The Speed line is a highly versatile offering from Head and they want to ensure that every player has a viable option in the frame family. For players who want the playability of the MP in a lighter weight package, Head brings an all new Graphene 360+ Speed MP Lite to the fold. This update of the recently introduced MP Lite takes advantage of the addition of Spiralfibers to the layup. This softer material is used in the lower hoop to provide a more flexible, soft response without over dampening the feel on contact. With a lower weight and swingweight than the standard MP, the MP Lite is a fast swinging all court weapon perfect for developing players. Recently I got to spend some time on court with the new 360+ MP Lite to see how it performed.
The increase in swing speed of the 360+ Speed MP Lite was immediately noticeable. The 23 mm beam and 100 in head carried over and provided plenty of pop and a sizeable sweet spot. At 10.3 oz strung, the MP Lite was nearly a full ounce lighter than the MP and was lightning quick off the ground. While it lacked the authority of more mass and swingweight, the high dose of racquet head speed put plenty of pace on my groundies. I was able to load shots with pace from either wing and the fast feel made it easy to snap balls cross court on command. Accuracy was on par with other frames in its class. I had to be cautious not to be too casual as balls would sail more readily if I wasn’t hitting with intention. Spin was easy to generate from anywhere on the baseline. The high swing speed and open 16 x 19 pattern gave me plenty of lift on shots and I enjoyed the clearance I was getting on my backhand especially. The denser middle of the string pattern (Head changed this in the last model version) gave me better directional control compared to other 16 x 19 patterns in this weight class. The MP Lite was fun to use when stretched out on the run. I was able to flick passing shots both down the line and cross court thanks to the fast feel. Stability was solid, if less than the MP or Pro (to be expected). The more even balance of the MP Lite added its stability and kept twisting to a manageable level when playing against higher pace.
Volleys & Serves
The Speed MP Lite lived up to its family name at net. The quick response of the racquet made it easy for me to maneuver and take command of quick exchanges at the net. The accessible power made it easy to put away high volleys or anything left sitting. The reduced weight made the MP Lite a bit less accurate and balls floated a bit more than I wanted if I didn’t attack them all the way. When I was in attack mode, the racquet did a good job of driving volleys through the court and also allowed me to angle balls to the sides of the court. With less mass, the 360+ MP Lite was less stable against hard hit balls and body shots. It had some flutter when trying to redirect higher pace balls at the net. The softer flex and connected feel gave me confidence to mix in touch and drop volleys and I was able to effectively mix off speed volleys in while I was at the net.
On serve, the 360+ Speed MP Lite was a high velocity performer. The reduced weight made it easy for me to accelerate through contact and put plenty of pace on the ball. While my serves didn’t land with the same heavy impact of the MP or Pro, I was still able to generate enough ball speed for my first serve to be dangerous. While not as precise as other models, I found enough accuracy with the MP Lite to move the ball around the box and serve to a variety of locations. Spin production was easy to come by and was great for my kick serve. The racquet head speed and open pattern worked together to give the ball great height and action off the court. I enjoyed hitting kick serves in the deuce court and watching returners get yanked off court on a string. My slice serve wasn’t as nasty with the MP Lite, but I was still able to mix it in and slide the ball out wide in the ad court and give myself opportunities to attack.
Feel & Comfort
Much like the other 360+ models, the MP Lite was a noticeable improvement in feel. The hoop played with cleaner, more consistent feel than the outgoing model version. I appreciated the more flexible and connected feel the Spiralfiber layup helped produce. I felt I knew what the ball was doing as it left the string bed and was much more confident in mixing in touch shots during points. The MP Lite was also very comfortable. The mid 60s RA had a flexible response that didn’t feel too dampened down. Players should be able to utilize a variety of string setups in the racquet without worrying about creating arm issues.
Head provides a more accessible version of the Speed MP with this update to the MP Lite. It offers easy swinging, controllable power and enough feel and responsiveness to perform at net. It’s light enough to create spin and pace on serve and plays with improved feel and comfort. The Head Graphene 360+ Speed MP Lite is a great option for developing players looking for a well balanced racquet that is comfortable and easy to swing quickly from anywhere on court.
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.