|Prince Graphite Longbody Scores|
When you take the Prince Original Graphite and make it 28 inches long and give it a 100 square inch head, you get a heavy swinging weapon known as the Prince Classic Graphite 100 Longbody. As you can imagine, our playtesters were excited to get some hitting time with this classic racquet. It was clear from the start of this playtest that this hefty racquet would require a bit of an adjustment period because of its extended length and high swingweight. However, once they became acquainted with this racquet our team found big groundstrokes and huge serves. All four of our playtesters found the extra inch of length, flexible beam and extra torque suited them well. The crisp, controllable power on groundstrokes, serves and volleys made this playtest a fun one for the entire team.
At 28 inches long, the Prince Graphite Longbody packed a hefty punch from the baseline. Once they found harmony with the extended length, our playtesters unanimously agreed that they had fun banging balls back and forth. Chris, a big fan of the classic Original Graphite racquet, began by saying, "I was able to hit some big groundstrokes with this racquet. I was also surprised at how maneuverable it was for being such a long racquet. I was able to get this racquet around and whip it through contact even when the ball was hit deep with pace. It feels like Prince may have kept this one pretty head light, which I liked. I was able to generate a lot of spin on both topspin and slice shots."
Because of the added length, there is more tip speed coming through the ball, which results in lots of spin and easy access to pace. Chris said, "The added length also made it easy to cup around the outside of the ball on slice backhands, and I was able to easily cut the ball for a sharp cross court angle. Coming over the ball on my backhand took much more preparation because this was a lot of racquet for me to bring through the ball when driving my one-hander. However, when I got set and hit the ball out in front I was unloading on some big groundstrokes and reveling in the added pace and spin."
Michelle, who is used to more modern feeling racquets, found this racquet growing on her as she became more comfortable with the extended length frame. "I really enjoyed the specs of this racquet for my groundstrokes," she said. "The heavier feel and high swingweight were right up my alley. However, I had to get familiar with the flex and added length. It almost made me play more aggressively and kept me inside the baseline because I was trying to get on top of every ball. When I timed it right my balls were heavy and penetrating through the court. I could access some awesome angles with my groundies and really enjoyed drilling balls cross court -- that extra inch gave me great torque, and it was fun to change up my strategy and hit cross-court winners instead of my down-the-line winners." Michelle did add that she had to be aware of her footwork using the longbody and explained, "Subconsciously, sometimes I would reach for a ball knowing I had the extra length of the racquet instead of setting up correctly with my feet."
The racquet's specs were definitely out of Brittany's comfort zone, but she was up for the challenge, saying, "I am always game for trying something new! That being said, I had a major adjustment period with this racquet. First I had to get used to the extra length (1 inch!), and then I had to get used to the high swingweight. It took about two hitting sessions before I felt comfortable playing with this racquet. I found this racquet to be much more flexible from the baseline (and other areas of the court as well!) than the Prince Classic Graphite 100. While I did struggle to get it into position on time, when I did set up early I was greatly rewarded. My shots were deep with solid pace. I have to give a shout out to my backhand. Once I got the timing down I think I hit some of the best down-the-line backhands of my life, and with the mass and plow through that this racquet offered, my slices were crisp, low and penetrating."
"This thing is a tank from the baseline!" exclaimed Andy. "There's definitely an adjustment period required to get used to the extra inch of length, but when I did, watch out! I absolutely loved this from the ground! I could smash the ball off both sides when I was set up properly, and I was running down more balls than usual, too. I loved the heft the racquet offered on my two-handed backhand and slices, and even with all that power I still felt like I had plenty of control. It can get difficult to swing at times, but I found that when I shortened up my swing and let the racquet do the work, the results were good!"
Our playtesters continued to find success with the Prince Graphite Longbody at the net. Brittany found volleying to be a breeze with the extended length and said, "Hands down, this may be one of the easiest racquets I have ever volleyed with. I swear this racquet pretty much volleyed by itself. All I had to do was get the racquet into position and it did all the work. You name the volley, I could hit it! A deep put-away volley down the line? Check. A short angled volley to pull my opponent off the court? Check. This definitely was a racquet I enjoyed hitting volleys with."
