Death, taxes, Rafael Nadal on clay and the Head Prestige. A slight exaggeration, perhaps, but in the tennis racquet world there aren’t too many franchises that are as dependable. And when a highly discerning audience has come to expect a certain level of performance out of a particular frame, changes are going to incremental at best. For the Graphene Touch Prestige Pro, it means being a little lighter, quicker, and a little more muted, but otherwise rooted to its core values of feel and control.
I’ve come across numerous Head players who are still married to their pre-Graphene Radical frames. For whatever reasons, they just can’t seem to embrace how that line has evolved. When they solicit advice on a modern Head model that might suit them, I often point them to the Prestige Pro. It doesn't perfectly bridge the gap, but the steady, all-court playability from a constant beam with a friendly checks a lot of boxes. There's nothing about the Graphene Touch incarnation that would change that recommendation.
What may appear new, but is actually old, is the head size. The Prestige Pro is now listed at 95 square inches, which is down from the traditional 98 head size of previous models. However, this is purely a result of a change in measurement technique. Head had formerly calculated the dimensions from the outside of the frame; to match the method they use with all their other franchises, they are now doing so from inside the beam on all the Prestiges. So, if you’re currently playing with one you needn’t worry that it’s shrinking.
From a performance standpoint, the Pro played quite similarly to previous two Graphene-based models. The addition of Graphene Touch may give it a slightly more dampened feel, but the Prestige is already inherently a control and feel type of racquet. It did seem to swing a bit easier and more quickly than the previous generation, resulting in better access to spin. Once I got into a rhythm with the Pro, I found repeated success grooving ground strokes with desirable pace, spin and depth. The 16x19 string pattern offered a bigger spin window and a bump in pop over the denser Midplus version, with the latter promoting heightened precision and more stability from its added weight. If you like to end points a little quicker and play with more aggression, the Pro will probably give you more opportunities.
As with any racquet, adding an element can sometimes draw from another. The speedier head gave the frame more whip resulting in extra spin and consistency, but it also seemed to rob it of some clout. Shots didn’t quite have the same weight through the court, nor did the frame feel as sturdy when defending pace. But, again, these are minor differences. And to some, the better maneuverability could outweigh any perceived downside.
It certainly helped getting kickers to bound up when serving. Besides useful spin, the Pro provided decent pop and enough control to be quite effective. I enjoyed good success using power or placement to start the point off in my favor. There are definitely models that give serves more of a boost, but this one is for players who like to swing out, already have forceful deliveries and are looking for a frame to direct them.
The quick handling was also an asset at net. It perhaps does have vintage Prestige feel, but the comfort, touch and control are all high enough to produce solid volleying. The softer flex was also helpful in absorbing pace when executing more delicate shots. There were instances when off-center contact caused instability issues. It also sometimes felt like I needed to really drive the ball to get the volley skidding through the open court. Serious all-courters may want to experiment with a little bit of added weight to the head to combat these issues.
Subtle tweaks asides, the Pro continues to occupy the role as the friendlier counterpart to the Midplus, and the newly reissued Mid, in the Prestige family. Reasonably people can disagree, but I found more pop from the firmer, bigger, lighter and brand-new Tour version than I got out of the Pro. Still, if you’re looking for something that feels like a Prestige, but with a little more help in the spin and power department, the Pro remains the smart choice.