Published on June 25th, 2010 | by Greg0
Babolat Lifts Your Tennis Game
A few days ago, we checked out a German company that offers some pretty sweet tennis racquets. Now, in the spirit of international competition, we decided to break from our Wimbledon watching and try out some gear from French firm Babolat. And this time, we’ve got a pair of shoes to test out on the court as well.
But first off, we actually have the Babolat AeroPro Drive- the same racquet used by Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, and even Caroline Wozniacki. Regardless of how it plays, when you tell people that as off-handedly as possible, they’ll immediately get a bit intimidated. I’m pretty sure we can write off a few of our games to that alone, but we prefer to actually thank the racquet. They offer both an extended and a junior version, but ours was the standard 10.6 ounce, 100-inch head model. Beginners should definitely consider the junior version for a bit more head room, but intermediate and advanced players should be fine. It’s 27 inches long, only a tad shorter than normal, and balances power and control pretty evenly.
We heard descriptions suggest it was crisp and fairly accurate, and we found this widely-used racquet to be plenty powerful and offer really solid hits from the baseline. Our serving certainly felt snappy, and without any harsh feedback to our wrists or elbows. Aggressive players and those with strong serves should find it easy to like, and it’s almost immediately comfortable- the large, forgiving sweet spot means that pretty much anyone can pick this one up and improve their game. Women and men both found it suitable, though it might be a tad heavy for some ladies. This graphite/tungsten model has been serving well for years, and the newer models come with their Cortex vibration reduction, which certainly felt pretty good. If in doubt about what racquet to get, don’t sweat it- Babolat’s AeroPro Drive is a great all-arounder, sure to impress with it’s looks and it’s pedigree. $150 or so, available widely.
And if the world’s number one tennis player is enough to convince you, how about Andy Roddick, the top-ranked American player and the man who holds the record for the fastest serve recorded in professional tennis. His shoes of choice are from Babolat, and though we didn’t feel our serve improve much, the Propulse 2 Titanium shoes did make us feel a bit more like pros. Sure, there are a lot of so-called tennis shoes out there, but these are designed and made for the game, and good on all surfaces. Available in two color schemes, ours were the black and gold (with some white details).
On the plus side, they were light and comfortable right out of the box. Breathability was only average; we’ve seen both better and worse. We were a bit skeptical about the velcro ‘Foot Belt’, but it works nicely to help keep your foot well-positioned and snug- although the rear portion on the heel seems a bit extraneous. This is a slightly wider shoe and a bit small length-wise, and those with narrow feet may want to consider a different model (and everyone should be prepared to look for a size a half-step up from usual). It’s a pretty sharp-looking piece of equipment, and we really liked the first hour or so of use. But, after a bit more serious play, we found the relative lack of cushioning to be a bit painful, especially around the front of our feet. A bit more troubling- the traction on these was minimal and we found ourselves sliding a fair bit, perhaps because we’re used to a bit more tread. $110 or so will get you a nice, solid pair of attractive shoes, but our jury is still out on whether these are the best bang for your tennis buck.