listed specs) this racquet would have been much better in this area, this racquet allowed me to add a new shot to my bag - I had great success with the crosscourt backhand dropshot - great touch and control really allowed me to be incredibly effective with this shot, serves had good pop but I had a some problems getting the racquet moving as fast as I would have liked on the serve, kick/slice serves were about average but I'm thinking with some Tour Bite 17 they would give me that extra bite I was looking for last night, the feel of this racquet was very good and a little more solid than the KBlade 98 (no pain with the BLX version), loved returning with this racquet because of the solid feel but would have liked a little more quickness to it so I could be aggressive on my returns (felt like I was blocking everything back), at net I felt very comfortable with the pop and touch - again I would have liked a little less weight (or more headlight balance) for improved maneuverability up there; Overall this was the only racquet in the group that I liked and felt like I could be successful with - outstanding control, the right amount of power, solid returns, better than average spin…the only thing that would concern me is the lack of maneuverability - at this point I think I would probably choose the KBlade 98 over this one due to the better maneuverability and slightly less dampened feel

    Wilson BLX Pro Open: extremely solid feel, power was the most of the group…the racquet seemed to be strung around 45 pounds (extremely loose and nowhere near mid tension for this racquet) which made it difficult to get a true feel for what this racquet is capable of because I felt like I had to hold back instead of going for my shots (similar to the way I felt I had to play with the Pure Drive), topspin was good (not as good as the Blade) but slice seemed to sit up and lack the drive through the court that the Blade did, pop on serves was huge but I seldom hit the service box with them, kick serves had more spin than with the Babolat or Head but the control I was hoping for really wasn't there, the control was slightly below average for me, wasn't ever really able to find the sharp angles with this racquet, the one area I did like this racquet was at net - solid feel/decent touch/good maneuverability; Overall this racquet really wasn't what I was hoping for or expected, power (as the demo was strung) was too much and I felt like I had to concentrate too hard on trying to guide my shot instead of just swinging freely

    Again, these are just my first impressions. I'll be able to hit some more singles over the weekend and some doubles on Monday.

    TripleB
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
    #1
  2. Bartelby

    Bartelby G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, i have a kblade 98 that was 10 grams over spec and 15 sw points as well. The other was normal. I came to prefer the heavier one but you need a little weight in the handle for it to work.
     
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  3. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    Wow...I had heard rumors of poor Wilson quality control but never experienced it until I got this demo.

    The other time I saw a racquet this far off was when I purchased my two RDX-500 Midplus...I think they were 7 grams apart. I ended up liking the lighter of the two.

    TripleB
     
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  4. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    You will never find a racquet demoing like this..you are burning through them man! lol.

    First off, the Pro Open needs to be strung better. It is a stick that I was using with RIP control ( a low powered string) at 59#s. If you can't slice with that stick, I don't know what to tell you since it is one of the nastiest slicing tweeners ever.

    I think if you run through demos this fast you are going to miss out on a racquet..just my opinion.

    Now if you want a doubles stick I am going to drop one on you that may be a sleeper - the Head Speed Elite. It will need a little lead, but that thing volleys like a champ.

    Try and spend 1-2 weeks with a racquet that you like before pulling the trigger as well.
     
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  5. oldcity

    oldcity Rookie

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    I'm about to try the pro open for a while myself, lookin forward to it. I too usually string a powerful raquet up around 60#, under 58, even with poly, the balls fly.
    I have been hitting with a blx98 a bit. I didn't like it at first because it felt so head heavy. put .25oz in the handle and it was better. needs more i think. strung full bed of forten sweet 17 @58. I think this one takes some time to get used to, maybe because i'm used to more head light. its a beast at net. blocks back all power. nice touch on slice. I just can't get the serve to come down. I need more rhs. solid 2hbh.
    I've had the pure storm for a while now. played pretty well with it. it needs some lead to stabilize, imo. needs a lot of rhs and good timing. there is a lot of power to be had with the right strokes. I tended to pop up slice volleys. flat blocked volleys were good. I got tons of spin on serve, good kickers but i was inconsistant. but i'm inconsistant on serve with everything.
     
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  6. Pneumated1

    Pneumated1 Professional

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    TripleB won't use lead. If he did, I think the stick he's looking for is already in his bag: the 4D 300 with 6 grams at 3/9 and a leather grip--or as much lead under the grip.
     
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  7. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    Yea...it's been a while since I demoed any racquets but you're exactly correct. I probably didn't spend enough time with the racquets, especially the Head. I think it was the brittle feel (at least with the string and tension) that turned me off right away. With the BLX Pro Open, it was definitely how it was strung that made me automatically think I was going to have problems with it. I think the fact that it was strung so loose that I felt like I had to hold back when I sliced the ball...I wasn't driving through the ball. I have the nPro Open and this one feels very sluggish compared to it.

