For 2013, Head has chosen to make some changes to their highly successful Speed MP frame that should increase power and maneuverability. It’s always a risk changing a popular model, but Head’s new Graphene technology promises to make it worthwhile.
By using Graphene to make a lighter racquet shaft, Head has been able to take the leftover weight and place it in the head and handle areas of the frame. This has enabled racquet weights to stay pretty much the same, but swingweight has increased noticeably. So, by leaving weight in the racquet, Head has increased power, but maintained, and even increased, other performance characteristics, offering players a more powerful and efficient racquet with greater stability.
The extra weight in the racquet head leads to increased ability of the racquet tip to accelerate and “plow through” the ball from the baseline, allowing you not only more power, but also the ability to fight off your opponent’s strongest shots. Extra weighting in the handle helps keep the racquet from recoiling, or kicking back, in your hand at net, allowing better control and less stress on the arm.
Another interesting twist to Head’s Graphene series is the drilling of the string holes. At the top, all of the “main” main strings (the first 6) are drilled at an angle coming straight down the head, instead of at an angle, reminiscent of Babolat’s Woofer system (where they differ from the Woofer design is that the center mains at the throat are not drilled this way). The more direct alignment of the center main strings should make for less friction from string movement and more direct power transference on all shots.
From the Baseline
The Speed MP’s lower weight (vs the Pro) allows for a little more ability to “snap” the racquet up the back of the ball when hitting topspin, a feeling more like “new school” frames like the Wilson BLX Blade, and quite in line with the modern style of play.
All in all, the Graphene Speed MP is well-suited to today’s baseline style of play if you have the necessary racquet speed.
At Net and Serving
The head light balance of the Speed MP also makes it a fine choice for big serves and smashes, as it is very easy to swing up overhead. The narrow beams and lower flex make it a little underpowered unless you have your own racquet speed, but control of high-powered shots is excellent. Spin serves are enhanced by the open pattern, and you should be able to hit serves and overheads for hours without the frame jarring your joints.
The bumper guard is solid and has a nice depth to the string groove, which should provide good string protection from aggressive net play. The paint job is quite “active”, using black and white primary colors blended nicely with orange trim. The butt cap is classic Head, meaning it flares out quite nicely, and the bottom of it is wide enough that you can hold it low on big serves without worry of it flying out of your hand.