YAVR (yet another vantage review)

ohplease

Professional
Prologue - haven't had a chance to actually hit with them yet. There will be no pics until much later, if ever.

Where I'm coming from

Racket history:
Prince CTS Graduate 110
Prince CTS Blast 110
Prince Graphite II 110 (still have)
Prince Precision 690 Longbody
Dunlop Muscle Weave 200g 95 (still have)
Volkl Tour 10 mid (still have)
Prince Shark mp (still have)
Head Flexpoint Radical Tour (current squeeze)

Also in closet:
Prince Graphite 110

Other demos I've liked enough to consider buying:
Head Extreme
Prince Speedport Black
Prince O3 Tour MS
Dunlop Aerogel 5Hundred Tour
Wilson nSix-One 95

Pulled the trigger on Vantage because a) the fxp rad tour's are getting noticeably soft b) didn't care for the microgel radical pro at all c) $250 USD for two sticks including shipping is a pretty good deal and d) I think the Vantage business model is a breath of fresh air in the tennis industry, and I'm in a place in my life where I can blow a couple hundred to satisfy my own curiosity, as well as support a small and growing businesses.

I like my rad tours A LOT, so these Vantages are going to need to perform if I'm going to really switch. Specs: 100", 27", 63 RA, 330g, 9 pts. Yes, they're basically clones of what I already have.

The sticks, first impressions

The Vantages came in at 328.5 and 329.5, unstrung, ~345 strung with full set of Weiss Cannon MatchPower. Seem quicker for their weight than the rads (saying something as the rad tour also has that reputation). Still need to slap on an overgrip, but I can already tell that they've got a longer balance point than my radicals (more head heavy), but they've also definitely got a lower swingweight. As far as QC, I can't tell my two apart swinging them around in my living room.

Popped the butt cap - foam filled. Head grip shape might not be spot on, but definitely more Head shaped than anything else. Switched out the installed grommets for a different color - by far the easiest grommet remove/install I've experienced. I think it's because the grommet/bumper plastic is softer?

Stringing is pretty well thought out. 16x19 with mains that end at the throat, so I did a 3x3 box. You tie off at the 3rd cross from the bottom and (I think) 5th main at the top, so both those knot locations work out really well for the 3x3 pattern. I will say that it's more than a little aggravating to move poly out of the way of blocked holes with these frames. They're unusual in that the have no channels in the racket mold for the grommet strips, so the strings are very much recessed into the channels built into the grommets (as opposed to built into the frame). Probably won't be as annoying with softer string.

String pattern is very slightly more closed than the rad tour.

Head shape is almost pointy looking? Seems like a symmetrical oval (it's not, as revealed by laying them one on top of the other, inverted). Slightly narrower at 2/10 and 3/9 than the radicals, wider at 5/7.

Sweetspot is unexpectedly high, seems focused above center. Might be marginally smaller than the radicals. Tip seems unusually lively. We'll see how that works out on court. I'm especially curious as to what that means when serving.

Feel - much has already been written about the "Vantage feel." I personally like rackets that resonate after contact. I loathe dampeners, can't stand sticks with kevlar in the layup. My rad tours have a metallic twang. My MW200gs sing, as do my POGOs, but at a lower pitch. The vantages seem very quiet and damp in comparison. There is some resonance, but it dies off very quickly, much like the Volkl Tour 10 mids I have. In fact, at least in my closet, the Volkls are probably the most similar in feel. I wouldn't characterize them as feeling very similar to the POGOs or MW200g at all. Mind you, this is after the bouncing ball in the house, knocking over lamps test. Will obviously be different in play.

Flex - I'm especially fond of the way the rad tour's seem to cave in or wrap themselves around the ball. Seems like a common sensation with Head's twin tube construction frames. The vantage definitely doesn't feel like that. Again, strikes me as more a cousin to my Volkls than anything else I have. Not necessarily a bad thing - as fond as I am of the Head wobble, there are times where it does feel like a bit too much.

More later, after I get some sessions in. I can already say that they're obviously an aggressively high quality product - now it just boils down to whether or not they perform better in my hands than what I already have.
 

ohplease

Professional
After a few session this weekend, I can say that I'm easily able to switch between my rad tours and the new vantages interchangeably during a match. I felt comfortable with the new frames from pretty much the first hit, and had no problem competing with them after standard length warm-ups. There are some differences, of course, but most are subtle.

For example, the rad tours are marginally more comfortable, produce noticeably more spin. and perform better on service returns. The vantages are better on serve, and on the volley. The rad tours also respond non-linearly in terms of effort vs. pace - there's a point where you can get a surprising amount of pop. The vantages are very even in that regard. Whereas the radicals seem to play more like an oversize, the vantages seems to play more like mids, which is strange as there's barely any difference at all in their respective hitting areas.

Groundstrokes are very close in performance, but different in character. The rad tours tend to encourage a counter-punching style. They make me look forward to returning serve and hitting passing shots. The vantages, in contrast, encourage more offense. It's overstating the point, but it's almost like Hewitt vs. Courier - many similarities, but a difference in attitude.

Am I actually switching? Let's just say that I'm already confident enough in the vantages that I plan on using them in upcoming league and tournament matches. That said, it'll probably be a a few weeks before I'm willing to leave the rad tours at home. Are they the best frames I've ever hit? I don't know that I'd go that far, but they're able to slot into my playing time sight unseen and without a demo and perform without getting in the way. That by itself is already pretty impressive, as there have been VERY few demos in my past about which I could say the same thing.
 
Let's just say that I'm already confident enough in the vantages that I plan on using them in upcoming league and tournament matches. That said, it'll probably be a a few weeks before I'm willing to leave the rad tours at home.
.....................SO:confused::confused:
 
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