When HEAD launched the Extreme racquet line many thought it was their answer to the popular Babolat Pure Drive racquet. The more roundish head shape, open string pattern, and tapered beam provided a similar package to the Pure Drive, but in a contrasting bright yellow cosmetic. As the Extreme series has evolved it has developed an identity of its own and like the latest iteration, the Graphene 360 Extreme Pro continues to separate itself from other frames on the market. The evolution from Graphene Touch to Graphene 360 provides more stability and ball speed by infusing the tech throughout the hoop, in addition to the throat. Players can expect a more solid, less-polarized feel at impact.
Richard Gasquet endorses the Extreme Pro, and his game is representative of the angles, artistry and variety the Extreme is capable of. The Extreme Pro is HEAD’s most spin-friendly performance frame due to the wider spaced main strings that run through the sweet spot. The mains move a lot when striking rally shots, but when paired with a slick co-polyester string the snap back effect is profound. At times I hit topspin drives and expected the ball to fly long, but had to prepare for the reply as my shot actually dove inside the baseline. The Extreme Pro didn’t feel like a “Pro” in terms of weight, and though the swing weight is up there (towards 330), the racquet didn’t feel hard to maneuver through the air. I greatly enjoyed mixing up the spin and depth of my shots with the Extreme Pro, and can sum up the groundstroke experience in one word: versatility.
Serves & Returns
The best thing I can say about serving with the Extreme Pro is that the service box seemed bigger. I felt like I was able to strike harder, flatter serves deep in the box, but also use the string bed to create kick serves and slice angles to move my opponent off the court. There is a lot of extra power to be found just above the typical sweet spot, and when you strike it consistently you will notice more of your first serves coming back short or not at all.
It’s easy to get dialed in when returning big serves with the Extreme Pro. You can shorten up the back swing and use the racquet’s weight to block the ball back deep with ease. Because of the 21mm beam at the throat, the racquet has a unique flex and it does take some adjustment. On the first few returns, I wasn’t a fan of the flex because I thought I was losing power or missing the sweet spot. But while the flex is there for comfort and feel, the racquet’s beam widens in the head so the stability and power is there, it just has different feel to it.
The same controlled flex from the back court is also an asset up at net. In some ways the Extreme Pro volleys like a thinner beamed control racquet. It takes good footwork and technique to direct volleys to their targets. The heavier weight of the Pro is more obvious at the net and it is not as easy to carve the ball or maneuver the frame quickly in tight quarters. For me, this is where the Pro is more demanding compared to the Extreme MP and Lite.
The Extreme Pro is not at all a typical thick beam tweener racquet. There is power to be had, but also a notably soft, flexible response at contact. Graphene 360 continues making HEAD racquets more stable and comfortable. We didn’t get an Extreme Pro in the last generation so it’s a welcome return in the Graphene 360 Extreme line. The frame offers improved stability and comfort, to go along with power and easy access to spin. If you are looking for something on the more comfortable side of a heavier tweener racquet, the HEAD Graphene 360 Extreme Pro is worth a look.
Note: The playtest racquet was strung with Head Lynx 16G at 52 pounds.
About the Reviewer: Sam Jones currently works at Tennis Express on the Content Marketing team. He previously played at Southwestern University, taught tennis for 10+ years and earned his USRSA Master Racquet Technician Certification in 2011. He is an active NTRP 5.0 League and Tournament player.