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HEAD Graphene Speed S Tennis Racquet Review

Racquet Specs

  • Head Size: 100 sq. in.
  • Length: 27 inches
  • Weight: Strung — 10.7 oz Unstrung — 10.1 oz
  • Tension: 48-57 Pounds
  • Balance: 1 Pt Head Heavy
  • Beam Width: 22mm
  • Composition: Graphite/Graphene
  • Flex: 68
  • Grips Type: Hydrosorb Pro
  • Power Level: Low-Moderate
  • String Pattern: 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
    Shared Holes: 7T, 8H, 7H, 8H Mains Skip: None
    Two Piece
  • Swing Speed: Medium
  • Swing Weight: 314

HEAD Graphene Speed S Tennis Racquet Review

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Head has a full line of Speed series frames this year, just as in 2012. The Graphene Speed S replaces the YouTek Speed Elite for 2013, promising to build upon and improve that model’s reputation for feel and easy swinging power.

Head  YouTek Graphene Speed S Tennis Racquet

Graphene Explained
Graphene is the lightest, strongest material in the world, and Head had used it in a very innovative manner in its racquets. In the past, racquet manufacturers have used lightweight materials to reduce overall racquet weight significantly, and have had to dramatically increase head weighting to maintain a stable hitting platform. This use of technology has increased swingweight and power, but has reduced other areas of racquet performance where weight is a bonus, like recoilweight (resistance to “kicking back” in the hand at net) and twistweight (resistance to twisting on off-center hits). Head has chosen a new, and novel, approach with Graphene technology.

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.

The Speed S is Head’s newest entry into what is becoming a popular market segment: the ”player’s tweener” or “tweener control” racquet. Even though the weight (10.1oz/286g unstrung) is low, the flex of 68 quite high (for this series, anyway), and the head size is a tweener-perfect 100 square inches. The beams are quite narrow at 22mm, and the 314 swingweight is fairly strong, making it appealing to players with fuller swings. The 16x19 string pattern is open and should be spin-friendly to the delight of all player types. The one point head heavy balance should be negligible for almost anyone.

Even though Head labels the Speed S as part of their “Tour Series” of frames, testing should show if less able players can benefit from it.

From the Baseline
The Speed S has a nice “hefty” feel to it, belying its weight: that’s the Graphene technology at work. It feels like it will easily “plow through” groundstrokes, and it does. Power is plentiful, the high flex helping send the ball the length of the court with relative ease (much easier than the lighter Graphene Speed REV), and the excellent 16x19 string pattern with its optimal string spacing provides fine feel and spin. It’s a little harder to “wrist” the ball with the Speed S, but a good shoulder turn puts the racquet in position to drive the ball away.

The slight head weighting of the Speed S stabilizes the frame nicely, and its twistweight is in a good range to help stop frame twisting of off-center hits. While there is noticeable frame flex on shots hit near the top of the head (as would be expected with a narrow-beamed frame), the higher flex of the Speed S makes it bearable. Since this is the area where most topspin shots are hit, it’s nice to know the Speed S will allow more controlled power on shots hit there.

At Net and Serving
The nice, hefty feel the Speed S has from the backcourt is a slight handicap at net. It’s not as fast on quick volley exchanges as its heavier brother the Graphene Speed MP, but it packs a fine wallop on squarely-struck volleys. Stiff, head-heavy frames tend to lack feel on touch shots, and the Speed S is no exception, but it’s solid and reliable on punch volleys, and will enable you to swat away sitters and swing volleys with aplomb.

Amazingly, the head weighting doesn’t feel so bad when swinging the Speed S up on serves and overheads: once again, the Graphene technology is at work here, counterbalancing the head weight with extra mass in the handle, and letting the Speed S pack a punch on serves and smashes. The superb string pattern provides noticeable spin on slice and kick serves and, if you ever decide to try the “slice smash” from the baseline a la Federer, you can hook the ball in quite nicely.

Fine Points
The Graphene Speed S uses head’s Hydrosorb Pro grip, and it has a nice feel: not to soft, but not too firm, and edge definition on the handle is excellent. The Speed S uses Head’s normal handle design with foam pallets attached to the racquet shaft, and the soft nature of the pallets aid in shock absorption and feel (for all you “Headophiles” out there, the handle code is TK82).

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.

In Conclusion
Head has produced a solid and playable “player’s tweener” frame in the Graphene Speed S. Good weight distribution combines with a narrow-beamed, firm frame to provide good power and control for intermediate to advanced baseline and all-court players. The weighting leaves ample room for customization if you need more mass or different weight distribution later. Players looking for power in a lighter, player’s frame design should have the Speed S at the top of their demo list.


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