Prince Warrior 100 ESP Racquet Review
- Loads of spin
- Very maneuverable
- User friendly
- Large sweetspot
- Not enough mass for big hitting
The anticipation surrounding Prince's new ESP (Extreme String Pattern) technology had us champing at the bit to try it in a user-friendly racquet such as the Warrior 100. Similar to the EXO3 version that preceded it, the Warrior 100 ESP is maneuverable, and power and spin are easily accessed from all areas of the court. The super open 14x16 string pattern made it very easy to generate spin. Our playtesters found that they were able to get their shots to bend and bite wherever and however they were hit. Our only knock on the racquet was the weight. Everyone felt that a little more heft would've given it a more solid feel and made it easier to get the ball moving through the court. However, we found the Warrior 100 ESP to have a very generous sweetspot and a comfortable feel. Players who liked the EXO3 Warrior 100, the EXO3 Black or the EXO3 White will find this one is well worth a spin (all puns intended).
Groundstrokes - Score: 78
Our playtesters found easy access to power and spin with the Warrior 100 ESP, but they wished for a little more weight to make it more solid and controllable. Chris enjoyed it when he hit with a lot of topspin, but he felt a bit out of sync on some shots due to the weight of the racquet. He offered, "This one definitely lived up to its reputation as being a spin monster. I was able to get a lot of topspin on both forehands and backhands with this racquet. I was able to be more aggressive with lobs and angles because I could get the ball to drop well inside the lines even when adding extra pace. It was a tad light for me overall, and that hurt my backhand slice, and it also made my groundstrokes sit up a little. The upside was I was hitting a loopier ball, so my consistency was way up. I was also getting enough spin on my slice backhand that I could hit a short angle cross court or cut inside the ball to hit some inside out slice down the line. I could get both shots to land short and low, forcing my opponent to dig out a tough shot."
It was familiar territory from the baseline for Jason since his regular racquet is the very spin-friendly Wilson Steam 99S. He said, "This was an easy transition from my own racquet. It was easy to swing and even easier to generate spin. I already use a very spin-friendly racquet and the spin with this Warrior 100 ESP is comparable. I found the sweetspot was quite generous thanks to the EXO3 ports and the 14x16 string pattern. The downside for me was definitely the weight, though. I would add half an ounce of lead tape to the handle and another two-tenths of an ounce at 3 and 9 o'clock to get it up to the balance and weight I prefer."
Andy was impressed at how little effort he needed to produce an effective shot, but like the others, he wished for a bit more weight for more control. He said, "Hitting groundstrokes was easy with this racquet! With a compact swing I was able to generate enough pace, depth and spin to keep my opponent on his or her heels. At times I had a difficult time controlling my shots, usually when I was taking a big swing and trying to do too much. Another noticeable attribute was the extremely large sweetspot. I felt the ESP technology really opened up the sweetspot and made it feel like I couldn't hit outside it. Very forgiving and easy to use!"
Once Michelle made some adjustments she enjoyed how easy this racquet was to use. She said, "Initially I was unsure what to think of this racquet because of its lighter weight and very open string pattern. With time, I could definitely key in on some of its positives and make it work better for my game. In stock form the light weight made it feel slightly whippy to me. To hit with a lot of pace I had to accelerate 100 percent and commit to the swing, because if I slowed my swing down the ball would sail on me (I went for a swinging forehand, slowed my swing down after contact and the ball flew to the top of the back fence!). However, if I maintained my power at about 50-75 percent I found easy depth and spin. Because of the higher power level I was still able to generate decent pace if I wasn't swinging as hard as I normally do, which was great for hitting defensive, high balls to get me back into the point. I found a lot of spin, but the spin on my balls didn't jump as much as I was expecting. I really needed to key in on my strokes and whip through the ball to get the spin I was looking for from a racquet like this. I also enjoyed slicing the ball with this racquet; lots of bite there."
