A Short Review: the Prince Tour 98 ESP vs. the Rebel 98

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by Dasol, Oct 31, 2013.

  1. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    I had a chance to playtest the Prince Tour 98 ESP and the Rebel 98 today and want to share my impression of them briefly. I have never used any prince racquets before and thus I am not familiar at all with the typical Prince feel that people are talking about (mushy, muted, disconnected...). Today I only hit some ground strokes with my hitting partner but he is a heavy hitter so it was enough to get the first impression of these two frames. Btw, these two frames were strung with multi (I think, Prince Premium Control?)

    First of all, the Tour 98 ESP is just a lot easier to swing because of its headlight balance. My regular racquet is the Pure Storm Tour, which is heavier than these two frames, so the swingweight of the Rebel 98 is not a problem for me. But compared to the Tour 98 ESP, the Rebel 98 felt a lot head-heavier and even a little sluggish.

    Also, compared to the Tour 98 ESP, the Rebel 98 felt almost a dense patterned frame to me, though it is actually a 16X20 one. I did not have to impose topspin on my shots with the Tour 98 ESP and my natural flattish stroke produced more than enough spin. By contrast, I had to brush up the ball with the Rebel 98, though it also seems to have good spin potential.

    The Tour 98 ESP has much bigger sweetspot than the Rebel 98 and its headsize looks a little wider than the Rebel 98. Concerning stability, I think the Rebel 98 might be a little better due to its mass of the head, but the Tour 98 ESP was not pushed by heavy balls, and here I disagree with the TW reviewers who said it is pushed and twisted in their hands against a heavy hitter.

    Today I only did groundstrokes and plan to play a real game tomorrow, so I will update my impression of these two frames concerning other elements. Both the Tour 98 ESP and the Rebel 98 were very impressive to me as the first user of the Prince racquets, and especially the Tour 98 ESP is a very attractive one to me.

    P.S. I also playtested the Tour 100T ESP, but compared to the Tour 98 ESP, it is just too light and the headsize looks almost an oversize racquet to me, so I just played ten minutes or so and was not much impressed.
     
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  2. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    I tried both the Tour 98 ESP and the 100T ESP and had the opposite opinion. The Tour 98 ESP has a higher launch angle and had a harder time keeping the ball in play. I too have hit with the PSTGT and my current racquet is the Graphene Speed Pro.

    I found the 100T ESP to be one of the most solid 11oz racquet I have every hit with. It offers good control, decent spin production, and a solid feel given it's lighter weight.
     
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  3. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    Thanks for your feedback, and I will definitely spend more time with the 100T tomorrow and see how it feels.
     
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  4. pmata814

    pmata814 Professional

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    Thanks for this. I look forward to your follow-up review. I currently play with the Rebel 98 and I'm curious if there is actually any difference between it and the new tour 98.

    How do they compare to each other in terms of stiffness?
     
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  5. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    For me, the stiffness comparison goes with the different patterns, and as I said above, the Rebel 98 felt almost a dense pattern to me compared to the Tour 98 and therefore it felt stiffer to me. I do not mean the Rebel 98 felt stiff like a babolat frame but it felt much more "tight" than the Tour 98 ESP due to the different pattern.

    Concerning the trajectory of shots, I do not think the Tour 98 ESP automatically transforms a flat shot into a loopy one. It was not hard to flatten out when needed with the Tour 98 ESP despite its extremely open pattern, and my topspin shot still had a good pace. I will definitely report again when I actually play a real game tomorrow.
     
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  6. Gut4Tennis

    Gut4Tennis Hall of Fame

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    was the tension of the 2 frames different?

    string and tension can drastically change the feel and playability as you might already know
     
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  7. counterpuncher

    counterpuncher Professional

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    Thanks I hit with the Rebel 98 and was waiting for a comparison. Just one question, how did you go with control with each in terms of direction and depth? I'd be also keen to hear your thought on serves and volleys when you play a match.
     
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  8. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting stuff. Can't wait to try these frames out.
     
