• Charlotte Bardsley

Perfect Blade

STIGA Carbonado 45 Classic & with my modified handle

Getting the perfect blade for you can be a difficult process because there are so many to choose from and each player will have a different need depending on how they train and play. Some players change quite frequently and others may keep one blade for a very long time. I am sort of in the middle of that, where I want to choose quite carefully with a few options but once I have chosen, I will then use it for at least a few years.

My first STIGA blade was an Emerald VPS V and is a super blade which I would definitely recommend. As with all STIGA blades you get a high quality piece of equipment and the Emerald has some very special wood to give it a particularly quick feel. When I moved to this blade it definitely complimented my game which at the time was very much establishing a rhythm of backhand drives and punches during the rally. The Stiga Emerald served me very well and I got some great victories in the 2016 European Youth Championships with that blade. This is when the England team finished in 5th place in the cadets. Though I don't change my blade that often, I keep my eye on what players are using and what is available. When I was choosing the Emerald I also tested the Carbonado 190. However at that time, it didn't give me quite the same feel that I wanted because I was moving from a slower wood blade at that time. So I think it is important to look at a range of blades and not just jump for the quickest one in the catalogue. A blade needs to be good for both slow and fast shots.

After a two years of using the Emerald, my game had been evolving in style, as a consequence of getting stronger and taller. I still wanted a wood feel but also some extra power but still with a good sweet spot. Additionally the plastic ball kept changing and new technology for rubbers was altering what was possible in the game. I tested the Carbonado 45 quite a lot, maybe for 6 months before I decided to switch to it. It has a very thin layer of Textreme carbon fibres and these are oriented at 45 degrees to a vertical line in the handle. This makes the sweet spot a slightly different shape to the 90 which has the fibres oriented at 90 degrees. This 45 degree is a really interesting innovation by STIGA. In fact STIGA make 6 blades in the Carbonado range. Thinnest carbon are the 45 & 90, then the medium carbon are 145 & 190 and then thickest carbon are 245 & 290. So a lot of choices here. This 45 blade had the feel and speed I was looking for. The blade I tested is in fact my main blade that I use now. Straight out of the box the Carbonado 45 is a fantastic blade. However despite STIGA making 3 different handle shapes I am not fully comfortable with the feel of the standard handle as it is made in he factory. In fact it does not matter which blade from which manufacturer, this is always the same for me. I have quite small hands and if you consider that blades have to be made to fit all types of people, for example men with possibly much bigger hands than me, then it is likely a standard handle isn't quite right. So I start with a STIGA Carbonado 45 Classic, which is the straight handle and then this is sanded down quite a lot in 3 dimensions to give this a specialised profile which I have been using pretty much all my playing life. It makes my blade a bit unique in appearance, but it adds that last bit of detail to give me the perfect blade for my game. Similarly players might add some over-grip to their handle to make it a bit thicker. It is all about small adjustments to build your perfect blade. So far I am really happy with the Carbonado 45 and it helped me in winning two England National Championships.

STIGA Carbonado 45 Classic & with my modified handle

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