I've recently switched my main racquet from my Yonex Ai 98 (Yonex DR 98 is just as good) to the more powerful Babolat Pure Strike (Project One 7) and I'm in the process of customizing it.
I've played with the Babolat Pure Strike in stock form for a few week and it is the first racquet that I've actually enjoying “raw” and I didn't even think about adding lead tape to it for a while but now that I'm playing more frequently I've started noticing the vibrations you get when you don't hit the ball in the sweet spot and I thought that maybe some lead tape can help me reduce some of those vibrations.
The Babolat Pure Strike is labelled as a stiff racquet by many, while others, including the TW play-testers, think it's a rather comfortable racquet. I think it depends a lot on the string you use and your technique to be honest. It obviously helps if you hit the ball cleanly in the middle of the string bed on 90% of your shots, but not a lot of people do that, especially with the pace of today's game.
My first hour with the Pure Strike was a really enjoyable one but the demo was strung with Babolat RPM Blast and it had probably been sitting in the racquet for quite some time. I immediately felt the harshness of the racquet, but at the same time it has an almost perfect blend of control and power that I've been looking for for a long time. It really does justify its name as an attacker's racquet and that works really well for my game style. You can check out my review of the Babolat Pure Strike and my post on the so called Racquet Honeymoon Period.
I've strung my Pure Strikes with another favorite of mine, the Solinco Hyper-G, a spin-friendly, control-oriented but still rather comfortable string that is used by the Bryan Bros, Donald Young, Noah Rubin and quite a few other professional tennis players (click the link for a list of articles I've written about the racquets of the ATP pros. It has so far been a good match, but my plan B has been that if I start feeling any pain in my elbow or wrist, I'll try it in a hybrid setup with Babolat natural gut.
The last one or two session I have been feeling some pain in my hand and arm. It could be the Pure Strike or that the string job is already losing some of its elasticity. My first test to find out if I can eliminate some vibrations is by adding some lead tape at 3 and 9 (my preferred lead tape place, this is obviously highly personal) and add one over grip to counter-balance. Since my Pure Strikes are grip 2 and I'm usually playing grip 3, the extra over grip is not an issue. I'm trying the new Tourna Tac grips for the Pure Strikes since my usual favorite – the Yonex Super Grap would be too much white for one racquet (yes, looks matter!).
This customization of my racquets land them on around 335 grams strung with a dampener. Since I usually play with 345 grams on my Yonex Ai 98, this should be fine despite the more head-heavy balance. Will this extra weight in the hoop make the racquet more stable on off-center hits? Yes, it will. Will it help my potential wrist/arm issues? No idea.
If the pain lingers, I'll look into string choice next. I don't want to give up on the Pure Strikes because they really play beautifully but obviously I will listen to the body if the pain persists through lead tape and string changes. Then you just have to admit defeat and move on to a softer racquet, but don't give up until you've tried customizing it to work better for you.
Time to get back on the court. Will keep you posted on how it goes.
Have you played with the Babolat Pure Strike and do you have any suggestions around strings and customizations? Please comment below.
Places where you can buy the Babolat Pure Strike and other tennis racquets.
Pro Direct Tennis
Do It Tennis
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