Volleys - Score: 78
It was "point and shoot" for our playtesters around the net with the Warrior 100 ESP. However, the lack of weight was apparent, and all of them wanted more weight for stability and control. Jason liked the maneuverability but felt the racquet didn't have enough touch and feel. He said, "I appreciated how quick this racquet felt up at net, especially when I had to save my own life by blocking back laser shots from Carol and Brittany, but because I don't have the cleanest of volleys I needed more weight in the hoop. Hard hit off-center shots were making the racquet twist in my hand. I was able to hit great overheads, but the touch wasn't as good because of the dampened feel."
"I found the Warrior 100 ESP really easy to use at the net," said Michelle. "However, I had to be careful with the contact point, especially on my backhand volley. Due to the wide open string pattern, the launch angle was a bit inconsistent. If I didn't catch the volley out in front the ball would occasionally fly out at a weird angle."
With a little bit of added weight the Warrior 100 ESP would have had enough stability to accompany the soft, plush feel that Chris enjoyed around the net. He explained, "I loved the maneuverability of this racquet at net. I was getting a ton of spin on volleys, which made my angle shots sharper and my drop volleys drop shorter. I was also able to reach back behind me when forced to catch up to a tough passing attempt and flick the ball pretty much wherever I wanted. When on top of the net, this racquet felt great. When I was deeper in the court, say nearer the service line, the racquet lacked the mass I wanted to help me punch the ball with depth and authority. I think just a little added weight would dial it in for me -- retaining the maneuverable feel but adding some needed solidity to punch the ball deep. Either way, comfort was superb. The large EXO3 ports combined with the ESP to make the stringbed feel extremely comfortable and plush."
Andy didn't feel it took much effort to produce an effective shot, but he didn't feel in total command over his volleys. He offered, "It's maneuverable and forgiving, so it's easy to get volleys back with pace and depth consistently. I felt like I could just stick the racquet out and let it do the work for me. However, I didn't feel like I had much control, and there wasn't the kind of touch I wanted for some of my finesse shots. Also, the lack of weight caused the racquet to flutter a bit too much when a ball was hit hard at me and I didn't catch it just right."
Serves - Score: 74
Once again, spin was easy to generate with the Warrior 100 ESP, but our team found it a bit too light and had trouble producing power and weight on serves. Andy thought it required a bit more work to hit something effective. He explained, "It's incredibly easy to generate head speed and spin off the serve with this Warrior. However, I felt a bit out of control and didn't feel confident going for small targets. I started aiming for areas in the box instead of smaller spots. Also, due to the lack of weight, I didn't feel like my serve moved through the court as well as it normally does. I was getting pace and spin, but there were times when my serve was sitting up for my opponent to hit."
Michelle would need to make some modifications to the racquet to make it work for her while serving. She said, "Again, in stock form, this isn't the ideal setup for my serves. I expected it to really help my kick serve, but because it was so light I was struggling to get acceleration up and through the ball. However, I have no doubt that with some added weight this frame would definitely add some good movement to my second serves."
Chris was also left wanting more heft. He offered, "This was the only area where I struggled with this racquet. I like a heavy racquet on serve to help me find pace and get the ball through the court. This racquet simply did not come through the ball with enough mass for me. I found myself swinging all out just to get anything out of the racquet. Again, spin was great, and it was very easy to bring the ball down into the court. I just wasn't finding the pace I wanted and would be adding weight to this racquet for sure."
Jason was successful serving with the Warrior 100 ESP because he typically just spins his serve into the box. He said, "Players like me, who rely on spinning shots in rather than blasting first serves, will appreciate the Warrior 100 ESP on serve. It's very easy to swing and has the ESP to help generate a lot of spin. I was able to serve very consistently with it. However, there is not enough mass in the hoop to really generate tons of power. But for me, that wasn't an issue."
