PRINCE Tour Pro 98 Tennis Racquet Review
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The Prince Tour Pro 98 offers something that some Prince fans have been waiting for in recent years: a performance model with a solid beam and traditional grommets (lacking the O-ports). The overall frame design is comparable to the other Tour 98 models (previously named the Rebel 98), but sports an 18x20 string pattern. When I first started hitting with the frame, the sweet spot felt huge and pretty powerful. I was immediately surprised by the amount of spin I was able to create despite the dense string pattern. The performance of the frame while driving flat and slice shots was solid. For me, the strongest aspect of the frame is how well it plays on feel/touch shots, as I felt very connected to the ball: I never felt out of control, or unable to predict how the ball would move off of the racquet. It did play a little light for my tastes, as I was expecting more heft based on its name. I would certainly add lead tape to bring up the static weight, and possibly make the balance a little more head light (but I like heavy racquets).
The balance of the racquet works very well at the net, and while transitioning to the net. I found good control and feel when approaching with half-volleys or low groundies. Slices resulted in nice low shots, which made for easy volleys. And, I really enjoyed the connected-to-the-ball feeling I had while playing more precise shots. Drop volleys and soft short angles were a breeze to execute, and I found enough power in the stringbed to put away any sitters. I didn’t have any trouble with the maneuverability of the frame, and was able to quickly react to offensive passing shots.
I was very surprised and impressed with how well the Tour Pro 98 hit spin serves. After hitting some of my highest kicks with an 100 square-inch, 16x19 frame, I immediately topped them with the Tour Pro 98. My hitting partner, who is around 5’10” or 5’11”, had to reach up well over his head to hit some of them back. For an 18x20 pattern, the Tour Pro 98 can do some damage on kickers. I did not have as awesome an experience on flat serves, but still found enough power and precision to get the job done. I think some adjustments to the balance point of the racquet would help in this respect, so a little lead tape would go a long way.
I enjoyed playing with the Tour Pro 98. It offers more spin potential than most 18x20 patterns, and the sweet spot is forgiving. And while spin potential is a great selling point, I can see players that employ more traditional/flat grips enjoying the performance of the Tour Pro 98. Though the feel of the frame is very comfortable, but I would have liked a little more weight and head light balance (nothing a little lead under the grip couldn’t fix). The frame will work well for a wide variety of players, from intermediate through advanced. 3.0 players and stronger will be best suited for this model.
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.