At an early age, most people quickly find out which athletic camp they fall into, either brute strength or finesse. Is it a stereotype to say that guys who write probably fall into the latter (if one at all)? We’re not sure, but finessing things is something we take a lot of pride in, times ten when it involves catgut. Even so, the 2013 Head YOUTEK Graphene Speed Pro ($200) introduced a new level of speed and power to our game without damaging the delicate side of our play.
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Claiming to be the lightest and strongest material (Graphene, which consists of a “single two-dimensional layer of carbon atoms”) on Earth is pretty bold, but after play-testing this stick for a month or so we had nothing but good things to say about it. The Graphene technology shifts the weight of the racquet towards the ends of the frame, which is immediately perceptible, in a good way: there’s a stability that made us feel confident in every stroke.
The Graphene frame (9-11.1 ounces, depending on your choice within the line) also helped alleviate some of the stresses of pushing into a fifth set by delaying the onset of arm fatigue. Every ounce really does count here; unless your arms look like Nadal’s, this thing is a lifesaver.
Confident ground strokes and poppy overheads make this racquet the best version of the Speed yet. Accessing spin feels comfortable, and the stability of the frame allows you to play well from any position on the court. Our only complaints came in the areas of tension and string choice, but the frame itself was fantastic. Restring and re-wrap the grip to personalize your setup and you’re good to go.
If that’s not enough for you, consider the fact that powerhouse Novak Djokovic just won the 2013 Australian Open with it. If you’re better than him, feel free to find another racquet.