Gauge: 15L (1.35mm)
Length: 40 feet
Test Racquet / Tension
Tecnifibre TFight 315 LTD 16M @ 56lbs
Babolat is THE leader when it comes to natural gut string so it’s only natural that they would have exceptionally high quality standards for it. But rather than waste the sets that don’t meet the standard of VS Gut, Babolat has wisely chosen to create the Tonic Ball Feel line of gut instead. The only difference with Tonic is some minor cosmetic blemishes and a small reduction in gauging consistency. Otherwise all the hallmarks of gut like power, feel and playability are still present. Here’s a look at how this slightly more budget friendly natural gut from Babolat performed on court.
There was impressive power on tap right out of the gate with Tonic. It played with easy pop off the ground and I never felt like I had to work exorbitantly hard to generate pace on my shots. There seemed to bit a little less power in certain spots on the string bed, potentially due to some inconsistent gauging in those areas. As a whole, I enjoyed the power the string provided as I could dictate points but also send defensive balls back with plenty of interest. Similar to VS gut, Tonic had solid if unspectacular levels of spin. It wasn’t of the same frustration inducing topspin that a full set of polyester can produce but there was more than enough to play with variety. Players looking for a boost in spin could always pair Tonic with a spin friendly polyester in a hybrid. Control was outstanding with this string. The power was easy to keep in the court and I had high confidence in hitting to the lines and going for aggressive shots. The string exhibited impressive directional control, allowing me to make use of the entire court during rallies.
Feel / Comfort
Tonic Ball Feel exhibited the same great feel that Babolat gut has but it was a little more inconsistent compared to VS gut. The slight increase in gauge variance led to some spots on the string bed having a bit of a “thin feel” where the string came across as slightly brittle. Overall, the string had excellent ball pocketing and a soft yet responsive feel on impact. I always felt well connected to the ball. Tonic played with an exceptional amount of comfort throughout my time with it. It soaked up an impressive amount of vibration, providing a smooth, clean feel on shots no matter where I made contact. Comfort minded players would have no worries with this string, no matter what tension they chose to play it at.
Tonic Ball Feel got a boost in durability over the VS Team I also tested, largely due to it being 16 gauge instead of 17. Even though it had some thinner spots, overall Tonic held up against wear a bit longer and I was able to stretch it a bit longer before it frayed apart and snapped. The true positive was Tonic’s ability to maintain its playability throughout its lifespan. Even as it wore down, I didn’t experience a loss of power or control. The string played exceptionally consistent at all times, which inspired confidence every time I took the court with it. With proper care, Tonic should give enough play time to players for the cost to be justified.
Taking the court with natural gut is a completely unique experience. The strings offers a one of kind mix of power, control and feel that I have yet to find in any other string. Tonic Ball Feel may not meet the quality standards to be called VS gut, but it more than holds its own in on court performance. Its impressive power, feel and durability more than compensate for any minor cosmetic or gauging inconsistencies. Any player looking to experience the benefits of natural gut without breaking the bank should give Babolat Tonic Ball Feel some serious consideration the next time they restring their frame.
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.