Tecnifibre has a speedy new update to the T-Fight lineup for 2020. The lightest member of the family gets an update in the form of the new T-Fight RSL 280. With the “L” denoting a slightly thicker beam than the heavier options, the 280 takes advantage of the same new 5 sided “R” shape that mixes control and power. Carrying over from the previous T-Fight generation is XTC (Xtreme Touch Construction), a graphite, alloy and polyester fiber layup that improves stability. Tecnifibre also brings back Dynacore HD to optimize feel and power in the frame. Tecnifibre packs all if this technology into a light, fast frame that now also sports an updated sleek cosmetic that honors both the Tecnifibre brand and its overarching French heritage. Having hit the other models in the T-Fight line, it was only natural for me to take to the court with this lightest member of the lineup.
From the baseline, the RSL 280 produced easy power and swing speeds. The firmer, thicker 23mm beam offered a strong mix of both power and control. At 10.5oz strung and a slightly lower swingweight than the 295, I had no problem accelerating through contact for ample pace on my groundstrokes. The 100in head size had an impressive sweet spot and I felt like the power level stayed very consistent, even if I made contact off center. Compared to heavier models in the line, the 280 lacked the court penetration and weight of shot to stand up against big hitting players. Similar to the 295, I was impressed by the level of control the RSL 280 possessed. In a market segment that prizes easy power, this frame was one of the most well behaved options I can remember hitting with. Despite the easy power, I was able to hit to aggressive targets with confidence and rarely felt I was in danger of over hitting. The 16x19 pattern and high racquet head speed added plenty of spin to my shots. I was able to create margin from both sides and appreciated the bounce I was able to get off the court with my forehand. The low weight made it more challenging to find success trying to flatten out the ball and the frame also twisted a bit more when trying to absorb big blows from my opponents. As I experienced with the 295, the RSL 280 was exceptionally fast on the run and it was confidence inspiring to be able to snap passing shots and cross court angles off on the run.
At net, the lightning fast response of the RSL 280 was on display. The racquet was highly maneuverable and I had no trouble staying in front of rapid fire exchanges. The easy power of the racquet allowed me to punish anything left sitting up at net. With such a lightweight frame, I had to ensure not to be too casual with my volley as that resulted in balls floating past their intended target. The racquet was pretty precise for a light 100in frame and I found success directing volleys to the corners and sidelines. The reduced mass didn’t quite give me enough feel on touch volleys and I preferred the extra weight of the heavier models for more delicate shot making at the net. The RSL 280 lacked some stability at net against well struck balls but for intermediate play, it should hold up fine for deflecting body shots.
The RSL 280 brought plenty of speed and spin to serving. The racquet swung fast overhead and allowed me to apply plenty of ball speed to my flatter first serves. They didn’t seem to penetrate the court as much as with a heftier frame, but they moved quickly enough to snag some free points here and there. I found enough accuracy to move my serve around the box and prove to returners that I could hit all 4 corners. With easy racquet head speed and I spin friendly string pattern, the RSL 280 put plenty of action on my kick serve. It got the ball up high on returners quickly and kept them from teeing off on it. The frame lacked the mass to make my slice serve really effective so I generally stuck to combining fast flat serves and high bouncing kicks to start points off on offense as much as possible.
Tecnifibre creates an incredibly fast feeling frame that manages to still play very well balanced in this latest update. It packs considerable punch from the baseline with plenty of maneuverability and control to attack the net. The frame adds in a healthy dose of responsiveness and comfort for good measure. Developing players looking for a frame that swings easy and mixes power, control and spin in a player friendly design should find a lot to love about the Tecnifibre T-Fight RSL 280.
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.