Prince O3 Blue Racquet Review
We were impressed with the Prince O3 technology in our O3 Red and O3 Tour racquet reviews. Here in our third O3 review, we put the O3 Blue to the test.
Like the O3 Red, the O3 Blue slots nicely into the 'tweener racquet category, albeit at the other end of the 'tweener spectrum. Where the O3 Red is a controlled 'tweener, the O3 Blue is more of a power-oriented racquet, placing it nicely between the O3 Silver and the O3 Red racquets on the Prince Power Scale.
As with many modern Oversize racquets, The O3 Blue (110 square inches) features an extended length frame at 27.5". The beam tapers from a healthy 26 millimeters at the throat to a slightly more svelte 24 millimeters at the shaft and tip.
Since our previous O3 reviews, Prince's O3 technology has gone on to gain attention and praise from industry insiders as well as those outside of the tennis community. In a statement released by Prince Sports, Linda Glassel, Vice President of Marketing Communications said, "this is the inaugural year for O3 Technology, and it has been embraced by the tennis community, but it's also causing people outside the tennis world to do a double-take."
In September of 2005, Prince's O3 technology received a prestigious Red Dot Design Award. According to Prince, "the Red Dot Design Awards is one of the largest design competitions worldwide. Receiving a coveted "Red Dot" trophy is more than just a seal of quality from a competition: it stands for acceptance among the very best in design and business."
"It's an honor to receive such a distinguished design award," said Glassel, "and we're proud of the team inside our company who created a racquet so unique that the world is taking notice."
Winning awards is one thing, but winning points out on the courts is the true test. We hit the courts for a three-week playtest to see if the O3 Blue could live up to the impressive standards set by the O3 Red and O3 Tour.
From the baseline, the O3 Blue proved to be a very forgiving racquet. Finding the comfortable response he's come to expect from O3 racquets was Chris. "From the first hit it was obvious this racquet offered the same comfortable response I found with the O3 Red and O3 Tour. Like other O3s, this one was big on spin, too. I had the best results when hitting with topspin. I was able to get some nice action on the ball. I found the power level a little too high to hit a heavy slice as the ball tended to float if not caught just right. The lively response made me reluctant to consistently swing with the racquet head speed needed to generate a really knifing slice. However, the racquet's pop did come in handy when I was out of position and not able to get much behind my shot. In such situations I was often able to keep the ball deep and stay in the point. When driving shots, I was able to find enough topspin to swing aggressively yet keep my shots on target." Wendi found a solid blend of power and control from the O3 Blue. "The O3 Blue had incredible power without sacrificing control. From the baseline, I had no trouble hitting deep into the court. Not to mention how easy it was to hit sharp angles with all that power. This racquet was so maneuverable, especially on the run. Generating spin wasn't an issue; topspin as well as slice came without much effort. The O3 Blue handled off-centered hits nicely, with a good level of comfort. It was such an easy hit!"
Josh found a solid response from the O3 Blue. "This was an easy racquet to hit with and had decent control for its larger head size. While I didn't have to put much effort into my groundstrokes, both backhand and forehand felt solid with the O3 Blue. The 16/19 string pattern allowed me to hit a fair amount of topspin from the forehand side. My shots had good depth unless I tried to muscle a shot towards the back line. My backhands were solid and, for the most part, controlled. I wasn't smacking winners down the line with the O3 Blue, but different shot selections were still readily available in multiple situations. My backhand slices had a tendency to float unless I concentrated on firmly driving them back. I consciously tried to hit fewer slices due to the fact that the ball didn't have much pace to pressure my opponents." Finding a comfortable response from the O3 Blue was Brad. "The first thing I noticed with the O3 Blue was its generous and comfortable sweetspot. The low swingweight of the racquet enabled me to generate some good racquet head speed, which was good for topspin, but I tended to overswing and hit the ball out. Once I dialed in how fast I should be swinging and shortened up my swing a bit, I was able to control the ball a lot more and place it where I needed it to be. Slices with this racquet were good, and I was able to keep the ball low and deep."
