Tennis experience/background: Played in high school and a little bit of club tennis in college. Been playing USTA for the past two years, just bumped to 4.5.
Describe your playing style (i.e. serve & volley): All court player. I thought I was a singles player, but I’ve learn to enjoy doubles and even mixed. I've been called a USTA "*****" - haha, playing in almost kinds of leagues - 4.0, 4.5...8.5 / 9.5 men's combo...8.0, 8.5, 9.0, 9.5 mixed...singles leagues, tri-level, chinese league (even though i'm not chinese), etc, etc.
Current racquet/string: Babolat Pure Storm Tour GT w/Luxilon Fluoro
Racquet model tested: Babolat AeroPro Drive 2013 strung with 16g RPM Blast
How many hours did you play with the racquet?: Since receiving the racquet from Tennis Warehouse I’ve put about 9 to 10 hours on the frame. This includes a few hitting sessions, one men’s doubles match and one 9.5 mixed match. The frame was used both indoors and outdoors.
Comments on racquet performance:: Having hit with and owned all the previous versions of this frame, the first two things I noticed when hitting with the new aeropro was 1) it definitely had a unique dampened feel (which I’m guessing is from the new cortex system in the handle) and 2) the racquet actually has a pretty good control! I just had the feeling that I knew where the ball was going – which is not always the feeling I get with some of the pure drives or aeropros of the past. I’ve owned the new 2012 Pure Drive and I just can’t hit with that frame in stock form. I need to add a decent amount of lead at 9 and 3 to make it swing a little slower to tame the power. If I played with this aeropro, I’d probably add minimal lead to this frame.
In match play – the racquet performed great! I think the lowered swingweight is going to appeal a lot of people and it definitely helps on the return of serves. I felt like I had a little time adjusting to the frame from the baseline and I just felt connected with my shots. In terms of feel, I still think the original aeropro is the best – but this new version isn’t too bad. I felt like the aeropro drive cortex (2nd version) had a little bit of a dead / disconnected feeling and the previous aeropro gt had more crisp response – the new aeropro takes that crisp response of the previous model and kind of adds a touch more feel. It’s like you get a little more response from the frame, which I like.
I had a love hate relationship with this frame on serve. The frame serves big – but I think thicker poly that was in it kind of caused some arm discomfort after a while. But yes, the frame serves huge! At net, the stability of the frame made it play very well. I spend a lot of the time at the net, so no complaints there. On slices, I’d probably want a little more mass in the head, but overall it’s not bad in stock form.
General reaction/comments on overall performance: Overall, I would say I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of control I was getting from this frame. It’s definitely the type of racquet for me that needs very little lead and is good to go. I’d definitely be curious to see how other strings work in this frame. The original stringjob felt a tad bit boardy and I’d probably go with a 16 or 17 gauge Volkl Cyclone. I did experience some arm discomfort serving, but I think that would be cured with a different string setup. I didn’t feel like the frame was overly harsh otherwise.
"Hey! There were Skittles in there!"