If there’s a hole in the Babolot lineup for me, it’s the lack of an arm-friendly, comfortable, controllable player’s frame. There are powerbrokers, spin-doctors and combinations of two; some have plenty of mass and plow through and a solid feel at contact. There are even thinner-beamed models with an emphasis on control. But they all seem to possess a crisp, “modern” feel that’s firm at best, and often times rather stiff. At least since the Pure Control racquets have been retired and transformed into…
The Pure Strike VS duo of frames, the heavier being the Tour. Unlike the frame it replaces, the VS Tour has a firmer feel at contact, leading to a livelier ball. Spin generation from the 16x20 pattern is more than respectable on fast swings, which isn’t hard to muster from the manageable swingweight. But more than any extra pop or spin, the real upshot of the VS Tour is the fine directional control. Using its mass to change directions or simply gunning for the lines on serves and ground strokes, it can consistently put the ball into pretty tight spaces. And if you’re a big hitter, it has enough mass to do it with authority.
The downside is it’s far from plush feeling, especially outside the smallish sweetspot. Typically, when a racquet has a static weight just a tick under 12 ounces, and a thin, constant, box beam shape, there’s the anticipation of good feel and comfort. Not so here. When contact was clean and on-time, there was a solid, pleasing response that nearly matched expectations; I suspect those players that favor a firm frame will probably be quite content with it.
However, at times, the feel was a little brittle, especially when contact was made toward the top of the frame. A full string bed of polyester string only compounded the problem. Using a hybrid helped alleviate the issue somewhat, and, although I didn’t try it, dropping tension into the 40s with a softer, thin poly could also be a remedy.
While that aspect of the frame certainly tainted my court time with it, it didn’t turn me off completely. As stated earlier, the combination of lower power and reliable control led to rather consistent play. Mis-hits and poor preparation were punished, but overall, I didn’t make many errors. My serves didn’t have quite the same punch or kick I generally enjoy, but they were easy to manipulate. Volleying was predictable and assured as long as I centered the ball, although lacked a bit of touch. At times, I wanted the frame to play heavier—slices didn’t always bite and penetrate; stability seemed to waver too easily outside the sweet spot—but there’s plenty to work with here.
In the end, though, the Pure Strike VS Tour didn’t quite satisfy my longing for a current, control-oriented Babolat with a softer, plush feel—something comparable to the Yonex VCORE Pro, Prince Phantom or Wilson Ultra Tour. But the company knows its audience and what they’ve come to expect in terms of playability and response. This particular model has a crisp, occasionally brassy feel, with relatively good command. For certain control players and mashers who don’t want much help in the power and spin departments, it might be just what they need.