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Racquet Review: Head YOUTEK IG Instinct 

Head Youtek IG Instinct Midplus Tennis Racquet

This racquet is a cautionary tale about heroes (and heroines) and how players should not buy equipment, or even consider equipment because of who plays with it. I have always really liked Tomas Berdych. Two years ago I sat about five rows back on an outside court the first weekend of the US Open and watched him and Fernando Gonzales hit every ball as hard as they could for over two hours. It was a truly fun match and an excellent display of world class play, which Berdych had the misfortune to lose. I have always loved his freewheeling style of play and his take what comes with a smile attitude. Having said all of that, and noting that I could have made the same comments about Maria Sharapova (minus the wonderful attitude), it is inexplicable to me that either one of those players is utilizing this racquet. If so there must be massive amounts of lead tape on the head and under the grip, and silicone or other heavy materials injected into the handle cavity.

On first glance the Head YOUTEK IG Instinct looks like it may have some possibilities. The frame is 27 inches long and weighs 10.9 inches strung (although the frame detailing gives the unstrung weight). The head is 100 square inches and is in line with the tendency of even world class players to use racquets with a larger head size than was typical in the past. The racquet has a very cool gunmetal blue paint job; it is for sure the kind of racquet that you would be happy to pull out of your bag on looks alone.

When I started hitting with the frame I was a happy camper for about half an hour. The racquet has nice power and it is light enough that it was easy to maneuver the head and find my spin angles from the back of the court. On volleys the racquet was very solid and it was easy to spin the volleys and to just bang them away. The thing I liked best about this racquet was that the ball seemed to go where I wanted it to. The ball flight was very predictable coming off the string, even on little half volleys and pickup shots.

The problem was that I could not serve with this racquet at all. I couldn’t spin the ball or hit it hard or try to just smooth the ball into the court off a high toss, which is what I usually do on days that my hard serve is off. The other problem and this is more significant in my view, is that my shoulder was hurting big time after the first lesson that I taught using this frame. I alternated this frame for a couple of lessons with the racquet that I usually play with (Babolat Pure Storm) and it was for sure the frame and not my arm. I haven’t had arm problems at any point during my tennis playing days, so this is a huge red flag for me. It felt as though it was swing speed and vibration related. So maybe players accustomed to a quicker swing speed will be comfortable with this racquet. The serve thing for sure could have been an anomaly and maybe I would have worked it out over time, but not with my shoulder throbbing. I think this is basically a nice frame, but I would try it a number of times under all conditions before committing to go here as my weapon of choice.

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