Gauge: 17G (1.25mm)
Length: 40 feet
Test Racquet / Tension
Tecnifibre TFight 315 LTD 16M @ 56lbs
If you look at the pro tour, there is really only one name when it comes to natural gut strings: Babolat. Since 1875, Babolat has been producing the highest quality natural gut on the market. Babolat VS Team is the thinner, 17 gauge version of their iconic string. It has undergone some changes in recent years with the new version incorporates BT7 into its outer coating, for increased durability and resistance to humidity. With such an iconic string in my frame, the only thing left to do was take it for a spin on court!
The power level of VS Team was simply amazing. It allowed me to produce impressive pace off the ground with very little effort. Gut has long been the standard for other strings to imitate in terms of power and it was easy to see why. The string produced an even power level across the entire string bed and made it easy to put enough pace on defensive balls to transition back to offense quickly. While there was not as much spin as a full bed of more modern polyester strings, I still found plenty of spin on tap compared to a multifilament or synthetic gut option. I didn’t have the explosive topspin of my usual full polyester but I was able to put enough margin under the ball to extend rallies and the VS Team was exceptional at flattening short balls out and ending points with authority. Control with VS Team was also outstanding. For being a powerful string, I was impressed with the pinpoint accuracy it possessed. I was consistently able to hit aggressive targets and paint the lines from anywhere on court. I was hard pressed to think of another string that offered the combination of power, spin and control that this string had.
Feel / Comfort
Gut strings have an outstanding reputation for feel and VS Team was no different. I did find it to play slightly stiffer than the older pre-BT7 versions of the string but it still had exceptional ball pocketing. There was a clean feel on contact no matter where on the string bed I hit. The string offered a soft feel but still kept me well connected to the ball, allowing me to really feel my shots. I was able to execute a variety of touch and finesse shots with ease thanks to the well connected soft feel the string imparted. Comfort was another highlight of my time with VS Team. The string was exceptional at absorbing impact and minimizing shock to my arm. The other impressive aspect of VS Team was its ability to retain feel and comfort at even high tensions, truly making it a string that any player would enjoy and feel comfortable with.
Durability may have been the one weaker point of playing with VS Team. Gut can be a bit fragile to begin with and the high temperatures of my location seemed to dry it out a little quicker than normal, affecting its durability. The thinner, 17 gauge was great for feel but wore down a little faster than the thicker versions of VS would have. It was an easy string to monitor wear on as I was able to check the fraying and get a good indication of how much life I probably had left on the strings. I came away thoroughly impressed with VS Team’s ability to maintain its playability throughout its lifespan. Even when it was massively frayed, I was able to play consistently with it and never felt a loss of control or power at any point. This factor alone gave it a leg up on many other string options in my book.
Playing with natural gut is simply one of those things that every tennis player should do at least once in their life. Babolat’s industry leading version brings an incredible balance of power, control and playability to the table. It offers up impressive all court shotmaking and plays consistently in full sets or in a hybrid configuration. While its higher price point may scare some people off, the on court performance of Babolat VS Team is something to behold and a worthwhile expense for what it delivers.
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.