Babolat aims to please players seeking a power frame that’s lighter and more maneuverable with the introduction of the new for 2015 Pure Drive Team. The latest edition of this immensely popular frame line sports new technology as well. Taking impact data from the Pure Drive Play, Babolat developed Frame-String Interaction Technology (FSI). FSI creates a denser string pattern higher in the bed where most players make contact with the ball. The result is better control and a more predictable response. I recently spent some time on court with the lighter weight Pure Drive Team.
If it says Pure Drive on the frame, then power on ground strokes is a must have. The Team model holds true to that with excellent power generation from either side, courtesy of its 23/26/23 beam and stiff construction. The 100 inch head offers a sizable sweet spot and a good level of forgiveness on off center shots. The lighter weight allowed me to generate high levels of racquet head speed for increased pace and spin. I did find less weight on my shots compared to heavier versions, leading me to ensure I took advantage of every opportunity to be aggressive. There was a little bit of wobble to the frame against bigger hitters but I found I could compensate well by keeping my stroke slightly shorter. The easy racquet head speed and fairly open pattern allowed me to add spin liberally and play with safe margins until I could find an opening to transition to offense. FSI was beneficial on this frame as I found myself catching more balls at the top and it allowed me to control those shots and keep them in the court.
Volleys & Serves
The Pure Drive Team plays nimbly at the net. It reduced weight and balance point makes it quick to maneuver into position for rapid exchanges. The power level was adequate to finish off high volleys. It did tend to float a few more volleys where contact was made at medium height, a reflection of the reduced mass. I also found the lighter weight more difficult to gauge when trying to execute touch and drop volleys. The maneuverability made up for these shortcomings by allowing me to play aggressively and look for shots to finish.
Serving with the Pure Drive Team had mixed results for me. While there was solid pace on tap, the frame lacked the weight behind flat serves for me to put stronger opponents on the defensive. I found better performance with various spin serves. The lighter weight allowed for quick acceleration through contact, allowing me to move my toss around and create a variety of different spins and locations. While not heavy serves, the variety I could create proved to be an effective tool.
The feel overall on the Pure Drive Team was crisp and predictable but a little bit vague at times. The Cortex system does a good job tuning out harsher vibrations but it still lacks the more connected feel that a more flexible racquet would have. The reduced weight also made it a little harder to connect to the ball and execute touch shots consistently. I did not find any issues with comfort despite the firm construction. Sensitive players should be able to mitigate the racquet stiffness with softer strings and lower tensions.
Overall Babolat continues to ensure that there is a Pure Drive for every type of player. The Pure Drive Team offers the familiar all court power package of the regular Pure Drive in a setup that is lighter and more maneuverable. It is an excellent choice for younger players and players who prefer a light and fast feel that still want to dictate play from the baseline and then attack when the window opens.
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.