As the name indicates, the Speed Pro update boasts Graphene 360. Not necessarily a brand-new technology, it’s more of an evolution of the Graphene story that Head implemented several generations ago. The frame still has Graphene in the shaft to strengthen that area and allow more of the weight to be shifted toward the poles of the racquet. But now, there are Graphene rings in the head at 3/9/12 o’clock to reduce twisting at impact and provide better energy transfer into the shot.
And in action the added Graphene did a nice job of delivering a little extra pop and easier depth than the previous model. Ground strokes penetrated through the court well with excellent control and I didn’t feel the need to come out of my shoes to apply finishing power quite like I have with the older Speed Pros. But the biggest difference for me was not being punished as severely for imperfect contact. Sure, shots lost something, but the damage was less. And that forgiveness freed me up to go after the ball with more confidence.
The slightly thicker constant beam width—up to 23mm from 22mm—may also have contributed to the enhanced user-friendliness. Besides giving the frame a bit more thump, there’s also a more solid feel, especially on off-center hits. And while it’s chunkier, this Speed still lived up to its name with deft handling and maneuverability.
Which came in handy for taking advantage of another new feature of the frame: wider cross strings. The Pro still possesses an 18x20 string pattern, but there’s greater spacing on the crosses. This gave the string bed a little more flex and comfort, while also providing a larger spin window. My shots had more natural height, and for a dense pattern it was no trouble putting plenty of work on the ball. A frequent playing partner, transitioning from an old MicroGel Radical 107, found the Speed Pro to deliver comparable spin and sweet spot, with extra pop. And even though spin and power appeared up, control didn’t seem to suffer. If you like to groove groundies, this Pro is certainly equipped.
Net play wasn’t quite as impressive, although not a real issue. The frame was fairly solid for its weight, and the quickness got the head in position with relative ease. Directional and distance control were on point and there was usually enough stick to put volleys away with authority. However, I did struggle a bit with the feel of the frame. Even though it has relatively low flex, taking pace off the ball proved challenging. And it still has that unique Graphene response that isn’t for everyone.
All in all, though, I found the Graphene 360 version of the Speed Pro to be the most playable to date. The tweaks to its composition, thickness and string pattern have created a more solid and user-friendly racquet. It’s still for more advanced players, but its less demanding nature should now attract a wider audience. Count me as one of its fans.