Prince O3 Tour Racquet Review
When we reviewed the Prince O3 Red earlier this year we were blown away by its performance. With the O3 Red being such an impressive 'tweener offering, we eagerly awaited the arrival of an O3 player's model. To further whet our appetite, clay court master Guillermo Coria could be seen wielding the player's version of the O3 racquet line at pro tournaments - and he was looking pretty sharp when doing so.
Well, the wait is over. Called the O3 Tour, this latest player's racquet from Prince integrates the O Port technology into a thinner beamed, heavier and more control-oriented racquet.
Without further ado we hit the courts for a three-week playtest. Read on to see how the O Port technology translated to the player's racquet category.
The O3 Tour offered plenty of comfort for our team from the baseline. Our team also noted how spin friendly the racquets was on groundstrokes. Impressed by the dampened feel of the O3 Tour was Wendi. "The O3 Tour delivered incredible ease and comfort from the baseline. The dampened feel, especially on off-centered hits, really impressed me. I did find that I was hitting more frame than usual, which was a little frustrating for my opponent. Most of my frame shots remained in play but really threw my rhythm off. I found a good balance of power and control, while still having some good ammunition. The O3 is a very topspin friendly racquet, but I also have to say I've never sliced so well, either. It had great mobility on the run and in desperate situations."
Just like a good steak needs a little seasoning to bring out its full flavor, Chris felt the O3 Tour needed a little weight to bring out its full potential. "The O3 Tour was very comfortable off the ground. The feel was very dampened - slightly too dampened for me. I removed the supplied dampener - even though I liked the way it fit neatly into the lower O Ports - and found a little more feedback. However, the feel was still very dampened for a player's racquet. When trading groundstrokes I was finding lots of topspin. The racquet swung fairly light and I was able to whip it through the contact zone to generate lots of spin. My forehand topspin was really hopping with this racquet. I would have liked a little more weight for hitting slice and for chip groundstrokes, but that's nothing that couldn't be fixed with a little lead tape. For a better fit I would increase the stock 11.6 ounce strung weight to a little over 12 ounces, but would not change the balance." Josh was also reaching for the salt shaker - sorry, the lead tape - when hitting with the O3 Tour. "This was a comfortable racquet to hit with. The thin, tapered beam initially reminded me of my Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 Original. My backhands felt really good with the O3 Tour. I was able to swing away without hitting long, I could hit sharp angles during doubles play, and I could mix in a slice if I needed a little defense. Forehands felt good overall. I noticed the upper hoop could have used some lead tape. I struggled a little against players who hit with a bunch of topspin. My forehands weren't as deep, and I felt I was fighting the ball rather than directing it."
Both Brad and Granville were impressed with the translation of engineering to on court performance with the O3 Tour. Brad said, "when I first hit with the O3 Tour I was a bit skeptical. Over the years, we have seen similar technologies with Rollers, Power Holes, and Comfort Zone, none of which are still around today. To my surprise, the O3 Tour was a very fun and comfortable racquet to play with from the baseline. The light weight of the racquet (compared to other player's models) made the racquet easy to swing. Also, the lower flex rating made it easy to generate spin. I found I was able to generate more spin with this racquet compared to the Flexpoint Radicals. This racquet has more of a muted feel compared to other racquets that I have hit with and is very comfortable, but does not give you much feedback. I don't know if it was the flex/balance of the racquet or the O3 technology, but I felt that I was hitting a heavier ball than usual. I found that even though I was able to hit plenty of topspin with this racquet, I really struggled to hit my backhand slice. Every time I would hit my backhand slice the ball would float instead of staying low." Granville added, "whatever O3 has in its engineering, it works. Perhaps it was the main strings offering a bit more pop on the ball or the mains and crosses offering more of a 'pocketing' effect at impact; perhaps the 100 square inch headsize gave me the added power. It could also simply be the weight of the racquet having its way with the light ball? Whatever it was, it was working. I was hitting the ball deep with good pace and confidence off both sides. It was comfortable to play with, with little to no vibration. I added a dampener in addition to one provided with the racquet and it felt just right."
The comfortable response our team found from the baseline was also present at net with the O3 Tour. Finding the racquet to be very maneuverable was Josh. "Volleys felt firm and crisp with the O3 Tour. Again, I was really comfortable with the thin beam, and the racquet felt more maneuverable than many of the racquets we have tested recently. I found success driving penetrating volleys deep and hitting touch volleys wide when the situations were right. The O3 Tour responded well during quick doubles exchanges as well." Brad's experience at net was the opposite of Josh's. Brad said, "I found it hard to control my volleys with this racquet. The ball just didn't feel crisp coming off of the stringbed. It felt as if the ball was jumping off of the strings and I didn't have any touch or control."
