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Old 06-17-2009, 05:04 AM   #1
Tennis Man
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Default Head (Prestige) mid history

I compiled a little file from the bits and pieces that our Head gurus shared with us. Basically I put the evolution of Head midsize graphite players' racquets (aka "Prestiges") in a chronological order.

I edited and simplified the original posts. I specifically omited any discussions of Mid Plus frames.
Some of it could be incorrect. Feel free to share the facts and you memories.

(courtesy of vsbabolat, retrowagon, other TW members, including myself (TM))

HEAD Ski was founded by Howard HEAD in 1948 (the man that invented Aluminum Skis and the Prince oversize racquet) and in 1970 he sold HEAD to AMF. From 1970 to 1985 AMF owned HEAD. With AMF it was like there was two companies, a U.S. company and a Austrian Company.

Generally HEAD racquets for the U.S. market (Made in USA) were made in Boulder, Colorado, U.S.A. and racquets for Europe were made in Kennelbach, Austria (Made in Austria). HEAD made a lot of racquets in Austria that were only available in Europe (TM: Flash Edge)

1970's saw Head Professional "Red Head" aluminum, Head Metal and frames that had "first" graphite :

Arthur Ashe Competition (original black), 1, 2 (brown) and 3 .... all made of fiberglass sandwiched by aluminum

1982 line-up was really diverse; by this time, they had worked into three separate head sizes:

- the Graphite Vector, which was roughly 10% larger than a classic standard sized hitting surface (i.e. 65 sq inch, wooden racquets)
- the Graphite Edge, which was 20% larger
- and the Graphite Director, Head's narrow "oversize" frame, 35% or so larger in hitting area than the classic standard.

All three of these were really good performing rackets, exceptionally smooth and well balanced, still not much top echelon touring pro usage, though.

1984 saw the introduction of higher performance Edge and Director variants, the TX Edge (TXE) and TXD, respectively, These were a little narrower in beam, U.S. made, and wonderfully stiff but responsive frames with outstanding feel. Also their first rackets with an obvious bumper guard.

In 1985 AMF was bought by Minstar.

In 1986, the first of Professional (Pro) series offered in North America was the TX Professional (TXP). The TXP was introduced as Head's flagship racket. They considered it a midplus at the time. It was the very first example of the "thinbeam" rackets, the first with the full-length "CAPS" bumper guard/grommet, and was indeed the predecessor of the 1988 Prestige Pro which began the long line of Prestige mids.

It's one of the first to have Twaron in its layup. The TXP is not from the Graphite Pro Mold. The TXP is how Head marketed the Prestige Pro in the U.S.A in 1986 and 1987. While in 1986 and 1987 Europe got the racquet marketed as the Prestige Pro, in 1988 the U.S.A. got the Prestige Pro cosmetic but was not as beautifully detailed as the Austrian version.

In 1986 AMF sold HEAD to Austrian Tobacco. Austrian Tobacco made HEAD Austrian. Somewhere around this time the oroginal Prestige Pro was introduced.

In late 1987 Head introduced US-made Prestige Pro which was produced just for a year and presumably was one of the last Head rackets made in USA

In 1988 HEAD closed down the Boulder, Colorado factory having all racquets made in Kennelbach, Austria. The only important HEAD racquet that I can think of right now that Austrian Tobacco did not sell in the U.S.A. was the amazing Made in Austria Prestige Pro 600. A real loss for sure.

1988 was also a watershed year for Head. In the US market they had a great line-up of Professional series rackets (midplus sized):
- the box-beamed Graphite Pro, and Composite Pro, and
- the thinbeam Prestige Pro, Elite Pro (bit more flexy than the Prestige Pro) and Elektra Pro.

The 1988 Elite Pro is the green metallic to black fade with white grommet, bumper, pallet collar and grip. It's the constant beam frame, same mold as the Prestige Classic Mids (albeit with a notch for the half-length CAP bumper; the Prestige Mids had a full-length CAP). This racket was offered for one year only. It was one step flexier than the concurrent Prestige Pro, but was not technically a "Prestige" racket.

In 1989 Minstar sold HEAD, Tyrolia, and Mares to the Management team to form HTM.

In 1989 or 1990 HEAD added the familiar 600 to the Prestige Pro to denote head size. Becoming the Prestige Pro 600.

In the fall of 1991 the Prestige came back to the U.S. market as the Prestige 600. It was silver and grey with bright neon green grommets. It was made in Austria.

In 1993 HEAD (HTM) was sold to Austria Tabak (Tobacco).

In 1993 HEAD came out with the Prestige Tour 600 and the larger Prestige Tour 660. These racquets came with the suspension grip of the Discovery series of racquets. In the U.S. the racquet was marketed as the Trisys 300.

In the fall of 1993 HEAD came out with the Prestige Classic 600 ("Star Trek" font), made in Austria for Europe only.

In 1994 HEAD changed the marketing in the U.S. The Trisys 300 became the Prestige Tour 300.

In 1995 Johan Eliasch bought HEAD (HTM) and continues to run it today.

In 1995 HEAD changed the font in Europe from "Star Trek" to today's font. The Star Trek font on the Prestige Classic 600 lasted from the fall of 1993 to the second half of 1995. Then the font changed and the Made in Austria was moved to above the grip.

In 1996 HEAD brought the Prestige Classic 600 to the U.S. In the U.S. it did not have 600 on it (“Mid”)

The first “Designed in Austria” was not completely manufactured in Kennelbach. In order to save costs Head produced the raw racquet in Kennelbach then ship the racquet to it's Ceske Budejovice, Czech Republic factory. In the Czech Republic the Prestige Classic 600 was painted, had the pallet, collar, butt-cap, leather grip, and CAP system grommets put on.

Made in Austria Prestige Classic 600 racquets are a darker red color than the Designed in Austria Prestige Classic 600 racquets.

Prestige Tour has a 'Suspension Grip' plastic handle. The Tour generally plays a little softer and feels more flexy - primarily because of the handle system. The Suspension Grip parts make the handle presumably a bit heavier. So as a result specs and balance of PT 600 is different from PC 600.

'600' on a frame usually means that it was intended for the European market (600 cm - 93 sq. in.).

Around 2000, Head introduced Classic Mid, a Prestige Classic for North America that could not wear the name 'Prestige' because of a legal conflict between Head and Wilson at that time (3 or 4 years ago). By then the racquets came out without a collar on the top of the pallet

300 is just the 'Trisys' name for the Prestige. The Prestige was also known as the Trisys 300; The Pro Tour was the Trisys 280, the Radical Tour was the Trisys 260, and I think the Lite Tour (green) was the Trisys 240, and so on.

The Prestige Classic 600 were always manufactured in Kennelbach, Austria. Head has yet to outsource the Prestige Classic 600 to China. The first Prestige to be made in China is the Flexpoint Prestige.

In 2001 i.Prestige came out. They were produced until 2004 in Austria.
in 2004 Liquidmetal Prestige came out in time for Australian Open. To my knowledge were made in Austria originally and then partially in Czech Republic.

Pro Staff Midsize

Last edited by Tennis Man : 04-16-2010 at 10:05 AM.
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