From conversations I have had with people, and from what gear I see people using, the TSP brand of TT equipment is largely unknown outside of Japan. I had a look at some of their gear and it was obvious that the quality was good so I gave some a test run.BLADE CONSTRUCTION
The TSP Swat is a 6mm thick 7 ply blade with limba outer plys, the inner plys on first glance look to be all ayous. The construction looks the same as the Nittaku Ludeack, and plays pretty much identically as well. The reason I say ‘on first glance’ with the ayous plys is because the 3rd and 5th plys do look ever so slightly different in the grain, and when hitting hard there is a crispness to drives that is not so evident on the Ludeack. Maybe they are a harder selection of ayous making the grain look tighter, I am not sure, pure speculation on my behalf.
The shape of the straight handle is rounded sides with slight flatness on top and bottom. Medium in size and felt comfortable.
The quality of the wood is evident in the resonance and tone produced by the blade, the only other all-wood blade I have owned with as much tone and as large a sweet spot is the Acoustic. The top ply is lightly sealed in the factory which helps stop the removal of wood fibres when changing rubbers, but didn’t add to any hardness in feel or increase in speed. There are some minor finishing blemishes in the handle. The finish is not as high as a Nittaku blade, but neither is the price as high. It looks to me that TSP have put the quality in where it matters (wood selection, gluing, and construction) and have done a similar level of finishing as Donic or Andro to keep the price down.
The balance of the blade is typical of straight handle blades being slightly head heavy with medium weight rubbers (say 42-45g range, cut) and very head heavy with heavy rubbers (eg Tenergy, Bluefire). I did not try a flared handle.PLAYING CHARACTERISTICS
I rate the speed class as OFF- / OFF for this blade. The reason for this is that the blade is quite slow and controlled on the short game and on passive shots. Blocking is very easy and placement is accurate. Serving and receiving short is also easy.
Once the power of the swing increases the blade starts to flex and the kick is immediately felt giving it a good amount of power. The flex is fairly high for a 7 ply blade which are generally known for being stiff driving/smashing blades. The Swat is more a looping/driving blade that can smash hard as well (the throw angle does become higher here which requires the stroke to be over the ball – not straight through it) . Because of the thin construction the blade offers no power of it’s own when playing out of position shots. If your footwork is good then this doesn’t happen very often (well, shouldn’t anyway).
The feel is soft to medium with the limba and ayous plys, with a more crisp feel when really laying into the stroke.CONCLUSION
I really enjoy playing with this blade, it gives a sense of control when you need it and still offers good power and spin (dwell time) when loop-driving the ball. If you use heavy rubbers it will feel head heavy, other wise it is ok. Some people like the head heaviness for the extra power and momentum it gives, some don’t due to the extra effort required when using the wrist over the table or recovering. A surprisingly good find, thumbs up to TSP.