Gauge: Pro Hurricane Tour 17G (1.25mm) VS 16G (1.30mm)
Length: 40 FT
Test Racquet / Tension
Tecnifibre TFight 315 LTD 16M @ 56/52 lbs
Hybrid stringing has been steadily increasing in popularity in recent years. Looking to capitalize on the popularity, Babolat rolled out its VS 16 & Pro Hurricane Tour 16 hybrid pack. This set blends the power and comfort of VS natural gut with the control and durability of the polyester based Pro Hurricane Tour. The result is an impressive mix of power, spin control and feel in a package that can stand up to heavy hitting. I had to see for myself what this hybrid offering from Babolat felt like on court.
I went against the packaging from Babolat and installed VS in the mains and PHT in the crosses of my frame. The power level of the natural gut was readily apparent from the first ball. I found the combo to have impressive power on groundstrokes and serves as well. The outstanding power let me play aggressive quick strike tennis while also being able to put enough on defensive shots to reset the point. Control was another outstanding aspect of playing with this setup. The lower powered nature of Pro Hurricane Tour provided a bump in control over playing a full set of gut. The highly controlled nature gave me the confidence to swing aggressively and go after tough shots. Spin production was also improved over just a full set of natural gut. The slippery poly in the crosses allowed the mains to slide a bit easier, boosting the spin potential that I saw. It was easier for me to add that bit of extra spin the made balls drop in at the baseline. My serve also benefitted from the increased spin as my kick serve moved more aggressively and slice serves stayed lower.
Feel / Comfort
Feel was another high point playing with the VS/PHT hybrid. Having the poly in the crosses created a firmer feel but the combo retained enough of the gut’s characteristics that it wasn’t a big sacrifice. On contact I found a nice balance of crisp response and ball pocketing. I felt well connected to the ball and the string bed had a fairly uniform response with no hot spots or buzzy feeling areas. By introducing poly into the string bed, the comfort level was slightly altered. I felt some off center shots in my arm a little bit more and there was a little more vibration transmission with this setup. Players with sensitive arms should be fine but they could also look at dropping the tension in order to ensure the degree of comfort they are looking for.
Durability was another impressive area of this hybrid. Both strings were 16 gauge so they were built to last longer, even if I had to give up a little bit of feel. Having a slick poly in the crosses seemed to reduce the friction on the gut mains, slowing down the rate of wear on them. I was able to play for a longer period of time before the fraying on the mains became severe. While durability was solid, playability took a little bit of a step back for me. The Pro Hurricane Tour seemed to die out a little bit faster and when it went dead, the string bed lost a bit of its magic. I didn’t lose a dramatic amount of control or anything, it simply didn’t have the same intoxicating blend of power and spin that it originally had. Starting with a lower tension may have helped me extend the playability of this setup and is something I would consider moving forward.
Despite natural gut’s impressive power and feel, some players desire more durability and spin production. That is where this hybrid comes in. It offers a strong level of power and feel from the VS gut while the Pro Hurricane Tour improves the spin and provides the controlled response big hitters crave. Babolat’s VS / Pro Hurricane Tour hybrid set is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to blend explosive power and outstanding feel with increased durability and spin without breaking the bank to do so.
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.