While feeling crisp and solid at net, this racquet also offered some nice touch and feel for Chris, who offered, "I liked that connected feel in a classic box beam frame. This design delivers, and Prince has built in some nice flex to further increase the touch. The higher swingweight from the added length gave me all the mass I needed to punch volleys deep or fend off a heavily hit ball. I was surprised at how maneuverable the racquet felt, and I had no issues hitting volleys off my body. The added length made stretch volleys a lazy affair and added some additional snap to overheads."
Andy found tons of stability and control for his volleys, and he found himself covering more court with the added inch. He said, "I did feel that I needed a little more time to really get the feel dialed in on touch shots because I just wasn't used to having the head so far away from my hand. Thus, I felt a bit disconnected at times when going for a finesse volley. I think I'd gain more command the more I got used to it, and I really enjoyed it around the net."
Michelle also found this racquet to be a volleying machine, but she had one concern. She said, "The only issue I had at the net with this racquet was the extra inch of length. There were times I wasn't getting the racquet prepared fast enough because of it. Some of my volleys would come off my stringbed at an angle I wasn't necessarily trying to hit, although the result was still a decent volley. When the racquet was in the right spot I had no problems hitting precise, deep volleys."
The Prince Graphite Longbody rewarded all four of our playtesters when it came to hitting big, booming flat serves. Andy really appreciated the extra length when it came to serving, and said, "Maybe it's the fact that I'm under 6 feet tall, but I was really utilizing the added length on serve. I felt like I was serving out of a tower, and I was using that extra leverage to get noticeably more pace and angle on my serves, all while not losing any control. Serving was the standout shot for me with this Longbody (with my backhand a close second favorite shot)."
Michelle had mixed results with her first and second serves. She explained, "Don't get me wrong, I absolutely loved hitting first serves! I could bomb my flat serves with lots of precision. In fact, one of my favorite shots to hit with this racquet was a big first serve. However, I struggled slightly with kick second serves. I found the added length, weight and heft of the racquet slowed down my kick a bit, and it was tough to accelerate up through the serve. I adjusted, though, and ended up using my slice second serve a bit more. I also put a bit more pace on my second serves than I usually do."
Chris also served well with this racquet, and he enjoyed the easy access to power. "Once I adjusted to the longer length of the racquet I was able to exploit the advantages of hitting the ball at a higher contact point. I was hitting with a lot of pace and getting great spin. My first serves down the T had a little more juice on them to help me get the ball past the returner. Likewise, when hitting an angle serve the added spin and higher contact enabled me to be more aggressive and cut the ball more sharply away from the returner."
Brittany rounded out the team's comments by agreeing that the extra inch was a big bonus when it came to serving big. She said, "I felt I was getting a little extra power on my first serve. It took a little more effort than normal to get the racquet up over my head, but once I did that I let the mass do the talking. I could really accelerate through my stroke to hit a heavy, well-placed serve. However, after a while I was definitely getting tired, and my serve was affected."
Our playtesters agreed that the longer frame hindered the maneuverability on returns. However, they were rewarded with an extra inch of reach. Michelle commented, "Again, once I got used to the Prince Graphite Longbody, I was able to use the racquet to my advantage and start the point aggressively. The only time I struggled was if I was slow getting my racquet around on my backhand side. That extra length really did help with getting to some serves that were hit off the court, and I surprised my opponents at times by getting a return back that they thought was an ace."
"My forehand and slice backhand returns felt great with this racquet," stated Chris. "I was driving the ball with good pace and spin. On the forehand side I found I could whip the racquet around nicely and find lots of pace and spin to help me crush returns. On my backhand slice I was able to cut the ball at an angle or knife it deep at will. My topspin backhand return took more adjustment. This felt like a lot of racquet to bring around quickly, and I found myself trying to be extremely short in preparation, with practically no take back at all. Even toward the end of the test I was still struggling to find my usual level of comfort with that shot."
