The Truth about Babolat's "GT Technology" Braided Graphite

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by Long Face, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    I have a Babolate Pure Storm Tour GT that I used earlyer this year, which has been badly scratched up. Paint is soft and thick on this racquet, prone to paint chipping. I don't think I can sell it for a good price, so I had some fun with it.

    I stripped the paint and looked at what the "GT Technology" is about.

    24 hours bathed in paint stripper, and lots of elbow grease with a stripping pad:
    [​IMG]

    Turns out that the "GT Braided Graphite" is just three pieces of stickers, attached to the racquet at three positions where they make open windows for you to see:
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    I thought I would see something like this (done by a member here, can't remember who he is, though. Sorry.)

    This is the true braided graphite, in my opinion. The Babolat method is not. To me, showing the stickers through clear windows is misleading, and in a sense, cheating.

    What do you think?

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. corners

    corners Legend

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    If the pics in the OP show what they appear to show - strips of woven graphite cloth - it's probably false advertising. A braid is woven, but a weave is not braided. You can clearly see in the pics of the naked K Pro Staff 88 what a braid looks like: the graphite strands are woven and continuous from tip to tail - a continuous braid of graphite starting on one side of the handle, going up and around to form the head and then back down to the other side of the handle. (They then put a separate throat piece in and put on the handle.) This is how "braided" has been defined in the tennis industry since the 80s.

    They should have just said "woven graphite with Tungsten", blah, blah. And I'm sure they would say "That's what we meant!" in a court of law.

    It does appear that there are some metallic threads in the graphite weave on the Babolat. Tungsten, or something else?
     
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  4. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    I actually don't care much about it is woven or braided. My biggest surprise was that it was just 3 small pieces of cloths under the clear windows.

    Here is Babolat's advertising picture:
    [​IMG]
     
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  5. KoolTennisKid

    KoolTennisKid New User

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    Did that affect the playibility? Because that honestly looks cool, maybe thinking about doing that to my Prostaff six one 95
     
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  6. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    The original racquet felt soft and muted, probably due to the very thick paint. After the factory paint was removed, the racquet became skinny, and about 30 grams lighter (not very accurate).

    I did put on a new grommet set and hit it. It felt lighter and stiffer than before.
     
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  7. floide

    floide Rookie

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    This post made me want to remove the paint of ALL my frames. Lol!
     
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  8. KenC

    KenC Professional

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    They look like urban assault weapons. Maybe put a biohazard stencil on the strings and smell the fear from your opponents!
     
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  9. ricki

    ricki Professional

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    Can these "stickers" be removed? I think its just a gimmick and frame will play the same without them.

    Also 30 grams of paint seems to me to be very much, usually paint is only like 250 micro meters thick...
     
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  10. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

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    Haha, what a rip. The frames sure don't feel like braided or continuous fiber graphite. Although I guess it could actually count as being a layer in the graphite lay up (look for racket manufacturing vids on youtube) and it might have some effect on feel. Worse is probably the clear window view of the blue foil layer on Dunlop Aerogel and 4D rackets. I wonder if the APD and PD would feel better and transmit less shock if they actually used more dampening material such as kevlar or basalt throughout the frame instead of pulling this crap.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
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  11. treblings

    treblings Hall of Fame

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    sorry if my question doesn´t go to the core of your thread, but i´m very interested in how you were able to get the paint of the racket. i did that with a couple of mine that i wanted to repaint and it took a long time and was very difficult.

    could you elaborate on what kind of paint stripper you used and what exactly you mean by bathing it?
     
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  12. hard2explain

    hard2explain Rookie

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    That's my hypothesis too; the GT layers are not the external plies in the carbon fibre layup.

    An individual ply is typically 1mm thick, and any carbon fibre or graphite composite is usually made up of bunch of plies with the fibres oriented in different directions, with woven and unidirectional plies.

    I'm not suggesting the OP do this but if you were to sand through the rcket you'd be able to see the different ply orientations, almost like rings on a tree.

    An example with fibreglass;
    [​IMG]
     
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  13. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    I didn't do anything besides removing the red and white paint. The red paint also seems to be somekind of primer, which was very tough.

    And I have no idea how Babolat's factory applied that small piece of woven cloth to those spots, while keeping them flush with the other parts. Maybe that piece of cloth was already attached to a cut-out of the carbonfiber sheet, and they polished it flush before painting.
     
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  14. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    Nothing special. Just normal paint stripper and stripping pads available from Home Depot.

    Like I said, lots of elbow grease. The top coats were easy. The red primer underneath was very tough.
     
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  15. drakulie

    drakulie Talk Tennis Guru

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    Love these threads! Thanks for taking the time to share with us.
     
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  16. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Which frames available today are full braided-graphite?
     
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  17. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    The racquets are made with many layers of material. What you are seeing with the GT is just an outer layer that is applied prior to molding. It then gets formed under high heat and pressure.

    There isn't anything deceptive our unusual about the GT. Placing it in the areas they chose would still have an effect on the feel of the racquet. They just chose to showcase it as part of the paint job. Probably good marketing in the same way that Nike Air shoes let the consumer see the air chamber.
     
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  18. corners

    corners Legend

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    KPS 88 (Graphite/Kevlar double braid)
    K90 (ditto)
    PS85 (ditto)

    Allegedly, as per Wilson:

    PS 6.1 90 (graphite braid with basalt, unknown if basalt is braided in separate strands like kevlar is in the above or incorporated in some other way.)
    PS 6.1 95
    PS 6.1 100

    Wilson said nothing about 1st gen BLX90 being braided. Seems that it's the only Tour 90 that did not have braided construction.

    The Dunlop 4D series was supposed to be braided, but I don't know if it was braided tip to tail like the Wilsons or only had bits of braid (tubular woven cloth) in some areas.

    Slazenger Pro Braided
     
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  19. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    ^^^ I use the PS85. I am not sure how much "feel" I am getting from the braided graphite. It also has 20% Kevlar, and I have replaced the leather grip with Wilson Shockshield, so perhaps the feel is lost on me.
     
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  20. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    I disagree.

    When I see a Nike Air shoe, I see an air bubble in the heel. That is just an air bubble in the heel. They are not trying to make you believe that the entire sole is made of a large flat air cushion.

    However, when Babolat makes a racquet, and shows to us through three clear windows at three different spots on the racquet that there is woven GT material inside, they are trying to make us believe that the entire racquet is made this way. Or at least this is implied.
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I agree...........
     
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  22. corners

    corners Legend

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    Maybe you're just used to great feel, taking it for granted as they say. :)

    Origins of the Pro Staff Original

    The ProStaff Original was the brainchild of Wilson marketing back in 1982. Following on the heels of the successful Ultra and Sting models, the ProStaff combined the basic racquet shape of the Sting with the Ultra's braided graphite/kevlar construction and Perimeter Weighting System (PWS). The ProStaff was introduced in 1983. Originally manufactured in Wilson's River Grove, IL factory, it had no bumper (a bumper was added in 1984). Shortly thereafter, manufacturing was moved to St. Vincent, The Grenadines. Ken Sherman was one of 4 Wilson engineers involved in the design and development of the ProStaff and was lead engineer at the fabled St. Vincent factory for 4 years, working on ProStaffs and original Profile racquets, among others.

    Surprisingly, the ProStaff Original 85 was a downsized version of the 110. (Wilson originally manufactured the ProStaff in 85, 110 and 125 square inch head sizes. The 125 was phased out in 1986 and the 110 was dropped in 1991.) With most racquets, it's the other way around - first comes the mid or midplus, followed by the oversize. Ken Sherman explains, "during the development of the ProStaff 'family', I was responsible for the 110 head size. After it was completed and put into production, the layup for the 110 was then down-sized so that all of the same local reinforcements covered the same areas in both rackets. Doing this helped speed up the 85's development - it worked on a bigger frame, so it should work on the smaller one. It seemed to work. ProStaff rackets were named racket family of the year in 1985 by Tennis or World Tennis magazine."

