Every 3 years the time comes for Babolat to refresh one of its racquet lines. For 2019, it’s the Pure Strike’s turn to get not only a fresh, bold new cosmetic but also some technological upgrades. Fans of the lightest Strike needn’t worry, there’s an all new Pure Strike Team for them too. It incorporates the same C2 Pure Feel dampening system as the other models, improving vibration absorption and feel. The string pattern uses FSI Power for more power and spin through wider string spacing at the top. There is also some carryover technology as the racquet retains its signature Control Frame Technology that blends square beam stability with elliptical beam response. Having play tested the heavier models of the Strike, I wanted a chance to see how the lighter weight Team version would perform on court.
Off the ground the Pure Strike Teams played with speed and power. The 21/23/21 mm beam width and firmer construction provided plenty of pop from both sides on the baseline. The 100-inch head size had an ample sweet spot and the FSI Power technology seemed to keep the power level under control when I made contact high in the string bed. The lighter 10.6 oz strung weight also made it easy for me to whip the head through contact for extra pace on the ball. My groundstrokes didn’t have the same penetration as they did with heavier versions, but there was still enough speed to make them dangerous. Accuracy was another highlight of hitting with this frame. I was able to shift the ball around the court easily and chose aggressive targets with confidence when I wanted to dictate the point. The 16 x 19 pattern was very spin friendly. I found plenty of grip for getting topspin shots to dive into the court and enjoyed the extra lift I seemed to get on my usually fairly flat backhand. The spin production was useful on defense as I was able to put more air under the ball and work myself back into the point. The stability was solid for its weight and the frame benefited from having a closer to even balance. While it twisted against bigger hitters, beginners and developing players should find enough stability to hit with confidence on both offense and defense.
Volleys & Serves
As with the rest of the Pure Strike line, the Team was an admirable performer at the net. The lower weight made it a snap to position on rapid exchanges and I was frequently able to snap off defensive volleys. The easily accessible power allowed me to finish off balls aggressively. Sometimes the reduced weight resulted in balls floating a bit too much, but I was consistently rewarded for attacking shots at the net. The racquet had decent stability against hard hit shots, but more advanced players would want to add some weight in the hoop to keep it from twisting against pace. The slightly softer feel on contact with this new version gave me better ability to execute drop and touch volleys than prior versions of the Strike Team.
On serve the Pure Strike Team showed off both its strengths and drawbacks. The lower weight allowed me to easily accelerate the head through contact, producing a solid amount of pace on flat serves. The reduced weight however also limited the court penetration my serve had, allowing opponents to return more offensively. Without overwhelming pace at my disposal, I focused on using the directional control of the frame to my advantage. This racquet hit with plenty of accuracy and I served to targets that would force people out of position and allow me to play an aggressive first ball. Spin was easily accessible, and I was able to hit effective kick serves and use them to move opponents off the court. My slice serve didn’t have the same bite as it did with the heavier models, but I still found enough movement to swing it wide on the ad court and give myself a chance to control the court from the first ball.
The update to the Pure Strike family for 2019 was definitely centered around improving the feel and comfort. The C2 Pure Feel that was added at the sides of the hoop clearly gave the frame a more dampened feel on contact. I could still feel the firm build of the frame, but it had a smoother, cleaner response on contact than prior versions of the racquet have had. Developing players and those with sensitive arms should still pair it with a softer string setup or lower tensions to help maximize comfort but I came away impressed with the more refined feel the racquet now possessed.
The Pure Strike family is Babolat’s first choice for players seeking to play with controlled aggression. The Pure Strike Team is excellent at combining easy power and spin with outstanding control. Its maneuverability and accuracy make it a dangerous all court weapon. The lighter weight and improved feel make this racquet easy for virtually anyone to pick up and play with. Beginners and developing players who want power and spin that doesn’t skimp on control and feedback should be able to use the new Pure Strike Team to control the court and their opponents.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke formerly served for 3 years as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho. He is a PTR certified coach and is an active USTA 4.5 League and Tournament player.