As an impressionable teenager eating, sleeping and breathing tennis, I was drawn magnetically to the radical rackets of on court rebel, Andre Agassi. Ten years later, still eating, sleeping and breathing tennis as a performance coach, my ears pricked like a meerkat on hearing about Head’s new and improved version of Agassi’s radical of the 90s: the Head Microgel Radical Mid Plus.
Head claimed the new ‘microgel’ technology included in the frame construction of the racket and placed all around the head, could deform and compress upon ball impact, due to the combination of carbon composite fibers absorbing and distributing the impact load around the entire frame. They claimed this super duper technology could bring an excellent sense of control, touch and comfort to every shot, from topspin drives a la Rafa to the deft touch of Andy Murray’s audacious drop shots. Sounds good to me, I thought and rushed to my nearest supplier to test their claims.
The shop assistant also persuaded me to try the new Head Prestige Pro Mid Plus, with identical microgel technology, which had been marketed as ‘the’ player’s racket; only for those who easily generate their own power. Now, not to blow my own trumpet, but for a 5 foot girl, I can certainly smack a ball, but alas Rafa’s guns I have not, so with a spring in my step I took both rackets to try at my local club, knowing all along my new improved version of my teenage weapon of choice was never going to lose.
First contender: the Head Prestige Pro. Although I’m certainly a decent performance player, with a balance of 11/3” (head light), I found the racket far too handle heavy and felt like I had to try too hard to generate power on both ground strokes and the serve – never a good look when trying to perfect the most photogenic facial expression on contact for your adoring fans; think Andy Murray’s grimace rather than Henin’s graceful stare. So far, nil points on power and nil points on style. I also found the weight on my wrist quite uncomfortable, which is a hugely significant factor as a coach and player in trying to avoid injuries.
So, Tony didn’t find any, but I certainly had found my weapon of mass destruction in the Head Microgel Radical Midplus. The experts were right this time. This racket was perfect for my heavy topspin ground strokes from the back of the court. The evenly balanced weight of 295 grams across 325mm and moderate flexibility of frame allowed me to generate the racket head speed and maneuverability needed to create both wicked topspin and power, with great feel on contact. The grip size of three, far smaller than commonly used in the olden days, allowed my wrist to flick the racket head quickly over the ball to generate that deceptive dip and on the return of serve, I could accelerate quickly from point of contact as developed perfectly by my idol Agassi during his career as the best returner in the game.
My touch volleys were fantastic too, with the reasonably large racket head at 630cm₂ allowing me ample space to find the sweet spot every single time, despite my lack of reach; tiger Tim eat your heart out! Every shot felt effortless, as if the ‘microgel’ was indeed absorbing the impact of the ball, rather than my little wrists and elbows – it was indeed perfect for a slight but powerful performance player and coach like myself; a match made in heaven and my game has improved significantly since. So what are you waiting for? Get down to your local tennis racket supplier pronto and beat away opposition with this exciting new racket on the market. Well, if it’s good enough for Murray, it’s good enough for me!