The new Prestige racquets are revealed. I’ve been fortunate enough to play-test four of them and here is my HEAD Prestige 2021 Racquet Review.
This HEAD Prestige 2021 Racquet Review deals with four models in the HEAD line-up: Pro, Tour, MP, and MP L. They have moved around the names to better suit the other HEAD racquets, which I think was generally a good idea, but will create some initial confusion when comparing them to the previous line.
Let’s dive into what’s new with the 2021 HEAD Prestige racquets.
What’s different besides some minor spec changes on two of the models and the shuffling of the names, is that spiral fibers are replaced by Auxetic – which is a main carbon construction technology placed in the yoke piece. There is still graphene inside the frame.
As you can see in the table above, the Prestige MP is now called the “Pro”, the 2019 Prestige Pro is now called “Tour”, the 2019 Tour is now called “Prestige MP” and the 2019 S is now called Prestige MP L. This is to better follow the structure of other HEAD racquet lines, where the MP is kind of a middle-ground racquet, while with the 2019 generation it was perhaps the most demanding. The Prestige Mid is gone since I believe the market for a midsize racquet today is too small.
There are not many changes when it comes to specs, but both the old Tour and the old S models got 5 grams extra weight, which I think makes sense.
Swing weights are very much dependent on quality control, but when I measured my racquets they did all seem a bit higher than what I got from the 2019 racquets. Strung swing weights with the Lynx factory strings:
Pro: 327 (spot-on with the previous MP)
Tour: 347 (way higher than the previous Pro)
MP: 331 (higher than the previous Tour
MP L: 318.5 (on par with the previous S)
I don’t think an increase in swing weight was intended but sadly just a result of poor quality control, which affects the entire industry.
I heard some players thought the previous all-red was too red and not enough burgundy throwback to the legendary Prestige classic. These are burgundy and black and reminds me of the Graphene XT Touch Prestiges, which I thought were the best-looking ones in recent times. This is obviously highly subjective, but a more universally appealing design should help sell more racquets.
A primarily black racquet is a safe card and they do look nice, but the letter P spelling “Prestige” annoys me a bit. Otherwise, the design is classy and nice, but nothing thrilling.
How do they play?
The Prestige racquets are true to their heritage. Low-powered, comfortable, nice-feeling racquets for advanced players. The update from Spiralfibers (2019) to Auxetic (2021) has a minimal impact on how these racquets play. I struggled to notice any difference. Perhaps a slightly more solid feel at times, but that is also related to a higher swing weight in some cases.
If you already have the 2019 Prestiges and enjoy that, I don’t see a reason to upgrade unless you’re doing it to upgrade the cosmetic. I have tried a few different string setups, some customization, played two generations of Prestiges side by side but struggled to detect much of a difference.
They’re all still excellent racquets for the right player. Despite having looked for a more powerful 98 sq inch racquet for a while, I keep coming back to the MP 2019 (or now the Pro 2021). It simply gives me the confidence to swing out, which I don’t get with more powerful frames. Two years since its launch and keep coming back to it – that’s a good sign for a tennis nerd!
Who are they for?
Like I wrote above, the Prestiges are for advanced players preferring feel and control over power and spin. They generally have lower flex ratings for a nice sensation when you hit the ball and the patterns are generally tight for better directional control. If you can provide the game, these racquets will respond well.
The 2021 Pro (2019 MP) is my favorite racquet of the bunch. Nice comfort, excellent on the slice, can produce some topspin, but its identity is all about control. Just a wonderfully versatile frame for players with a flatter stroke and affection for a predictable stringbed response.
I do enjoy the 2021 Tour as well (the 2019 Pro), but I was unfortunate to get a demo with a high swing weight. When I was on my game, the racquet produced a more dangerous ball than the Pro thanks to the thicker beam and open string pattern. But when I had to defend or moved a little slower, the 95 sq inch head size wasn’t forgiving enough.
The 2021 Prestige MP is a bit of a “sleeper” racquet. It didn’t get much attention in its 2019 Tour iteration, but the interesting mid 60 flex and 18×19 pattern made it a more modern Prestige with decent pop and spin potential. I liked that they increased the weight on this update because it played more stable and with better power than the predecessor. This is an interesting frame kind of blurring the line a bit with the HEAD Extreme Tour and the Radical Pro. It offers a bit more cupping in the string bed than those two frames, but in power and spin potential, they are fairly close, with the Prestige MP landing in the middle.
The 2021 Prestige MP L (2019 Prestige S) is still more of a way to get players that look for “tweener” racquets to consider a Prestige. Yes, it’s more low-powered than most tweeners, but produces a powerful and spinny ball for a Prestige. It’s fun to play with but doesn’t give me the same kind of confidence as the other models. But it’s definitely the easiest racquet in the line to use and almost lands in Speed MP territory.
The Prestige holds a special place in my tennis heart. I’ve been a fan ever since the good old days and pretty much hit all the legends of the line, dating back to the Prestige Classic 600. The Prestige MP from 2019 is still my current racquet of choice, although I would be open to getting a little more power/spin at some point. I’m flirting with the Extreme Tour, but I’m not quite there yet.
This update did not wow me. It simply felt more like a design update than any technical improvement to the frames. I’m not sure they needed any improvement though, because the 2019 launch was just a great line of racquets across the board. The 2021 Prestige racquets seemed more like a way to usher HEAD racquets into the “Auxetic era”. But I struggled to find any clearly detectable differences in feel and performance between Auxetic and Spiralfibers. This means that if you have the 2019 Prestiges and are happy with those, there is not much of a need to update except for you getting a new design.
For me personally, this means that I’ll happily stay with the red Prestige MP, but if I need more racquets (I only have two), I can either try to find an older one and save some money or get a new Prestige Pro and switch in between them. When I’ve done that in set play, I haven’t been affected at all.
Not the strongest upgrade of a racquet line, but why fix something that ain’t broken?