|Head Graphene XT Speed Pro Scores|
Players chasing the perfect blend of power and control will want to take a serious look at the Head Graphene XT Speed Pro. Head continues to evolve the Speed Pro by introducing Graphene XT, which redistributes weight to the handle and tip to create a racquet that swings lightning fast. Endorsed by Novak Djokovic, this update is stable, and it's loaded with enough power to dictate points from the baseline. Our playtesters, who were all fans of the previous Speed Pro, enjoyed the confidence, control and power they found when swinging big with this racquet. The Graphene XT Speed Pro's 18x20 string pattern allowed our testers to be precise from the baseline and net. Most of our playtesters loved how easy it was to take the ball early and attack. On the downside, we noticed a slight bit of discomfort from this update, but that was easy to fix with a soft poly or multifilament string. Overall, our team appreciated the maneuverability and precision of the Graphene XT Speed Pro, and we think it will definitely be a popular choice in 2015.
The results are in, and our playtesters had lots of positives to say about how the new Graphene XT Speed Pro played from the baseline. Aggressive swings were rewarded with a predictable response, and none of our playtesters felt limited by the 18x20 string pattern. Chris summed up his experience from the baseline by stating, "Great control, great spin and great feel! This was one of those racquets that inspired me to swing away and go for the lines. I wasn't hitting as big a ball with this one as I was with the previous version, but my control was way up. Also, I was swinging faster because I had to work harder for depth and pace, and that resulted in more spin. I simply loved this racquet on my backhand slice. I was able to swing aggressively through the ball, get lots of spin and hit my shot with solid pace. With the previous version I could hit my opponent off the baseline better, but I was able to move the ball around the court more accurately with this racquet. It felt lighter, faster and easier to swing. I had better results when I had to react very quickly. I was also able to accelerate it faster when looking to add some extra spin. Our PlaySight smart court data backed up what I felt on court, showing that I was a little down on pace but up on both spin and consistency."
The previous version of the Speed Pro had been Andy's favorite racquet to use when hitting groundstrokes, so the update would have to be near perfect to score higher for him. Andy offered, "I found it easy to hit both heavy topspin and flatter shots off both sides. It was forgiving enough to take big cuts at the ball and spin-friendly enough (yes, even with the dense string pattern) to get the ball diving back down at the court. I did find this update to be slightly more powerful than the previous version -- thus slightly more erratic and a little brassier outside of the sweetspot. I didn't like it quite as much as the previous version from the baseline, but it's still one of my favorites to drill with off the ground."
Troy enjoyed the fast and crisp feel of this racquet from the baseline. He said, "It had a whippier feel on forehands and backhands compared to the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph and Six.One 95, which are the racquets I typically play with. I found the command from the baseline to be about as good as you're going to find in a 100 square inch headsize. The 18x20 string pattern seemed denser than most and helped maximize the feedback from the stringbed. With that being said, the tight stringbed provided decent spin considering it was an 18x20. When we strung this racquet with a firm co-poly string it felt stiff and board-like. I restrung the racquet with a soft co-poly string at 50 lbs, and this made the racquet perform much better."
Michelle doesn't usually get along with racquets that have an 18x20 string pattern, but she's always had a soft spot in her heart for the Speed Pro. She commented, "The previous version of this racquet has always been one of my favorites for hitting my backhand, and this update was no different. The plow through was great off my backhand side (even on mishits!). According to my PlaySight data, I hit one of my fastest backhands ever, and for the first time my backhands were bigger than my forehands. The Graphene XT Speed Pro was easy to accelerate through the ball, and I found easy power and depth. I also accessed a bunch of spin easily; I could arch the ball well and push my opponents even farther back in the court. It was a lot of fun being the aggressor 90 percent of the time with this racquet in my hands. The other thing I really enjoyed was the stability/firmness of this racquet. It made it easy for me to stay in the point when I was on the run. We playtested this racquet side by side with the Wilson Blade 98 18x20, and I loved how the Speed Pro provided much more put-away power. I found a lot of precision, and I enjoyed the extra control from the tighter string pattern. If there was an area for me to critique, it would be the slightly brassier feel, but that's not really a big issue for me."
