HEAD Prestige Pro Women's Tennis Shoe Review
When HEAD decided to jump back into the performance tennis shoe market in 2008, it offered women the Prestige. Our TW playtesters liked the Prestige, but most wished for a lighter ride.
It seems as if HEAD listened, because they have come back in 2009 with a lighter offering, the Prestige Pro. This shoe is about an ounce lighter and offers more ventilation features than its predecessor. Also included in this update is a new technology called Vi-Pod. The Vi-Pod is a rubberized unit made of a springy center for responsiveness and outer fins for dispersing shock. Housed in the in heel of the shoe, the Vi-Pod is designed to offer a more responsive level of cushioning to protect our feet.
So, armed with lighter and more cushioned shoes, our playtesters hit the courts for a month of testing. Here's what they had to say about the Prestige Pro.
Comfort - Score: 4.3
With the introduction of the Vi-Pod, HEAD promises improved comfort. Our testers were pleased with the comfort this cushioning unit provided. Everything was lining up perfectly for DeeDee. "This shoe was very comfortable. The cushioning was incredible, and there was no poking, pinching or rubbing. The height of the heel was excellent for impact protection and extra cushioning."
Eileen, too, found outstanding comfort. "Overall, the Prestige Pro was pretty comfortable. I found good cushioning throughout the shoe." Ilene was in agreement. "The shoe was instantly comfortable on my foot. The very soft and flexible material made it comfortable and afforded great flexibility when moving. I was able to wear the shoes for many hours, even after playing. I did not feel any pressure on my toes or any rubbing around my ankles. The shoe felt cushioned all around, allowing my entire foot to feel comfortable, yet I still experienced the low-to-the-ground feeling while playing."
Tiffani was impressed with the improvements HEAD made. "I found this Prestige Pro comfortable right away, and an improvement over the previous Prestige shoe model. HEAD addressed all the problems I experienced in the previous shoe. Unlike its predecessor, the Prestige Pro hugged my heel, so there was no slippage. There was still plenty of cushioning for me, especially in the heel, and I got the low-to-the-ground ride in the forefoot. I also felt that this edition offered me more ventilation, so my feet were never too hot."
Arch Support - Score: 4.3
With a medium arch support, the Prestige Pro pleased the majority of our playtesters. Ilene felt the shoe molded to her medium arch. "The Prestige Pro's arch support was perfect for me. I have an average arch, and this shoe was always comfortable while playing. I could run and stop without any discomfort."
With low arches, Tiffani was happy with pain-free playing. "With my low arches it can be tough to find a shoe that offers me support without causing too much pain. I loved this one, though, because I never experienced the dull ache that I sometimes get from shoes."
At the other end of the spectrum, DeeDee's high arches were also well supported. "The arch support was just right. No complaints here." Eileen, though, was uncomfortable. "The arch hit the back of my arch, so it was not the most comfortable shoe for me."
Foot Support/Stability - Score: 4.5
The Prestige Pro comes equipped with a sturdy TPU Energy Bridge and forefoot motion control technology to keep players safe. Tiffani was more than pleased. "I love it when I don't have to think about my shoes because I can then concentrate fully on the game. The Prestige Pro gave me the confidence to go for it all. I always felt safe no matter how hard I was pushing myself on the court. I really enjoyed the original Prestige shoe, but like I said earlier, this Prestige Pro is an improvement. In the previous version I slipped a bit inside the shoe, jamming my toes or feeling my heel slip out. I had none of these problems in this newer edition."
Eileen loved the stability. "I felt secure stopping, starting and moving side to side. The ankle support was great, with no fear of turning my ankles. I felt stable within the shoe, and I did not slide around."
Playing pain free, Ilene felt secure, too. "The shoe's soft material allows for a snug, yet comfortable, feel and no sliding of the foot within the shoe. I did not experience any ankle roll over or foot sliding. I was able to stop and go often while playing, and I didn't experience any instability on any part of my foot. My toes did not hurt or feel pressure, and my ankles felt stable and secure within the shoes."
DeeDee raved about the heel support. "I loved the way the shoe wrapped around my heel for extra support and roll-over protection. I felt like the shoe was made for my narrow foot. I had no fear of rolling my ankles as I moved laterally."
