This is the first in a multi-part review of the Prince EXO3 Black. I’ve hit with this racquet four times with my standard stringbed of Pro Hurricane Tour 17 on the mains and VS Team Gut 17 on the crosses. I previously used an O3 Speedport Black, although have been hitting with the Black Team for many months while recovering from an arm injury. I’m still not back to 100% on the arm/shoulder, so I feel this is a good condition to report on any wear/stress caused by the new frame.
Here are the racquet specs, right off the frame
Head Size: 100 sq. in
Length: 27 in.
String Pattern: 16×19
Unstrung Weight: 10.8 oz
Unstrung Balance: 12.6 in
Power Level: 975
Grip: Prince Resi Pro
Stiffness: 72 (from the internet)
Strung balance appears to be a few points head-light. Although the EXO3 Black clearly feels heavier than the O3 Black Team, the swingweight is such that it’s pretty easy to get the racquet to the ball. I do experience some timing issues and that’s just a matter of me getting used to the frame.
My style is all-court (1hb) and what I never do under any circumstances is stand several feet behind the baseline and trade mondo-topspin groundies with the young whippersnappers. I like to step up, take the ball on the rise, and hammer it back deep and hard. For that, you need a rock-solid frame and the EXO3 Black delivers with flying colors. I can’t describe how much I like the solid feel at impact. I can stand closer to the baseline and take half- or three-quarter swings at deep balls and pound them back with complete confidence. It was a bit hit-and-miss with the prior frame.
Speaking of feel and response, I got a dramatic upgrade on volleys. I never liked being at the net with the Speedport Black Team, despite the excellent maneuverability of the stick. With the EXO3 Black, I can’t wait to get there 🙂
Serves are a bit different. I’m taking more of a half-stroke motion, starting with the racquet raised in the air. The EXO3 Black needs a bit more work to generate the same service speed. However, I noticed that I hit my spots with more regularity. I suspect that the previous frame was more susceptible to slight twitches in forearm or wrist motion.
I was quite pleased with the arm-friendliness of the heavier, stiffer frame. As expected, stroke timing is a bit different. When balls are being hammered to you by a pro or a 4.5+ player, tiny fractions of a second really matter. The first two sessions, I noticed some slight soreness in the front of my shoulder near the chest. It faded pretty quickly. By the fourth session, I didn’t notice much at all. With the Speedport Black Team, I had a problem with the head-heavy frame and a responsive stringbed at lower tension. Even sweet-spot impacts at very low racquet speed (like a drop shot) had some perceptible low-frequency vibration (the type a damper does not inhibit). Nothing but solid feel from the EXO3 Black. I should note, however, with this particular hybrid string job at lower tension, I prefer the feel of the frame with the small EXO3 vibration damper that comes with the racquet.
Stock grip feels really good, although I’m not sweating much in the colder weather. For most racquets, I can’t wait to apply an overgrip.
I’ll post another review as soon as I have pics. I don’t own a digital camera, so I have to find someone to take the pics for me. I want to compare the EXO3 Black to the Speedport Black in the same pic.