Any time the words “Head Prestige” come up in a tennis discussion, purists ears prick up. With such a long, storied history, any update Head makes to the line is met with interest and scrutiny. With the new Graphene 360+ Prestige Mid, Head looks to further modernize the frame while retaining its classic sensibilities. New to this model is the use of Graphene 360+. The + denotes the use of Spiralfibers at the 5 and 7 position of the hoop for improved flex and feel on contact. Gone is the old school 18 x 20 pattern of Prestige Mids of yore, replaced by a more modern 16 x 19. It should also be noted that the Prestige now uses the handle shape from the Speed line (as does the Radical), the thought being that people may be more inclined to try the Prestige if it has a more universal handle shape. Having hit with Prestiges from a variety of generations, I was interested to see how this new Mid would blend tradition and advancement.
The Prestige Mid was a surgical strike tool from the back of the court. The 93 inch head size didn’t offer a ton of forgiveness for mishits but was sweet anytime I made contact in the sweet spot. The flat 20 mm beam didn’t offer a lot of free power, but the 11.8 oz strung weight provided good mass behind the ball. If I prepared adequately and on time, I was rewarded with solid groundstrokes that had pace and depth to them. The relatively headlight balance also allowed me to accelerate through my strokes, helping me generate the necessary pace to play offense. Precision was excellent with this racquet. I was able to target the corners and lines and hit them reliable. Controlling rallies was more about moving the ball around the court and executing my patterns than it was about overpowering my opponent. Spin was reasonably easy to come by from the frame’s 16 x 19 pattern. It wasn’t a spin monster, but my shots had plenty of net clearance and movement to them. The high 320s swingweight lent strong stability to the Prestige Mid despite its thin beam and compact head. I was able to deflect pace and defend reasonably well. The racquet took a bit more effort to turn around rallies when I was on defense, but I could still find some running winners or cross court dippers.
Volleys & Serves
In a surprise to no one, the Prestige Mid shined during net play. It had incredibly quick maneuvering and I found it easy to stay in front of rapid-fire exchanges. The half CAP setup made the hoop feel easier to bring around than if it had used full CAP grommets. I had to expend a bit more energy to dispatch volleys outright but ultimately the racquet could snap off winners off most balls left up for me. Control was the true highlight of net play. I was able to direct my volleys anywhere I wanted to. Whether it was hitting the corners or angling the ball off court, I felt I could do it all when at the net. The mid 60s RA gave the racquet a solid amount of feel and flex for executing drop and touch volleys. The frame’s stability was also an asset on volleys. It was able to soak up big hit balls and redirect them with little fuss. There was some occasional wobble with the thin beam, but it was far outshined by all the positives of net play with the Prestige Mid.
Serving with the 360+ Prestige Mid meant potentially bringing a knife to a gun fight. It was never going to have the outright power of some of the other modern frames. As long I as I applied a healthy dose of energy, the mass and acceleration of the frame gave me adequate pop on my first serve. My first serve was much more about location, location, location. I went for tight targets up the T or out wide and was often rewarded by the racquet’s precision. The ability to vary the location of my serve proved to be a very effective tool. On second serve, I found average spin for kick and slice serves. My kick serve, thought it moved well, didn’t have enough extra pace to it to be truly effective. Slices serves worked a bit better as the frame’s mass drive the ball low through the court, allowing me the chance to attack behind it.
Despite the stiffness value of the 360+ Prestige increasing compared to the last version, I found it to play with good flex and a more connected feel. The previous Touch model was muted down to the point that I felt disconnected from the ball. The new Mid gave me that connection to the ball back without overly increasing the frame’s stiffness. The result was a frame that flexed reasonably on contact and had a consistent, uniform feel across the string bed. The slightly more open 16 x 19 also made it play more comfortably than it would have as a dense 18 x 20 in a small head size. The addition of Spiralfibers gave the racquet a clean, smooth feel on contact and I didn’t notice any undue harshness, even off center. From a comfort perspective, most players should have no problem using their string of choice in this frame without issue.
With such a long, storied past, Head is unlikely to ever let the Prestige line fade away. The new Mid is an interesting blend of classic and modern touches. It plays with exceptional control and accuracy while providing a bit easier pop and spin than the Mids of old. Players who want to attack first and use variety and guile to lead the way will enjoy this frame. The Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Mid is an excellent first strike tool for players who emphasize precision and feel, but don’t want to lose out on some pace and spin.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke formerly served for 3 years as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho. He is a PTR certified coach and is an active USTA 4.5 League and Tournament player.