I was invited to test HEAD’s new YOUTEK series of rackets this past August. HEAD was kind enough to let me demo a model suited to my needs as a player. As a matter of disclosure, I used HEAD rackets during my years of playing USTA junior tournaments, team tennis and high school tennis. I was excited to see how I would play with a HEAD racket after ten years of using other brands (Dunlop, Prince and Völkl if you were curious).
The YOUTEK line has a series of informational grids a player can use to find a desired combination of power and control for a given frame in the YOUTEK series. I selected the YOUTEK Radical OS with a 4 5/8” grip as I figured my net approaches and doubles play would benefit from a 106” racket face even if my pride kept telling me to try a smaller racket face.
HEAD also offered a grid of information on strings I could select with the goal of finding an optimal match for my needs. I chose HEAD Natural Gut for my main/vertical strings and HEAD Sonic Pro strings for my cross strings. This combination was intended to maximize spin and durability for the user. I have never used a different stringing pattern so I was excited to see how this would impact my play.
Upon receiving the racket, I found someone to hit with that evening and I worked the racket over. I liked how the racket responded. It was easy for me to generate topspin. The racket itself is more head light than what I have traditionally used, but I found the lighter head a bit easier to accelerate through my forehand and topspin backhand. Solid slice approach shots were easy to hit as well. My first impression was that the YOUTEK Radical OS had a good mix of power and control.
I find that I typically like any racket the first time I use it because I concentrate on technique when using a new racket. With the goal of giving a thorough review, I have hit with the racket many more times with different hitting partners. My fondness for the frame increased with greater use. I play an all court game that is geared toward making my way to the net if an opportunity presents itself in a rally. The YOUTEK Radical OS matches this style of play quite well. The aspect I like best about the YOUTEK Radical OS is how well it transitions from rallying to net play. I have used a frame or two over the years that were great for volleying, but that did not lend themselves to hitting heavy or stinging ground strokes. I found the YOUTEK Radical OS to be firm on volleys and easy to maneuver at the net while also providing nice control and direction for ground strokes.
I think a player should demo a few frames from a few companies before making a purchase. Having said that, I liked the YOUTEK Radical OS enough that it is my primary racket and has replaced my previous frames. My final analysis is that the HEAD YOUTEK line deserves a serious look if you are in the market for a new racket.
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