Head Youtek IG Prestige S
Tennis Racquet Review
By Chris Lewis
- Technology: YouTek - D3O/Innegra
- Beam: 22 mm
- Head Size: 98 sq in
- Weight (unstrung): 10.8 oz / 305 g
- Balance (unstrung): 1″ HL / 320 mm
- Length: 27″
- Grip Size: 1-5
- Grip: HydroSorb Tour
- String Pattern: 16/19
- Recommended String: FXP Tour 17
- Swing Style: L3
INTRODUCTION: The Head Youtek IG Prestige 'S' is not just a lighter version of the Mid Plus frame . It also has a slighty wider beam than the MidPlus (22mm 'S' vs 21mm MP), a slightly different balance (1" Head Light 'S' vs 1 1/3" Head Light MP) and a more open string pattern (16x19 'S' vs 18x20 MP). As usual, Head have put some real thought into this design. The idea behind the range of different variables was to produce a racquet that offers to younger players, or players who prefer a lighter frame, (10.8oz 'S' vs 11.3oz MP) the same result as the heavier model by taking into account the physical stature of the player.
In other words, the composition of the 'S' and the MidPlus is identical, but by taking into account the different physical attributes of players who will tend towards a lighter frame, Head have attempted to produce a racquet that responds the same way for these players as the MidPlus does for players who prefer a heavier frame. It's a contextual approach to racquet design. The fundamental questions, then, are "Is the racquet a great racquet?" and "Does it achieve its objective of offering the same uncompromising Prestige playability as the MidPlus model?" Read on to find out.
GROUNDSTROKES: Strung with FXP Tour at a mid tension, the first thing that struck me was the beautiful feel of the racquet. As someone who is used to playing with heavier frames, I was impressed with the racquet's all around playability. On the one hand, it's an effortless racquet to play with. And I don't mean that in the way that the power beasts do all the work for you. I mean it in the way that it is a forgiving, comfortable racquet that has no hint of the challenges that some "players" category racquets present.
For instance, it has a large sweet spot, so off center shots don't make you feel as if you're playing with a foreign object. It has a nice amount of flexibility that feels equally good when whipping big forehands as it does when playing deft touch shots. It also absorbs the impact of the ball in true "Prestige" fashion. Like the other three models in the Head Youtek IG Prestige range, the 'S" version gave me the feeling that I could hold the ball on the strings for an unusually long time. I found this terrific for generating topspin, which was also helped by the racquet's head light balance and open string pattern. Hitting slice was also a breeze with this versatile, all around frame.
VOLLEYS: As at the baseline, the Head Youtek IG Prestige is also very much at home at the net. It's an agile, maneuverable racquet that offers nice stability and exceptional control. With a weight of 10.8 ounces, it's not a light racquet; however, it feels light to move around. And this is why I think the racquet really excels; it plays like a true players racquet when in the hands of juniors or advanced players looking for something a little lighter and easier to manage than heftier frames.
Out of curiosity, I asked a high level 13 year old to blind test all four of the Prestige frames. The 'S' was his favorite, because he said it both "felt best to play with" and that he "hit better with it than the others."
SERVES and OVERHEADS: Excellent swing speed, a big sweet spot and stacks of feel meant that I found plenty of power, comfort and control when serving and hitting overheads. On the serve, there was plenty of "bite" for kicks and slices, and a good amount of power for big, flat serves.
RETURN OF SERVE: I found this to be the area where the racquet performed at its best. Not for a second does this detract from its performance elsewhere, which is exceptional; however, I found hitting returns with the Head Youtek IG Prestige 'S' to be something else. It perfectly accommodates the necessity of sometimes blocking back big serves with abbreviated, compact swings or, other times, the invitation to hit full blooded drives off the weaker deliveries.
CONCLUSION: Head should be congratulated for designing and producing a frame that will introduce even more players to the renowned Prestige racquets. Given that the Prestige frames will no doubt continue to be one of Head's flagship models for some time to come, I highly recommend this racquet for both developing, competitive young players and skilled players who want the ultimate in power, control and comfort, but are uncomfortable with any frames
over 11 ounces.
For competive young players, the most important consideration when choosing a racquet is whether the racquet is conducive to skill development. In the case of the Head Youtek IG Prestige 'S', meeting this requirement couldn't be more evident. What's more, if you're a young player, you will also have the later option to move into a heavier Prestige frame while retaining the familiarity of the Prestige "feel". In an era where racquet continuity is unpredictable, the universal success of the Prestige over the last twenty five years would indicate that Head intends to continue modernizing successive generations of the Prestige while retaining its essential attibutes of control and precision.
And as with advanced younger players, advanced adults who love the trademark Prestige feel now have a frame that offers the same superb playability as the Prestige MidPlus, the Prestige Pro and the Prestige Mid.
MORE HEAD TENNIS RACQUET REVIEWS:
Head Youtek IG Prestige Mid Tennis Racquet Review
Head Youtek IG Prestige Pro Tennis Racquet Review
Head Youtek IG Radical Pro Tennis Racquet Review
Head Youtek IG Radical MP Tennis Racquet Review
Head Youtek IG Radical OS Tennis Racquet Review
Head Youtek IG Radical S Tennis Racquet Review
About HEAD - The Company
Head, initially a ski company, was founded in 1950 by aeronautical engineer Howard Head. In the late 1960s, Head moved into tennis when Howard Head invented a new, aluminum tennis racquet. The idea became a success and was first introduced in the 1969 U.S. Open. After Howard Head's departure, one of the tennis players that Head sponsored, Arthur Ashe, won Wimbledon min 1975, beating Jimmy Connors in the final. In 1987, Head started making athletic footwear, including tennis shoes. The following year, Head opened a new plant in Austria in order to produce more tennis racquets. In 1997, Head created the first titanium and graphite tennis racquet. Today, Head is famous both for its full range of tennis products and for top pros, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, who use Head tennis racquets.