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Published on July 29th, 2011 | by Greg


Prince On The Court: Summer Tennis Gear

De­scrib­ing ten­nis gear can some­times seem like talk­ing about wine- vague de­scrip­tions of “pop” and “fizz”, “plush” and “live­ly”. But once you’ve played with a few rac­quets, you can un­der­stand what they mean with the var­i­ous terms.We’ll try to be more spe­cif­ic and de­tailed with our cri­tique than we might with a bot­tle of bub­bly, but even se­ri­ous sports gear is a good part sub­jec­tive art.

With that in mind, we brought one of the lat­est rac­quets from Prince out on­to the court, the EX­O3 TourCom­pared to the Yonex rac­quets we tried out in the win­ter, the pack­ag­ing wasn’t as nice, but the im­me­di­ate im­pres­sion was more pos­i­tive. Sure, there are patent­ed tech­nolo­gies- like the odd­ly-shaped grom­mets that are eas­i­ly vis­i­ble on the edges of the stick, and are sup­posed to help “lib­er­ate your strings”. With vi­o­lin so­los run­ning through our heads, we have to ad­mit that we did no­tice a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence- as they sug­gest, shots hit to the edges of the sweet spot felt more like­ly to ring true. That can make a big dif­fer­ence, es­pe­cial­ly for when you’re on the run, where a bit of trade from pow­er/pre­ci­sion to­wards bal­anced sim­plic­i­ty is a good one.

That isn’t to say that the EX­O3 Tour is meant for, or best used by, be­gin­ners. In fact, the head is a bit small for new­er play­ers at 100 and at 11 ounces, a bit heavy for some. We’re sol­id in­ter­me­di­ate play­ers, and while this rac­quet does not of­fer the sheer pow­er or spin we’ve seen from oth­ers, it’s a very ca­pa­ble base­line re­turn­er and su­per-fast at the net. We didn’t see curve or pace out of it- per­for­mance was sol­id but not spec­tac­u­lar in serv­ing or with drop-shots. But it’s for­giv­ing, es­pe­cial­ly when placed on the de­fen­sive. We liked it best when we able to re­al­ly open up our swing- it feels best when used with full strokes. And the large sweet spot means that you can af­ford to be pa­tient and not wor­ry as much about a small win­dow of re­turn op­por­tu­ni­ty. In terms of wine, this isn’t a port or a rich caber­net, but more like a Ries­ling- pret­ty eas­i­ly en­joyed, not too stuffy, and per­fect for the sum­mer. At $180, you’re get­ting a great all-around, mul­ti-pur­pose rac­quet. And the frame is quite at­trac­tive to boot. Avail­able wide­ly now.

Of course, you can’t play a se­ri­ous set with­out a good set of ten­nis shoes. The term “ten­nis shoe” may have all but lost its mean­ing, en­com­pass­ing as it so of­ten does ev­ery make and mod­el of sneak­er. But re­al ten­nis shoes have some re­quire­ments dif­fer­ent from bas­ket­ball shoes (of­ten high-tops) and run­ning (lighter weight and bounci­er, with less an­kle sup­port). The Prince Rebels of­fer ex­cel­lent shock pro­tec­tion (thanks to a tech­nol­o­gy they call Shock Eras­er and we call com­fort­able). But as with oth­er sin­gle-pur­pose shoes we’ve tried, they aren’t quite fash­ion­able enough to wear out and about, though black and metal­lic or­ange cer­tain­ly make a nice state­ment. They were sized cor­rect­ly- a good fit, with plen­ty of snug pro­tec­tion around the an­kle and the right amount of breath­ing room above the toes. Trac­tion seemed de­cent, es­pe­cial­ly front to back. And we loved the feel of these side-to-side, which is where nor­mal sneak­ers fail- dur­ing a game, you’ll be dash­ing and press­ing on the sides of the soles.

Men, take note- these aren’t meant for the ladies. But they are durable- they’ve held up well against hard sur­face play- if a bit heav­ier than we like. The Rebels do come with a nice six month guar­an­tee against wear, a def­i­nite and unique bonus that we hearti­ly en­dorse, though their con­di­tion (out­sole worn through to the mid­sole) is a bit strin­gent. At about $100, they might be best suit­ed for teens and twen­ty-some­things who like a bit more flash in their step. There ap­pear to be sev­er­al ver­sions, per­haps from pre­vi­ous years- ours was 8P333-087, and were this year’s edi­tion.

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About the Author

Greg dreamed up the idea for the Truly Network while living in Hawaii, which began with a single site called TrulyObscure. In 2010, when advertisers and readers were requesting coverage beyond the scope of that site, TrulyNet was launched, reaching a broader audience over a variety of niche sites. Formerly the head technology correspondent for the Des Moines Register at age 16, he has since lived and worked in five states and two countries, helping a list of organizations and companies that includes the United States Census Bureau, TripAdvisor, Events Photo Group, Berlitz, and Computer Geeks. He also served as the Content Strategy Manager for HearPlanet, a multi-platform app that has reached over a million users and has been featured in the New York Times, Hemispheres Magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Fox Business News, PC Magazine, and even Apple’s own iPhone ads. Greg has written as a restaurant critic and feature journalist for a number of national and international publications, including City Weekend Magazine, Red Egg Magazine, the Newton Daily News, Capital Change Magazine, and an arm of China Daily, Beijing Weekend. In addition, he has served as a consulting editor for the Foreign Language Press of Beijing, as well as a writer and editor for the George Washington University Hatchet, the school newspaper of his alma mater. Originally from Iowa, Greg is currently living in the West Village of Manhattan.

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