BY ZOË BODZAS
With a design that merges wood and graphite, Lacoste's LT12 tennis racket is now available in an edition of 650. The LT12 represents a contemporary model that borrows from a traditional wood racket and applies innovative graphite technology to the frame. The LT12's wood element features an inner periphery of low-density line, and outer periphery of walnut (to support its core), and balsa oriented toward the racket's center (to dampen variation and strengthen its structure). This wood blend, comprising 70 percent of the frame, has been chosen specifically to stabilize the racket, to allow for easy gripping, and to reduce polar inertia. "Wood means comfort, and also a flashback in time," says French tennis legend and Lacoste ambassador Guy Forget. The final 30 percent of the frame is made of high modulus graphite, contributing to increased ball speed and control. Inspiration for the hybrid piece derives from a meeting between two experts: Alain Gallais, René Lacoste's historical collaborator, and French ski artisan Alain Zanco. "First a prototype was produced, and we tested it on the courts," Forget says of the racket-making process, which took three years total. "Then we fine-tuned the racket and went to test it in labs to know the true specifications."