Up next we have Andy. Andy is playtesting a wide assortment of tennis goods from racquets and shoes to strings and something extra special for November. Let’s check in with our newest playtester and see how he is doing.
Hours Spent Playtesting this week: 10
Playtesters you hit with: Chris, Siobhan, Brittany
Type of Playtesting (singles, doubles, drills): All of the above
Playtesting Court: Mostly the TW Indoor Court
One of my favorite things about being here at TW is trying all the new equipment, and all of the new racquets I’ve been playtesting recently have been awesome. The new Wilson Blade line was much improved from previous versions, and the racquets are just solid all-around player’s frames. The 93 has the best feel of them all, and I think Wilson has created a “modern classic” midsize racquet with it. It’s got the great control and feel that you want from a midsize, but with just enough pop and crispness to stack up against the modern game. The 98s are also great feeling, too, with the 18×20 version being my favorite of the two. They replicate the great feel of the 93, but with a larger head you get a bigger sweetspot and more forgiveness.
The Babolat AeroPro Drives were a surprise for me. I’ve always considered myself a bit of “purist” when it comes to racquet technology, so I have steered clear of Babolat racquets in the past, preferring the more classic, smaller player’s frames. However, from the instant I started hitting with these, I realized what all the fuss was about. Tons of power, spin and forgiveness from all over the court, and the new versions of these racquets with the Active Cortex dampening technology gave them more feel and comfort than past versions. These have quickly become two of my favorite racquets to hit, with the slight edge going to the extended length version.
If the AeroPro Drive’s were a surprise, the new Wilson Steam 99S blew my mind! This one is definitely a game changer! The extreme 16×15 string pattern lends itself to unmatched (and I mean unmatched!) spin potential. I feel like I can totally swing out on the ball, and it always drops in the court like a pelican hunting for fish in the ocean. They have a crisp, yet comfortable feel, and provide more than enough control from all areas of the court. As people start trying these racquets I think they are going to be the new craze in the tennis world!
Editor’s note: Andy just gave you another sneak peek of the Babolat AeroPro Drive and AeroPro Drive+. They go on pre-sale Nov. 23. The new Steams will pre-sale Jan. 1, 2013. The Wilson Blades are currently available for pre-sale.
What shoes are you playtesting?
adidas adizero CC Feather II
Currently I’ve got my feet into the new adidas adizero CC Feather IIs, scheduled to be released in spring 2013. These are great! They are super lightweight, and with the ClimaCool addition they have awesome ventilation, too. But even as speed-oriented shoes, they provide more than enough support and stability for aggressive movement. I just started playing with them last week, so I don’t have much to offer on the durability side, but if they are anything like the previous version they should hold up just fine.
Editor’s note: The adidas adizero CC Feather II will be available for pre-sale on Dec. 15, 2012.
What strings are you playtesting?
Luxilon ALU Power 16L, Head prototype
Ah, my favorite thing to playtest! We’ve been playtesting the ever popular ALU Power in different colors and at different tensions, and this remains one of my favorite strings ever! I tend to prefer the shaped polyesters for added bite on the ball, but when it comes to a standard round-shaped poly, it doesn’t get any better! It’s got a crisp, lively yet comfortable feel with just the right amount of feel and control. Ah, perfection! Look for that review to come out in the next couple weeks.
My boy, and resident string expert Jonathan (or J-Dub), likes to throw random polys my way, and this week he’s given me a Head prototype string, which I’m really liking! He won’t spill any more info, so I don’t know what it is, when/if it’s coming out, or who’s endorsing it, but all I know is I’m a fan! It’s a grey-ish color and shaped, and provides a really nice lively, comfortable feel. I’m thinking Tourna Big Hitter Black 7, but not quite as rigid feeling (as I think it has only five sides compared to the Tourna’s seven). I hope Head gets good enough feedback from people to put this one into mass production.
Are you playtesting anything else?
The only other item I’m playtesting currently is my Movember mustache, which I think is a great addition to my game. It flutters in the wind to provide a little more propulsion when running down Chris’s drop shots, and then when I jump in the air it flares out like Batman’s cape, allowing me to get a little extra hang time on my jumping overheads. More importantly, it’s MAN-tastic!
Editor’s Note: (Un)fortunately, this playtest will end at the end of November.
If you’re an avid reader of our TW Blogs, you may have followed Andy Gerst’s travels on training and competing professionally throughout the world. He blogs about his transition from Division I college tennis to the pros. Just in case you’ve missed it on TW’s youtube page, click on the images to see Andy’s video blogs to date: