By Anthony Huang
on 9.28.09

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This year’s tennis Grand Slam season just ended in spectacular fashion at the US Open. Without a doubt, there were a slew of memorable moments. Melanie Oudin’s amazing run to the quarters springs to mind, along with Federer’s between-the-legs passing shot. There were also a few regrettable ones, as well, like Serena’s screaming semifinal match tirade. No matter what your lasting memory is from the Open, hopefully watching the spectacular play convinced you to dust off your racket, lace up your tennis sneaks, and hit the courts.

It just so happens that a few members of the Gear Patrol Crew have been getting back into the swing of things as well, and no, that doesn’t mean golf – though we do love our golf. Coincidentally, Head just released the newest addition to their long lineage of Radical racquets, the YouTek series and so we got ourselves one to give the old Gear Patrol treatment. Our timing couldn’t have been better.

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98 square inch black, white, and orange, fuzzy-yellow, ball-bashing battle axe…

The YouTek Radical Midplus weighs in at a trim 10.4 oz and is a 98 square inch black, white, and orange fuzzy-yellow, ball-bashing battle axe. The new YouTek technology allows the racquet to adapt to every shot you hit. The harder you hit the ball, the more the racquet stiffens, giving you added pace and stability. At the same time, it gives you plenty of feel for shots you want to hit with touch and finesse. It also happens to be the racquet used by this year’s US Open quarter finalist, Marin Cilic, who lost to eventual champion Juan Martin del Potro.

After pounding it with the YouTek for a few good sessions, our shots were dialed in. The racquet is very comfortable to hit and feels solid at impact without being muted. Groundstrokes have plenty of pace, and the 18/20 dense string pattern provides for great spin if you’re hitting topspin, slice, or flat. At the net, the YouTek is easy to maneuver and offers great stability and good power, yet retains excellent feel for hitting drop shots and finding angles. On serve, the same maneuverability allows you to generate extra racquethead speed for added pop and spin, a big bonus when hitting a kick serve.

Click to enlarge chart

Click to enlarge chart

Along with the new racquet, Head also introduced their Perfect Match Hybrid String Program. The new string program allows you to maximize the characteristics you desire in your racquet, much like adding perks to your classes on Call of Duty. First you choose the primary benefit on your main strings and your secondary perk on your cross strings. Since we don’t have any problem generating power (and keeping the ball between the lines is a much more obvious problem), we chose a mix of control and durability. We can’t say for certain how much difference there is between options with the new string program (we only tried one set), but having the option to choose is a perk in of itself. After all, having the right strings is just as important as choosing the right racquet.

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Author’s Note: Head’s YouTek’s Radical is a great racquet that provides a fine mix of power and control. There’s plenty of pop if you’re looking to add some power to your game, yet ample control to help heavy hitters keep the ball in play. It’s is a welcome addition to an already excellent Radical series and you should demo it regardless of your playing style. Better still, it comes in Gear Patrol colors.

Also available in Pro and Oversize editions.

Cost: $210