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Prince EXO3 Graphite Racquets Review

Many racquet lines belong to a family tree that spans technological updates. As racquet design strives to keep up with current material construction and innovation, the tree grows.

At times, the original feel and performance of the racquet are compromised. Its essence, if you will, is lost.

For Prince, the Graphite racquet, with its crossbar stabilizer, has become almost as iconic as the "P" stencil that graces its strings.

Updating such an established and popular racquet line is no easy task.

Thankfully, the latest Graphite racquets from Prince, the EXO3 Graphite Mid and Midplus tested here, are rich in tradition.

From the first hit of the new Prince EXO3 Graphite racquets, our testers found a familiar feel, power level and spin-friendliness that harked directly back to the Graphite Classics that inspired them. The feel of the Graphite hasn't been compromised, and that is a huge deal for advanced level players.

For this latest addition to the Graphite racquet family tree, Prince has included two of its latest technologies. The most obvious addition is Prince's Speedport grommet system. As with other Speedport and EXO3 racquets, both the Midsize (93 square inches) and Midplus (100 square inches) can be strung with either the string hole or string port grommets. The other update is the inclusion of Prince's Energy Channel. The Energy Channel is a sculpted groove within the frame that is designed to provide added stability. Prince claims this technology also boosts ball control and increases spin by up to 25%.

We hit the courts for a month-long playtest to find out how the two EXO3 Graphite racquets fared in the hands of our test squad. Check the playtesters' written and video comments below.

EXO3 Graphite 93

Groundstrokes - Score: 76

Off the ground, the EXO3 Graphite Mid offered a solid and crisp feel. Our testers were impressed by the control and plow through of this player's racquet. Having success stepping inside the court and taking the ball on the rise was Danny. "This racquet was sweet from the baseline. It had great control and feel, even when hitting slightly off center. It didn't have the spin potential that I normally look for in a racquet. Considering the 12-ounce weight, I was surprised that my arm didn't get tired. This racquet had good plow through, and I really enjoyed taking the ball on the rise with this stick. I think this EXO3 Graphite Mid would be a great choice for a control-oriented player who wants a racquet that is easy on his arm."

While finding his consistency improving, Spencer found the pace of his shots suffered with the EXO3 Graphite Mid. "It was no surprise that the Mid had a classic feel, yet it was very demanding. When I was in the zone this racquet provided a solid feel with excellent plow through and penetration. I found the backhand to be my preferred shot from the baseline with this stick. I found more consistency there, both slicing and coming over the top of the ball. I became more tentative on the forehand side, having to tone down my swing to achieve more consistent results. Though my consistency improved, the lack of pace also helped opponents become more offensive."

Chris found all the control he needed when looking to change the direction of a rally. "I found a lot of control from the baseline with this stick. It was a little more demanding than its bigger Midplus brother, as well as the Graphite Classic Mid I was comparing it with. However, it offered better plow through. During crosscourt exchanges, I was finding all the control I needed to switch up the pattern and rip one down the line -- especially on the backhand side. I felt like I was getting more stick on my shots, too, with better court penetration off both wings. With the Graphite Classic Midplus, I could loop the ball with heavy topspin all day; with the EXO3 Graphite Mid, I had to work harder to hit that shot. On the flip side, I could hit through the ball better and was getting more pace on kill shots with the EXO3 Graphite Mid."

Volleys - Score: 82

The solid response and consistent power level from the stringbed had our testers filled with confidence when at net with the EXO3 Graphite Mid. Finding excellent feel on his volleys was Spencer. "The stability of this racquet was outstanding. The twisting upon impact at net was minimal as it handled well-paced shots very well. This is definitely a 'feel' racquet at net. It worked nicely when having to place volleys, and when I had time to set up the punch was solid. On the other hand, the maneuverability was average, and being more of a baseliner, my questionable consistency at net was exposed even more. Off-center hits were erroneously amplified. There was no masking my errors like I can usually do with a bigger faced racquet."

Danny was blown away by the performance of the racquet at net. "The EXO3 Graphite Mid was one of the best volleying racquets that I have tested in a long time. My precision, accuracy, consistency and power were top notch with this racquet. There was a noticeable difference in control and feel at the net between the Mid and Midplus, control and feel being better for the Mid of course. Two thumbs up for the Mid in this department."

