Gauge: 16G (1.30mm) or 17G (1.25)
Test Racquet / Tension
Tecnifibre TFight 315 LTD 16M @ 55lbs
For many, natural gut represents the holy grail of tennis strings. Its unique blend of power, control and comfort has proven exceptionally difficult to recreate over the years and the price point can also be cost prohibitive for many players. Babolat is looking to bridge the gap with the creation of Babolat Origin. The string is constructed from an all natural polyamide called PureCombo. This material allows the string to possess characteristics similar to natural gut but in a monofilament construction for improved durability. This design also gives it the capability to perform well in a full bed or in a hybrid with another string. Never one to miss out on the latest in string innovation, I spent some court time with origin recently to see how the experience stacks up.
Origin had no shortage of power on court, making it very similar to natural gut and multifilament. I found it easy to hit with pace from either wing off the ground. Coming from playing full sets of polyester as my normal string setup, it took me awhile to get adjusted to the increased power level that Origin possessed. Once I got dialed in, I enjoyed having such easy access to power. Control was also impressive and I would rate Origin favorably in that category compared to multifilaments. I frequently feel multifilaments are almost overpowered and lack the consistent control I crave on court. Origin was closer to natural gut in its combination of healthy power with outstanding levels of control. Spin potential was the weak point in origin’s performance. It couldn’t come close to polyester in terms of spin levels but I did feel it was above average when compared to multifilaments. The reduced spin made it harder for me to get balls out of opponents’ strike zones and some balls went just out instead of dropping in at the baseline.
Feel / Comfort
As expected from a string trying to mirror gut, feel and comfort were excellent with Origin. The string had a soft feel at impact and had solid ball pocketing. This softer feel allowed me to go after drop and touch shots with confidence. I was also impressed with the string’s ability to keep from feeling mushy. Many soft strings develop a “squishy” feel pretty quickly and the overall feel quickly deteriorates. Origin was very similar to natural gut in its ability to produce consistent feel throughout its lifespan. Comfort was also outstanding. I played the string at higher tension than I usually string out but never had any discomfort issues. Players seeking a comfortable string without breaking the bank will enjoy this aspect of playing with Origin.
While not as durable as polyester, Origin was still a marked improvement over most multifilaments I’ve hit with recently. Its monofilament design provided higher resistance to wear and it didn’t exhibit the fraying one sees with gut or multifilament designs. The higher level of durability would make Origin an intriguing choice for hybrids pairing it with a polyester main string. Overall playability for Origin was also surprisingly solid. I felt it held tension better than nearly anything in its class, save for gut. This tension maintenance prevented the string from turning into a loose cannon over time. I tend to stay away from multifilaments due to their short life and unpredictable nature as they lose tension. With Origin, I found more consistent response over time with a slight loss of control only coming right before the string broke.
While not a cheap string in its own right, Origin represents a more affordable choice for those seeking something close to the performance of natural gut. It offers impressive power levels and comfort while also having excellent ball feel and playability. Its unique monofilament construction makes it a strong candidate for hybrid stringing and its impressive tension maintenance gives it a longer life, especially for non string breakers. Babolat Origin is solid proof that you can find gut like performance and playability at a price point accessible to a wider audience of players.
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.