Chris liked the feel of the O3 Tour. "Again, I found a very comfortable response from the racquet. I was finding my targets when punching volleys deep and also found it easy to get some spin and bite on the ball when hitting angle volleys. I would have liked a little more feel for touch shots, but really couldn't fault this racquet too much at net." Wendi found the O3 Tour to offer a solid response. "At net the O3 was dependable and effective. The response off the strings didn't have as much pop as I normally like, but it was solid at net. I had success when I cut my angles hard, the O3's flexible frame and mobility seemed to handle it well."
Perhaps finding the best performance from the O3 Tour at net was Granville. "Solid at impact on the volley, it was maneuverable and just head light enough to do almost anything I wanted. While I prefer a few more balance points towards the handle, this one felt right as-is. I thought it could also be a solid player's platform racquet for some extra weight. Very comfortable with great touch - I was most impressed."
Most of our team enjoyed serving with the O3 Tour. Quickly finding the groove was Wendi. "My serving with the O3 Tour was much more dependable. I usually struggle with this aspect of my game, but with the O3 Tour my serves strengthened my play. I had wonderful control all over the service box and still generated enough pace to keep my opponent honest. The O3 Tour was easy to swing fast, which came in handy on my second serves to keep the pace up. If I didn't utilize the advantage of the easy swing speed, I really set myself up for a tough point to win." Josh also found the O3 Tour easy to swing on serve. "I was happy with the swing speed generated on serve, and control was key. The racquet didn't produce a heavy ball, but the pace was enough to keep my opponents honest on first serves. My second serves had a fair amount of topspin and I consistently hit balls where I wanted to."
Granville offered, "it is always nice when a racquet can move right through the ball, which is exactly what the O3 Tour does with the slightly heavy swingweight and not too head-light balance. The result was a solid serving racquet. I was getting some good spin for my kickers and found 'heat' on demand. Also, the comfort factor was present on serve with very little shock and vibration." Finding good access to spin was Chris. "I found plenty of spin when serving with the O3 Tour. I was able to hit some nice kick serves and good angles. When going for a heater down the T, I was finding plenty of pace. Not to sound like a broken record, but some added weight would have been nice. Most of my mistakes came from balls finding the net tape, and if I'd thrown some lead tape on this puppy, I feel I would have found my targets a little more successfully."
Brad struggled to find his usual consistency when serving with the O3 Tour. "I had a hard time finding consistency with my serves using the O3 Tour. I felt less accurate using this racquet compared to my RDX 500 Midplus as well as the Head Flexpoint Radical Midplus."
Return of Serve
The majority of our team enjoyed the maneuverable feel of the O3 Tour when returning serve. Chris said, "I found the O3 Tour to be very maneuverable on the return. I liked the spin I was finding and managed to hit some nice angle returns during doubles matches. My returns were very consistent with this racquet and I also found plenty of comfort." Finding some added confidence to her return game was Wendi. "I was very confident returning with the O3 Tour. On harder serves I blocked the ball back with success, and I noticed that off-center returns almost always remained in play. I was able to really jump on second serves, but I was having trouble putting them away. Perhaps it was my reservation and not the racquet. Regardless, my return game was very strong even against strong serving opponents."
Josh was our only playtester to struggle on the return with the O3 Tour. "As with my groundstrokes, I would have liked a bit more weight in the upper hoop. Heavier balls hit to my forehand seemed to get the best of me. The ball felt like a weight and I found my shots drifting a bit towards the line rather than cross court from the Deuce side. On the flip side, the lighter weight allowed me to pick up serves late if necessary, which is always a plus."
Granville found a good blend of mass and stability from the O3 Tour when returning serve. "Like most player's racquets, get the stick in position and let it do some work for you. The O3 Tour gave me the tools to be aggressive and take the return early, and take the offensive right from the serve return. If defensive, the racquet had the mass and stability to allow me some reflex returns and/or blocked returns." Brad was in agreement. He said, "this racquet has just enough weight to it to make it stable enough to return big serves. I did not have any stability issues when returning hard hit serves with this racquet. I really felt like I was able to direct the ball back where I wanted it to go and with some good pace, as well."
The O3 Tour proved to be a very comfortable racquet from all areas of the court. While some of our team would have preferred a beefier feel, the stock weight allows plenty of room for customization and is an ideal fit for those seeking a more maneuverable player's racquet. We were very impressed with the spin capability of O3 Tour from all areas of the court - and especially when hitting topspin groundstrokes and serves. There's no doubt 4.0+ level players looking for a comfortable, maneuverable and spin friendly player's racquet should hit the courts with an O3 Tour demo.
Review date: May 2005. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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