Every major racquet company has a flagfish racquet that is synonymous with the brand. Wilson has the Pro Staff 6.1 95, Babolat has the extremely popular Pure Drive, and Head has the Prestige. Originally introduced in the mid 80's as the Prestige Pro, the Prestige family of racquets has become instantly recognizable in the hands of such greats as Goran Ivanisevic, Marat Safin, Gustavo Kuerten, and young guns Marin Cilic and Stanislas Wawrinka. Head's newest incarnation of the Prestige line is the Yutek Prestige infused with Head's patented d3O technology and a classy new cosmetic. For this particular play test, I took out a new Youtek Prestige Mid Plus strung with a Polyblend at 57 lbs.
Anyone who has played or demoed a Prestige in the past knows that this racquet is geared for control and more control. Everything about the frame from its moderately low stiffness rating (which is 62 by our RA), thin beam, and dense string pattern (18×20) are geared for pinpoint precision, and this racquet does not disappoint. Starting from the backcourt, I could instantly feel that this racquet has superior stability and plow through on the ground. My ground strokes were deeper and more penetrating than racquets with less weight, and I felt no vibration whatever when connecting with well stuck balls from my opponent.
Moving into the net is where I really started to enjoy the feel of the new Prestige. For anyone who has had some higher level player frames from Head in the past (ie Radical, Prestige), there is a tendency for the racquet to feel something dead near the top of the racquet. For this reason, I sometimes struggle with my feel at net with my current racquet (Microgel Radical MP). This was not the case with the new Prestige. I felt that all of my volleys were crisp and accurate, even when I did not connect right in the center of the sweet spot. This was a big bonus for me as I actually picked up some free points at net that I would not normally get.
While I certainly enjoyed the Prestige from the backcourt and at the net, the racquet really excels when you start to serve. From the service line, I was able to crack hard flat serves down the "T" and slice some great looking serves out wide. With other racquets, I sometimes have to hold back in order to gain my control within the box, but I was able to let loose with this racquet and gain some much needed free points.
From my review you might think that this racquet is magical and will instantly make you a better player. While I certainly approve of this new version of the Prestige, here are some things to consider. First, the racquet is heavy in comparison to most of your other racquets in the market, and will be best suited for strong players 4.0-4.5 and up. If you are not used to playing with a racquet this heavy you can really start to feel the weight, especially if you have to go a third set. Second, this racquet provides you with control for days, but that means that you must generate most of your power from your swing. Nothing short or compact will work here; it requires those long loopy strokes. If this sounds like your kind of racquet, feel free to use the coupon at the end of this newsletter for a free week long demo of the new prestige!