In reviewing the recently released Dunlop Srixon CV 3.0 F Tour for the Tennis Magazine racquet guide several of our testers described it as a Babolat Pure Drive packed into a 97 square-inch frame. For me, the Prince Textreme Beast 98, which shares characteristics with the CV 3.0 F Tour, drew a similar comparison. With its slightly smaller head, beefier weight and tighter string pattern, the Beast 98 offers a more controlled playing experience than the typical powerbroker, while owning a surprisingly pleasing feel.
There are frames, like the Pure Drive and Wilson Burn 100, that probably bring more heat and spin to ground strokes, but the Beast 98 was certainly capable of amplifying both qualities. The balance and swingweight meshed well to create a desirable blend of feeling both maneuverable and substantive. When executing, there was no trouble generating good pace and depth from moderate swing speed and length. In fact, there were several instances when my opponent commented on how quickly a down the line backhand or body serve got on him from a seemingly nonchalant stroke.
The flip side to that easy power were a few instances of wildness. While a 98 square-inch with a 16x20 string pattern, the frame still packs plenty of pop that has to be regulated with some spin, especially on longer, faster swings. I enjoyed success cracking serves with the Beast, but had a noticeable drop in consistency when I went full bore. However, we got along just fine as long as I let the frame help me out, or used lots of spin on a heavy kick, which is generally what I expect from this type of racquet.
What caught me off guard, much to my delight, was the comfort level. The feedback on the Beast 98 was firm, slightly dampened and more arm-friendly than many other offerings in this category. Players who have suffered at the stiffness of competing racquets will appreciate the kinder response of the Beast. That feel and its solidness made it a more than respectable performer at net. It had the backbone to capably redirect hard-hit passes—returning bullet serves, too—with enough feel and control to play subtler shots.
That said, there were times when off-center contact resulted in some unpleasantness, and it’s not nearly as flexy and comfortable as Prince’s Phantom line. There are also stark contrasts in the power and control levels of both franchises. While both accomplish their design intent, it would be nice if Prince had a third option that bridged the feel and playability gap between the Beast and Phantom. (Perhaps, the Ninja?)
Overall, the Prince Beast 98 represents a worthwhile addition to a growing category in the racquet landscape. It produces a powerful ball—arguably too much for a true player’s frame—but not quite to the level of many popular tweener models. It also offers better directional control and a more comfortable response than other big hitters. If you find success with those types of frames, the Beast 98 will be a nightmare for your opponents.