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Saturday, January 07, 2006

Prince O3 Red and Tour rackets reviewed

I first blogged about the Prince O3 rackets back in May 2005 when they were quite new, and briefly hit with the O3 Tour last summer when I blogged a short comparison with the Wilson nsix-one tour used by Roger Federer.

At last I have had the chance to demo both the O3 Red and the O3 Tour and this is a quick review based on first impressions after about 1 hours play with them. Tennis Warehouse has longer reviews on the Red and Tour along with feedback from other players also for the Red, Tour and other O3 rackets.

I started by comparing them at home. With the rackets strung the Red weighs 298gms and the the Tour 324gms. Both are head light but the balance on the Tour is several points lighter in the head than the Red so that the swing weights feel quite similar and are stated on the rackets as 285 for the Red and 295 for the Tour. These numbers differ from those on the Tennis Warehouse site. So although the rackets feel much the same when you swing, it's clear from the weight difference which racket is which when you first pick them up. But most of the Tour weight feels as if it's in the handle. The Red is a midplus with a slightly larger head at 105 sq ins than the Tour at 100 sq ins. The Red is also longer than normal at 27.25 ins.

On the court I started out hitting with the Red and immediately felt comfortable with it. Despite the Prince power rating of 1100 it did not seem to exert too much power compared to my existing Prince racket which has a power rating of 850. Both forehands and backhands were giving me good control, which is the major part of my game, with power there when I needed it. There was no noticeable shock and I did indeed seem to be aware of a larger than normal sweet spot. Serving was fine and it was here that the rackets power rating seemed to compensate for the lighter weight. A few volleys and the racket was easy to manoeuver but slighlty overpowered for me.

Reluctantly switching to the Tour I was surprised to find even more control AND power. More power on tap with control than the Red. As I had already found at home the swing felt more or less the same as the Red but the difference in racket weight as it hits the ball is noticeable. The Tour is also comfortable with no noticeable shock and the feel of a large sweet spot. Forehands were better than the Red but I initially struggled ever so slightly on backhands due to the extra weight, which is more than my existing racket. Serving was not as easy as with the Red and would need more time and work. Volleying was fine with more control less power than the Red.

So on the face of it, although I had more difficulty with the Tour on backhands and serving, it is definitely the racket that I prefer of the two. The Red is fine but too light and I would be inclined to add some weights to it. The tour has that magical blend of control with power (the order here is important for my game). However I am worried about the extra weight for me of the Tour compared to my current racket.

I have the chance to play again tomorrow, mostly doubles, and will persevere with the Tour to see if it is a racket that I would seriously consider buying.


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