The Speed line of racquet is tailor made for players who want to play with controlled aggression. It’s no wonder the racquet is endorsed by Novak Djokovic on tour. Head has freshened up the heaviest frame in the line by introducing the new Graphene XT Speed Pro. This new version implements an update version of Graphene that’s 30% stronger. This allows Head to keep more weight in the handle and head of the frame, creating a frame with a manageable overall weight that hits with the authority of a heavier racquet. Here’s a look at the on court performance of Head’s latest update.
Off the ground, I found the XT Speed Pro to be a dominant performer. The increased weight of 11.7oz strung puts serious mass behind the ball, creating heavy, penetrating shots with ease. The solid power allowed me to focus on relaxed smooth mechanics on both sides and I really enjoyed being able to plow through backhands up the line. The headlight balance kept maneuverability high and allowed me to generate more racquet head speed for greater pace and spin when needed. The solid power is matched with impressive control off the ground as well. The relatively thinner beam and 18×20 string pattern produce excellent directional accuracy. It was easy for me to dictate play and take the ball down the line or cross court with full confidence. While not as spin friendly as other frames, the Speed Pro offers solid access to spin. The tighter 18×20 pattern is helped by the whippy feel, and it allowed me to brush up the back of the ball with enough speed for solid topspin. I had no trouble keeping extra margins on my shots and then stepping in and flattening out a finisher. Stability from the backcourt was another positive for this frame. It held up well against big hitters, providing the stability necessary on defense to keep me in the point. Overall, this racquet impressed me off the ground with its mix of offensive and defensive capabilities.
Volleys & Serves
The Speed Pro plays just as well from the front of the court. There is plenty of mass to put behind high volleys and finish them. The 18×20 pattern also offers great control and I felt like I could place volleys anywhere on the court. It maneuvers into position quickly thanks to its headlight balance and I never found it sluggish during rapid exchanges. The one knock I had was that the firmer feel took a bit more getting used to for drop and touch volleys. I had the necessary control to execute, I just didn’t feel as connected to the ball as I normally like to.
Consistency is a killer when serving with the XT Speed Pro. While it may not have the overall pace of some of its competitors, it offers impressive control and variety. My flat serve lost a little bit of pace but I could move it anywhere in the box and felt confident I could hit my spots when needed. This worked great for picking aggressive spots that would let me attack the next ball. The frame was also quick enough through contact that I could create solid spin for kick and slice serves. It definitely doesn’t have the same high bouncing spin of a more open pattern frame, but there is enough spin to keep opponents guessing and pull them into compromising positions. There may not be an abundance of free points serving with this frame but it allows you to start the point firmly on offense more often than not.
The XT Speed Pro offers players a crisp, clean feel on contact. On full swings, the racquet exhibited a predictable response and I felt I knew exactly what the ball was going to do. Off center shots showed a bit more of the frames stiff layup. I felt the stiffness also required some getting used to in order to execute touch shots with confidence. I did not experience any comfort issues but this racquet does play on the firmer side. Most players concerned about comfort should be fine if they utilize a slightly softer string.
Aggressive players with more advanced strokes will reap a lot of benefits from Head’s latest update to the Speed Pro. It offers an impressive blend of control and power on both groundstrokes and serves. It also plays with solid maneuverability and response at net. This all court versatility makers the Graphene XT Speed Pro an excellent choice for anybody who wants to dictate points and make easy transitions between defense and offense.
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.