Overall Sole Durability - Score: 4.4
With a six-month durability guarantee, HEAD stands behind the Prestige Pro's longevity. Eileen was a fan the shoe's durability. "No wear has shown on the sole. The durability was a plus for me. I wore them day after day on the court and in the gym and could barely put a dent in the sole."
DeeDee said, "There was a slight wear on the outside of my heel, but it didn't affect my performance or the traction."
Pleased overall was Ilene. "I did not notice the sole wearing out on any portion of the sole -- unlike my Nike Mystify sneakers, which showed extensive wearing on the ball of the toe within weeks. I sometimes wear my sneakers for hours after playing, and I have noticed that the sole does not indicate much wear."
Tiffani ranked the Prestige Pro as above average for durability. "In the month I wore these shoes on the hard courts, I saw the pivot point start to wear smooth. I'm pleased with the durability of the shoe. This shoe offers a durability guarantee, so that's also reassuring. I did notice that the lateral support wedge seemed to be made out of a softer material. Usually I don't see wear on the lateral side, but this was beginning to break down a bit, perhaps because it is a softer material."
Toe Durability - Score: 4.5
For our toe draggers, the Prestige Pro offered good durability. Eileen drags her toe on serve. She said, "The toe area looks as new as the day I put them on." Tiffani was pleasantly surprised at how well the shoes held up. "The durability of the toe was a pleasant surprise for me. The original model of the Prestige had more of a built-up look and had excellent durability. The Prestige Pro looked like it might be susceptible to my toe dragging, as I've been known to tear holes into the upper of shoes. However, they were much tougher than they looked. It's dirty, but the upper is holding up much better than expected, and there's no threat of a hole."
Traction - Score: 4.3
A modified herringbone tread pattern and HEAD's Radical Contact provide the traction for the Prestige Pro. Ilene felt she could safely play with aggressive movements. "The shoe gripped the court very well, making it very easy to stop and start and change directions, even at a very fast speed. I did not experience any sliding on the court. I tend to run down every ball, and I always felt enough traction and grip on the court."
DeeDee again praised the heel support. "I was very impressed with the design of the sole. I had no problem with traction, and I was able to change directions easily, knowing I had the extra lateral and heel support."
There weren't many worries for Tiffani either. "This was another standout area for the Prestige Pro for me. I didn't have to worry about slipping, so I could stay in those rallies even when being pulled from side to side. There were a couple instances in which I felt a minor slip, but after logging so many hours on the court with just two slips I have to think that they were the exception rather than the norm."
Eileen felt sure-footed on the court. "There was very good traction with a balanced feel from the sole of this shoe. I felt very comfortable changing directions."
Weight - Score: 4.4
The Prestige Pro dropped some weight from its predecessor, which pleased our playtesters. The shoe was plenty lightweight for Tiffani. "I really felt connected with this shoe, so weight was not an issue at all. When I looked up the weight of the shoe, I was really surprised that it weighed so much. I felt light on my feet at all times on the court. The weight is again an improvement for me over the previous Prestige, which weighed in a whole ounce heavier."
Enjoying the balance between weight and performance was Eileen. "The weight was just right for a shoe offering this much comfort and durability from the sole."
DeeDee loved the court speed she was finding. "I'm totally impressed with how light the Prestige Pro was compared to the previous version. My foot movement on the court improved, and I was able to get to those short balls and run after those lobs."
The shoe was comfortable for Ilene as well. "This shoe felt lightweight and comfortable as far as its weight on my foot. I generally dislike a heavy shoe. This shoe did feel light, yet it was also very supportive."
Overall - Score: 4.4
The playtesters enjoyed their time in the Prestige Pro. Our two testers with experience in the original Prestige found the Prestige Pro to be a solid improvement. Those new to the Prestige shoe line enjoyed the overall performance. As a team, there were few complaints about this shoe -- always a good indicator of a popular playtest. The shoe offered a nice blend of comfort, support and durability. Best of all, our testers found the weight to be spot on (weight being the only downside cited by the playtesting team with the original Prestige). Overall, this is one solid option for players seeking an all-around performance shoe.