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  • Location: University of Exeter Tennis Centre, UK

Back in mid-April, a mysterious package landed on one of the desks in our offices. At the time we were probably debating something important, like whether the world was round or something equally as significant, such as whether it was possible to have both power and control in a racket. It’s a critical argument, of course, and one that’s been raging ever since technology started to affect the way each racket played.

The package we took delivery of contained the two new MxG rackets from HEAD – the MxG 3 and MxG 5 – the results of a breakthrough innovation claiming to give the user that coveted power and control. Actually, HEAD’s slogan is power under control – a clever semantic attached with no ambiguity.

So what’s the rub? Well, since it all seems feasible enough, there may not be one; the MxG’s lightweight Magnesium Bridge has been engineered using a process of injection-moulding to provide greater torsional stability, which means players can swing away at speed without the racket twisting. The benefit? Heightened control. Its design also allows for longer main strings with freer movement, creating a larger sweetspot and increased power. Coupled with HEAD’s latest Graphene Touch, it promises a player-friendly setup that provides more controllable power.

It’s interesting to see the gap closing between power and control. That’s definitely what Head have done here.

Paul Hailey - HEAD UK

Reading about the MxG’s benefits is all very well, but what we really wanted was to see for ourselves if all the hype was justified. So, we invited Paul Hailey from HEAD UK down to the Exeter University Sports Village, along with some of the top British players in the country to put the rackets through their paces. For a good couple of hours we ran a series of focus drills that forced players to use power and control for an array of shots and scenarios, including service and matchplay.

But how easily did they feel they could control that power? “I think with the control aspect I’ve managed to hit the ball where I’ve wanted to – so far so good.” Overall, the playtesters didn’t seem as convinced by the control aspect offered by the MxG racket as they were with its power, although many conceded that playing with an unfamiliar racket was most likely the reason. “I feel I could control it, but maybe with a bit more practice I could have a bit more control of it.

I felt like I could definitely feel an increase in power, especially when I was moving forward,” one playtester offered, while another “felt an increase on the shorter shots”. On service, which is a shot that relies heavily on power and control, one playtester was fairly conclusive in his judgement. “I was definitely getting a lot of snap, a lot of power off the top of the racket. [With one of the rackets] being a little bit lighter, I managed to get a little bit more of the wrist, it’s not so heavy and I feel that the ball was getting through the court. And in terms of the lightness, you can really accelerate your arm up there and I definitely noticed I got a few more miles an hour on my serve than I had beforehand.

Despite being from HEAD UK, Paul Hailey, on being asked which athletes could potentially benefit from using the MxG, was objective in his musings, choosing to let the day’s activities act as the litmus test. “Obviously two completely different rackets we’ve got: the [MxG] 3, which is essentially 100 square inches and 295 grams is much more of a players’ racket. We’ve had some very good feedback from those playing with it today. The MxG 5, with a slightly larger head at 105 square inches and a little lighter at 275 grams is probably going to suit those older players that might be slower getting into position and have a slower swing speed.

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