Space-age nanocarbons have promised to revolutionize the scientific and manufacturing worlds since they were discovered in 1991. Ten times as strong as steel but only a fraction as heavy and with high electrical conductivity, these miniscule carbon atom cylinders may one day be used to take us to Mars, battle cancer and provide the dream of superconductivity. In the meantime, tennis players can reap the advantages of playing with nanocarbon rackets made by Lyons, France-based Babolat.
The 130-year-old, family-owned company, best known for making natural gut strings, teamed with engineers at Nanoledge, a French company that develops carbon nanotubes, and launched the VS NCT racket line. The result is a frame that Babolat claims is 100 times stronger than steel and 10 times more rigid than conventional graphite. For most players, this translates into harder hitting and less wear and tear on the elbow. And the tennis world is quickly taking notice.
Of the three rackets in the VS NCT line, the cool-looking yellow and black VS NCT Tour is a better fit for competitive club players. It's lightweight, yet stiffer than your average racket and offers a wider sweet spot than normal (thereby lessening torsion). Weighing a mere 10 ounces, the NCT Tour is balanced, but slightly head light for good maneuverability, making it ideal for the intermediate to advanced player who doesn't hit with a lot of topspin but still wants controlled power. Tennis elbow sufferers will get relief as they feel less vibration in the frame and handle. Although it isn't an ideal racket for a player who hits harder, flatter shots (the Babolat Pure Drive series, which pros Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters use, is better suited to competitive power players), the control it offers allows a player with a short backswing to place shots in ideal locations, such as baseline corners. Your winners versus unforced errors percentage will increase.
The NCT VS Tour retails for $199.