Prince ThunderStrike Titanium
"A Tale of Two Racquets"
Have you ever had someone ask if you want to hear the long or short version of a story they were about to tell? You tell them you want the short version and an hour later you're thinking that if this is the short version I'd rather be dead than hear the long version? Well get comfortable, because I'm going to tell you the story of the Prince ThunderStrike Titanium Tennis Racquet, and I'm going to give you both the long and short version.
The Long Version - The ThunderStrike 1200 Longbody
The Prince ThunderStrike Titanium Longbody is Prince's 29 inch version of the ThunderStrike. It has a 125 square inch head and an open 16 main string by 20 cross string pattern. It has a power level of 1200 which is the highest of any Prince racquet currently made. It also has Prince's Morph Beam Technology and Sweet Spot Suspension System.
The titanium mentioned in the name is located in the shaft of the racquet. As in the Head titanium racquets (Ti.S7, Ti.S6, Ti.S5), the titanium and graphite are braided together to make the racquet stiffer (more power). The titanium also helps the Thunderstrike retain its stiffness longer because it's more durable than graphite.
All the elements of the Thunderstrike Titanium Longbody (length, head size, construction, etc.) combine to create a racquet with tremendous power and little control. There is no ambiguity with this racquet. It's a power racquet, pure and simple. If you're looking for control then don't come looking here 'cause this racquet doesn't know the meaning of the word. This racquet could be described as Prince's answer to Wilson's 3.4 Limits (nee Outer Limits). It's designed for players with very slow swing speeds who need the racquet to provide most of the power. It's most effective on short strokes. The most routine groundstrokes have the potential to sail wildly long if you take a full swing.
The biggest problem our play testers had with this racquet was the lack of maneuverability. The large head and 29 inch length made it feel very cumbersome and difficult to move. It was hard to get the racquet around fast enough on hard hit balls and reaction volleys were big trouble. Half volleys were also tough because if you did get the racquet to the ball the power of the racquet made it difficult to keep the ball in the court. The ThunderStrike 1200 was most effective on slow courts against players that hit the ball softly. If you have time to get the racquet head around it's possible to hit some pretty good shots but playing against a hard hitter on fast courts could be a disaster.
The high power level of this racquet limits the number of players who can use it and the lack of manevuerability limits the number of players who will want to use it. Players with strong swings should definitely avoid it and players with moderate swings should probably avoid it. Players with soft swings may like it, but I recommend demoing before buying.
The Short Version - ThunderStrike 900
The ThunderStrike 900 is Prince's standard length (27 inch) titanium racquet. Like the ThunderStrike 1200 Longbody, the ThunderStrike 900 has titanium braided with graphite in the shaft of the racquet. It also has Morph Beam Technology and the Sweet Spot Suspension System. The cosmetics are the same on both racquets, too, except the ThunderStrike 900 has a matte finish and the ThunderStrike 1200 has a glossy finish.
Fortunately, (or unfortunately) the similarities between the two racquets don't continue past the cosmetics. The ThunderStrike 900 plays so much better than the ThunderStrike Longbody that it's hard to understand why Prince calls them both ThunderStrikes. They should have called the ThunderStrike 900 the "ThunderStrike" and the ThunderStrike Longbody the "Thunder3StrikesYou'reOut Longbody".
The major difference between the two ThunderStrikes, and the one that has the biggest effect on how the racquets play, is their length. The two inch difference makes a HUUUUUUUUUUGE difference in maneuverabiliy, power, and control. While the ThunderStrike 1200 is comparable in maneuverability to the Wilson Sledgehammer 3.4 Limits (not so good) the ThunderStrike 900 is comparable to (though not quite equal to) the Wilson Hammer 3.2 (very, very good). The increased maneuverability of the ThunderStrike 900 versus the ThunderStrike 1200 was very noticeable to our play testers. "A strikingly different racquet", was how one of them described it. The ThunderStrike 900 scored 21 points higher with our play testers than the ThunderStrike 1200 in manueverability and the increased maneuverability was the main reason it scored higher in groundstrokes (12 points higher), volleys, (13 points higher), and serve and overheads (7 points higher).
The power level of the ThunderStrike 900 is also very different from the ThunderStrike 1200. The general rule of thumb is that each extra inch of length added to a racquet increases the power by 10%. This means the ThunderStrike 900 will have about 20% less power due to length alone. The ThunderStrike 900 also has a smaller head than the ThunderStrike 1200 (110 vs. 125) and is 2 mm thinner. This means even less power. The end result is a racquet with a power level 300 points lower. Most racquets that come in different lengths (Prince Thunder Lite, Wilson Hammer 6.2, 4.0. 5.0, etc.) have power levels that are much more similar so they have similar playing characteristics despite their other differences. The difference in power levels between the ThunderStrike 900 and 1200 is so great that they should be regarded as two different racquets. The good part of of all of this is that the power level of the ThunderStrike 900 is much more manageble than that of the ThunderStrike 1200 and should appeal to a much larger group of tennis players.
The lower power level of the ThunderStrike 900 also means your're going to get a lot more control. The ThunderStrike 900 scored 23 points higher in control than the 1200. The racquet was very stable on groundstrokes and the open string pattern made it easy to create spin. Some play testers did feel it was difficult to keep the ball deep due to it being such a light racquet, but the stiffness of the racquet seemed to compensate for the lack of weight most of the time. The 900's stiffness and maneuverability made it very easy to volley with, especially on reaction volleys. Serves and overheads were more consistent than with the ThunderStrike 1200 but they were a lot less powerful.
The overall rating this racquet received from our play testers was a very good 74. This is a very solid hitting racquet with a good amount of power, especially for a standard length racquet. It's a very light and manueverable racquet that performs well in all areas. Players who prefer standard length racquets and want a light racquet with good punch and easy spin should definitely give this one a try. This makes it a strong candidate for anyone looking for alternatives to their discontinued Wilson Profile, Hammer 2.7/4.0, Prince Synergy Extender, Head Discovery/Trisys 150, Genesis/Trisys 170, and Dunlop Super Revelation.
Play-test ThunderStrike 1200 Longbodys strung with Prince DNA Helix 16 at 65 pounds. Play-test ThunderStrike Standards strung with Prince DNA Helix 16 at 62lbs.
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