Younger players and those that put a premium on light weight and fast feel have a new weapon in the 2015 Babolat Pure Drive Lite. Babolat refreshes the entire line for 2015 and adds some new technology to the mix. Utilizing impact data gleaned from the Pure Drive Play, Babolat created Frame-String Interaction (FSI technology). FSI tightens up the string spacing at the top of the hoop, putting better control and response the location most players make consistent contact. Tennis isn’t played in a vacuum, so I recently hit the court with the Pure Drive Lite.
I found the trademark Pure Drive power level to be intact, even with the Lite version. At 10.1 oz strung, this frame plays extremely fast through contact. I had no problem accelerating through shots for increased pace and spin. The struggle I had was the lack of weight and depth the lack of mass in the frame created. I left more balls shorter in the court and found myself working more to get the balls deep into the court. The low weight also manifested in some noticeable wobble on contact against bigger hitters. I had stronger results off the ground with this version when I was moving forward and attacking short balls. Spin production was solid thanks to the 16 x 19 pattern. I was able to mix high margin, safe shots with flatter, attack focused strokes off of both wings. FSI offered an incremental improvement to shots hit high on the string bed, providing a more predictable response for where those shots were going to go.
Volleys & Serves
The Pure Drive Lite is extremely nimble at the net due to its low weight. I was able to maneuver into position very quickly on rapid volley exchanges. I appreciated the fast feel on volleys close to the body as I could fight them off easily. The lack of mass tended to float volleys when I was not as aggressive as I should have been. The maneuverability definitely rewards offensive play whenever possible as you come to the front of the court.
Serving with was a lesson in placement and disguise. The racquet accelerates nicely at the top of the zone but it is more challenging to put real weight behind the ball. I had to be on target with flat serves to avoid having them returned with interest. I had better results when I used the extra racquet head speed and open pattern to put extra spin on the ball. I had solid results using kick and slice serves out wide, allowing me to play more offensively on the first ball.
Feel is going to be a very personal opinion with the Pure Drive Lite. Players used to light weights will be comfortable here. While I found a crisp response that was clean across the string bed thanks to the Cortex dampening system, I felt the low weight had more of a disconnected feel. On touch shots, I thought the feedback was a bit too vague to execute those shots with confidence. Younger players and light weight fans likely would not feel the same way. Comfort is about average. It feels slightly softer than the standard Pure Drive but still has a firm response to it. Majority of players should be comfortable using it and you can always make adjustments to string and tension to help compensate.
Overall The Pure Drive Lite continues to fill out the Pure Drive family for Babolat. It offers power, maneuverability and solid all court performance in a lightning fast package. Young players, developing players and those who want something with room to customize should all enjoy the offensive benefits this racquet can bring to their game.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.