Donnay Pro One OS Review
The Resurrection of a Racquet
When opportunity knocks, we open the door.
Such was the case with the Donnay Pro One Oversize.
Long since gone from US shores, this once popular player's racquet was the center of attention. With both men's and women's Wimbledon titles under its belt courtesy of Andre Agassi and Conchita Martinez, respectfully, the Pro One Oversize had serious performance credentials to go along with its various flashy paint schemes.
The Pro One Oversize slipped out of sight when Donnay stopped doing business in the US tennis market, but it was never forgotten. When a group of Pro Ones arrived at Tennis Warehouse in a box of Bosworth collection racquets, memories of the venerable player's oversize started to stir.
The racquets we received were built to the spec of Agassi with custom foam handles and were in both the orange/grey Wimbledon winning color scheme as well as the yellow and blue version. As any tennis fan would do when presented with such an opportunity, we strung 'em up and hit the courts.
From the first hit, it was evident that our fond memories of the Pro One Oversize were on the money. Each TW tester who hit the courts with one of the racquets came back smiling and talking up its performance.
Around this time, conversations with an English racquet manufacturer revealed that it now owned the molds for Donnay racquets. Talk of resurrecting the Pro One Oversize and Pro One International Midplus started to circulate. We put out feelers on the TW Talk Tennis message boards to see if there was any interest in these racquets with today's players. Everything was kept secret, and we only posted the specs of the racquets to see if they sounded enticing.
With both positive feedback from our in-house hitting and our Talk Tennis faithfuls, production of prototype racquets began. Our "made for Agassi" racquets were shipped to the manufacturer to ensure everything was up to spec and that the colors were replicated exactly.
Finally, the Pro One Oversize was back in production and available again in the US market. Read on for our on-court impressions of this resurrected racquet.
For some, hitting the Pro One Oversize was like revisiting an old friend, for others, a new encounter. Regardless of familiarity, all our playtesters were in agreement: This was one sweet stick from the baseline. Not only did the oversized head and low flex rating provide an ample sweetspot, but our testers also found the open string pattern generated tons of spin.
Feeling nostalgic about this racquet was Chris. "I love the response and feel of this racquet off the ground. There's ample power to be had, and the racquet offers exceptional plow through for an oversize. I used this racquet in college, and this playtest brought back good memories for me. I quickly fell into a comfortable groove with the racquet. I was able to get lots of spin, excellent control and more than enough power. I enjoyed the racquet with the regular multifilament string set-up we use, but thought the performance was excellent with a poly string installed."
Granville was extremely impressed with the racquet. "This racquet has great feel, like butter. The ball sinks deep into the sweetspot of the stringbed and is launched to the other side of the court. I could take some speed off the groundies to change things up easily. At the same time I could rip the ball with confidence to either side without thinking about it. Especially sweet on the forehand down the line, coming over the top or taking a bit off it and sliding the ball down the line. Deep and penetrating off the ground, and if groundies were the extent of my game, I'd be on it - this Pro One is nice!"
Finding the racquet to not only provide plenty of control, but tremendous spin as well was Spencer. "I found excellent feel with this racquet from the baseline. I wasn't sure what a 'player's oversize' racquet meant until I started hitting with this one. With its heft, it has a nice stability. The Pro One OS comes through the ball nicely with consistency. I enjoyed hitting with both multifilament and polyester strings in it, as I was finding excellent control with each. Spin is easily generated. While offering good topspin off both sides, I was even more impressed with the backhand slice. This stick had surprisingly good heft and control while maintaining feel in the substantial 107-square-inch headsize." Ryan S agreed, adding, "The Donnay racquet was very comfortable and responsive hitting groundstrokes. There was a lot of spin with this racquet, which was great. I would actually feel like a ball was going to sail long, but it usually ended up dropping in! Slice backhands were particularly responsive and very effective with this racquet. Whether rolling forehands or plowing through and going for broke with a flat forehand, this racquet seemed to respond how I wanted it to."
