Prince O3 Blue Racquet ReviewPosted on November 2, 2006
Prince O3 Blue
Head Size: 110 sq. in.
Length: 27.5 in.
Weight: 9.5 oz.
Swing Weight: 285
Balance: 2 pts. head light
Idea Swing: moderate
Recommended String: Prince Lightning Power 16 String
Recommended grip: Prince DuraTac Overgrip
By transforming the stringing holes on the sides, top and bottom of the racquet into giant "O-ports," Prince boasts its new technology expands the sweet spot on the racquet face up to 54 percent. This powerful racquet on the borderline between shorter, slower strokes and players with moderate-to-long strokes has a power level of 1,300 on Prince's 500 to 1,600 scale.
The O3 Blue comes in somewhere in between the powerful O3 Silver and the smaller-headed and heavier O3 Red player's model.
The O3 line has been getting impressive reviews since its debut, receiving a prestigious Red Dot Design Award, but let's see how this power-oriented and elongated (27.5 inches) rates from the X-testers.
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
None of the X-testers experienced a power outage with the O3 Blue, finding it lively off the forehand and backhand sides. Comments included comfortable power with a large-feeling sweet spot, forgiving on off-center hits. "Like others in O3 line, it's easy to put spin on the ball," said Jenni. "Nice power on the slice without having to take a big cut at the ball."
Randy said, "It reminds me of more of a game-improvement racquet for a little lower-level players, because it is so easy to use, power and control-wise, nothing fancy. The control is not 100 percent for me, but very powerful, like the other O3s it has easy access, feels good right from the get-go."
Mark, the most advanced tester, found it somewhat limiting with his type of play. "I found slicing a little difficult with some balls floating and sitting up, but I got the hang of it somewhat with some adjustments. I couldn't take real big cuts at the ball, round-house swings, or it would sail. It seems like a racquet for players with a shorter, compact swing."
The accolades were almost universal for the delivery of service, with the wide string bed of the O3 Blue allowing for power and control through easy spin.
"I could whip the head of this racquet pretty easily through the second serve to generate kick or slice, as well as popping flat serves down the middle or wide," said Randy. "The big [racquet] face allowed for plenty of spin."
Jenni found the not-too-stiff feel of the racquet was the perfect marriage of power and feel. "This racquet really worked for me serving, but most all the Princes seem to, for me," said Jenni. "In doubles I didn't have a problem with a big 1st serve percentage even though I felt I had all the power I could handle."
The spin and pop on the serve was universally felt, with only the 5.5-level Mark noting he "couldn't hit quite as heavy a ball as I wanted to, through the court -- but plenty of spin and accuracy, a nice serving stick."
The large sweet spot of the O3 Blue and the lighter swing speed had testers feeling comfortable even against big servers. "If I went for the return I could pressure my opponent with deep returns, I felt I had pretty good control off the backhand too," said Randy of his one-hander off the backhand side.
Jenni felt if she got her two-hander on the ball she had a good chance against big servers. "I liked the fact that the racquet is real forgiving on off-center returns," Jenni said. "Flat returns were a little harder for me with all the power, but if I put a little extra "top" on the ball it felt fine. Blocking the ball back on big serves, especially against men when I was playing mixed doubles, was great with that extra power."
For Mark the results were similar to his groundstrokes. "Medium swings were good, like on the groundstrokes," said Mark. "But big swings off the return were tougher, had to try and hit with power with a shorter swing."
Everyone agreed the O3 blue was a good mover at the net, easy to maneuver but tailored to a certain volley style.
Jenni said, "I thought it was a good volley racquet with probably more power than feel, but I'm a pretty straight-ahead volleyer and just try to put balls away rather than get too fancy. It has nice pop and it was easy to consistently volley deep."
The men found the touch with the O3 Blue a little wanting. "I like to get a little crazy at the net sometimes, but this racquet left me popping volleys up that I would normally be able to control," said Mark. "Drop shots were a big adjustment."
Randy concurred that the O3 Blue was better served to sticking volleys than massaging or getting too cute. "Regular volleying was fine if you didn't try to do to much, as least for me. I thought drop shots or touch shots were difficult because the string bed is just so responsive."
A not-too-stiff feel and a large responsive face make the Prince O3 Blue a comfortable racquet, with easy access to power tailored to players looking to master opponents in the 3.0 to 4.5 range. Testers agreed it is a solid all-around racquet, easy on the serve and with no lack of "pop" from the baseline. Plenty of spin off the wide string bed allows bite off slice and topspin drives, and stability on off-center hits, the "O" technology makes the Blue a must-try.
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