The Pro Shop

Racquet Revisited: Head Graphene Speed Pro

Monday, November 18, 2013 /by

Price: $200
Head Size: 100 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight (strung): 11.7 oz.
Balance: 6 pts. HL
Swingweight: 328
Flexibility: Stiff
Beam width: 22.5 mm / 22.5 mm / 21.5 mm
String Pattern: 18x20
NTRP: 4.0+

Each year the editors at Popular Science magazine scour new products looking for the best in innovation. At the conclusion of the year they boil it down to a Top 100 list in their December issue which constitutes their Best of What’s New awards. This year Head’s Graphene Speed Pro took home the prize in the recreation category. The selling point was Graphene: An incredibly strong and light material that allows the racquet’s weight to be distributed away from the shaft and more towards the head and handle. This is designed to afford players more pop with less effort.

Dr. Paul Haar a friend of The Pro Shop, would agree. Paul is an associate professor of saxophone and coordinator of jazz studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (we’ll forgive his being a Cornhusker) and an avid recreational player; he strings his own frames and plays singles and doubles three to five times a week. He also used to write detailed reviews of musical instruments for a national jazz magazine, so he’s familiar with evaluating equipment. Plus, Paul believes music and tennis are very similar in a certain important aspect: Both are filled with practitioners who believe equipment can make their playing better.

Here’s Paul’s review of the Graphene Speed Pro:

Perhaps it's just me, but it seems like tennis racquet technology is starting to mirror that of cell phones: If you don't fall victim to the fads and fashions of the young, you're most certainly going to buy something that will be out of date by the time you get it home. For a 42-year-old hack like me, caught between the proverbial "rock" of the traditional players frame (with its comfort and control) and a "hard place" of the tweener racquet (powerful and stiff), choosing equipment can be confusing.

So, having the opportunity to playtest the Head YOUTEK Graphene Speed Pro came with some apprehension. With its weight (11.7 oz) and string pattern (18x20) it could easily be viewed as a players frame. But the 100 in. head, 22+ mm beam width, and stiffness rating of 68 points to a racquet that also appeals to the modern crowd.

For this playtester, the Speed Pro was simply the best of both worlds. Despite the high stiffness, the Speed Pro had a plush, comfortable feel. If you're one of those players who is hesitant to use a full bed of poly, fear not, for the Speed Pro offers a solid and enjoyable experience. Hybrid and multi users will find a variation on that theme depending on what they chose to use.

Traditionally, I have shied away from more dense patterns due to the effort it takes to produce spin. This was not the case with the Speed Pro. The 18x20 string pattern, along with a nice 328 swingweight, allows one to produce the control one would expect while still having ready access to all the spin imaginable. This allows the player the freedom to swing away and still have balls land inside the court. My forehands were pinpoint and my backhand accuracy and pace even surprised me (my weakest shot).

Ground strokes may be the meat of the modern tennis diet, but everybody knows that serves and volleys are the bread and butter that truly makes a racquet worth the purchase. The balance (6 HL) and swingweight of the Speed Pro makes serving and volleying a pleasure. The maneuverability allows slice and kick serves to penetrate the court and bombers who earn their points with aces will not be disappointed. The manageable weight creates a heavy ball while allowing for some modest customization for those who truly crave a heavy stick. The Graphene technology also offers an added sense of security on hard-hit service returns and off-center hits. At net this stability translates into muscular putaway volleys without losing the feel that net rushers demand.

For those who are looking to have the best of both worlds, the Head Graphene Speed Pro might just be the racquet of their dreams.

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