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  9. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    So, when are you demoing the 100T esp?

    Waiting for your report....
     
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  10. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    November is string testing month for me, so possibly after that...or maybe tomorrow. Who knows.
     
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  11. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    You have immediate access to one?
     
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  12. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I doubt it but I'll check the local store tomorrow to see if they have a demo available. My guess is it will take multiple checks to catch it.
     
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  13. scotus

    scotus Legend

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    TW! TW! TW! TW!
     
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  14. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I was able to pick up the 98 Tour ESP after work. It has a Prince full yellow poly string job but seems soft enough.
     
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  15. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    Second Impression

    Hi,

    Today I played a doubles match and only played with the Tour 98 ESP to see how it works in a real situation.

    First of all, I found myself thinking about this extremely open pattern during the game a lot and worried a little bit if I should do some adjustment. For instance, I usually hit relatively flat and was tempted to brush up a lot to see whether spin production is noticebly high. Also, due to its ESP, I worried whether my volley would have too much pop, since I never used any racquet more open than 16X19, and personally I feel very comfortable with 18X20 pattern for volley.Yet I felt that I did not have to make any major adjustment with this extremely open pattern during the match and the ball trajectory was not super high and I had no problem with volleying with it. So, I believe one should not think too much of this extreme pattern, since it plays similar to other open pattern frames and adds extra spin for consistency.

    For groundstrokes, the Tour 98 ESP is simply super easy. Specwise, this racquet can be a light players' frame, but it is not demanding at all. It has a good power, almost like a tweener frame, and its sweet spot is huge! Due to the headlight balance, swinging is effortless and it really fits to a long-fast swing style. I did not notice any weakness for controlling it, whether angle or depth, and did not hit short balls often because of its huge sweetspot and decent power.

    Volley was also very easy with this racquet, and I think you cannot blame this frame when you are pushed, since it is pretty much stable against heavy-fast balls. I volleyed several fast balls at net and maybe it had more pop than my regular frame but was never pushed back. This applies to the service return too and again I returned very fast and heavy serves today and focused on just blocking and slicing them and the racquet was not easily pushed.

    Also, I do not think I need more mass to the head of this racquet for serving. Due to the fast racquet head speed and the open pattern, I could serve pretty hard. Since my main frame is the Pure Storm Tour, I swung maybe too fast with this frame due to its weight difference and sometimes the balls went long, but I think it will be ok after some practices later.

    Overall, I am impressed with the Tour 98 ESP! As I said above, I never used any Prince racquet before, so I cannot make any comparision with other Prince racquets. From my demo experiences, this racquet's swing weight/speed is similar to the Yonex Vcore Tour 97 (310) and the Dunlop F3.0 Tour, which are whippy to me. And it does not have the solidness of the Head Graphene Speed Pro but its sweetspot is much bigger than the Speed. The Tour 98 ESP is very plush, comfortable, and muted, but it has different feel from my PST, and the closest feel that I can compare to other brands is the Vcore 98Xi, since they are both very muted and even disconnected (but, I played with multi string, so poly might be feeling differently with it). Specwise, it is definitely a light players' frame but is not demanding at all and maybe too light for advanced players.

    If you have question, let me know! :)
     
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  16. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    Please let us know your impression too!
     
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  17. themitchmann

    themitchmann Hall of Fame

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    Probably Prince Tour XC
     
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  18. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    Looking forward to those who have tried the Exo3 Tour to compared it against the Tour 98 ESP and 100T ESP.

    Somehow I never got comfortable hitting with the Tour 98 ESP but I love how well the 100T ESP feels. The real gem is the 100T ESP.

    For a 11oz racquet, it feels so plush and arm friendly yet offers a good amount of control and spin and decent power. It might not be as solid as the PSTGT or the Graphene Speed Pro, but I find it better than the Pure Storm GT or Graphene Speed MP which are in the same weight.