The extra maneuverability and stability at net made the Graphene XT Speed Pro a treat for our testers at the net. Unlike his experience from the baseline, Andy felt this update performed better on volleys than the previous iteration. He said, "I think the new version was a little more solid and stable, and it didn't twist quite as much on off-center contact. Maneuverability was excellent, and it was easy to get the racquet into position on quick exchanges. The dense string pattern provided excellent ball feel and enough precision to put the ball on a dime. This Graphene XT update was a nice improvement at net over the previous version."
Troy enjoyed the crisp response and control at the net. He offered, "Initially this racquet was a bit too firm for my liking. A tightly strung stiff poly made this racquet feel board-like, and that isn't what I enjoy. Once I was able to dial-in the string setup I found a better response. I enjoyed the maneuverability, and this racquet worked well during quick exchanges at the net when playing doubles. The control made me feel confident directing my volleys to the corners of the court. The downside was that it felt a bit unstable against heavy hitters compared to my Six.One 95."
"Honestly, I didn't think this racquet had a ton of touch at net," began Michelle, "but as usual, that works for my game." She found it to be very maneuverable and stable, saying, "It allowed me to punch volleys away and do what I needed to do up there. It was easier for me to be aggressive and put volleys away than to play with touch. Overheads were simple to attack and put away."
Chris continued to enjoy this racquet when attacking the net. He said, "It felt very crisp and clean -- so much so that a stiffer poly can make it a tad brassy. However, this racquet offers a nice blend of feel and control when strung up with a soft poly or strung low. The racquet continued to feel fast and I was impressed by its maneuverability during quick exchanges. I enjoyed cutting around or under the ball to add some junk to my volleys. I was able to give my opponents some added difficulty in returning my short angle volleys since I found it so easy to get more slice on the ball."
While the Graphene XT Speed Pro may not have helped our playtesters top out with record fast first serves, it did aid them in precision and consistency on first and second serves. The head speed allowed Troy to generate some good pop on his serves. He said, "I found power and consistency when going for flat first serves. My topspin and kick serves were coming in with good pace and consistency, but I felt they were lacking the added spin that I find with a more open string pattern. Overall, I enjoyed the easy maneuverability and the control when going for my targets."
Michelle loved serving with this racquet, explaining, "Again, I found easy power and precision, which led to confidence on my serve. I could pick my spots and go after my serves all out. I enjoyed starting the point out aggressively with this racquet, and I was really able to get the ball kicking up or spinning off the court. My favorite serve was a first serve into the body. I was generating average first serve speeds in the high-90s, which is pretty typical of any racquet I use. I didn't have to try to go big so I was more focused on placement over power."
Finding consistency and accuracy when serving was Chris. He said, "I soon learned I wasn't going to win free points with pace alone since my serve speed was down a tad. However, I was able to go for aggressive targets and take some risks without suffering in the consistency department. My slice serve out wide felt especially dialed in. My serve was accurate with this racquet, and its fast feel enabled me to get some nice slice on the ball. I mixed in flat, topspin and slice serves when going down the 'T' to keep the returner honest. I was hitting all of my serves decently and found an edge by hitting a variety of serves. The true test always comes down to how confident one feels in those tight moments in point play, and with this racquet I felt assured enough to stay on the gas and go for my targets."
Andy struggled with the unpredictably of the sweetspot when serving. He could generate lots of spin for kick and slice serves, but his depth control was off just a bit. He explained, "One serve would go right where I wanted while the next (seemingly same) serve would go a couple feet long. I had a hard time totally dialing in my serves, and thus I was forced to just go for heavy kick serves when I needed to make a first serve."
The Graphene XT Speed Pro had everything our playtesters needed to be successful when returning. Our team tapped into how quickly the racquet could swing and were rewarded when attacking serves. Everything came together for Michelle when she took the offensive on her returns. She compared it to another one of her favorite Head racquets, saying, "Like with the Graphene Radical Pro, returning with this racquet was super stable. The great plow through kept me attacking even when big first serves were hit at me or kicked out of my comfort zone. The stability of this racquet helped me stay in the point when I was stretched out, and that firm feel aided me when I was attacking second serves. There was enough maneuverability to keep me from swinging late. I could really take a big crack at the ball, which was perfect for my game!"
