Tennis Industry magazine

 

Playtest: Babolat Origin 17

By Greg Raven

Origin is a novel monofilament nylon string made from a bio-sourced, innovative polyamide called Pure Combo. Polyamide is usually sourced entirely from the petroleum industry, but Pure Combo is partially made up from a vegetable source. Babolat tells us that the result is a material that requires 20% less fossil fuel than a traditional nylon, creating a more environmentally friendly material with equivalent performance.

As its most powerful synthetic, Babolat’s Origin is designed for anyone looking for more power and comfort from their string. Babolat believes Origin’s power can help club and competitive players alike. Club players who want more power, but need more durability than natural gut provides, will appreciate a full stringbed of Origin. Competitive players who need the same attributes will use Origin in a hybrid.

Origin is available in 16 (1.30 mm) and 17 (1.25 mm) in Natural, Black, and Fluoro Red. It is priced from $19 for sets of 40 feet. For more information or to order, contact Babolat at 877-316-9435, or visit babolat.us. Be sure to read the conclusion for more information about getting a free set to try for yourself.

In the Lab

We tested the 17-gauge Origin. The coil measured 41 feet 4 inches. The diameter measured 1.25 mm prior to stringing, and 1.23 mm after stringing. We recorded a stringbed stiffness of 77 RDC units immediately after stringing at 60 pounds in a Wilson Pro Staff 6.1 95 (16 x 18 pattern) on a constant-pull machine.

After 24 hours (no playing), stringbed stiffness measured 72 RDC units, representing a 6 percent tension loss. Our control string, Prince Synthetic Gut Original Gold 16, measured 78 RDC units immediately after stringing and 71 RDC units after 24 hours, representing a 9 percent tension loss. In lab testing, Prince Synthetic Gut Original has a stiffness of 217 and a tension loss of 11.67 pounds, while Babolat Origin 17 has a stiffness of 188 and a tension loss of 14 pounds. Origin 17 added 13.3 grams to the weight of our unstrung frame.

The string was tested for five weeks by 38 USRSA playtesters, with NTRP ratings from 3.5 to 6.0. These are blind tests, with playtesters receiving unmarked strings in unmarked packages. Average number of hours playtested was 29.1.

Origin is extraordinarily easy to install, whether as a full stringbed or as half of a hybrid job. It’s not surprising, then, that no playtester broke the sample during stringing, and none reported problems with coil memory, knots, friction burn, or other problems.

On the Court

It is one thing to claim traditional performance with a new-technology string, but Origin delivers. Our playtesters rated Babolat Origin well above average for Comfort, Tension Retention, and Touch/Feel; characteristics you expect in all the best nylon strings.

No playtester reported premature fraying or peeling, none reported buzzing, and three reported notching. Five platesetters broke the sample during the playlets period, one each at 1, 2, 10, 13, and 16 hours.

Conclusion

Babolat has long been one of the leaders in what might be called 100 percent organic strings with its famous natural gut line. How fitting is it that Babolat would develop a partially organic nylon string?

If you think that Babolat Origin might be for you, fill out the coupon to get a free set to try.

Playtester Comments

“Great string. I’d recommend it to anyone. Unusual combo of playability, durability, and comfort. This string does it all. It felt firm, but not too firm. Also held tension quite well. One of the best strings I’ve ever hit with.” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson K Six One Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Still In Black Resistretch/Acelon Wildfire 17/16)

“String had a crisp feel and played very comfortably. Even at 20 hours of play, it kept its remarkable feel and playability.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Dunlop 200G strung at 65 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut with Duraflex 16)

“Played exceptionally well for me. While not a really soft string the touch/feel was great. Would recommend to many of my customers.” 3.5 male all court player using Head Four Star strung at 60 pounds CP (Head PPS 18)

“Best string I have tested - even with the wide string pattern of my racquet. Easy to string. I like it a lot!” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson Steam 99S strung at 60 pounds CP (Wilson Spin Cycle 16)

“Nice soft string! Good Control! I liked it!” 4.5 male all court player using Wilson BLX 5 strung at 56 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This is an excellent string all around. String very easily with no issues. Playability overall is wonderful regarding all areas (control, comfort, touch, power, etc.). Would recommend a 5% tension reduction but would likely play well throughout normal tension range. This is a great string overall and will be excited to know what it is when available.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Youtek Radical MP strung at 57 pounds LO (Babolat Xcel Premium 16)

“Overall, this was an excellent string. Stringing was a breeze with virtually no coil memory. What I did like particularly about this string was that I did not have to become accustomed to how it played. It felt very playable from the first hit. Touch/feel and control were exceptionally good. Those qualities combined with the string’s durability make it a great choice for any player.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince O3 Blue strung at 55 pounds LO (Tecnifibre NRG 18)

“Top-notch string. Coming out of the package and stringing it reminded me of the old Babolat Syntronic Bria. This too, is a very playable string. Feels good on groundstrokes, packs a volleying punch, crisp on the serves. Would buy it and when it comes out, I will experiment with lower tension. Nice pop and power. If the price is right, it’s a keeper.” 4.0 male touch player using Prince O3 Red strung at 57 pounds CP (Gamma TNT Pro Plus 17L)

