Head Prestige Tour Racquet Review: Plenty of Prestige in a more user friendly package.
(above) A Head-to-Head comparison between an early 1990s Prestige Classic 300, and the new Graphene Touch Prestige Tour
Head Graphene Touch Prestige Tour Details
|Head Size:||99 Square inches, MP|
|Weight:||11.3 oz (strung)|
|Balance:||8 Pts Head Light|
The Prestige line of racquets from Head has always intrigued me. The first version I encountered was the Prestige Classic 300. I was just getting into tennis (circa 1995) and quickly discovered that my skills were not applicable to the 93-square-inch head size. I told myself “Someday I will be good enough to use this racquet.” Though my game improved over the years, I never gave the Prestige Classic 300 another try.
Racquets began to evolve into a true Mid-plus category at 95 to 100-square-inches. The advent of co-polyester strings greatly increased the prevalence of topspin among the professional players, but it also trickled down to college, junior, and recreational levels. I felt if I were swinging faster for more spin, I needed all the surface area possible to avoid missing the sweet spot regularly.
Fast-forward to January 2018 when Head refreshed their Prestige series and added the Graphene Touch Prestige Tour. As I read through the specs, I thought “Head has made a Prestige for me!” Or “The Prestige for dummies”.
The Tour is lighter than the Prestige MP, but not at all flimsy. The head size is larger* but only slightly so and the 18×19 string pattern is a bit more open than the MP’s traditional 18×20. Head didn’t gut the Prestige and create a completely different racquet as much as they made subtle, user-friendly tweaks to help a more diverse audience of players. Ok, enough technobabble, let’s get to the review!
*The 2018 Prestige MP, and Pro are the same size they have been for years. They are listed at 95′ because their measurement method has changed. The Tour is 99′.
Prior to using the Prestige Tour I played with the Graphene Touch Speed Pro. Usually I find the Prestige line as the Head’s most demanding, and the Speed line as more user-friendly. However, from the outset I felt more spin on my shots when using the Prestige Tour. It felt faster through the air than the Speed Pro which makes sense given the 21.5 mm beam versus the 22 mm beam on the Speed. I noticed more versatility from the back of the court with the Tour and felt quite comfortable looping higher, safer shots, or stepping in and flattening out returns. Though the Speed has the edge with regard to off-center hits, The Prestige Tour didn’t punish me for occasionally missing the sweet spot. The flex is comfortable, not too flimsy, or too firm, and the Graphene Touch blends a crisp modern feel with a response reminiscent of Prestiges of yesteryear.
I acclimated quickly with the Prestige Tour around the net. It provided reliable stability when blocking ripped passing shots or when trying to take the air out of the ball on softer touch shots. The balance aided in maneuverability and was fast-feeling around the net provided my feet did what they were supposed to do. Though this iteration of Prestige is easier to use, it is still very much a player’s frame and not a tweener racquet. The 18×19 string pattern offers a good blend of bite and control, especially in quick reflex exchanges. I am not the fastest player to the net after the serve, so I enjoyed the touch and feel on difficult mid-court half volleys.
Serving with the Prestige Tour offered excellent control, and perhaps a bit less power. The fast and thin beam made it easy to get second serves to come down on target, and even after a couple of hours, it never felt cumbersome. The Tour helped me serve a little bit more to set up the point instead of just blasting away. I might add some weight at 12 o’clock to get a little more pop on flatter first serves, but all in all I adjusted to the more control-oriented response quickly.
I am currently carrying a couple of Graphene Touch Prestige Tours in my bag and that says a lot about how much I enjoyed the frames. I felt so accomplished that I could finally use a Prestige without feeling like it was far above my level. It’s nice to see a racquet with some old school qualities like touch, feel, and flex combined with true MP head, a more spin-friendly string pattern, and faster weight. The 18×19 string spacing seems like the string pattern of the future with a blend of control and spin for today’s big-hitting ground game. I have always enjoyed how the C.A.P. grommets protect the Prestige from dings and scratches on the head. It helps keep the Prestige looking pristine!
For a second opinion on the Prestige Tour, check out this blog.
I strung the Prestige Tour with a hybrid of Diadem Solstice Power and Evolution at 48 / 54 pounds. I also replaced the Head Hydrosorb Pro grip with a Head Leather Tour grip to increase the weight slightly and make the racquet feel a bit more headlight. For reference, I have a USTA 5.0 rating and play right handed with a two-handed backhand.
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