Troy found himself right at home at the baseline with this stick. "The first thing that I noticed with this racquet was the large sweetspot and the comfort I had when hitting groundstrokes. I believe it was Chris who said in a previous review, 'I felt like I could camp out at the baseline with this racquet.' That's basically the best way to explain the level of comfort I had when hitting my groundies with this stick. This racquet allowed me to hit my heavy topspin forehand, and it provided some extra power, which was helping keep the ball deep in the court; most of the time forcing my opponent to hit a shoulder-high ball. Typically, my backhand is a consistent shot, but definitely not offensive or penetrating. This racquet, with its huge sweetspot, 12-ounce mass and good maneuverability due to the low swingweight, helped me to really drive my two-hander and dictate points without having to rely on running around shots to hit a forehand. Typically, I get less control from a racquet with a larger head size, but this playtest taught me that I can have both. To enhance the controlled feel I enjoyed using a polyester string with the tension near the higher end of the suggested range; I'm assuming similar to the way Agassi used to have his Oversize strung up."
Danny appreciated the amount of comfort the racquet provided. "The Donnay Pro One was an amazing racquet from the baseline. For me, I like a racquet that is flexible and good on the arm. This racquet fits that category. My consistency, the depth of my ball and the spin potential were at their highest level when I was playing from the baseline with this racquet. However, I thought the racquet lacked power, and I thought the head size was too big. I think this racquet would be ideal for those who want a racquet with a larger head that is good for your arm."
The Pro One Oversize continued to impress our playtest team. First, from the baseline, then at net we found the racquet to be maneuverable and forgiving.
Troy was very comfortable at the net with this stick. "I felt as though I could put the racquet on just about every ball crossing the net. The 'super-sweetspot' made volleying even more enjoyable than hitting groundies. It felt great to hit a deep volley with good underspin, making the ball skid low to the ground, without having to swing at all. The touch and angle volleys were the most enjoyable shots for me, being that the deep, penetrating volleys just seemed too easy with this stick in my hand. Being that I'm vertically challenged in stature and a pretty easy target to pass when at net, this racquet gave me more confidence and made me feel that I can definitely be more aggressive up there." Loving the versatility of the racquet was Granville. "I could take volleys and go two directions. For power tennis, the racquet again proved solid as a rock. Not to repeat myself, but there simply is not another oversize racquet out there that comes close to the performance of the Pro One. Conversely, it seems to be the soft touch shots where I get lost. The OS head and lively stringbed seem to dull the soft and delicate touch shots, like drop shots and short angle volleys, which comprise much of my game. I began to feel like I had picked up one tool in the shed only to lose three others."
Spencer had high praise for the Pro One Oversize . "I really enjoyed this racquet at net. It was pretty maneuverable and even more solid, with a generous sweetspot. I found it easy to put away volleys without much effort. This one's a definite confidence booster when volleying." Having to acclimate himself at first was Danny. "I had to make a couple adjustments with my volleys when playing with this racquet. When I first tested this racquet at net I found my volleys to be inconsistent. My volleys were mostly long and the racquet just felt weird to maneuver. I liked this racquet more for the touch than for the power." Chris was able to be aggressive during doubles matches. "I liked the response of this racquet at net. The sweetspot felt very healthy and the racquet offered lots of feel and control. I was finding the touch of a player's racquet, but with more forgiveness and easier access to power. I was also impressed by the stability of the racquet. Again, plow through was impressive and I was able to hit through opponents at net during four up doubles play."
Ryan S had some consistency troubles. "Normally, I enjoy oversize racquets when hitting volleys. I didn't really feel that way with this racquet, though. I had trouble controlling the ball when volleying. I can't put my finger on why, but it was a pretty consistent thing. The racquet was maneuverable and comfortable, but the response at contact was a little muddled. Overall, this racquet actually volleys very well and I highly recommend it; however, it just wasn't as good as I was expecting."
Flat serves, slice serves, kick serves, for the most part, the Donnay Pro One Oversize was able to enhance them all. Most of our playtesters really enjoyed the control and placement they found with the racquet.
Spencer was getting impressive kick on his serves. "Though it took me more time than usual to dial in my serves with this one, once there, I was happy with the results. I had decent success with flat serves up the T, but it was how the ball was jumping on my kickers that I was most impressed with. It seems to produce a heavier ball, as I noticed more mis-hits and unforced errors from opponents than I would normally see." Ryan S couldn't agree more. "There is ample spin on kick serves with this racquet. On flatter serves there is a ton of power. Serving was very easy with this racquet. Finding corners was pretty easy, pace was good, and the ball was pretty heavy. I found this to be a great racquet to serve with. I didn't tire of using this one."