“Nice looking string. The gold/yellow/tan color reminds me of strings from the past. Some of the young kids (so used to poly) even asked me what kind of string it was. Strung up very nicely. Actually because there is less stretch, stringing is easier. Also, it is not as stiff as poly, which is a plus. Once strung, it played very nicely. It seems to me like an all-weather radial tire - does everything very well. Potentially a good string for a large part of the market. Good durability. Overall compared favorably to my favorite string. If the price point is less than $20 retail, then you may have a winner. I think a $10-$12 price would make this string a real steal.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Prestige Pro strung at 48 pounds LO (Gamma Professional 17)

“Wished I had strung it 5 pounds tighter. Comfortable and plenty of control for teaching. Still had good enough playability and control for doubles and singles. Got plenty of spin and pace on serve. Good touch! Not as crisp as a slightly stiffer string, but good on arm for comfort. Good to use in cross strings in hybrid. Good solid feel on volleys, lobs, and drop shots.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson Steam 99S strung at 50 pounds CP (Head Rip Spin 16)

“This was an extremely solid feeling string. There was a good amount of touch and feel with this string and allowed much greater confidence in going for shots and placement. I would recommend this as either half of a poly hybrid for those looking for a bit more touch, or by itself for someone playing with less spin. This is a good comfort string and really easy on the arm. I enjoyed this string very much and would probably look to adding it in our selection of string in our shop.” 5.0 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Juice 100S strung at 61 pounds LO (Luxilon 4G/ Wilson NXT 16)

“Holds tension and durability very well. It is surprisingly easy on the arm/shoulder, but not an easy string to play. Players wanting a soft feel and responsive string will be left wanting. Players that hid out and don’t want any help from the string will like this one.” 3.5 male all court player using Babolat Pure Storm strung at 48 pounds CP (Gamma TNT2 18)

“Was a good string, maintained tension well, didn’t feel like a lot of control was lost.” 6.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 55 pounds LO (Yonex Poly 17)

“Nice string, had good feel, was a little springy, not as much control as other strings.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Prestige strung at 60 pounds LO (Prince Synthetic Gut 16)

“Overall a nice string. Durability was the weakest point for big spin hitters. Easy to string with. Good all around string.” 4.5 male all court player using Head Graphene Speed MP strung at 55 pounds CP (Dunlop Black Widow 18)

“This is a really nice string to work with. Very easy to string. Soft string. Great for doubles players wanting touch and control. Good for 3.0-3.5 players who are looking for control and not power. Easier to shape your shot.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Premier ESP strung at 62 pounds CP (Prince XP Tour 15L)

“I really enjoyed playing with this string. I thought it played well from start to finish. A good middle string between poly and multifilament strings. I felt it had the better qualities of a poly and a synthetic gut string. Good feel, playability, and durability.” 5.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Blade strung at 52 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 17)

“This string was an absolute joy to install! It was very easy to handle and weave. Friction burn was nearly non-existent for me as the coating seems to be just the right balance of texture and smoothness. The string was very comfy in the racquet as well. Vibrations seemed slightly reduced vs. my usual string. Power, control, spin, and touch were all good but none was outstanding. Comfort would seem to be the name of the game for this string.” 4.0 male baseliner with heavy spin using Babolat Pure Strike strung at 59 pounds LO (Luxilon Savage 16)

“Out of the package, the string had a wonderful feel. On the court, the most notable aspect was the increase in power. It took a few matches to settle in to the way the string played. After that, I would describe the string as possessing comfortable power.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Tour ESP strung at 60/56 pounds LO (Prince Tour XP 17)

“String bed felt tighter than 56 pounds tension, which was a surprise. Also low tension loss and more power than expected, less touch, control. But, overall, a comfortable soft string, ideal for use in hours of lessons.” 4.0 male all court player using Head Graphene Prestige MP strung at 56 pounds LO (Head Intellitour 17)

“Overall nice playing string. Easy on the arm. Gives you nice spin and feel. Loosened up and lost about 6 pounds after 10 hours of play. I would recommend to other players.” 5.0 male all court player using Head Graphene Prestige strung at 60 pounds LO (Head Sonic Pro 16)

“String seemed to play like the soft type of string that I normally play with. Noticed notching after first few hours and string moved a bit even though my tension was fairly high. Liked the playability of the string with my touch game, but was able to deliver some pop when needed.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Wilson BLX Two strung at 63 pounds LO (Wilson NXT 16)

“Great playing and feeling string. Just broke very quickly.” 5.5 male all court player using Wilson Juice 100 S strung at 57 pounds CP (Luxilon 4G 16)

“Generally pretty average all around. Not impressive enough to invest more time with the string. It was fairly comfortable to hit with yet crisp in feel. I didn’t find it too great on touch or playability. Power and control was fairly average. Pretty good on holding tension and resistance to movement.” 3.5 male baseliner with moderate spin using Prince O3 Hybrid Hornet strung at 57 pounds LO (Luxilon Big Banger ALU Rough/Ashaway Dynamite 17/18)

