HEAD Graphene Prestige Pro Tennis Racquet Review
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The Head Graphene Prestige Pro sports a slight redesign from its predecessor, yet it still has the features that have made the series so popular. Unlike some of the other frames in the Graphene line, the distribution of mass within the hoop is spread more evenly throughout, which aids in creating momentum during the swing, and plowthrough at contact. The frame felt slightly more firm than its 63 RA rating, and though it felt a little boardy at first, the 16x19 string pattern was soft and lively once the strings (Head Hawk) broke in. As the feel and power improved, the level of control and predictable response declined. When I took a big cut at the ball, I occasionally had to worry about sailing the ball long. After spending a good amount of time adjusting to keep the ball in the court (lower trajectory, more topspin, etc), I ultimately found that I just needed to slow down my swing speed (to about 60-70%), and hit with a more deliberate stroke. Even at that reduced tempo, I was still able to rip shots and create a surprising amount of ball speed. On defense, I struggled to find the right trajectory on my slices, and had a difficult time clawing my way back into points. As long as I controlled the rally, and managed my swing speed, the Prestige Pro did its job.
I had more luck controlling the power of the Prestige Pro at the net. I found the frame easy enough to maneuver and get into position quickly to play back screaming passing shots and low dippers. The combination of frame stiffness, weight, and power from the string bed made blasting put-aways a breeze. Digging out and placing shoestring volleys was also remarkably simple. I did experience some twisting and frame buzz when making contact outside of the sweetspot, but not to the extent of ruining my impression of the racquet. And, while the feel was more stiff/crisp than I prefer, the performance of the Graphene Prestige Pro at net was more than satisfying.
If I had to choose the one thing the Prestige Pro does best, it would be serving. As long as you can let the racquet work for you, instead of muscling the ball, the frame performs almost impeccably. Once again, the combination of weight (and its distribution throughout the frame), stiffness, and string pattern can produce a scorching speeder up the T, or a bending slice/kicker out wide with great precision. When testing the frame against a few other models, it instantly made me aware that I was trying too hard, and not letting the frame accelerate naturally. Once I corrected this by relaxing my arm and letting gravity and momentum work for me, the serve instantly improved.
The Prestige Pro is the most solid feeling member of the Graphene Prestige family, thanks to the mass and medium stiffness of the hoop (the other 98 square inch models, including the Prestige MidPlus and Prestige S, feature heads with more of the mass concentrated at the top of the hoop and are more hollow feeling from 10-1 o’clock area to the throat). While I found the frame to be a little erratic from the baseline, it volleys well and serves like a champion. If given the chance, I would experiment with a hybrid string set up at a slightly higher tension to see if that would improve the response of the string bed from the baseline. I might also try adding a little lead to the 3 and 9 o’clock locations on the head to try and counter the slight twisting issue. The Prestige Pro is best suit for players with accomplished strokes and technique.
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.