One thing that’s safe to say about Prince racquets is an unusual amount fall under the "Tour" label. The Tour 95 replaces the EXO3 Rebel 95 in its lineup, but maintains many of the same playing characteristics. It’s still aimed at advanced players looking for control and a buttery feel, thanks to the racquet's soft flex and string ports. (And the graphics continue to invite comparisons to Pittsburgh pro sports franchises.)
Kin Roseborough, head stringer and coach at the Family Circle Tennis Center, has a lot of experience with the various incarnations of this popular midsize model. He even compared it to an earlier version of itself. Here’s what he discovered:
Kin Roseborough: I’ve spent a lot of time in the last week hitting with the Prince Tour 95. One day, I took it out along with the first generation of the EXO3 Rebel 95 with string hole inserts to detect any playability differences. I really loved both frames, even if their weight might be a tad out of my league these days. In the end, if I were a player demoing for the purpose of making a change, the new Tour 95 came out slightly ahead.
Fast and maneuverable are terms I usually associate with lighter racquets that have a swingweight just north of 300. The Prince Tour 95 came in at nearly 12.5 oz (with a Tourna Grip added) and had a swingweight of 325. Yet it was surprisingly easy to handle and accelerate through the hitting zone. And with an RA of 58, the heft and flex create yet another impressively comfortable offering from Prince.
Off the ground stability and control were the Tour 95's greatest strengths. The weight gives it real backbone, and as long as I found the sweetspot, I hit my targets with ease. Power and spin were a little more difficult to come by initially, but when I began to let the mass of the frame do the work, I found that I could hit heavy, deep forehands with some consistency. However, the tight 18x20 string pattern seemed better-suited for my slice backhand. I was able keep balls deep with a low, skidding bounce that gave my opponents trouble. With all this does come that unique, muted EXO3 port feedback, which can be an adjustment if you’re not used to the technology.
On my serve, like my forehand, all I had to do was swing through the contact point smoothly and let the heavy frame take care of the rest. It’s not a racquet that rewards muscling the ball or simply rearing back and letting it rip. I had to concentrate on using good technique and being very intentional about the target and spin I wanted on each serve.
Returning serve with the Tour 95 was an even better experience. It’s versatility allowed for various returning options, and each was very effective. Solid and stable enough to block back powerful first serves, it also let me accelerate through the ball aggressively when the opportunity presented itself on short second serves. So I could play high-percentage steady returns, or go for something more daring, and never felt the frame would hold me back in either endeavor.
My favorite shot with the frame, though, was the volley. It just has the bases covered for great net play. The combination of maneuverability and mass allowed me to easily punch my volleys deep with pace, while the frame's scalpel-like touch and feel made redirecting passing shots and hitting drop volleys a pleasure.
All in all, this is a very comfortable, control-oriented frame, highly playable from all areas of the court. The dense string bed is soft and forgiving—if somewhat muted—with a larger than average sweetspot for a 95 sq. in. frame. It's definitely worthy of a play test if you're an aggressive all-court singles or doubles player with polished technique.
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