“Very comfortable string, with good touch and feel. Average spin potential, but less spin potential than textured strings. Very easy to string this one. All around good string, but I prefer textured spin strings.” 4.0 male all court player using Prince Triple Threat Viper strung at 60 pounds LO (Gamma Ruff 16)

“This was a good string. It is soft and powerful like a multifilament, but it feels less mushy. Did not last, though.” 5.0 male all court player using Babolat Pure Strike strung at 55/53 pounds CP (Babolat VS Gut/RPM Team 17/17)

“The string felt good. But, once I started to add more pace to the ball, it broke on me.” 5.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Strike strung at 55 pounds CP (Solinco Tour Bite 18)

“The string has a great feel to it for slices, dropshots, and volleys. It quickly lost tension after a few hours of play. No power on shots or spins. This string is good for a player looking for control and easy on the elbow.” 4.5 male all court player using Babolat AeroPro Drive strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat RPM 16)

“Good string with average power, comfort, and control. String movement was more noticeable compared to my normal string. There was nothing special about this string that would make me want to go out and buy this string.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson nSix Two strung at 55 pounds CP (Tourna Big Hitter Black 7 17)

“I hit a ball off center that caused pain in my shoulder. The string didn’t have any give on off-center hits. But, it had good pocketing for flat shots and serves. Spin potential was similar to other playtest string, but my current string gave me more. The control on sweet spot shots was great!” 4.0 male all court player using Volkl Organix 4 Super G strung at 59 pounds CP (Volkl V-Twist 17)

“Nice string that was average for its class. It didn’t do anything memorable, but everything well. If you’re looking for an everyday string to recommend to an average player, I might use this if the price was right.” 4.0 male baseliner with moderate spin using Babolat Pure Drive strung at 55 pounds CP (Babolat VS Gut 16)

“This string just doesn’t have much upside. There was notable spin in it, and the instructions did not say to string 5-10% lower, so it may not have been a poly, maybe a really stiff synthetic. Either way, the pocketing was non-existent. It did offer more spin, but did not launch the ball, no feel to it. More control than my normal string. The spin was noticeable, but if this is the aim, a player could go with another string and have both. Not an impressive test at all.” 4.5 male baseliner with heavy spin using Prince Tour strung at 55 pounds CP (Prince Premier LT 17)

“Was pleased and excited to see a more supple string. But, alas, after stringing, it showed no real potential as an option for my poly players. Poor feel, no power, and disappointing playability.” 4.5 male all court player using Prince Tour strung at 60 pounds CP (Prince Premier Power 17)

“Not one of the better strings I’ve played with. It didn’t have the comfort, feel, or touch that I like in a string. This may be better suited for a hard hitter.” 4.0 female all court player using Prince Warrior 100L ESP strung at 58 pounds CP (Tecnifibre NRG 17)

“I did not have the same pop as with my usual string. That is, shots seemed to lack the same power, and my opponents commented on this. In addition, my serves had less power. Overall, not a string I am interested in.” 4.0 male all court player using Pro Kennex Ki 15 PSE strung at 63 pounds CP (Pacific XForce/Pacific PowerLine 18/16)

“Unfortunately this string loosened substantially after first few hours, possibly skewing results to an unfavorable result in most categories. If this is typical, I would not recommend this string.” 4.5 male serve-and-volley player using Head Extreme Pro strung at 61 pounds LO (Gamma Livewire Pro 16)

“From the very first ball did not like the feel of the string. Played very dead and no power compared to what I regularly play with. I had to really accelerate more at impact to get any power and come up on the ball more to get any decent spin. I almost felt hopeless when playing. Not a fan of the string.” 4.0 male all court player using Wilson BLX Pro Staff 90 strung at 45 pounds LO (Tourna Black 7 / Wilson Stamina 17)

Playtester Ratings

EASE OF STRINGING (compared to other strings)
much easier 6
somewhat easier 13
about as easy 17
not quite as easy 2
not nearly as easy 0
OVERALL PLAYABILITY (compared to the string played most often)
much better 2
somewhat better 8
about as playable 12
not quite as playable 14
not nearly as playable 2
OVERALL DURABILITY (compared to other strings of similar gauge)
much better 2
somewhat better 14
about as durable 16
not quite as durable 4
not nearly as durable 2
RATING AVERAGES
From 1 to 5 (best)
Playability 3.4
Durability 3.5
Power 3.3
Control 3.4
Comfort 3.6
Touch/Feel 3.4
Spin Potential 3.1
Holding Tension 3.5
Resistance to Movement 3.3

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About the Author

Greg Raven  is an associate editor for Tennis Industry magazine and technical writer. He is certified as a Master Racquet Technician by the U.S. Racquet Stringers Association. He can be reached via e-mail at greg@usrsa.com, or through Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. He plays tennis three to five days a week, and is turning into an avid cyclist.

 

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