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Old 12-07-2012, 09:44 PM   #159
JGads
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Join Date: Feb 2010
Posts: 3,869
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Tennis experience/background: On-again, off-again relationship with tennis since childhood until a knee injury and surgery took me away from tennis just as I was getting serious about it on a very good, state-ranked high school team... Gave it up through college, but not long after college I returned to the game and have been playing pretty much 3-4 days per week for the last five years, playing casually and in league play. And overly obsessing about frames ever since discovering the TW message boards.

Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): Baseliner. Will come in after the occasional approach shot, or to shake hands. I rely on a big first serve to get me a handful of free points every match, and tend to hit with a lot of spin on my forehand.

Current racquet/string: ProKennex 7G primarily for the last year, along with the PK Black Ace Mid. In the last month, though, I've been playing more and more with an extended pro stock MG Radical MP (231.2). Tour Bite/Nvy hybrid is my preferred string setup in most frames.

Racquet model tested: AeroPro Drive

How many hours did you play with the racquet? 10

Comments on racquet performance:

-groundstrokes:
From the first to the last ball, I did enjoy this APD more than the previous two iterations of the frame. The feel is 'cleaner', a bit more refined, a few less hollow vibrations than I recall. BUT: it's still very much an APD, which for me means a very stiff frame that simply does not really flex, and, in the end, has a little bit too much stiffness and power for my taste. The result is a frame that sometimes wows you with its 'get-out-of-jail-free' power cards where you can create great pop and spin even from defensive positions, which gets you out of jams and grabs a handful of points you almost don't feel you deserve ... but that free power also bites me vexingly when I don't expect it to -- a simple block-back can sail long, or a put-away shot where I think I've hit the ball cleanly launches past the baseline. In other words, this frame steals some points for you each match, but it also gives others away that you feel should have been yours. Because I've veered more towards control sticks -- heavier, softer, tighter patterns, lower powered -- this frame remains a bit out of my personal comfort zone. Spin is required to keep the ball in with this one, and it was easy to over-spin it at times where the ball wouldn't pierce the court enough and simply sit up in the other guy's strike zone. Slices were possibly my most vexing problem -- I couldn't seem to keep them from floating, more often than not. A regular hitting partner who also played with the frame figured out how to keep slices low eventually, but I never seemed able. Except for the one day when we played with damp tennis balls. Overall, groundies are big and spinny and absolutely require that spin to keep them in the court. Flatten out your shot just a touch and the ball can very easily shoot long, thanks to the very trampoline-like stringbed -- the ball REALLY springs out of this particular sweet spot when you nail it, a classic Babolat trait, sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.

-serves: Very solid. That trampoline-like sweet spot that can both help and hurt you on groundies mostly helps in this department, as you can pop heavy serves pretty nicely. Not quite the CRUSHing serves like I'm able to get with some other sticks, probably due to the more even balance, but wasn't difficult to get a heavy-enough serve. Not the most accurate serving stick, but pop is there. As is the spin capability for second serve kickers and slices. Overall, solid at the service line.

-volleys: Another department, like on serve, where a more headlight balance might give the stick a bit more maneuverability to take it to another level, but just like on serve, can't really complain. Did the job. Pretty stable up there. Though I didn't spend much time on volleys, as I tend to stay back.

-serve returns: A bit unpredictable. This is where I much prefer the feel and confidence of control sticks rather than pop-sticks like this one. With control frames, I can block or chip back the heaters, the ball stays low, and I can work my way into the point. Or if I get one in my wheelhouse, I can let loose and rip it back, using the pace the server gives you against him. With the APD's big pop, those block-backs or chips sometimes trampoline long or float up for a sitter, and when I get one in my wheelhouse, the server's power PLUS letting loose with this racquet can just be too much and the ball can very easily end up hitting the back fence.

General reaction/comments on overall performance: For those who already like APDs, this frame will please. It has that classic APD power and spin, with fewer bad vibrations. But although the feel is improved from previous versions, for me it is still MILES away from the softer, fuller, flexier feel of my preferred frames. Other than the Pure Storm line, the feel of Babolats just don't do it for me -- too rigid, too brittle. I also prefer stringbeds that are deader rather than springy, leaving ME to bring the power with racquet head speed, as that gives me more confidence to swing out and rip, and more predictability as well. With the APD, I can hit some huge shots, sure, and they often come from nowhere and surprise me. But that's just it - too often it's a surprise, whether it's the unexpected winner or the unexpected long-ball. I never feel like I know exactly where the ball is going to end up on the other side of the court, which saps some of my confidence to really free up and swing away, which is when tennis is most fun for me.

A big thanks to TW for letting me be part of the playtest. While this frame isn't quite for me, I still think it will please very many.

Last edited by JGads : 12-07-2012 at 09:51 PM.
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