    When I look back, the racquets I've really liked in the past that were in this weight range (O3 White, KBlade 98) were racquets I've tried numerous times - 3 times each I think. Of course the O3 Whites are out of stock until June 4th and they only have 1 KBlade left (not sure if they will get anymore in or not).

    Yea, that's one reason I think prefer the KBlade 98 to the BLX Blade 98. I like the feel of the BLX better but just don't have as much 'whipability' as I did with the KBlade 98. Last year, after 38 years of tennis, I finallly found a sharp angled cross court forehand...I'm not going to lose that shot. Really need a swingweight in the 320s. Of course the BLX Blade 98 demo I got was 10 grams over specs so I'm not sure what the true swingweight of the demo is...I'd guess in the 340s.

    I prefer not to use lead. But I do have lead on my 4D 300 racquets. Not much...probably 6 grams or so in the throat area. I like the way it feels but need a little more pop out of it. Going to string it in the low 40s with a poly/Gosen hybrid and see how it performs.

    Thanks for everyone's input.

    TripleB
     
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  8. Pneumated1

    Pneumated1 Professional

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    Sorry about that TripleB. I must have misread/misinterpreted something in the past. Dunlop tends to stabilize the 300's very well in the throat/shoulders. I might recommend, if you care for the challenge, of starting your 6 grams at 11/1 and running it down through 2/10 towards 3/9. You'll definitely get more pop out of this setup, and your balance, I would assume, would be something closer to the BLX Blade that you're demoing. And then you could always counterbalance if you desire with leather. Having hit them in the past, lead at or above 3/9 on a Dunlop 300 is a must, imo, to reap the full benefits.

    I, like you, loved the KBlade 98 slightly modified, but over time, I started feeling that 67RA stiffness in my elbow. I was a little afraid of the BLX Blade, despite the lower stiffness. Best wishes on your search!
     
    #8
  9. EdFed

    EdFed New User

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    Felt the same way about the BLX Pro Open (I had the 2010 version). "Sluggish" is the same word I've used to describe it, and I strung it at 57, which is about where I string all of my racquets. It also is more powerful than I like/need. I have the nPro Open and still play with the K Pro Open, which I love, but I just couldn't get comfortable with the BLX version.
     
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  10. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    SECOND IMPRESSIONS (these are my opinions, you're findings may be entirely different):

    Had a chance to play 3.5 hours of 4.0/4.5 singles today with the four demos. Quick thoughts can be found below:

    Head YouTek IG Prestige S: this simply does not feel like a Prestige, brittle feeling, excellent topspin, slice sits up too much, not enough power, good control but doesn't matter - can't blast the ball by my opponent

    Wilson BLX Pro Open: sluggish, too much power, not enough topspin for me, contol was lacking, solid feel during contact, looks wide when coming from the 200 Tour

    Babolat Pure Storm GT: large sweetspot, good feel during contact (solid), topspin (at least with the Enduro Tour strings) wasn't very good, slice stayed low, not headlight enough for me to whip the ball crosscourt, got good depth on groundstrokes, better than average netplay with this one, overall the touch was pretty good, buttcap still squeaking

    Wilson BLX Blade 98: really like a lot of things about this racquet...by far the best of the bunch, extremely solid feel, I could block back hard serves deep into my opponents court with not problem and the racquet didn't flutter a bit, depth control was excellent, topspin was better than average, slices were awesome having depth/speed/and staying low, the pattern is more open than you would think being 18x20 (it's as open as the Pure Storm GT), net play was incredible with touch/angle shots not a problem and the solid feel really gave some great pop to put volleys away with authority, the one area where I struggled with this racquet was maneuverability...now my demo was 10 grams over T-W specs (but still 3 points headlight) so I'm not sure what the true swingweight was but I would guess in the 340s - I just didn't have that sharp angled cross-court forehand and backhand that I worked so hard to find last year, 1st serves had some good pop and control was outstanding on all serves; overall a fantastic racquet, wish it would have been 320 grams like T-W specs just to see if that would have improved the maneuverability enough to where I could play with this racquet

    I also hit some with the following:
    - Prince Triple Threat Warrior: great spin, amazing control, fantastic serves, too stiff
    - Head LM Radical Midplus: amazingly solid feel, good power level, not enough spin for my game
    - Dunlop AG 4D 300: perfect weight and balance, superb feel, good power level, not as easy to block back hard serves with (lack of stability I would say); I definitely could go back and play with this racquet
    - Dunlop AG 4D 200 Tour: everything I loved about the BLX Blade 98 this racquet has but it adds extreme spin, much better maneuverability (of course my 200 Tours had an unstrung swingweight of 302 so I don't think there is any way it would make it up to the 352 swingweight on the T-W specs), the ability to whip both forehands and backhands crosscourt for some sick angles, and has much better touch/feel than the BLX Blade 98

    Thanks for reading.