Serve Returns - Score: 81
The Warrior 100 ESP's maneuverability and generous sweetspot made returning serve easy for all our playtesters. "It's one of the better racquets I've returned with; I simply had a ton of options," raved Chris. "Because the racquet is so maneuverable I could make contact out in front and could catch up to pretty much any reachable big first serve. I was firing forehand returns at every opportunity. Even bigger first serves were not spared, as I felt I had ample time with this light and fast racquet to tee off on pretty much anything. On the backhand side I was able to come over the ball and drive it back with depth or angle, but my favorite return was my slice. During doubles I was knifing my slice returns low and to the feet of the incoming server. I was also able to find some very nice angles. I loved returning with this racquet."
Andy liked how easy it was to hit effective returns. He said, "Ease of use was a common theme of this racquet for me, and this was especially apparent on the return of serve. It's easy to swing and get around the body, and with a compact swing I could still get lots of pace. I couldn't put my returns on a dime consistently, but I could generate enough power and depth to bother my opponent."
Jason noted the racquet's fast feel on returns, saying, "I was pleasantly surprised here. I thought it would need more mass, but it doesn't. It was whippy enough that I could take a good cut at a return and not be late. Thanks to the large sweetspot and ball pocketing, it wasn't too unstable. There's plenty of spin to keep shots in the court."
Returning serve was so easy with this racquet for Michelle that she actually found herself getting a bit too excited when her opponents served her up something she could crush. She said, "For the most part, this was an easy racquet to return with. Because it's so light I tended to take even bigger swings and cuts at the ball, which worked out all right sometimes, but I was slappy and sloppy sometimes. However, the Warrior 100 ESP was easy to maneuver and get in position. I just would have enjoyed more mass to help me hit a more consistent return."
Overall - Score: 77
Chris - "I loved the spin, the comfort and the maneuverability. Hitting returns was an absolute blast, and I found this to be a good doubles stick when returning or volleying."
Jason - "Tons of spin! Whippy and maneuverable."
Andy - "Extremely large and forgiving sweetspot, comfortable and easy to use. It requires little effort to generate lots of power and spin."
Michelle - "I think this is a great racquet to pick up and use at almost any level - the stringbed feels soft and is really open, making it easy to generate depth and spin without having to slug the ball. Easy to use at the net. Lots of access to spin and even more when you key in on finding it."
Chris - "Just not enough mass for me to be aggressive during baseline rallies or when serving. I would have also liked a more solid response when volleying from deep inside the court."
Jason - "Bit too light for me. Too much dampening technology used with the open string pattern, EXO3 ports and Double Bridge. It took away too much feel."
Andy - "It didn't possess enough control and feel for me. I would've also liked a little more weight."
Michelle - "Felt lighter and whippier than what I normally hit with. I really had to completely accelerate or my balls would fly. I struggled on serve because of the lighter weight, too."
Comparing it to other racquets they've used, our testers said:
Chris - "This racquet felt much softer and more comfortable than Wilson's Steam 99S. I get similar spin from both, but I hit a bigger ball with the Wilson. The Steam 99S felt stiffer and more powerful while also seeming to come through contact with some added mass. From the Prince line, I think this one builds on where the Prince EXO3 Black left off. I liked hitting the same shots with this racquet that I liked hitting with the Black -- big returns, close-up volleys and angles etc."
Jason - "It's very comparable to the Wilson Steam 99S, just a tad lighter, a tad more user friendly and more dampened."
Andy - "It felt a lot like the EXO3 Black, with a larger, more forgiving sweetspot. The soft, plush feel and easy access to power and spin is there. It also played similar to the Dunlop F5.0 Tour in terms of power and ease of use, but it's a little lighter, softer and more plush feeling."
Michelle - "I feel like the spin has a more 'natural' feel off the stringbed of the Warrior 100 ESP compared to the huge bite that comes from the Steam 99S. The Warrior 100 ESP also seems to be easier to pick up and use without an adjustment period."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Chris: 5.0 all-court player currently using the Volkl C10 Pro 2012. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a one-handed backhand.
Jason: 4.0 baseliner with a semi-western forehand and two handed backhand. Currently using a Wilson Steam 99 S.
Andy: Open level all court player with a semi-western forehand grip and a two handed backhand. Andy currently using a Wilson Blade 98 18x20.
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: October 2013. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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