    It came strung with Prince Premiere Control 16g I think since it was hard to make out the last set of letters but I can imagine what a nice set of poly like Cyclone Tour would do for this racquet.

    I don't know many 11oz racquets that come balanced with 6pts HL and to me, the best racquet I have hit with in the 11oz category!
     
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  19. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I looked and that is what it said on the string.


    I took the Tour 98 ESP out today for a few minutes. This was at the beginning of the warm up and the full poly was not helping me get my arm warmed up. So I put it back and grabbed it later during a doubles match. I only played a game or two with it. There is something about the weighting of it and the older Rebel that I just don't like. Unfortunately, the new 100T ESP is not available for demo from my local shop and I don't feel like paying another outfit to ship one here although based on your comments I may get anxious and do just that. :)
     
    #19
  20. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    On the Tour 98 ESP, I also struggle with the balance and weight of the racquet. It just feels a lot more sluggish in stock form than other racquets in that weight category. My biggest issue with the Tour 98 ESP is not power but control. The ball tends to sail very deep and has a very high launch angle compared to the 100T ESP.

    I also think it's because the shape of the racquet is more oval like similar to the Dunlop racquets which I never really got use to hitting with.

    In regards to the 100T ESP, I just never seen a 11oz racquet at 6pts HL as past racquets tend to be around 2 or 3 pts HL and require me to lead up the handle to balance it.
     
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  21. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    The Wilson Shock Shield replacement grip is heavy. If I buy the 100, I would definitely add it. Knowing that you are a good 4.5 player and I trust your reviews, I am going to order a demo now.
     
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  22. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    Now I am feeling the pressure but I am glad you are going to give the racquet a shot :). My demo of the 100T ESP is now officially over, I broke the string today returning a serve in a doubles match :(. It wasn't a shank but right in the hitting zone.

    The very open string bed of these ESP racquets will require using a poly as multis will not last very long in them. I had about a good one and half hours of hitting before this string broke.

    Adding that grip will definitely help out with the racquet as the original Prince ResiThin is on the lighter side of the replacement grip spectrum. I opted for a significant amount of lead in the handle to make it a bit more solid.

    This racquet is very comfortable but due to the 16x16 string pattern, you will need to have it strung at the higher end of tension range.
     
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  23. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    What tensions and strings were you using?
     
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  24. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    TW didn't list the tension but based on feel, it was probably around 55 to 56lbs and the string was the new Prince Premiere Control 16g. The multi is a bit on the crispy side so you might not like that particular string.
     
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  25. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Supposedly that is rebranded Prince Premiere Attack which is one of my favorite multis.
     
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  26. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    I am surprised that you like it since it is a bit on crisp side and based on our past string reviews, you had a preference for a softer multi.
     
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  27. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I thought it was right in the middle between crisp and soft.
     
    #27
  28. fortunecookiesjc

    fortunecookiesjc Semi-Pro

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    When I demoed mine, I had it strung with that new 15 guage prince has. Not sure what it was called.

    But, I found the 98 had a alot more control, a lot less power compared to the rebel 98. Didn't really notice that much of "extra" spin on balls, but it felt a bit more comfortable swinging.

    though my racquet of choice is still the 100t.
     
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  29. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    In addition to what I have stated, I really think for me it has to do with the shape of the racquet. The Tour 98 ESP has a more oval shaped to it than the 100T ESP, a more round shaped, which makes a big difference for me. I really not a fan of oval shaped racquets or isometric ones like most Dunlops and Yonexs.
     
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  30. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Same with me. I like the 100T shape better since I tend to hit near the top of the frame quite a bit on my forehand. That is the difference between a mishit error and mishit winner for me. ;)

    I ran by the local store at a much slower location and picked up the 100T. I'm still going to have the other demo shipped to me. The local store had the new Prince poly in it full job. The demo that will ship is supposed to have full multi. That will really help me decide if this is the new racket for me. It feels heavier than I expected yet still lighter than the original Exos. Can't wait to try it out Tuesday night.
     
