Racquet Review: Head Graphene Prestige S
Head Size: 98 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Balance: 7 pts. HL
RA Rating: 59
Beam width: 22 mm
String pattern: 16x19
In testing frames over the years I’ve been fairly promiscuous with my racquets. I usually don’t go a season or two without trying to play with something new. This lack of devotion is probably not great for my game, but it’s fun to play the field.
One of those stretches found me hitting the courts with a Head Prestige Mid; I believe it was the Flexpoint generation. I remember being enamored with the soft, stable feel and precise control. Power was there, but you had to know where to find it. For advanced players it had everything you needed.
The new Graphene line has forgone the Mid for the Rev Pro. It’s an entirely new take on the frame, and other than head size (93 sq. in.) doesn’t have many similarities. In fact, the addition of Graphene has all the Prestiges feeling a little firmer and crisper than what I’ve traditionally come to expect from the racquet. Not necessarily worse, just different.
So I probably should not have been surprised that the model I had the lowest expectations for—the S—was the one that impressed me the most. When I was testing the new Prestiges I constantly gravitated back to it. The S perhaps doesn’t have the clout of the Midplus or the Pro, but it’s extremely playable. I kept expecting to run into a problem with it at some point, but never did. If I were to switch to a Graphene Prestige, it would most likely be a slightly beefed up S.
For a more flushed-out review, I turn the Pro Shop over to Mitch Case, director of tennis at Woodridge Lake in Goshen, CT. Mitch spent time with all the new Prestiges and came away with the following impressions of the S.
Mitch Case: The Head Graphene Prestige S is like the kid you sort of remember from high school only because his older brother was the starting quarterback or senior class president. Though they shared a similar genetic makeup, the younger sibling was far more quiet and reserved. In class, he sat a few rows back from the front, and kept his head down. He preferred not to be called on by the teacher, but did all of the work and pulled a respectable B+ in all of his classes.
Was he the perfect student/athlete? No. But he was a solid guy and easy to like.
Just like the Prestige S.
Sporting a similar frame design and string pattern to that of the Prestige Pro, the Prestige S provides a much more user-friendly experience. The static weight is more than a half-ounce lighter; the swing weight is 15 points lower; and it’s three points more flexible on the stiffness scale. Additionally, the distribution of mass is more polarized than the Pro. All of these factors contribute to make the Prestige S accessible to players from the intermediate level and up.
At first, the Prestige S flew completely under my radar. When it came to trying out the new Prestiges, I was immediately drawn to the Pro (closest to my desired spec), then the Rev Pro (a totally revamped 93 square inch model), then the Midplus (a true classic). The S was, honestly, just kind of there. After a quick hit, it played pretty well, but I wasn’t blown away by any one characteristic.
But over time, I found myself reaching for it when I needed a frame to play points against my students. I gradually realized how easy the Prestige S is to play with. Over the last few weeks, it has become one of my go-to frames.
Its stock weight is heavy enough to stand up against an advanced ball, but not so heavy that it becomes a chore to use after a full day on court. The power level was a bit higher than I expected, but I actually found superior control to the Pro. One of my favorite characteristics was the flex of the frame, which provided enough feedback to connect with the ball while still remaining comfortable. While the “S” in its moniker could denote speed or spin, soft certainly fits the bill.
In a more competitive environment, I enjoyed the versatility of the frame. After a brief adjustment period, I felt right at home slicing and dicing approaches, short balls, and droppers thanks to the 22mm beam. The 16x19 string pattern provided a nice balance of spin potential and power, allowing me to vary height, speed, and amount of spin on my groundstrokes. Even hitting above shoulder-height, one-handed topspin backhands worked. At the net, the Prestige S was more than maneuverable enough for me, so I had no problem slamming sitters, digging out dippers, or reflexing rockets.
Serving was also a pleasure with the Prestige S. Though not as precise feeling as the Pro, I was still able to accurately place the ball in the box while taking aggressive cuts. The combination of the pocketing from the stringbed, and the racquet-head acceleration consistently produced a fast, offensive ball on both flat and spin serves. Though I never felt out of control of the frame, it took me a few minutes to adjust to how quickly the head comes up and over your hand while contacting the ball (so don’t be surprised if you dump your first few serves into the net when demoing). Once I got acclimated, it wasn’t a problem.
Could I compete comfortably with the Prestige S? Yes.
Would I do it by choice? Absolutely.
I would opt to add some weight to the frame, but that’s only because I am very used to 12+ ounce racquets; I don’t feel the Prestige S needs a ton of modification. While it is a great platform stick, it has the potential to please the recreational all-court or doubles player while in stock form.
If I were to switch the Prestige S, I would likely try to slightly “de-polarize” the distribution of mass by adding some weight to the lower half of the hoop, and the throat. This additional weight would help create a little more stability against big hitters as well. I would also try my usual hybrid string set-up (Solinco Tour Bite mains, Prince Premier Control crosses), but would be careful when selecting the string tension, as I found plenty of power with a stringbed of full poly (Head Hawk).
Players looking to transition from a wider to a thin beam frame that still has some pop should look at the S, as should Head fans that found the new Graphene Radical MP too stiff. While the Pro and MP seem to grab most of the attention in the Prestige series, the S is certainly worthy of praise. It’s the most user-friendly of the entire line, and is just a solid all-around performer.