    TripleB
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
    #10
  11. deco0028

    deco0028 Rookie

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    Hi Triple B
    Been playing regularly for only 6-7 months, casually with my sons for a lot longer.
    Tried many racquets because of them, including n6.1 team, BB London, PDRGT, Prince Original Graphite (4 stripe and current model), BB Pro(prev model), Yonex RD-Ti 70 long, Yonex RD-7(friend's), Dunlop Bio 300, Dunlop 4D 500 Tour, Wilson K Pro Tour, Wilson K Pro Open,Head LM Radical MP, Fischer Mag Tour UL, Wilson Hypercarbon Prostaff 6.1 Tour(coach's racquet) and my racquet of choice , currently Dunlop 4D 200 Tour. It does not feel heavy to me(and I am 48 yrs of age), and swings as easily as most of the racquets listed above.
    What I like is the fact that the racquet's stability actually means I do not have to swing so hard every time to apply any pressure on the ball. It is a good racquet for touch, control, serving(though I am still inconsistent) and especially return of serve. Spin is a little lacking but that could be due to full bed of gut strung at 63/60 lbs. My hitting partners all comment on the ball quality coming off this racquet. I am most consistent with the 200 Tour.I will play this for a while. My backup is the BB London, but I am more inconsistent with this racquet.
    Thanks
     
    #11
  12. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    Lower the tension a little and throw some Solinco Tour Bite 17g string in there on the mains (I use Gosen OG Sheep Micro Super 16L in the crosses) and you will be getting incredible spin. :)

    TripleB
     
    #12
  13. syke

    syke Professional

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    Babolat BLX Blade 98? :)
     
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  14. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    Yea...haven't you heard of it??? It's a new offering from Babolat...they are trying to add a little more solid feel to their racquets :)

    I'll go back and correct that!!!

    TripleB
     
    #14
  15. BobFL

    BobFL Hall of Fame

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    3B, are you demoing different fonts as well? Just curious... ;)
     
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  16. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    Yes I am!!!

    I'm trying to find one that lets me look like I'm in control of my words when typing, but yet makes my words look powerful!!! :mrgreen:

    TripleB
     
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  17. dParis

    dParis Hall of Fame

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    Before there was a JackB1, there was TripleB. :)

    Since you're demoing a Pure Storm GT, give the Volkl X10-295 a hit too. More plow, more spin and it excels at the sharp angled cc shots. Might need a little lead if you're going to be at the net a lot. The Rebel 98, with its flex and large sweetspot, is forgiving and effective at the net. The Becker London should also give you good touch around the net and also be effective for the cross-court sharp angles.
     
    #17
  18. ArliHawk

    ArliHawk Hall of Fame

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    Demoed the Pro Open last year. Seemed like a wonderful racquet.
     
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  19. drak

    drak Professional

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    Hey BBB, I have to agree the specs on these frames vary greatly and are all over the place. I demoed on ffrom a local shop and it weighted like 10.9 oz and was almost even balanced. Then I bot a used one at it was heavier at 11.2 oz but like 5 pts HL. Crazy bad QC on these frames. But I have to say I really like this frame, I added a little weight to the hoop and it's about 11.4 oz and 4.5 pts HL, plays really well.

    LENGTH is one more wild thing here, I measured it and it was barely over 26 3/4 in length! I'd like to have other people who own this frame measure the length. I really like this frame but who made these and where? LOL

    Drak
     
    #19
  20. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    After having the demos a week, it seems the only one I could actually play with on a permanent basis may have been the BLX Blade 98. Would really like to know what it would play like if it wasn't 10 grams over the T-W specs...if it was truly 320g instead of 330g like my demo.

    On a side note I brought out my Babolat Pure Drive Roddick near the end of the demo session ( similar SW to the Blade 98 ) and really had some amazing success with it...especially on serves where I easily held my serves in doubles (something that is typically difficult for me). Also hit some powerful winners with it...went back and looked at my Playtest Review of it ( http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/playtests/TRIPB07.html ) and realized how much I really like this racquet. Having it restrung with my current set-up and seeing how it plays in singles.

    Both of these racquets have me thinking of sticking with a swingweight I'm comfortable with, 320 to 335, and uping the power I'm currently getting with my Dunlop AG 4D 200 Tours. Maybe after my hip heels I'll try one more demo session: '12 Pure Drive Roddick, AeroStorm Tour GT, BLX 6-1 16x18, and one of the following: BLX Blade 98 again, Max 200G, Gamma Tour 330X, YT IG Prestige Pro, TFight 320 VO2 Max, VCore 95D.

    We will see.

    TripleB
     
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2012
    #20
  21. BobFL

    BobFL Hall of Fame

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    Hahahahahhaah - brilliant!!! :D
     
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  22. TripleB

    TripleB Hall of Fame

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    Thanks!

    TripleB
     
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  23. duz10s

    duz10s New User

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    I work for Wilson and I know the BLX Blades are very stiff and hard on the arm.
     
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