Head is bringing spin to the people with its latest update of the Extreme line of racquet. The freshly updated Graphene 360+ Extreme S ensures that fans of lighter frames will not be left behind. Head brings its Graphene 360+ layup to this model for 2020. Building off of Graphene 360, this new version uses Spiral fibers in the lower hoop for improved flexibility and comfort on contact. At the 12 o’clock position, Head uses funnel shaped 360 Spin Grommets at 12 o’clock for enhanced spin production and a larger sweet spot. Stability is improved using Spin Shaft to reduce twisting on contact. Head also brings its updated design language to the Extreme, with this new model bearing a striking combo of soft grey and the traditional Extreme bright yellow. Having enjoyed Head’s recent run of updates, I was excited to take the 360+ Extreme S out for a test drive.
On groundstrokes, the Extreme S was effortlessly powerful. The medium stiff 23/26/22mm beam made it easy to generate power on even moderate swing speeds and full swings had massive ball speed. At 10.2oz strung and a swingweight around 310, cranking up the racquet head speed from either wing was incredibly easy. Compared to the MP, the S took a bit more time to reign in and steady the power off the ground. With a 105in head, the frame had a huge sweet spot and even off-center shots had plenty of pop to them. Accuracy was a bit lower than the MP and especially the Tour model, and I found more success just bludgeoning the ball than trying to massage it to different areas of the court. The combination of larger head, 16x19 pattern and Spin Grommets allowed me to hit huge topspin on my groundies. My forehand took big bounces off the court with lots of spinning momentum. My backhand also had a lot more lift to it and gave me better margin over the net. The reduced mass made it more difficult to step in and flatten out balls with the S, so I tended to stay back and crack baseline strikes a bit more than I normally would. For its weight, the Extreme S was solidly stable thought it did wobble more against big hitters than the MP model. On the run, the racquet was effortless to accelerate and send back a quick pass or high arcing ball that could reset the point and give me the chance to recover.
Net play with the Extreme S was all about being aggressive. The outstanding power made short work of anything I could get my hands on. Like groundstrokes, I had an adjustment period where I had to figure out how to reign in the power. I also had to make sure and attack shots as volleys that were too casual tended to sail a bit past their intended target. Directional accuracy was solid, and I was able to put volleys into the corners and find most of the angles I went looking for. Touch volleys were a bit challenging as the lack of mass made the frame a bit number for trying to feel those type of shots on the string bed. The Extreme S held its own against big shots but there was more twisting when fighting off balls at the net than a heavier racquet would have had. Stability at net would be in the eye of the beholder depending on the level they are playing against.
Serving with the Extreme S was a little bit how I imagine serving with Thor’s hammer might be. It could produce lightning on command but could be hard to contain at times. The power level and acceleration were so easy that I found my flat serve flying past the service line if I went for it too hard. Once I found the right rhythm, my serve had plenty of pace but not quite as much court penetration as I got with the MP. Spin serves were predictably fun and easy to find with this racquet. Kick serves took big, violent jumps off the court and frustrated opponents trying to groove their returns. My slice serves missed a bit of racquet mass to drive through the court, but I was still able to swing it wide in the ad court and line up a big first groundstroke behind it.
Much like the other Graphene 360+ line updates from Head, the Extreme S was a step forward in the feel department compared to recent versions. The response on contact felt smooth and predictable. The feel across the string bed was uniform and there was minimal jarring on off center contact The Spiral fibers in the lower hoop provided nice dampening without overly muting down the feel of the frame. From a comfort perspective, the Extreme S was very solid. The large forgiving head size and improved layup worked well to absorb shock and make the frame play quite comfortably. Developing players and those with more sensitive arms should have no problem taking the Extreme S into prolonged battles on court.
Head is rolling out consistently impressive racquet updates lately and this frame boasts plenty of positives. It has prodigious power and spin potential and enough feel to be dangerous in the front of the court. With enhanced feel and comfort, it is an easy frame to pick up and have immediate success with. The Head Graphene 360+ Extreme S is a strong option for players looking for an easy swinging frame that brings big time power and spin to the party.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke formerly served for 3 years as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho. He is a PTR certified coach and is an active USTA 4.5 League and Tournament player.