Brittany found her return to be the one stroke she struggled with while playing with the Prince Graphite Longbody. She explained, "I never felt comfortable hitting the return with this racquet. I felt I couldn't get my racquet back into position in time. One thing that did help me increase my return consistency was standing back a couple feet behind the baseline (I normally stand at the baseline and step in) to give myself a little more time."
Andy used the control and plow through of this racquet to his advantage when returning. "Once I got used to the added length I started to love returning with this racquet," he said. "It isn't as maneuverable as the standard length version, so I had to focus on shortening up my swing when trying to take the ball early. However, there was plenty of control for aggressive returns and ample stability and heft for blocking back more defensive returns. It's not fast through the air, but if you can get the timing down this racquet will reward you for a well-struck return."
Chris - "I loved the spin, power, touch, feel, comfort and added reach."
Michelle - "I loved bombing first serves! Once I got used to the feel of this racquet I really found it easy to hit penetrating, heavy balls that helped me play inside the baseline and attack. I loved that I naturally started taking everything on the rise more than I normally do."
Brittany - "I loved volleying with this racquet. Also, I loved the classic Prince feel that I grew up playing with."
Andy - "I loved the plow through, stability, control and feel this racquet offered. I found myself dreaming of serving and crushing two-handed backhands with it when I lay in bed at night."
Chris - "While I struggled a tad on my topspin backhand, it was coming true everywhere except the return toward the end of the test. Given more time I could get this racquet dialed in, and I think it would be well worth the effort. However, the adjustment from this racquet to a standard 27-incher is a big one, and that makes it a tough option as a playtester since I'm constantly switching racquets."
Michelle - "A handful of times the racquet was sluggish getting around on my backhand side, causing me to hit a bit late. Same with my volleys. If the racquet was out of position I ended up not hitting the volley out in front. It was also hard for me to access the snap and acceleration on my kick serves."
Brittany - "I struggled with maneuverability."
Andy - "It does take a little while to get used to the added inch of length, and it doesn't offer as much control as the standard length version."
Chris - "I was so impressed with this racquet that if I weren't testing racquets all the time I'd be demoing this one against other longer player's racquets. Those racquets would include the Pure Drive Roddick Plus, AeroPro Drive Plus, Organix 7 310, Kinetic Ki Q5X and the Pure Storm Tour Plus."
Michelle - "I used a Prince Longbody Precision Equipe back in my junior days, so the length instantly brought me back to those days of swinging a longer racquet. Obviously, the comparison to the Graphite 100 is there, but these two racquets play differently and are not interchangeable. I would choose the Longbody over the standard length because of its extra heft and higher swingweight."
Brittany - "Comparing this with the Graphite 100, I found the Prince Graphite Longbody to be more flexible and more sluggish than the Graphite 100. This might be one of my favorite racquets to hit volleys with. The racquet seriously did all the work. The extra length did take some adjustment, but I definitely benefited on my backhand side from it."
Andy - "The added leverage and torque I could get reminded me of the Babolat AeroPro Drive Plus playtest (which I also loved). However, this Prince Graphite Longbody has a much more classic, plush feel, with more control than the AeroPro Drive. If you were a fan of this racquet in the '90s, or you're curious what all the fuss is about, do yourself a favor and give this thing a test drive."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Chris: 5.0 all-court player currently using the Volkl C10 Pro 2012. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a one-handed backhand.
Michelle: Open level baseline player with a semi-western forehand and a two handed backhand. She currently plays with the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick.
Brittany: Open level player with a semi-western forehand and a two-handed backhand. She currently plays with the Yonex V-Core 100S.
Andy: Open level all court player with a semi-western forehand grip and a two handed backhand. Andy currently using a Wilson Blade 98 18x20.
Review date: October 2013. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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