It’s pretty common for racquet manufacturers to roll out multiple versions of the same frame. Capitalizing on a proven line is certainly a reason behind it—Head has four new models of both the Radical and the Prestige—but there’s also truth in that one size does not fit all. By lightening a frame slightly, or offering it with several string patterns, it broadens the racquet’s appeal.
Which is the case with the new Prince Warrior 100 ESP and its sibling, the 100L ESP. Both employ extreme string pattern technology (14x16) for heavy spin production, speedports for increased swing speed, and a double bridge in the throat for a dampened response. But the standard is more than an ounce heavier, with a slightly head light balance. This is intended for stronger players who need a more stable frame that doesn’t provide as much power. The 100L ESP can be put in the hands of players with slower swings who want a nimble frame that adds punch. The head-heavy balance actually gives it about the same swingweight as the 100 ESP, so it’s not overly whippy. Still, the frames are intended for slightly different audiences.
Sean McQuillan is the tennis coordinator/college placement advisor/tournament director at the Saddlebrook Tennis and Preparatory School is Wesley Chapel, Fla. Being at a coveted tennis destination, Sean gets to work with a wide range of players including internationally top-ranked juniors, touring pros, and every day recreational players. He tried out the Warrior 100L with some of his younger juniors. Here’s what he found out:
If you have a 12-to-14 and under boy or girl who hits hard and heavy, get ready for the Warrior 100L ESP. I actually had a hard time getting it back from our 14-and-under age group because no one wanted to let others try it. The racquet, which has Prince's double bridge technology, might be the ultimate frame for players this age. With a 14x16 pattern and weighing in at a very trim 9.0 ounces (unstrung), I don’t think I have come across a single person that can’t handle this frame.
Thanks to the wide open string pattern, smaller juniors, who mostly play with different Babolat frames, actually preferred the amount of spin that they were getting out of the Warrior 100L ESP. To quote some of them: “Did you see that ball? It jumped over his head!”
Serving with this frame was easy for all because of the weight and balance and if you want to teach a 12-and-under to hit a kick second serve, this is the frame. Above average-sized juniors, however, thought this racquet was too light, and players who hit flatter from the ground did not appreciate it because of the lack of weight and extra power.
Which probably puts them in the category of player who would prefer the 100 ESP. Kin Roseborough has been teaching tennis for 25 years and has been working in racquet and string retail for nearly that long. He’s currently the head stringer and staff coach at the Family Circle Tennis Center in Charleston, SC, where he’s lead stringer for the facility’s WTA event. A one-time 5.5 player, age has gracefully transitioned Kin to a formidable 4.5, and he looks for frames in the Warrior 100 ESP’s weight class. He took it out for a test, and came away with the following assessment:
Of the lot of frames I tested, this was my favorite grinder/counterpuncher/pusher frame. I felt like I could roll loopy topspin groundstrokes 3-4 feet over the net with ease, and all day long if necessary to win a point. The only issues came when I tried to step in and flatten out a forehand. Then I seemed to be either way out in front or dipping balls into the net. As long as I stayed focused on hitting basically defensive topspin, the Warrior 100 ESP was a winner from the baseline.
My experience serving was similar; as long as I just tried to kick balls deep into the box, I couldn’t miss. My topspin serves got up high enough that they were out of my hitting partner’s strike zone, which gave me some weak replies. The most success I had in going for aggressive shots was on the return. Stepping in and taking the ball early with a short takeaway, I felt like I was hitting controlled and heavy balls, much bigger than I was able to produce in baseline rallies.
Volleying was sometimes challenging with the Warrior 100. Fast-paced balls pushed the frame around and control was hard to come by. Still, overheads and put-away volleys were a breeze with this frame, and those are the shots counter-punchers need on the rare occasions they come to the net.
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