Prince O3 Hybrid Tour Racquet ReviewPosted on October 30, 2006
Prince O3 Hybrid Tour
Head Size: 95 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 12.1 oz.
Swing Weight: 337
Balance: 8 pts. head light
Composition: Dynamic Braided Graphite/Titanium/Tungsten
Idea Swing: Fast
Recommended String: Prince Lightning Power 16 String
Recommended grip: Prince DuraTac Overgrip
Suggested Retail Price: $ 199.95
Your Price: $ 179.95
The new Prince O3 Hybrid Tour is the player's player's racquet, a heavier midsize stick that underwent extensive design and testing in partnership with ATP and WTA Tour players.
On this O-model the O-ports are at the 3 and 9 o'clock rather than around the entire frame as with other O3 racquets. The change is designed to increase racquet head speed and provide more spin and power for the advanced player that can generate the stroke speed to meet the needs of this heavy competitor with a 337 swing weight -- even greater than that of Roger Federer's off-the-shelf Wilson nSix-One Tour 90 nCode.
Prince boasts its new technology expands the sweet spot on the racquet face up to 54 percent. This hefty addition to the Prince line is for players with longer, faster strokes, and has a power level of only 775 on Prince's 500 to 1,600 scale.
Mark is a 5.5 all-court player with a one-handed backhand.
Randy is a 5.0 teaching pro with a one-handed backhand.
Jenni is a 5.0 player and self-described "doubles specialist" with a two-handed backhand.
TESTING: OFF THE GROUND
Testers were thrown off by the oval shape of the Prince O3 Hybrid Tour's head as opposed to the rounder shape of the other contenders in the O3 line. The 95 inch head nonetheless provided power on true swings and an abundance of control for testers on the forehand and backhand.
"I love it," said 5.5-rated tester Mark. "It is livelier than I thought it would be for a racquet developed for tour players. Once it gets moving I found it easy to consistently hit with depth, and the control was scary at times, though I usually prefer a bigger head. The way it is weighted gives it great feel, once I adjusted my groundies to the head lightness."
Tester Randy also appreciated the heft of the O3 Hybrid Tour. "This thing is an anvil compared to the super-lights we've been testing. The sweet spot feels big for a smaller head. From the baseline it was really maneuverable on the forehand and backhand, slice was really controlled, could hit a heavy ball, everything was controlled."
X-tester Jenni marveled at the friendly feel of the Prince O3 Hybrid Tour.
"For a player's racquet it has a softer feel than I thought," Jenni said. "My forehand swing is maybe a little too controlled for this, but with my two-handed backhand I got good torque and great power. Really stable, and even with the weight I could get a good fast swing, as the O-ports advertise."
"This reminded me of serving with an old Head Edge," said X-tester Randy. "Nice and solid. The racquet has a nice feel serving, control was great, but I needed to put a little "oomph" on the ball to hit really big serves with my abbreviated motion. It's no Babolat on the serve, but there is more control, even when you try and jack it up."
Jenni also enjoyed the control offered by the Prince O3 Hybrid Tour.
"It's more powerful than the regular O3 Tour, and the control is great going down the middle or out wide," said Jenni. "My kicks serves out wide weren't as jumpy as I would have liked with the smaller head, but the string bed grabbed the ball, it is spin-friendly like the other Princes."
The 8 points head-light racquet was an advantage for Mark.
"Like the other O3s this racquet is easy to impart spin on serves," Mark said. "I got some nice snap the way it was weighted, and could place the ball well. You want to have good form and shoulder turn. It wasn't a problem serving as hard as any other racquet."
The Prince O3 Hybrid Tour rewarded pinpoint returns of serve, with the O-ports and the large sweet spot combining for power and accuracy.
"It was maneuverable for quick hitting, and I found it had the heft and snap to bat back stretch returns," said the baseliner Randy. "Big swings with topspin always seemed to stay in the court, with great control."
Jenni found the heavy stick a little more demanding on the return.
"For me it took a little more muscle to get the O3 Hybrid Tour going on hard serves when I didn't have a lot of time to react," Jenni said. "Maybe this is not such a "chick" racquet. With the weight I needed a little more time to prepare. On slower serves I didn't have a problem. It's just a little weightier than I'm used to but I made some adjustments."
Like his testing off the ground, Mark found the returns of the O3 Hybrid Tour met his expectations.
"Swinging away at returns was fun, I played a lot of doubles with it and found the control with sharp crosscourt returns," said Mark. "Good racquet preparation and hitting through the ball provides a great feeling with this racquet, a sweet sweet spot. Probably not for the player who has last-minute preparation on shots, you want to get the head going before you make contact, especially against big hitters. blocking shots back effectively for me required a strong wrist."
"Even though this racquet feels like it has a softer, more flexible shaft, the volleys were strong off the lively face," said X-tester Jenni. "In doubles I wasn't caught hitting pop-ups, the racquet held its ground. For me the maneuverability was pretty good with the light feeling of the head, I'm used to a little more head-heavy balance."
The men were all-around pleased with the volleying ability of the O3 Hybrid Tour.
"I thought it had good touch all around," said Randy, the self-described baseliner. "It had more pop on the ball than I would have thought, and the smaller head gives you the feeling of a lot of control. The weighting gives you the feeling the racquet is going to win against hard-hit passing shots."
Mark, the highest-level tester, was also pleased with the control aspect at the net.
"This is the kind of racquet I could see really good players using for doubles, an improvement on the O3 Tour," Mark said. "It rewards you for good form, punching the ball, the touch is great, the head lightness might take a little getting used to. A strong player will enjoy it, and everyone should demo it to experience this feel."
The O3 Hybrid Tour takes the O3 Tour line up a notch for Prince with a sweeter sweet spot, increased stability and pin-point control for advanced players who bring their own power via faster swing speeds and proper technique.
The O-port technology at only 3 and 9 o'clock increases the responsiveness of the string bed on the smaller head and the maneuverability of the racquet at the net and baseline, with testers noting "it just feels good in your hand, even between points." Placement on the serve, volleys, easy access to spin, and all-around play make the O3 Hybrid Tour a must-try for advanced players interested in what a tour-developed racquet can do for their game.
for just 179.95
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