Chris loved taking returns early with this racquet and said, "It was so fast I was standing way inside the baseline and attacking serves. I had fun driving through the ball, chipping it or rolling an angle. I continued to find a very accurate response, and the feel was very clean. No matter which shot I was hitting, I had an immediate sense of where my returns were going and how much spin/pace I had on them. The blend of maneuverability and stability was spot on for me."
Andy was reminded why the Speed Pro is one of his favorite racquets to return with. He said, "The Graphene XT Speed Pro has an excellent combination of forgiveness, maneuverability and control that allowed me to take big cuts at the ball with undying confidence. I felt like I was channeling my inner Djokovic! Ample spin allowed me to go for the lines and get the ball to dive quickly back down into the court. Near top marks on the return of serve from me."
The combination of control and maneuverability had Troy feeling aggressive when returning. He said, "This racquet allowed me to take big cuts at the ball and keep the ball deep in my opponents court. My slice return was working well, with the dense string pattern helping me get good depth and directional control. I wasn't a huge fan of this racquet when I had to chip a return back. I found that it was less stable than racquets I typically favor."
Chris - "I liked the spin, control and maneuverability. This was a very fast racquet that encouraged me to take a good cut at the ball. It was a great fit for my game since I like to mix up spins, angles, drives and drop shots."
Andy - "The Graphene XT Speed Pro is one of the easiest racquets to use from the baseline! Forgiving, maneuverable and very spin-friendly. This version felt more solid at net, too, than its predecessor."
Troy - "Great control for a 100 square inch headsize. It has a fast, whippy feel compared to racquets I usually use."
Michelle - "I love the easy power in an 18x20 string pattern. It has great stability and plow through!"
Chris - "It's not as comfortable as the previous version and more string sensitive. It's also a tad down on power compared to the version it replaces."
Andy - "For whatever reason, the Graphene XT Speed Pro felt a little erratic when taking big swings at groundstrokes and serves. It also felt a little stiff and brassy outside of the sweetspot."
Troy - "Initially I found this racquet too firm and slightly unstable. The stiffness was decreased when I strung it with a soft poly at a lower tension. I think this would be a great racquet with a bit of weight in the hoop and a leather grip."
Michelle - "Honestly, I'm not sure if I have a dislike! I can see how some people wouldn't love the 67 RA and the feel, but it didn't bother me."
Chris - "The Graphene XT Speed Pro felt faster and more controlled than the previous Speed Pro. Other comparable options would include the new Wilson Blade 98 18x20, Volkl Super G 9 and the Prince Tour 100 18x20. If you wanted something a little beefier, the Babolat Pure Strike Tour, Head Graphene Prestige Pro and Volkl C10 Pro would be my top picks."
Andy - "This Graphene XT Speed Pro felt pretty similar to the previous version except for a couple minor differences. On the plus side, it felt more solid and stable around the net and seemed to pack a little more punch. On the down side, it was slightly more erratic, and it felt more uncomfortable when I made contact outside of the sweetspot."
Troy - "The Graphene XT Speed Pro isn't much different than the previous Speed Pro. I feel the Graphene Radical Pro plays similarly but has more spin potential. Some other racquets that I would compare are the Dunlop Biomimetic F3.0 Tour, Volkl Organix V1 Pro and the Prince Tour 100 18x20; although the Prince is softer and plusher."
Michelle - "I found this update to be slightly stiffer and more powerful than the version it replaces. I also think it has similar stability and a comparable power level to the Graphene Radical Pro. Also, since we playtested this racquet side by side with the updated Wilson Blade 98 18x20, I would say this Speed Pro has the put-away power that the Blade 98 lacks."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Chris: 4.5 all-court player currently using the Wilson Six.One 95 S. Chris uses a semi-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a one-handed backhand.
Andy: Open level all court player with a semi-western forehand grip and a two handed backhand. Andy currently using a Yonex EZONE Ai 98.
Troy: 5.0 lefty all-court player with a full Western Forehand and a two-handed backhand. Troy currently plays with a Wilson BLX Six.One 95.
Michelle: Open level baseline player with a semi-western forehand and a two handed backhand. She currently plays with the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick.
Review date: January 2015. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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