Becoming one with his volleys while using the EXO3 Graphite Mid was Chris. "This racquet offered excellent control and feel at net. I felt very connected to my volleys and always knew instantly how cleanly I had struck the ball. The consistency from the stringbed was exceptional, and I never once had a ball fly on me without me immediately knowing I had committed an error. At net the racquet felt more mobile than it did from the baseline -- I assume due to the more compact style of the stroke. I was able to get this racquet around the ball well and was more than happy with my results when up against tough passing attempts."

Serves - Score: 74

With a solid mix of stability, control and maneuverability, our testers were serving well with the EXO3 Graphite Mid. Chris was able to get enough on his serves for an offensive start to the point. "I enjoyed the pace and depth I was finding on serve. I felt like I was getting some good weight on serves -- more so than I was getting serving with both the Midplus version and the Classic. However, I wasn't getting quite the lift and action on the ball as I did with the other two. Again, consistency and penetration were key for me. I felt confident with my targeting while using this stick, and that the ball would have enough on it to get the point started offensively."

Spencer got his best results when he let the racquet do the work. "Very much the same as other player's sticks, this low-powered offering worked best for me when I let the racquet naturally come through the ball. I experienced better results when I used the weight of the racquet to plow through the ball, focusing on a smooth swing, looking for good placement over power."

Danny found the EXO3 Graphite Mid to be surprisingly maneuverable on serve. "To be honest, I didn't think that there was much of a difference between the Mid and Midplus on serve. The difference was more from the baseline for me. The Mid felt great for serving. It's nice to swing a player's stick and not worry about my arm getting sore from the weight. For me, playing with player's sticks these days can be difficult. It's usually hard to find one to serve with, but I thought the EXO3 Graphite Mid was fine."

Serve Returns - Score: 76

The control-oriented nature of the EXO3 Graphite Mid again rose to the forefront when it came to returning successfully. Spencer enjoyed the stability and control of the racquet when up against bigger serves. "I liked the Mid when returning serves with pace. When I used a short, compact swing the stability of the racquet kept the ball on line, while the pace of the serve helped create a deeper, more effective return. Ironically, it was the serves I had more time to set up for that caused more issues and mis-hits. I tended to take a bigger cut at the ball and that produced more errors."

Getting his best results from an easier swing with the EXO3 Graphite Mid was Chris. "The control and feel from this racquet really impressed me on returns. I wasn't able to be as aggressive with this one as the Midplus or the Classic, as I wasn't getting as much spin to help my shots drop within the lines. I found myself hitting a tad long when really going for it, but found a very consistent and solid feel when hitting with an easier swing."

Danny was able to be more aggressive. "I could swing freely when returning serves. The low power level of the EXO3 Graphite Mid allowed me to swing out on the ball while maintaining good control."

Overall - Score: 77

Offering lots of control and feel, the EXO3 Graphite Mid proved to be a popular stick with our testers. The Energy Channel design proved to be a seamless addition to this racquet, as it still offered lots of old-school feel. The crisp and clean response promoted confident hitting from all areas of the court. At net, our testers felt especially well connected to the power and control offered up by the EXO3 Graphite Mid. It is that connection to the ball that makes this an excellent choice for the 4.5+ level tournament player. Whether you have a long history with the Graphite Classic Mid or one of its successors, or are new to the Prince Graphite line, the EXO3 Graphite Mid is most definitely worthy of some serious demo time.

The "Likes" of the racquet.

Spencer "The solid feel when hitting the sweetspot."

Chris "I liked the feel and control I found from this stick."

Danny "First of all, I have to say that I liked volleying with this racquet the most. Overall, I think this racquet is awesome, and I would recommend it for any control-oriented player. I also liked the leather grip that the racquet comes with, since I was able to feel the bevels more. I also thought it was a good racquet for your arm!"

The "Dislikes" of the racquet.

Spencer "A non-forgiving stringbed. Not much margin for error."

Chris "Not as spin-friendly as the Classic Mid or its EXO3 Midplus brother."

Danny "If I had to knock it anywhere, I would have to say that I would prefer a little more power and a little less weight. Otherwise, I loved it."

