HEAD Graphene XT Extreme MP ASP Tennis Racquet Review
Fans of Head racquets that rely on heavy spin have long looked to the Extreme line to generate tremendous spin and easy power. With the latest update, the Graphene XT Extreme MPA, Head has taken the formula to the next level. Utilizing an updated stronger Graphene lets Head continue to move the weight to the tip and handle. The introduction of their ASP technology allows players to choose between a 16x19 pattern and an even more spin friendly 16x16 pattern. Here’s a closer look at how these new changes translate to the court.
The Extreme MPA continues the tradition of being a high powered performer from the baseline. I found easy power on both sides. The stiff, 24/26/23mm beam produces a ball that launches off the string bed with a tremendous amount of energy. The 11.2oz strung weight allows the racquet to come through the contact zone quickly and I found it easy to generate pace and spin from any area of the court, even when on the run. The weight also offers a solid level of stability, enhancing its defense against big hitters. The round head shape and 100 in size create a very generous sweet spot and helps keep the occasional mishit in then court. The differences in string pattern are definitely noticeable on groundstrokes. The 16x19 pattern offers a more controllable ball and I also found better directional accuracy on my inside out forehand with this pattern. The 16x16 pattern creates an almost unfair amount of spin. Topspin strokes kick up high off the court and created lots of problems for my opponents. However, the control was a bit more lacking and I didn’t have the same level of confidence with controlling the length and placement of my shots. Having the ASP grommets means that players will be able to utilize the pattern that best fits their game.
Volleys & serves
Aggressive net players will have a lot to enjoy with the Extreme MPA. The racquet’s power makes it easy to finish off put away volleys. The head light balance keeps the racquet fairly nimble for quick exchanges at net as well. The large sweet spot and forgiving string bed also help out on defensive and stretch volleys. The 16x19 pattern offers a bit crisper response and more access to directional control for volleys. I found the 16x16 pattern to float a few more volleys at net, resulting in points being extended instead of finished. The feedback from the racquet is adequate but I would have liked a bit more feel to execute drop and touch volleys.
Serving with this racquet was a bit of a mixed bag and will largely depend on the preferred string pattern. With the 16x19, I had better ability to direct the ball around the box and utilize a combination of pace and placement. However, my kick and slice serves didn’t move as much as I anticipated and were a bit less effective. The opposite was true when serving with the 16x16 pattern. With this pattern, I had no trouble hitting high bouncing kick serves or skidding slice serves out wide. It was more challenging trying to flatten out bigger serves. I couldn’t quite get dialed in on placing flat serves with confidence. The racquet swings through the top of the zone with ease but I found myself expecting a bit more power than I was getting on my serve. This frame does several things well on the serve but doesn’t have any one attribute that stands out as a game changing weapon.
Most players using the Extreme are probably used to the feel and response of modern style frames. This version is no different, as I found the feel to be quite stiff on contact. While this provided a very crisp response, I could also see it being hard on people with sensitive arms. It isn’t jarring on off center contact, I was just very aware of the overall stiffness of the frame. The firm feel offers great performance on groundstroke exchanges but it was also a little number than I would like when attempting touch and drop shots. Players with sensitive arms should use a softer string setup in order to maximize comfort and using the more open, 16x16 pattern could also help soften up the feel.
This update to the Extreme line continues its heritage as a powerful, spin producing frame. Baseliners will have easy access to excellent power and incredible spin with the introduction of the ASP system. The ability to change string patterns creates additional versatility for players to exploit based on their play style. The racquet is not a scalpel at net but it is maneuverable enough to be a capable performer. Players who want to play a power focused, aggressive brand of tennis from all areas of the court will definitely want to give the new Graphene XT Extreme MPA a test run on court soon.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.