HEAD Graphene XT Prestige S Tennis Racquet Review
Head’s Prestige racquet is a tradition rich line built on classic feel and control. Formerly a frame that required advanced skill and strength to wield, Head has done an admirable job expanding the line and making it more accessible to a variety of players. The new Head Graphene XT Prestige S represents the latest attempt to increase the accessibility of the model. Its layup takes advantage of Graphene XT, which is 30% stronger than Graphene, to continue moving weight to the tip and tail for optimal power and swing speed. I hit the court with the latest Prestige S recently and recorded my thoughts on its performance.
Groundstrokes with the XT Prestige S were a lesson in precision aggression. The racquet displayed a fairly low power level overall. The thinner 22mm beam and flexible construction require the player to bring most of the power to the table. When I was getting my weight behind shots I found a solid amount of power but if my technique lagged or I was out of position, I found it more challenging to create the necessary depth from either wing. The racquet’s headlight balance and manageable 11.3oz strung weight made it easy to accelerate through contact and add racquet head speed to my shots. The frame really shined when it came to control. The 98in head exhibited a lot of precision and I was able to pick aggressive targets and the low power ensured I didn’t over hit. The fast feel and control really let me attack with my backhand crosscourt by taking the ball on the rise. Spin production was ample. The 16x19 pattern allowed me to create enough spin to play with safe margins as needed while still giving me the control over the string bed to flatten out short balls. I found a bit more stability with this model as compared to the Rev Pro but I still would add a touch of weight in the hoop to minimize flutter against big hitting opponents.
Volleys & serves
Volleys with the XT Prestige S served as an excellent reminder of the racquet’s classic player heritage. It had exceptional maneuverability thanks to its headlight balance and I had no issues taking control of exchanges at the net. The solid mass allowed the frame to finish off high balls and volleys I had good positioning on. When stretched out or on defense, I would have appreciated a larger sweet spot and a bit more free power. The directional control at net was well above average. I was able to move the ball out of the center of the court and play aggressively at net with confidence. The flexible design and improved feel of this model also allowed me to mix in a variety of touch and drop volleys to keep opponents out of balance.
The XT Prestige S offered a variety of options on serve. The increased mass made flat serves a bit more penetrating than the Rev Pro. I had no trouble generating solid swing speed to add some pace to my first serve. Overall though, I still missed the free power of other frames as I really had to put maximum effort into my first serve if I wanted to hit it big. Precision was as excellent on serve as it was from other areas of the court. I was able to consistently place the ball where I needed to in order to start the point on offense. While the racquet didn’t produce off the charts levels of spin, there was still enough to ensure that kick and slice serves could be used effectively.
The entire lineup of Graphene XT Prestiges was a strong improvement over the previous model. I found those racquets to feel hollow and much stiffer than classic models. The XT Prestige S has a much smoother response and feel. The flexibility worked to create good ball pocketing and a well connected feel on contact. This improved feel gave me confidence to utilize touch shots from all over the court. Fans of a softer response and more comfort will enjoy this racquet. It did a solid job absorbing vibration, even on off center contact. Even players with sensitive arms should be able to play this racquet with minimal concerns.
The XT Prestige S offers up classic feel and control in a frame that is easy to swing and has a solid spin level. It is capable of precise targeting off the ground and can play an attacking game at the net. While not the most powerful frame, talented juniors and intermediate players who want to play an all court game will find an excellent balance of control, maneuverability and feel with the new Head Graphene XT Prestige S.
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.