Granville was finding better results with his first serve. "Soooo comfortable. It is always nice to smack a ball with a racquet of this weight, balance AND headsize. I was enjoying good targeting and solid and true power on my flat serves. The second serve targeting (touch), was just not there. I was struggling to find the right touch to get the ball where I am accustomed to hitting it." Really enjoying himself was Chris. "Lots of power and spin made for fun serving with this racquet for me. I was very happy with the pace I found on flat serves. I felt confident varying targets and mixing up spin serves and flat serves without losing any consistency."
Troy used the extra mass of the racquet to his advantage. "This is the only area where I didn't find amazing comfort right away. When I first began to serve my timing was a little off; I think due to some differences in balance and swingweight compared with my usual stick. I was having a little trouble finding the out-wide and down-the-tee corners of the service box. Even though I wasn't necessarily getting the placement I am used to, my serve was staying very consistent, with some nasty hook on the sliders that I really enjoyed (something that is typical for most southpaws). I definitely noticed that this racquet added some pace to my serves, which I explained earlier as being the result of the 12-ounce mass and the the relatively low swingweight. Although the control was a bit of a downfall when aiming for the lines, the extra pop and vicious bite on hooks and kickers made up for it." Danny, unlike the other playtesters, didn't have much luck serving. "My serve is my weakness, and this racquet helped exploit that. This racquet was uncomfortable for me to serve with. I thought the racquet lacked power, consistency and spin. Yet again, the large headsize had his awkward hands around me. I will contribute some of that to my weak serve, but this is what I gathered."
The heft of the Pro One Oversize racquet allowed our playtesters to not only handle the higher velocity balls, but to attack the slower moving serves as well.
Hitting solid returns was Ryan S. "I really liked returning serves with this racquet. This racquet seemed to be extremely stable, and I didn't have to swing big to get good pace on the return. Whether going for broke up the line or just returning back to the server's feet, this racquet got the ball there. This is an excellent racquet that won't get pushed around against big servers." Troy raved about the performance. "I thought the racquet was maneuverable and powerful, while still maintaining stability. Maneuverability is key for me on return of serve. When I'm playing against someone who can bring the heat, the racquet must allow me to take a short, quick swing so that it at least gives me a chance to get the point started. This racquet not only gave me great maneuverability, but also a good amount of pop. This let me get the return deep and in a good position once the point began; rather than always being on the defensive, right out of the gate. I definitely felt that the racquet had strong torsional stability, without feeling as though I was swinging a hammer."
Liking the dependability of the racquet was Danny. "Overall, I liked this racquet for service returns. I thought I had good consistency and spin, but I thought I lacked precision. When I was playing doubles I had a hard time hitting an inside out backhand when returning in the deuce court."
Both Granville and Chris were able to take the offensive on returns. Granville said, "Butter, just butter. It has that soft yet crisp feeling of only the best performance sticks. If you have never felt what I am talking about then demo this racquet! I could take the biggest serves and simply block the ball back with excellent placement. Alternately, I could take the offense at a moments notice and take full swings at the ball, pounding them low and deep down the line or cross court." Chris was in agreement. "I was able to take a good rip at returns with this stick. I also liked the response when blocking the ball back. There was ample power, but also lots of feel and control. I liked the level of feel I found when rolling returns cross court, and I was able to find some nice angles."
The specs of this racquet made returning a breeze for Spencer. "Being over 12 ounces with a lighter swingweight makes returning pretty easy. I didn't have to wind up with this one. I could get away with shorter, more compact strokes that had good, effective penetration. The generous sweetspot helped keep my returns on track. I had nice consistency when returning."
From all areas of the court the Pro One Oversize rewards the player with a plush and comfortable feel. Our testers loved the way the ball sinks into the stringbed of this racquet. Both topspin and slice proved easy to generate. Without a doubt, our testers agreed that if you like to hit from the baseline, it doesn't get much better than this. All enjoyed pushing forward to net. Although opinions of feel and control varied, the stability and comfort made for enjoyable volleying. The Pro One Oversize continued to impress the majority of our testers on serves. All in all, the Pro One Oversize offers a nice forgiving response in a player's spec racquet. A definite "must demo" for advanced players, this one will surprise those who've not experienced the response of a true player's oversize.
Review date: March 2008. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2008 Tennis Warehouse.