TSP Yanagi Alpha DEF (2008 Version)

by Varghese on September 12, 2008

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Ply: 3 Yanagi (Willow), thick center & thinner outer layers
Speed: Slow
Handle : Straight only
Weight: +/- 85g
Head lenght: 165mm
Head width: 160mm
Thickness: 6mm
Handle lenght: 100mm
Handle thickness: 21mm


I have felt more confident of playing with TSP Yanagi Alpha blade yesterday. This is a very stable cut blade like XIOM Aigis and Joola Chen Weixing, however it is slower in speed. The Speed is almost the same of TSP BalsaFiber 3.5. The TSP Yanagi Alpha is very similar to Butterfly Matsushita Pro Model, the best selling blade from Butterfly. It has a cool and compact handle like Matsushita Pro Model - not round but oval. I have noticed the outer layer of TSP Yanagi Alpha is little thicker than Matsushita Pro Model or Butterfly Defense II – the thickness of the whole blade is the same. In addition to this, the wood is very different. The wood has more hinoki wood color while the wood in butterfly wood has more plywood look. The weight of Yanagi Alpha is 84 gm. TSP has released two different versions of Yanagi in the past. There is one with 3 plies and one with 5 plies. The version that I have tested with is a 2008 year version. It is a three plies blade but is faster. It has large sweet spot and is soft. However I have found the spin and speed vary throughout the face of the blade because it is not too stiff but has good flex for top spin game. The blade is semi-large.


The TSP Yanagi with softer sponge rubbers can generate vibration to the blade when it gets poundings from a heavy top spin attack. I hate vibrations. So, it is recommended to use some hard sponge rubbers.


The TSP Yanagi Alpha is designed to play defense at both wings – backhand and forehand. But I have played offense on my forehand with Yanagi. It is not faster as XIOM Aigis to play away from the table offense, but close to the table it can play any shots. Against a looper, I have tried to counter his top spin loops like I used to do with XIOM Aigis or Joola Chen Weixing. It is little hard to counter loop against top spin, but redirecting the top spin back to the opponent has good effect. This is where the rubber is very important. I have tried hard and soft rubbers on TSP Yanagi Alpha. With TSP Real which is a hard sponge rubber, I was able to counter heavy top spin. That was the case with XIOM Omega III also. I have tried XIOM Omega I, Omega II, Omega II, ZETA and Butterfly Tenergy on it. All these rubbers performed well with this blade.

The Willow wood on TSP Yanagi can withstand heavy impact from hits and slows the ball in a great amount. This is where some players who are used to other defensive+ blades will be disatisfied. The rebound speed is very low. A 75 miles per hour travelling ball can be slowed down to half the speed. When you counter such shorts, the blade requires a lot of acceleration and forward force. A player who does not have good arm swing can’t play offensive shots with this blade. To compensate for the slow rebound, I had to use speed glue built-in rubbers like XIOM Omega II. Such rubbers rebound the ball fast.


The speed of TSP Yanagi Alpha is lower than XIOM Aigis, Joola Chen Weixing, Butterfly Defense II and Nittaku Willtria. It lacks little power for top spin game. I had swing well to generate top spin. I have tied XIOM Omega III Euro Max on my forehand. There is tremendous speed that comes from XIOM Omega III. I was able to play very crispy spinny top spin loops with that set up. The amazing thing is that I had a great amount of control keeping the ball low. This is because the ball dwells a lot to the rubber and I had great control where I wanted to loop the ball. I had more control with TSP Yanagi than TSP BalsaFiber 3.5 for such a shot. The Butterfly Defense II,  Joola Chen Weixing and XIOM Aigis are faster blades and play very well all round game, but the TSP Yanagi is not an all round blade - I would call it a DEF+ blade. I had to use my forearm to loop well – with the faster blades you can use small forearm movement. I was also able to chop well with my forehand which I rarely do – the euro version of Omega II helped me in that regard.

I had TSP Curl P1R 1.3 mm on the backhand. I have notice a change in speed when I have used Omega II and ZETA on the forehand. The glue effect of such rubbers made the bh also little faster. When I have used TSP Real, Actor or BJorn on the forehand, I have not noticed any speed difference.


I have used TSP Curl p1r 1.3 on my backhand. When I had the same set up with TSP BalsaFiber, the push was one of the hardest shot to play. With the TSP Yanagi Alpha, I had better control and felt confident of occasional hits with the long pips. Like TSP BalsaFiber 3.5, the no spin and heavy underspin balls need to be handled very well. Playing against players who don’t put much spin need a great amount of attention. The short no spin balls need more acceleration as well as long no spin balls need good handling. I have lost more points against such short spinny under spin balls. I have played against a hard bat player as well as a player who has chopping rubber on one side and super anti on the other side - he plays with Seemiller grip. I had hard time generating modern or extreme top spin with Yanagi and hard sponge rubber (Omega I Asian, Tenergy) combination.


With XIOM Omega II Euro Max and TSP Curl P1R 1.3 on TSP Yanagi Alpha weigh 166 gm.

Defense & Offense

The TSP Yanagi Alpha is a very stable cut defensive blade. It has very good attacking possibilities if any new generating rubber like XIOM Omega II or Omega III is used on its forehand. You can play very active defensive or modern defensive game with this blade - the dream of you becoming another Koji Matsushita or Chen Weixing.

This blade suit classic defensive players too. The classic defensive players who would like to chop on their forehand can go for TSP Tripple Power Chop or Butterfly Tackiness Chop II on the forehand. The long pips that can fit Yanagi Alpha are like TSP Curl P1R or XIOM Guillotine. I would not recommend 0.5 sponge but something higher like 1.3 mm. I have tried TSP Curl P1R 1.6 mm with Yanagi and I have found, it has high throw and is difficult to defend and to keep the ball on the table. The XIOM Guillotine add the possibility of hitting.


I have won third in the Blue Host tournament (September 20, 2008) with this blade. I have used XIOM Omega III Euro Max on the forehand and TSP Curl P1R 1.3 on the backhand.


The TSP Yanagi looks very similar to Marty Reisman’s “The Money Player” hard bat. I have checked an old “the Money Player” blade, so the wood color was aged. But I think both are made of the same willow wood. The TSP Yanagi looks similar to Butterfly Matsushita Pro Alpha also, but the wood and the fiber being used on Matsushita Pro Alpha are different.

Who should use it?

The TSP Yanagi suits classic as well as moden defensive players. For a modern defensive play, it is required to find a faster rubber on the forehand. The short pips players like Gao Jun of the US will like this blade because of its excellent control.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

kenrick April 4, 2009 at 6:20 am

nice review. By any chance, have you heard TSP toccata? I heard is really good defensive blade but nobody that i know have personally use the blade. It will be nice if you can put up review for that infamous tsp blade.

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