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  31. 808

    808 Rookie

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    Looking forward to reading your thoughts on it, mikeler - the 100T is a tremendous frame in my opinion. Really, really, good.
     
    #31
  32. jonestim

    jonestim Professional

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    I think I'm ordering mine Monday when I return the demo. I've been quite impressed with it, which surprised me after looking at the specs. I really expected it to be much less solid than it is. I'll probably put a TW leather grip on it and some lead at 12. Twistweight is already pretty high so I don't think it needs it at 3/9.
     
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  33. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    I think the more oval shape doesn't distribute the weight as well as a round shape. The 100T is a slightly lighter than the Exo3s but what I like about this racquet is how solid they feel given their initial weight and balance is just right for me. Every racquet can of course be leaded up to make it more solid but right off the bat, this is one solid racquet.
     
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  34. 808

    808 Rookie

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    Yes. I have a Prince leather grip on there and 3g at 12. Tried 5g at first, but 3g is enough for me. Basically the same setup as what I had on my 16x18s, just a touch more lead and a bit lighter overall. Plenty solid.
     
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  35. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I ended up finding the 100T at another store yesterday. It has the new black poly from Prince in it. Feels fairly soft just serving balls. The spin seems nastier than the 16x18 pattern. I'll try it out tomorrow night hopefully. I've got another demo coming in with full multi in a few days.

    I probably shouldn't make any more comments on it since I have not actually hit with it, but it seems quite stable for the lighter weight. If I had to take a guess now, I'd say I'll be buying 3 of these bad boys in the near future.
     
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  36. JackB1

    JackB1 G.O.A.T.

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    Nice review Dasol. This frame sounds very appealing to me. What strings did it have? Also, is the pattern really OPEN in the middle, meaning a poly would almost be required?
    Also.....at 11.5 oz strung, I would think it would feel heavier than the 11 oz Rebel 98.
     
    #36
  37. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    It has the Prince Premiere Control string and I am not sure of the gauge, but I think it is either a 15L or a 16 multi string. The Tour 98 ESP does not look 'extremely' open, since it is an oval 98 square head and I did not have problem with controling it with multi strings.

    And personally I do not feel that it is definitely heavier than the Rebel 98, since it is more headlight than the Rebel 98 and I believe it has lighter swingweight than the Rebel. Since my main frame is the Pure Storm Tour, I personally feel that neither of the two is actually heavy or sluggish, but for me, the Tour 98 is a lot easier to swing and play than the Rebel 98.

    Again, since I have not used any Prince racquet before these two frames, I cannot comment on the power level of them. The Tour 98 is less powerful than many tweeners and has substantial weight, but as a lightweight players' frame, I think it has some potential to be an appealing one.

    Also, I again tried the 100T after the positive reviews from others here, but it is simply too light for me and I had hard time to have good hitting timing with it. I definitely need some mass on the head not because of strengthening the stablity but because of adjusting swingspeed/timing with my regular frame. And the round head shape of the 100T that many like here looks cumbersome and too wide to me because of my unfamiliarity with the Prince racquets.
     
    #37
  38. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    In stock form, the 100T is pretty good but I did add a bit of lead tape in the handle to get better balance and heft to it. The head shape is a preference thing.
     
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  39. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I forget, did you also put on a new replacement grip? How much lead did you add?
     
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  40. parasailing

    parasailing Hall of Fame

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    No, I played with the stock ResiThin grip and it felt solid but I prefer a slightly more HL racquet for more whip effect so I ended up adding about 8 inches of 1/4" lead tape near the bottom of the handle.
     
    #40
  41. un6a

    un6a Semi-Pro

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    Nice review Dasol,
    Do you like Tour 98 ESP more than Yonex Vcore Tour 97 (310) and Dunlop F3.0 Tour ?
    What are the main differences between these frames ?
     
