HEAD Graphene Prestige Midplus Tennis Racquet Review
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Though the Head Graphene Prestige Midplus took some getting used to (the full string bed of Head Hawk felt too stiff for my game), the performance of the frame improved significantly as the strings broke in. From the baseline, the trajectory of the ball off the strings was the lowest of the entire Graphene Prestige line-up, thanks to the 18x20 string pattern. Most of the time, I was able to create enough spin to keep the ball landing in front of the baseline especially when whipping up on the ball. The concentration of mass in the top of the hoop is ideal for more vertical swings, but unfortunately, the overall weight of the frame can make that a challenge. Players must make sure they are equipped to handle the 11.8 ounce weight. Early preparation and decision making are key. However, when hitting with proper technique and timing, the weight of the racquet provides enough power to blast your opponent off of the court. In defensive situations, I was able to stay in the point, but gaining control required a good amount of work.
The combination of the mass in the top of the head and the high static weight results in a slightly sluggish feel while playing the net. Despite this feeling of reduced maneuverability, the quality of my volleys did not decline, and I never felt late to the ball. The mass of the frame provided enough stability to pop back shots hit directly at me, and enough plow to destroy any high sitters with a swinging volley or overhead. The thin beam allowed me to comfortably carve, and to get under dippers at my feet. I had good control over all of my shots, from deep set-up volleys, to put-aways, and droppers/short angles. Like on my groundies, the frame tended to twist on off-center hits, and I didn’t love the quality of frame vibration from contact (which is a result of the stiffness of the frame).
I struggled to find my usual pace on serves. Flats, slices, and kicks all seemed dialed down a notch compared to my regular frame (and compared to the other Prestige models), and I never found a comfortable fluidity. While I found decent power when rallying with groundstrokes, hitting a ball without any incoming force (like a drop feed or serve toss) was a much different experience. I did find good access to spin, and even better access to placement, which enabled me to stay ahead in my service games.
Many frames with a concentration of mass in the top of the hoop tend to hinder my directional control: this was not the case with the Graphene Prestige Midplus. Though I prefer more mass in the 3 and 9 o’clock locations on the hoop, my directional control did not suffer when using the frame. It performed well in battle, and was great when redirecting a powerful shot from my opponent. Unfortunately, the lack of pace on serves is a major issue, but could be addressed with proper string choice and tension. The frame has a very distinct feel (which I could probably get used to). It seems that the stiffness of the frame accentuates the feeling of hollowness in the throat and lower hoop, though the top of the hoop feels very solid.
Accomplished players (4.5 and up) that can create their own power while facing advanced opponents are best suited to handle this frame. For players looking for a little more pop, but like the heft of the Midplus, can look to the Prestige Pro. Players looking for more pop and spin in a lighter package should check out the Prestige S.
About the Reviewer: Mitch Case is the Tennis Director at Woodridge Lake in Connecticut. He is also a PTR pro and a USRSA master technician.