Our team found a nice blend of power and maneuverability at net with the O3 Blue. Wendi offered, "the O3 Blue was stable and very powerful. Drop shots came with ease and put-away volleys were a snap. The racquet was very mobile and responsive. I felt great reaction off the strings with good pop." Also finding a maneuverable feel with the O3 Blue was Josh. "For a 'power 'tweener' racquet, the O3 Blue was quite dependable at net. The balance felt quite maneuverable and the added length allowed me to stretch a little wider for tough passing shots. Touch shots were a little tough to come up with, but the racquet was great for put-away volleys, as well as overheads. As with my groundstrokes, I found more success letting the racquet do the work and concentrating on fluid form and positioning."
Chris said, "I thought this was a really good racquet to volley with. Again, comfort was exceptional and there was some solid pop, too. I found enough power to punch volleys deep with very little effort. Not the best racquet for touch and finesse shots, but great for putting the ball away with some nice pop." Also enjoying the O3 Blue at net was Brad. "The O3 Blue was good on volleys. The racquet is very maneuverable and it was easy to get it where it needed to be. The only downside is that the muted feel of the racquet was not very good for touch volleys."
The O3 Blue proved to be very effective on serve, offering our team plenty of pop and easy access to spin. Having good results on serve was Brad. "My favorite shot with the O3 Blue was the serve. I adjusted to using this new racquet by slowing my service motion down a bit. However, once I got a better feel for the racquet, I was able to generate just as much power with this racquet as I could with my Yonex RDX 500. To my surprise, I felt a lot more accurate with this racquet than usual. I was able to hit my serve up the T or out wide with ease. Also, on 2nd serves the light swingweight of the racquet allowed me to generate some good racquet head speed and get good kick on my serves." Also finding good access to spin was Josh. "As with most oversize racquets, the O3 Blue allowed me to hit first serves with good pace but not much weight on the ball. I also had difficulty pinpointing the corners on first serves. My second serves had decent spin and balls did kick wide from the Ad Court."
Wendi offered, "serving was off and on for me, but when I put it all together this racquet really was incredible. I had tremendous speed and accuracy. If only I could establish the consistency with every serve." Having good results on serve was Chris. "I found plenty of power and spin when serving with this racquet. The sweetspot felt very large and even serves hit off-centre came off the racquet with good pace and depth. The racquet's light weight made it easy to whip through the contact zone for a little extra juice or spin - it was great when I was up 40-0 or 40-15 and I wanted to hit a riskier serve."
of Serve Our team continued to enjoy the response of the O3 Blue when setting up for returns. Finding good stability from the racquet was Brad. "I found that the thicker beam width of this racquet gave it some added stability and made up for its lighter weight. The O3 Blue did a good job of blocking serves back with decent pace and control. I did find it hard to control the ball, though, when I went for a little more on service returns." Like Brad, Josh also found good stability. "The large sweetspot on the O3 Blue was great for returning serve. My returns felt clean and controlled and the racquet felt a little more stable than most in the oversize family. I was able to swing away more on first-serve returns using the racquet's spin potential and existing pace. I struggled more when I tried to attack second serves."
Chris had good results both blocking and attacking returns with the O3 Blue. "The powerful response of the O3 Blue was noticeable on returns. Fast serves needed only a short block to be sent back deep and with pace. When given more time, I was able to take a bigger swing and keep the ball in with some added spin to tame the power." Also having good results when returning was Wendi. "I was really surprised by the O3 Blue when returning. I don't think I have ever felt so at ease when returning my husband's serves. Not only was I getting them back, but I was really making him work for the point. I was able to be strategic in my returns and set up the point."
A solid performer from all areas of the court, the O3 Blue offers some useful pop and easy access to spin. Our team really enjoyed serving with this racquet. We felt that the racquet's spin friendliness and powerful response could be maximized on serve, giving the server plenty of options when stepping up to the line. Like other O3 racquets, the O3 Blue offers a dampened and comfortable feel that's complemented by a large sweetspot. With a solid combination of mobility and stability, the O3 Blue is a good choice for all-court and doubles players at the intermediate level.
Review date: November 2005. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2005 Tennis Warehouse.