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size93 square inches600 square centimeters
Weight12 ounces340 grams
Balance Point12.625 inches
32 centimeters
7pts Head Light
Construction19 mm Straight Beam
Composition100% Graphite
String Pattern16 Mains / 18 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating63Range: 0-100
Swing Weight335Range: 200-400

Prince EXO Graphite 93

Prince EXO Graphite 93
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Chris' Scores
Power 7.8 Serves & Overheads 7.7
Control 8 Groundstrokes 7.8
Maneuverability 7.5 Returns 7.7
Stability 8.3 Slice 8
Comfort 7.8 Topspin 7.5
Touch/Feel 8 Volleys 8
Overall 7.7
Danny's Scores
Power 7.4 Serves & Overheads 7.7
Control 8.4 Groundstrokes 7.7
Maneuverability 7.6 Returns 7.5
Stability 8 Slice 7.5
Comfort 8.1 Topspin 7.6
Touch/Feel 8.5 Volleys 8.6
Overall 7.9
Spencer's Scores
Power 7 Serves & Overheads 6.7
Control 7.7 Groundstrokes 7.2
Maneuverability 7 Returns 7.7
Stability 8 Slice 7.5
Comfort 8 Topspin 7
Touch/Feel 8.5 Volleys 8
Overall 7.6

EXO3 Graphite 100

Groundstrokes - Score: 81

Offering excellent access to spin, the EXO3 Graphite Midplus proved to be the preferred choice from the baseline. Danny was blown away by its performance. "This was the best player's racquet I have hit with all year. From the baseline, I thought this racquet had great control, spin and comfort. The difference in spin between this and the Mid was noticeable. If you want a player's racquet that is easy on the arm, choose this one. Solid!"

Playing with confidence was Spencer. "I was very happy with this stick from the baseline. The consistency, feel and spin I was able to produce helped my confidence, helping me take advantage of opportunities to be more aggressive. I was thrilled with the variety of shots I could hit. On the backhand wing, I felt equally comfortable hitting slice or topspin. I felt I could produce effective placement with either, while being able to vary the pace as well. On the forehand side, it was easy to be aggressive. There was surprising plow through with this racquet, reminiscent of the Donnay Pro One OS. The open string pattern provided excellent access to spin, but also produced penetrating shots when when I flattened some out. The versatility was excellent."

Out of the two racquets, Chris also preferred the EXO3 Graphite Midplus from the baseline. "My favorite of the two off the ground, this stick allowed me to hit with a lot of topspin. While the feel from the stringbed wasn't the same as the Classic Mid, the amount of topspin I was generating was very similar. I was hitting my groundstrokes with confidence and aggression, but I was also happy to sit back and rally with consistency and placement. I liked this stick when I moved inside the court, too, as I was able to whip it around when looking to flick an angle or get the ball up and over the net quickly. My slice backhand didn't have as much bite on it as I found with the Midsize version, but my consistency was solid."

Volleys - Score: 76

Offering a more forgiving response, the EXO3 Graphite Midplus was the preferred choice for two of our testers. Finding both the power needed to punch volleys away and the touch needed for placement was Spencer. "I felt many of the groundstroke characteristics applied to the effectiveness when at net. The solid feel and stability were great when handling hard paced shots. It offered nice punch to put volleys away, as well as a good feel for the more delicate shots."

Chris found it easier to close out the point with the EXO3 Graphite Midplus. "It was an interesting comparison, switching between this and the Mid at net. The feel wasn't as good as the Mid, but I had solid consistency and the racquet was more forgiving. I liked the weight and balance on volleys. I found a good balance between stability and maneuverability, and was able to react quickly as well as punch through the ball. The string pattern is pretty open, and I was finding some nice pace and depth when looking to punch away a high volley. Overall, I think I volleyed better with this one. I had better success at closing out points with the Midplus, even though I didn't feel as connected to the ball."

Danny preferred the EXO3 Graphite Mid over the Midplus at net. "At the net, the difference in control between these two was noticeable. I could manage volleying with EXO3 Graphite Midplus, but I don't think it was nearly as good as Midsize version."

Serves - Score: 79

Chris was able to both the pace and spin on his serves with the EXO3 Graphite Midplus. "I continued to find lots of spin from this racquet. I was able to get nice grip on the ball and kick it out wide to both sides of the court. When serving down the 'T' on the ad side, I was able to bend the ball away from my opponent with some nice slice. I wasn't serving bombs with this stick, but never really felt like I had to. I was able to vary pace, spin and targeting well enough to keep the returning player guessing and start off the point from an offensive position."

Spencer also found impressive variety when serving with the EXO3 Graphite Midplus. "I was very impressed when serving with this one. The racquet came through the ball nicely, offering good power when I was looking to add some velocity. The open string pattern with the 100 square inch headsize also lent itself to providing good action on the ball."

