By Bruce Levine and Richard Pagliaro
Head Size: 110 square inches
Length: 27.5 inches
Weight: 9.2 oz. (unstrung), 9.9 oz (strung)
Balance: Even (unstrung), 8 points head heavy (strung)
Ideal Swing: Short
String Pattern: 16 mains/20 crosses
Beam Width: 27.5 mm/27.5 mm/29 mm
How It Tested: Combining the sheer size of a sumo wrestler with the dexterity of a dancer, the OverDrive impressed testers with its playability from the baseline. Babolat’s Cortex System technology is designed to diminish vibration, enhancing the frame’s crisp, comfortable feel. Stability was a noticeable asset on service returns. Players who have suffered a power loss as they’ve gotten older will enjoy the OverDrive’s ability to hammer booming serves.
Likes: Players with extremely slow swings will still enjoy stability because of the head's mass. It’s a tribute to the string pattern than you can still hit hard, flat shots with control while still enjoying easy access to spin. Cosmetically, the racquet carries a clean look that recalls Babolat’s best-selling Pure Drive, though this frame has more white in the hoop and the throat.
Dislikes: The primary concern was the racquet’s maneuverability at net. Though there was no problem getting the oversized head up quickly for overheads, some players were challenged trying to repel rapid-fire volleys. Because of its head heavinees, proceed with extreme caution if you have tennis elbow.
Bottom Line: Older players, club doubles specialists and beginners will get the most out of this frame. If you’re a baseline grinder who hits heavy topspin, this is a borderline racquet, as the mass in its head might make it a challenge to consistently generate spin. But if you want to hang around at the baseline, this is an effective and comfortable frame that's easy to use. If you have all-court aspirations, this is not the right stick for you.
TENNIS racquet advisor Bruce Levine is a former touring pro who has coached on both the men’s and women’s tours. Bruce is the general manager of Courtside Racquet Club in Lebanon, N.J., has worked as a full-time teaching pro for 30 years and lectures nationally on racquets and equipment.