When the latest batch of racquets arrived for me to demo, I let out an audible groan at the sight of the Head Extreme MP. It’s not that the Extreme MP is a bad racquet, but just that I have never bonded with it, all the way back to the first iteration. The Extreme MP has changed significantly since its introduction, as its profile has narrowed a bit, its head shape morphed from round to oval, and its school bus yellow color scheme has given way to a hue reminiscent of a high-lighter. No matter the change, though, I often found the racquet to feel clumsy and over-powered.
However, something changed with this version of the Extreme MP. Though still a garish yellow color, the MP was a joy to hit with. From the baseline, the power was much more controllable, and the racquet felt almost plush, with the ball seeming to pocket and dwell on the strings with every stroke. My rally balls seemed to have a bit more pace and weight, and I asked one of my playing partners to switch racquets with me while we drilled so I could see if my perceptions were accurate. Sure enough, there was an appreciable difference in my partner’s strokes off both sides, with the ball seeming to pick up pace when it bounced, rather than sitting up a bit, and slice backhands required a shovel to dig up because they stayed so low and penetrating. Simply put, the Extreme MP is a beast from the baseline.
At net, the MP was no less stellar, feeling very well balanced, with the stability of a heavier racquet, and with the maneuverability of a lighter tweener stick. The end result of that combination was that volleying was Ron Popeil easy—“Set it and forget it!” As long as I put the MP in the path of the ball, I could do no worse than redirect my opponent’s pace. And quite uncharacteristically for this type of racquet, the MP had really good feel. Similar to my experiences at the baseline, the ball seemed to pocket on the strings, ready to punch deep, angle short, or drop over the net. The only quibble I had, which is quite common it seems with tweeners, is that the MP lost composure when hit outside of the sweet spot at 3- and 9 o’clock, though it didn’t lose as much power as its peers.
As to serves, the Extreme MP was perfectly adequate for my inadequate serve. Still dealing with a torn rotator cuff, I’m content to roll the ball into play, flattening it out a bit if my opponent starts to groove on my serve. Otherwise, I appreciate that tweener racquets offer a little extra power to make up for that which I’ve lost due to my injury, and the Extreme MP represented itself relatively well in this regard. Control and placement were easy, but, perhaps a drawback of the feeling of the ball dwelling/pocketing, I felt like I lost some mph’s on my serve, but that was offset by it being a bit heavier in terms of spin. I’m never going to serve anyone off the court in terms of pace, so perhaps weight is a good trade-off for pace for someone like me.
All told, the latest version of the Extreme MP was excellent, and perhaps it always has been. I don’t imagine that Head has changed anything too significantly from the previous iteration or two, so I’m at a loss for why I was able to connect so well with it this time. Nonetheless, I’ve changed my opinion of the Extreme MP and definitely won’t groan when the next one arrives for battle testing.