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More Hybrid Tests

December 20, 2008 Comments off

I’ve been conducting ongoing hybrid tests on my Prince Speedport Black Team.  The incumbent is Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17 on the mains and NXT Tour 17 on the crosses @57.  I tried ALU Power Rough on the mains and had to work a bit to get the tension right.  Seemed like the best approach was to drop the tension on the mains as is widely recommended and string the crosses a few pounds higher than the mains (depending on how much tension loss you expect on the crosses).  You will have to work a bit to get the right combination.  Seemed to provide a bit more control, but I didn’t get quite the response I liked with the other combination.  Interestingly, the ALU Power Rough did not seem to provide any more spin than the Pro Hurricane Tour.

My current combination is Pro Hurricane Tour 17 on the mains and xCel Power on the crosses.  Upped the tension to 58 to see if 57-58 is really the upper bound.  I hit extensively on the ball machine (indoors) on my recent Houston trip and at first the response was a bit flatter than my previous favorite.  After 2-3 full rounds on the ball machine, I started to get the response I wanted.  Get the tension right and this is looking to be a potent hybrid for this particular racquet.  On restringing, I’m going to stick with 57 and it seems like it takes this hybrid a bit of ‘break in’ time, whereas I was ready to play with the Pro Hurricane Tour/NXT hybrid immediately after it came off the stringer.

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Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17 Review

October 13, 2008 2 comments

I’ve been playing with my new SpeedPort Black Team racquets for a few weeks now, still enjoying the light, maneuverable frame.  Still deciding on the strings.  My ‘base’ racquet is strung with NXT Tour 17 @54lb. which has a nice, soft feel.  I decided a couple weeks ago to experiment with the Babolat Pro Hurricane Tour 17 in the other racquet.

It was strung at 53lb and I immediately noticed the increased power on the very first hit. I also noticed some low-frequency vibration in the frame when playing dink-ems (hitting just inside the service court) or just bouncing the ball up and down.  As swing speed increases, the vibration dissipates, but the combination of tension, string response, and this particular frame produces unwanted vibration at lower swing speeds; something I don’t care for in touch volleys or any touch shot for that matter.

I was about to have the strings cut out, then decided to try a Gamma shockbuster.  I don’t normally play with any vibration dampener, but placing the shockbuster just above the lowest cross worked wonders. No more low-frequency vibration and the response from full shots feels great. I absolutely love the results.

The racquet still produces good power, and the hype about more spin is not just hype.  It did take a couple hours of practice to really get used to.  At first, it seemed like I was not getting a crisp response on volleys, but once I really felt comfortable with the strings, I have good confidence in volleys (even light touch-volleys).  Serves and overheads seem to launch themselves off the racquet.

The other really great feature is that at the lower tension, I get very little string movement; something that kind of irks me about the NXT strings, even at comparable tension.

The string seems to share some qualities with Big Banger. There is a definite trampoline effect, even if I don’t swing much at all.  I can half-volley and deflect hard shots from out of position and the ball launches itself well into the backcourt with little effort on my part.  I can hammer the ball deep with spin on offense or play defensive shots with lots of confidence.

I’m not there, but this sting sometimes makes me thing of the Bruce Lee quote; “When my opponent expands, I contract.  When he contracts, I expand.  And, when there’s an opportunity, I don’t hit.  It hits all by itself.”

I would really like to try the string without the shockbuster on a heavier racquet; perhaps a regular Speedport Black.  If I ever do so, I’ll post again.