HEAD Graphene Prestige S Tennis Racquet Review
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The new Graphene Prestige S, like most of the new Graphene frames from Head, features a polarized distribution of mass. This means, the mass is shifted away from the throat, and towards the handle and top of the hood. With the Prestige S, this results in a fast and whippy feeling frame. The combination of speed and maneuverability helped when hitting one handed topspin backhands above my shoulders, as I was able to produce enough depth and spin to keep my opponent from attacking. On shots within the strike zone, I had a little trouble finding my groove, as my strokes are not incredibly whippy. At my normal swing speed, flat drives would sail more often than usual, forcing me to increase the amount of topspin on the ball. As a result, the ball would then land short, or in the net. Once I adjusted to raise the trajectory of my shots, I was able to create a consistently deep, topspin ball. Even with a full bed of poly (Head Hawk), the response of the racquet is very comfortable, and I gravitated towards it when coaching/feeding/lightly hitting. It stands up fairly well against strong opponents, but would benefit from some additional weight.
Though the lightness of the frame reduces the potential stability on off-center hits, the softness of the string bed mitigates some of the racquet twisting. The 16x19 string pattern pockets the ball nicely and made putting the ball away a breeze. The thin beam and maneuverability allowed me to easily carve and manipulate the ball, which is one of the things I enjoy most while playing the net.
The weight of the Prestige S is easy to accelerate on serves, and produces great results. The racquet stays under control throughout the entire service motion, making it very easy to manipulate the ball. Though a little tinkering here or there with some lead tape could really make it shine, I never felt the need to add weight to enhance the serve. Flat serves were fast and accurate (the Pro is probably the most accurate feeling of all the Graphene Prestiges), thanks to the racquet speed and ball pocketing. Spin serves had good movement, and were easy to move around in the box. The top of the hoop comes over the hand very quickly at contact, so players used to frames with more weight in the lower portion of the stick may net the first few serves.
I found the Head Graphene Prestige S to be the most versatile of all the Graphene Prestige models. Its thin beam, light weight, and flexibility provide an excellent platform for a wide range of players: all-courters will like the ability to carve and manipulate the ball, while baseliners will enjoy the whippiness and easy access to spin. I can see both singles and doubles players appreciating this frame, thanks to its feel, performance on serves, and quickness. In stock form, it handles intermediate/advanced play well, but heavy hitters will definitely want to add some weight. This frame is best suited for advancing 3.5 level players and stronger.
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.