    What are the benefits of braided construction? Ken replies, "braided construction offers continuous fibers throughout the entire frame. The only starting and stopping of fibers comes from the drilling of the string holes. A complete uni-directional racket is composed of many sheets of material that may only have fibers from 2" to 8" in length, which gives the frame a different feel*. The ProStaffs also had a 50% Kevlar/Graphite inner braid (and 100% graphite outer braid) which helped in giving the rackets the feel that is so unique. Kevlar adds weight and is effective in damping frame shock and vibration. Additionally, they are foam-filled to help achieve uniform weight/balance specs and provide an even more solid feel by deadening sound." David Price, former engineering manager at Wilson's St. Vincent adds, "braided graphite/kevlar racquets offer much better feel and more consistent distribution of kevlar fibers than uni-directional construction racquets. This is why we've gone back to braided construction.

    After the St. Vincent factory closed, Wilson tried to make the rackets in Taiwan using an all uni-directional layup. However, the racquets didn't have the same feel as braided construction and they are now producing frames with braided product. According to Bill Severa, Senior Designer with Wilson Racquet Sports, "the uni-directional graphite ProStaffs were a stopgap measure. Within 4 months of the St. Vincent factory closing, we went through 12 - 15 iterations of braided construction. Shortly thereafter, we were up and running with braided construction ProStaffs from Taiwan. We feel we have the closest layup to the old St. Vincent frames and most players who've played with both agree. There will always be a few, like Pete Sampras, who prefer a particular racquet for whatever reasons."

    * It should be noted that the majority of current racquets produced by all manufacturers are mostly uni-directional graphite construction. Also, braided construction results in an overall heavier racquet, making it nearly impossible to construct frames under 300 grams (10.5 ounces).

    All content copyright 1999 Tennis Warehouse. http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Reviews/60/ProstaffOrigins.html
     
    #22
  23. roundiesee

    roundiesee Hall of Fame

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    Wow OP, great pictures, thanks! :)
    I especially like that one of the Prostaff showing the full-braid construction and the PWS!
     
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  24. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

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    A lot of the players frames still around today are basically re-released/repainted versions of tried and true classics. Most of them feel pretty great so maybe a braided frame doesn't stand out so much among them.

    When I demoed the Slaz Pro Braided, the feel/response and sense of feeling connected immediately stood out in comparison to the other light and stiff frames in the 11oz range. It made me think that tweeners would feel so much better if they were constructed this way.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
    #24
  25. corners

    corners Legend

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    I don't know if it's more expensive, but braided construction looks kind of easy to do. From pictures I've seen of Wilson's K90 production, they just take a woven tube (a braid) of graphite, cut it to length, put it into a mold with the two cut ends being the end of the hairpin, add the bridge piece, insert the air bladder and throw it in the oven. As the TW article about Pro Staffs above states, though, it's heavier than unidirectional layups. To get the wide-bodies that are the hallmark of tweeners they would probably end up with something over 12 ounces. The engineer also probably has less freedom to add or subtract graphite from particular areas like they can using shorter lengths of unidirectional prepeg, although you can see in the pics of naked K88s that Wilson did put reinforcements here and there to increase the stiffness of the head.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2012
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  26. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    Yes, this step is no different from that of other racquets. But I think it is more expensive (and it takes longer) to make braided carbon graphite sheets, especially when you want a certain type of special material woven into it. That makes it a special custom order which means much more money and long wait for delivery.
     
    #26
  27. JohnB

    JohnB Rookie

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    Could it be that it stiffens up those areas or is that wishful thinking?
     
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  28. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    You know what they say about "assumptions".....
     
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  29. mcnota

    mcnota Rookie

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    i also hope you guys know cortex is also fake, you can peel it off its just plastic about 6mm thick

    trust me, try it on an old/broken racket with cortex

    the vast majority of companies only care about one thing, your money
     
    #29
  30. JesterMania

    JesterMania New User

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    So am I correct in assuming that the point of contention here is that the entire racquet is not made from GT fibers? I'm not sure I quite understand as Babolat never claimed that the entire racquet should have GT. It seems from the pictures that GT was placed on the throat and in the upper hoop of the racquet. Does this not constitute that the racquet has GT "technology"?
     
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  31. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    It's deceptive marketing, surely, but if you like your GT frame, why does it matter?
     
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  32. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Will Cortex finally be banned from the sport? It's pretty obvious it gives ordinary players a distinct advantage in long matches. Whereas Basalt being from the earth and all natural is accepted by the tennis community and ITF.
     