As with the Mid, Danny found the EXO3 Graphite Midplus a good racquet for serving. "Nothing different really stood out for me when serving with either version of the EXO3 Graphite. The Midplus did have slightly more power and spin, but it didn't affect me enough to say that there was that much of a difference between the two. I thought they were both good for serving, and I was successful with both."

Serve Returns - Score: 81

Our testers found the EXO3 Midplus to be the more powerful and forgiving of the two racquets on returns. Returning with more aggression was Chris. "The extra spin I was finding had me returning more aggressively with this version of the EXO3 Graphite. I felt confident in taking a good rip at the ball, and I was getting enough topspin to get the ball to drop inside the baseline. The response was also very consistent, which helped me get a quick sense of how well I had struck my return and where on the court I needed to recover to."

Danny found the most success when returning from deeper in the court with the EXO3 Graphite Midplus. "I had two different returning techniques depending on the headsize of the EXO3 Graphite that I was testing. When I was using the Mid I would be more on top of the baseline, and if I were testing the Midplus I would take a couple step backs. Due to the extra power from the larger head size, I found it more beneficial and effective to return from a few feet deeper with the Midplus. They were both good on service returns, and I was successful with both, depending on my court positioning."

Spencer continued to add variety to his game with the EXO3 Graphite Midplus. "This racquet had a great combination of attributes for returning. It was stable enough to reduce twisting against higher paced serves. It was also maneuverable enough to get the racquet around to the correct position upon impact. This racquet allowed for a good variety of returns for me."

Overall - Score: 79

With its more generous sweetspot, the EXO3 Graphite Midplus made it the more popular choice from the baseline for our testers. Offering excellent access to spin, this racquet allowed our testers to hit with a variety of pace, while easily controlling the depth and direction of their shots. Impressive from all areas of the court, our testers quickly found the groove on serve, off the ground and at the net with the EXO3 Graphite Midplus. While the Midsize version took some additional concentration before some of our testers could exploit its full potential, their games clicked instantly with the EXO3 Graphite Midplus. All in all, this is an impressive player's racquet that is also user-friendly.

The "Likes" of the racquet.

Spencer "I liked the solid feel and forgiveness."

Chris "I liked the amount of topspin I found from the baseline and on serve. The consistent response was confidence inspiring, and the weight and balance were spot on for me."

Danny "I liked this racquet the most from the baseline. It also felt good for my arm. It was a good racquet for that dampened type of feel."

The "Dislikes" of the racquet.

Spencer "Not a fan of the leather used for the grip."

Chris "None for me, except that the leather grip had all the tack of a bar of soap. That was easily fixed with an overgrip, and then I really enjoyed hitting this stick."

Danny "Not much that I didn't like about this racquet. I didn't like it as much for volleying, but don't get me wrong, I love this stick."

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size100 square inches645 square centimeters
Weight11.6 ounces329 grams
Balance Point13.25 inches
34 centimeters
2pts Head Light
Construction19 mm Straight Beam
Composition100% Graphite
String Pattern16 Mains / 18 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating64Range: 0-100
Swing Weight334Range: 200-400

Prince EXO Graphite 100

Prince EXO Graphite 93
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Chris' Scores
Power 7.9 Serves & Overheads 7.9
Control 8 Groundstrokes 7.9
Maneuverability 7.9 Returns 8
Stability 7.7 Slice 7.7
Comfort 7.8 Topspin 8.3
Touch/Feel 7.8 Volleys 8
Overall 7.9
Danny's Scores
Power 7.8 Serves & Overheads 7.6
Control 7.6 Groundstrokes 8.4
Maneuverability 7.7 Returns 8
Stability 8.2 Slice 8
Comfort 8.3 Topspin 8.2
Touch/Feel 7.5 Volleys 7.4
Overall 7.8
Spencer's Scores
Power 7.8 Serves & Overheads 8.1
Control 8 Groundstrokes 8.1
Maneuverability 7.5 Returns 8.2
Stability 7.8 Slice 7.5
Comfort 8 Topspin 7.8
Touch/Feel 7.2 Volleys 7.3
Overall 8

Playtester Profiles
Chris 5.0 All court player currently using the Becker Pro. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a one-handed backhand.
Spencer 4.5 Baseline player currently using a Wilson K-Blade Tour. Spencer uses a semi-western forehand grip, and hits with a one-handed backhand.
Danny Open baseline player currently using a Wilson K Factor [K]Tour. Danny uses a semi-western forehand grip, a two-handed backhand and has a long swing style.

Review date: June 2009. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2009 Tennis Warehouse.

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