Often times it’s human nature to dismiss something, based on the initial experience. First impressions come to mind, with the saying you never get a second chance at a first impression. However, when it comes to the Prince EXO3 Tour 100, it’s the second impression that did just that. Impressed.
Rewind to my first hit with the EXO3 Tour 100.
If I had only one hitting session with this racquet, I most likely would have set down the racquet with no intention of picking it up again. Why? I didn’t like the feel. The stringbed felt too expansive and soft. I didn’t get the feedback I was accustomed to and felt the ball was getting lost in the stringbed. Though I liked the spec range, I wouldn’t get over what I first thought was a lack of feel. So I thought.
Since this was a playtest, I’d have to make the best of it. Doing a month-long test, there are going to be good days and not so good days. As the playtest continued, I did notice that I was playing consistently better. The good days were really good, and the bad days weren’t so bad. On top of that, I was getting used to the unique feel; to the point that I didn’t even think about it. When the playtest concluded, I couldn’t deny the fact that I played better with this stick. More specifically, I played better with the 16/18 string pattern. I liked the 18/20, but felt the 16/18 offered a little more liveliness and spin that helped better benefit my game and style overall.
Groundstrokes were solid with excellent directional control. The combination of being able to flatten out shots for winners yet enough touch to place the more delicate shots was very good. I felt comfortable hitting all shots from the baseline whether it was an angled forehand, coming over the top of the backhand or slicing one down the line. Suffice it to say, I felt confident with precision from the baseline. At net, the EXO3 Tour 100 spec’d out well for me. It had a nice head light balance, a large sweetspot, and a soft flex and feel. It provided opportunities to vary shots because of its versatility. I felt the same concerning serve returns. The stability of the frame made chipping and blocking back serves rather easy, while still maneuverable enough to come through the ball with good swing speed when looking to be aggressive. If there was one thing I thought it lacked, was power on serve. To be fair, it’s not underpowered in this regard, but I was hoping the open string pattern of the 16/18 would offer some added zip.
When it’s all said and done, the Prince EXO3 Tour 100 is a racquet that I would have to consider using as my main stick of choice, because I can’t deny the results. Anyone else that has had the initial “don’t like the feel” feeling with this racquet, I recommend you have some patience, as you might just be wooed with that second impression.
*The string I preferred during this test was the Prince Hybrid Power EXP. Putting Prince Poly EXP in the mains, with Prince Premier LT in the crosses was a nice compliment to the overall performance of the racquet.
Playtesting Tourna Big Hitter 17 was like riding a rollercoaster for me. I had so many up and down feelings about Unique’s Big Hitter Silver. I found it to be a very pleasurable poly to string. Once the string was out of the package and uncoiled I had no issues with recoiling or kinking; the surface of the string was easy to hold and weave as it had a chalky yet crisp feel to it. Being a 17-gauge gave it even more points in the stringing department; it was very pliable and it felt similar to stringing something like the WeissCannon Silverstring or the Topspin Cyber Flash.
The first hit was pretty unimpressive. The response was a bit muted, the string was soft, yet it wasn’t pocketing the ball very well. I had strung my weighted Babolat Pure Storm at 61 lbs and would say that the string didn’t perform that well at that high of a tension. Once the string settled after about 30 minutes of hitting, the feel improved and I started to get a little more plow through but I would still describe the response as being a little mushy feeling for a poly. Spin potential was also a little lackluster relative to other polyesters out there; most of the spin was being generated by the stroke while the string seemed to act as an accessory for topspin.
As the weeks went on the string maintained its feel and control but around the 13-14 hour mark I noticed a definite loss in tension. The tension loss wasn’t horrible but I had to make sure to really keep the swing speed up or the ball would trampoline off the stringbed with little topspin, usually hitting some part of the back fence. Even though I had to concentrate on my shots more, the power that came with the lower tension also came with a feeling of glee once I got a handle on controlling it. I did really enjoy this string at the net; the combination of low power and soft feel was great for drop shots and short angled volleys. The string seemed to play better at a lower tension but technique was key in producing the topspin necessary to keep it in the court. Unfortunately, shortly after losing tension, around the 17-hour mark, the string seemed to die and I had to cut them out of my frame. No matter how hard I would swing, the type of shot hit (flat or topspin), I just couldn’t produce the power to really finish points and would usually have to hit one or two more balls after a shot I would normally pump a fist for.
The ups and downs during the playtest would make me hesitant to switch to this string. Despite my own feelings, I do think there is a good market for it. Competitive players with a fast swing, who generate a lot of power would get along quite well with the Big Hitter Silver. It would be perfect in a hybrid setting if you’re aiming to tone down the power without increasing tension, and anyone who likes the control aspect of polyester strings but doesn’t like the 2 X 4 feel should definitely give this one a shot.