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  42. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    IMO, the three racquets belong to the lightweight players category and have similar swing speed/weight to me. But as I said above, my main frame is the PST, which is heavier and has higher swingweight, so they might feel whippy just for me. Personally, I think the Tour 98 ESP's swingweight feels just a little heavier than the Vcore Tour 97 and the F3.0, though it's swingweight is the lightest on specs.

    I cannot say which one feels "better" to me, because the three frames have strenghts and weaknesses in different elements of play. For me, the Vcore Tour 97 is the best all-around stick but the least powerful of the three. The F3.0 Tour has decent power and is very solid at net, but it has 18X20 pattern, so it can be a little demanding for intermediate players. The Tour 98 ESP is the easiest one for groundstrokes, but its feel is very muted and does not have crisp feeling of the Vcore 97 and the F3.0 Tour, and therefore it does not excel the other two for touch/volley IMO.

    Interestingly, the Prince Tour 98 ESP feels a little similar to my PST because of its plush feel and heavier throat, so I did not need major adjustment when I playtested it.
     
    #42
  43. un6a

    un6a Semi-Pro

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    Thanks for info Dasol
     
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  44. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    #44
  45. skuludo

    skuludo Professional

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    Which racket was more powerful at stock weight? The Tour 98 ESP or 100t?
     
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  46. KoaUka

    KoaUka Rookie

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    Tour 98 ESP vs. Rebel 98

    I was looking for this exact comparison, but couldn't find it at the time so I ended up buying the racquet anyway. Here is my short review of the Tour 98 vs. Rebel 98. It came with a set of 15g prince XC, so that's what I strung it with.

    Normal Setup: Rebel 98 (ports on top, hole grommets on sides)
    Weighted up to 341 grams (10 inches & 10 and 2) + handle weight


    Original Thoughts (Stock):
    Great racquet for singles. I did notice the much higher ball trajectory off of the racquet. Ball would go very high & deep, but in really with no effort at all. Groundstrokes very easy to control. Serves were very spinny, but very easy to control (both depth & direction). Volleys automatic (prince racquets always seem to be great at the net). Touch & feel shots: pretty good, despite the extreme open pattern the racquet has very good feel to it. Overall, the racquet felt very stable in stock form. If you're going to stay back there and rally all day, it's just fine in stock form.

    But... I need a doubles racquet. So I weighted it up to 341 just like my rebels, minus a few grams on the handle. The tour is more headlight stock. After upping the weight, I definitely liked it better. I was able to flatten out shots more and get a nice low trajectory when needed. Even though weighing the same as my rebels, the tour is much easier to swing (probably due to the more headlight balance). Was able to add more pop to the serves as well, but control still very good.

    Overall, as a rebel 98 user, I am happy with the new tour 98. Going forward, my only wish for prince is to come out with the string hole inserts for the side grommets. I think this would add even more feel to the racquet and make it better for touch/feel shots. Also, I normally like a more livlier 16L-17g string, but because of the super open pattern, it may not last that long. So I'll try 16g next time. The 15g strings in it are already heavily notched after only a couple hours of play.
     
    #46
  47. SCRAP IRON

    SCRAP IRON Professional

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    Thanks for the review. I really like the specs of the 98T ESP. Your review has been helpful. I do want to ask what is your level of play and if you have ever used Wilson frames like the Pro Staff or the 6.1 line?
     
    #47
  48. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    I'm not familiar with these EXO3 or ESP racquets but thinking about trying one out.

    How do you think a kevlar hybrid would suit a 100T ESP?
     
    #48
  49. Dasol

    Dasol Rookie

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    I do not have a NTRP rating since I do not play in a league, but the coach at the club where I play round robin games said I can compete with 4.5 to 5.0 level players. Btw, I am 36 years old.

    I have used two wilsom frames for a long time, one is the prostaff 90 and the other is the blx 6.1 18X20.
     
    #49
  50. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I'm using full poly (Prince Tour XS 1.35mm) in the Tour 100T ESP with no arm issues. I never thought that would happen with my past elbow issues. So stiffer and thicker strings seem to work well in the open pattern ESPs.
     
    #50

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