Tech It Out: Head Graphene Prestige Pro
April, 17, 2014
By Matt Wilansky | ESPN.com
There’s just something about the Head Prestige. The name alone evokes cachet, given that this has been one of the most popular rackets in the business for decades.
So when I first demoed the pro version of this frame, I was understandably intrigued. First, full disclosure: I have read numerous other reviews that, for better or for worse, speak to the lighter iteration of the latest model, the Graphene. I, however, have generally been using rackets that after customization weigh in the 12oz neighborhood. So by the time, I was done swapping the manufacture grip to leather and adding another overgrip to round out the bevel, it was weighed in at 12.4 oz.
In other words, this stick had some beef for a nice, sleek stick. The feel right from the outset was smooth and comfortably soft, which is a result of its forgiving 63 stiffness. The ball jumped off the string bed with ease. It felt solid all around. Without question, the most important thing was to stay ahead of the ball, to make a staunch effort to rotate and contact the ball out in front (yes, tennis 101) and let the weight of the racket do the work.
The proliferation of lighter, whippy rackets have allowed players to wait longer and take last-minute violent swings to generate enormous topspin. That style won’t work well on the Prestige Pro. Make no mistake, this racket produces some pretty sweet spin with its open 16x19 string pattern, but with its weight north of 12 ounces, the plow-through was what really struck me -- especially for a player with a two-handed backhand.
I’ve used a good number of the latest rackets out there today, and I can honestly say the Graphene Prestige pro doesn’t remind me of any. I was surprised how vastly different this racket felt compared to the Graphene Radical. The latter is a little more harsh on off-center hitting, but much more maneuverable. The Prestige, as mentioned, was smooth and had more mass, but it required all the nuances you were taught growing up. If you’re late striking the call, it’ll be difficult to compensate with the Prestige.
Serves were plush, easy to pound, especially flat serves. The balance (only five points head light) helped generate speed without 100 percent excursion. Accuracy was no problem, whether it was kicking serves out wide or hitting flat serves down the T. I had few problems sticking volleys where I wanted them to go. And the feedback on both the serve and volley was exactly what you’d expect.
If there’s one obstacle I had with the Prestige, it was playing defensively, or more specifically, it was trying to stay in points and then generate offense. That’s a weight issue, though. If you’re a competitor who can regularly wield a true player’s stick, you might prefer the ease it takes to counterpunch and let the weight of the racket do the work for you.
All in all, the newest Prestige is going to be a popular racket for 4.5-5.0 players. I personally think the Graphene Radical (customized with a leather grip and a half inch added) suited my game better, only because I could swing through it with more fluidly. But I would also guess, that many others would prefer the Prestige.
But if you’re a competitive player searching for a new frame, don’t make any purchases without trying this one. You might very well regret it.