Having dropped a few remarks about Rozena before and being challenged to do a proper review I thought, well, why not.
I'm a Tenergy renegade. A lot of T05 I liked, ut as Scott Yu so succinctly put it, I'm probably just not good enough for the entire dog & pony show. What worked for me: opening up, usually leading to a decisive advantage even if not a immediate winner. When pressed, it also enabled strong comebacks from second position. Yet not everything worked; the short game, service reception, they remained insufficiently robust. There you have it, just not good enough. Adding insult to injury, I also made debilitating errors instead of killing counters/blocks, and flat hits in general became a strange hit and miss thing. And I loathed having that intuitive, natural kill shot's confidence undermined. Yes, powerful spinny loops, and yes, stupid errors when applying caution.
So I was curious about Rozena, and ot to play with it about an hour with Rozena 2.1 on Stiga Emerald VPS V. There was a Mantra H 2.0 on that frame as well. Later, I got to hit with Rozena 2.1 mounted on FH and BH of a Stiga Offensive Classic Carbon frame. I'll go through a few basic techniques.
Service took a little getting used to. At first my serves were a bit long, and it took some effort to adapt. Service being a relative weakness of mine, I could still perform my repertoire with confidence and with good results after that. Short and spinny, fast and long, these went well. For some or other reason I had excellent results in imparting heavy sidespin. Which of course then bit me back when returned. (Just. Not. ...) Underspin serves, nospin serves: yes. Certainly better than T05 (for me), and on a par with other modernish rubbers I know well: Rasant Grip, Vega Pro get me about the same results.
Service reception was a relief compared to T05, offering me a much wider range of options. More passive approaches worked well too, whereas I could get by using T05 in a gung-ho mode, attacking everything even when too risky (for me). I felt surer even than my regular go-to gear, especially on the OCC. Active reception of short serves by flicking, kill-flicking or banana-flicking felt certain too (within the confines of my abilities, that is), but less lethal than with T05. Or Rasant Grip. Or Rasanter. Quite near to Vega Pro, to my taste.
Short game is where Rozena shone. I had an immediate sense of control in touch play, with precision placement and excellent feel of varying spin - either loading it, or slightly lifting it and making it deadish (and probably pop up a bit), all that went confidently.
I'm not a defender and while I tried a few chops, I don't dare to remark about that. But I can make a few remarks about lobbing and such. When pressured from the table, Rozena gave me safety in lobs. You need power and speed, and Rozena has it. I've dealt with other rubbers, though, that are harder to use this way when having to deal with stray or strange sidespin. The type of ball you get on slight mishits, or when you meet one of these strange fellows that manage an aggressive attack with long pimples. Rozena suffered less there, and you can have lots of fun loading up lobs with your own spin and wreak havoc that way. Also, once you're in position to fight your way back to the table...
Counters, blocks and flat hits are excellent. I like spinning on both wings near the table, and closing in for a kill with a direct hit, taking the ball right of the bounce. That goes for active blocks especially, aggressively punching your opponent's supposedly lethal spins back like speeding bullets. Rozena behaves well here, with a great sound upon impact. The feeling is crisper than T05, Rasant Grip, Rasanter, but slightly less so than Mantra H, Vega Pro. Rozena, for me, is a far better rubber for direct hits (all kinds of them) than T05 ever was. Opening up a loop, then closing in for the kill? Absolute confidence with Rozena. (As with Mantra H, or Vega Pro. Not with T05, not with Rasant Grip, not with Rasanter.)
Looping with Rozena put a smile on my face immediately. For it recalled the good things about T05, albeit a bit duller. Once you relax that swing you feel the ball being chewed up and spat out, in that special way. Rasant Grip and Rasanter have that feeling too, but Rozena (and T05, even more) are much heavier-handed here. Rozena is like Vega Pro here with a similar feel, but to me it felt Rozena just chewed on that ball a bit longer and harder. Counterloops work well, with one caveat: you need to put in more power, more stroke, than you would with T05. Once you get the power in, you get great safety and a good arc. I don't know why (just. not...), but the thing is my opponents tell me that with T05 and Rozena the first few loops are heavily loaded, and the consecutive ones slightly less so. With Rasant Grip, Vega Pro, Rasanter they tell me my opening/first few loops are slightly less spinny, but the third, fourth get ever more loaded. This is obviously my deficiency. For now, I'm not sure which I prefer.
Fun and balance is what I got out of Rozena. Table tennis not being a single player game, you need to adapt to your opponent. If things don't work out, you need to change your game and try other options. These options need to be there, then. Rozena did let me change my game with confidence. But it doesn't do that in the "servant of all, master of none" kind of way; it really brings things to the table, for me at least. Excellent service reception, both active and passive. Disturbingly short passive blocks, very speedy active blocks with amazing control; counters, smashes - including hitting through underspin and wonky, wobbly balls — with confidence. Loops bring a smile to your face, with gracious arcs, good power and good feedback. You feel you hit it right, you hear you did it right. Your opponent does so to, and some get to fear that sound.
So Rozena yes or no? Certainly, you can file it away as T05's dimmer sibling. But that doesn't do it justice. Rozena brings a good balance, in its own way. In the end, I pretty much don't care if I win or lose. What matters is playing with fun, feeling connected to the game and knowing that what you feel you're doing right actually does work. Rozena has some of that safety to offer, while still offering tons o'fun. Nice one, BTY.