    #32
  33. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    Well, GT is on the SURFACE of three spots of the racquet.

    Does it work? Well, you know.....
     
    #33
  34. levy1

    levy1 Hall of Fame

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    who cares? I don't. You either like the frame or you don't. It is a weapon to me and that's why I use it. I don't care if they used bubble gum for the braids. See me on the court and we will talk after the match.
     
    #34
  35. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    You are correct.......no where is it implied or stated where the GT layers are placed or used......for any shop owner or dealer they all know that each Babolat has a different layup as its explained to them. The PD have the GT around the complete hoop, the AeroPro Drive has the GT at the 3 and 9 o'clock in the hoop and the Pure Storm line has it at the top. The Babolat Reps discuss this and it's part of the sales explanation.....if you have any issues it should be with the dealer who didn't take the time to explain each frame. Adding the GT does make the frame play different -

    And it not just "stickers" what you are seeing is the actual layer of GT molded into the frame......there is no false advertising or fake anything -
     
    #35
  36. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Yes you nailed it......it's never been stated that the whole frame is braided or woven with GT. Each Babolat has different amounts in different places that's why each has different playing characteristics.
     
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  37. NTRPolice

    NTRPolice Semi-Pro

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    These are the rackets that I use!

    Wow. Could have fooled me. I love these rackets too.

    Is there any chance yours may be a fake?

    I have 4 of these and when I rotate them out im gonna grind the worst one down and see for myself lol.
     
    #37
  38. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    Why do you think it's fake???? That is the correct layup - if you tore apart the frame completely you would see that the GT layer is just that a LAYER - its a layer of stiff composite that's is added to the frame to add stiffness and rigidity.

    Jeez this is not a conspiricy - the GT is a freaking layer of material that changes the dynamic flex of the frame.
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2012
    #38
  39. alidisperanza

    alidisperanza Hall of Fame

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    The fishy looking thing that sticks off the East C
    Nice work, very interesting.
     
    #39
  40. floide

    floide Rookie

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    I always suspected this.
     
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  41. jorel

    jorel Hall of Fame

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    is this the 6.0 85?

    they should have a racquet look like that without all the ugly HPS, BLX, CRP paint..it looks sic
     
    #41
  42. Hi I'm Ray

    Hi I'm Ray Hall of Fame

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    I agree that a braided frame with mostly clear pj would be pretty nice.

    Going by the remaining pj left on the frame in the above pic, its not a ps85.
     
    #42
  43. jorel

    jorel Hall of Fame

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    ur right

    plus its a 16x19 with flanges... most likely some sort of tour90
     
    #43
  44. treo

    treo Rookie

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    Prince did the same thing with their Triple Threat series, using a patch of woven fabric under a clear coat. Then they changed it to a printed sticker that you could peel off.
     
    #44
  45. jorel

    jorel Hall of Fame

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    i remember that... the ti response had this clear patch at the 10 and 2 showing the braiding but wehn the warrior came out it was replaced with a sticker
     
    #45
  46. Vcore89

    Vcore89 Hall of Fame

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    Looks a lot like the Tour 90 from 9 years back.
     
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  47. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    Mine were bought from an authorized dealer.

    Well, strip all the paint off your own racquet and find out for yourself....... :twisted:
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2012
    #47
  48. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    It is a K90.
     
    #48
  49. Eightmarky

    Eightmarky Rookie

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    http://www.babolat.com/#/tennis/us/innovations/22

    Here's what it says on the Babolat website:

    "Hybrid material, combining braided carbon fibers and tungsten filaments, throughout the entire racquet. Improves racquet performance, based on the concentration of Tungsten fibers at various strategic parts of the frame."

    The first sentence here appears to contradict your first claim but one could also claim it's not specific enough. The way I read this statement is that there is braiding throughout, with a higher concentration of Tungsten fibers at specific areas.

    Personally, I find it misleading to have this type of language on the website describe the frame shown in the pics provided by the OP.
     
    #49
  50. Long Face

    Long Face Rookie

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    THANK YOU for looking up the info. Should have done that myself.

    However I don't see "braided carbon fibers and tungsten filaments throughout the entire racquet". The entire frame looks like a solid dark grey color material. No trace of braided carbon fiber at all.
     
    #50

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