The Prince Tour 100 is enjoying some positive face-time during the first week of Roland Garros. David Ferrer has been providing his usual early round clay-court clinics, and upstart Taylor Townsend finds herself in the third round in her Grand Slam debut.
The Tour 100 has always been a dependable player’s frame for people who appreciate a comfortable, muted response. Detractors, however, regard the dampening as too extreme. When Prince released its latest round of Tour and Warrior frames, a Pro version has been included to the line that forgoes the EXO3 ports for the conventional grommet setup. This is designed to reward users with a slightly crisper, more traditional feel.
One of our testers, Kin Roseborough, head stringer and coach at the Family Circle Tennis Center, is an experienced EXO3 Tour user. We sent him this new Pro version to see how it compares to its predecessors. Here’s his take:
Kin Roseborough: The Prince EXO3 Tour (18x20) was my primary stick in 2010-11, so I looked forward to hitting with the updated Prince Tour Pro 100 with traditional string holes. Off the ground, the Tour Pro 100 was exactly what I expected: Flexy, comfortable, low-powered, and precise. My initial stringing was with Prince Warrior Hybrid Control at the lower end of the tension range. This proved to be my favorite setup—a nice blend of comfort, spin and just enough power. I also enjoyed my usual soft poly, installed at 47lbs. With this, I had even better spin, but didn't have quite the pop I needed with this control-oriented frame.
All that precision makes it an ideal tool for a steady counter-puncher, but could certainly be used to good effect by aggressive baseliners who can bring their own power. And it has a unique feel. In fact, there is no other racquet I can compare it to except other members of the Prince Tour 100 series and the Tour Pro 98.
The Tour Pro 100 is also a good platform racquet for players who enjoy customizing frames to their specific needs. After my first hitting session, I replaced the stock grip with a leather one. This added 11 grams to the weight and made it slightly more headlight. It also made the frame more solid for me from all areas of the court. It’s something to consider for advanced players who face a lot of heavy-hitters.
Unfortunately, this didn’t do much for the consistency of my first serves, which was a bit of a struggle. My flat serves often landed inches long, while kickers sat up begging to be attacked by my opponent. More time with the frame (and a bit a lead tape on the upper part of the hoop) could go a long way to correcting this issue. Second balls, however, were more reliable and effective—slice or topspin was easy to come by, as was accuracy.
Returning serve was a more enjoyable experience. The Tour Pro 100 allowed me to take the ball early and be aggressive. The slightly extra weight I added created outstanding stability, even on hard serves. I was confidently going for targets, even with my usually conservative topspin one-handed backhand. And when a serve put me on the defensive, the racquet was solid enough to allow me to block returns back deep.
At the net, the Tour Pro 100's comfortable response really stood out. I could block volleys deep to the corners or angle balls off the court. This one feels light and quick when having to reflex a ball back in doubles, but there is enough mass to handle hard-hit passing shots. Even my half-volleys, whether mid-court or near the baseline, were dependable off this racquet.
Overall, the Tour Pro 100 has a lot to offer. It seems well-suited for steady baseline play and those who favor a high degree of control. Prince has done a great job of keeping the best qualities of the EXO Tour frames, while adding the traditional feedback us old-school guys love.
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