From The Radical Tour 630 to the Modern Prestige MP: The Story of The Mythical HEAD PT57
Anyone with even a passing interest in the history of graphite tennis racquets has at some point seen the term PT57 on any number of online tennis forums. The reference is to HEAD’s pro stock code for a racquet used by many of their top pros to this very day. But where did this term come from and how does it relate to HEAD’s current offerings? It all starts in 1993, when a player named Andre Agassi was wooed away from Donnay by HEAD. Agassi had always played with oversized racquets having been long associated with the Prince Graphite OS. Donnay designed an OS for Andre that he “played” for a couple years before HEAD finally snagged him and designed the racquet he would play until he retired in 2006 (at that point sporting the Flexpoint design aesthetics.) This racquet was called the RADICAL Trysis 260 Oversize, or Radical Tour 690 in Europe. It sported a striking yellow and black paint scheme and would henceforth be referred to as the Bumblebee. While the Radical was initially conceived for Agassi, HEAD decided to release a concurrent midplus Radical as well as the oversize. So while Agassi would be the face of this new Radical line, the Radical Trisys 260 MP (or Radical Tour 630 in Europe) was in fact wielded by another American pro in David Wheaton. Wheaton had long played the mid sized Graphite Pro but liked the new mid plus offering enough to switch. And this new Mid Plus racquet would quietly pave the way for a racquet that would prove truly timeless and loved by pros and amateurs alike. The mold HEAD designed for the 1993 Radical MP would be used again in 1994 to release the Pro Tour 630 (and Pro Tour Trisys 280 in the USA.) It had a different degree of flex and balance and a sparkly blue paintjob, but the form of the racquet was identical to the Radical Tour Bumblebee. (Replacement grommets for both racquets are even interchangeable.) The Pro Tour 630 was a staple of the HEAD racquet line for years, even getting a late Chinese “reissue” in the year 2000. 6 solid years means a lot of young future pros born in the 80s and 90s played this racquet in their formative years as well as coaches who recognized the incredible playability of the PT630. So even after HEAD discontinued the racquet, pros continued to play with it under various paint jobs and continue to this day. These racquets are known as pro stock racquets and bear the code PT57A.
How does all this relate to the modern Prestige MP? Well, after the “demise” of the retail PT630, HEAD introduced the new iPrestige line in 2001. The Prestige MP even bears the code PT57E and many touring Pros who had been using the old blue Pro Tour 630 were now seen sporting the new iPrestige MP. Some were probably using a retail version of the racquet, but many simply had the cosmetics of the iPrestige MP painted onto their PT630s or...PT57A! The physical differences between the racquets were small enough to be easily missed by a casual perusal, so it was easy enough to do. This would continue for the many generations of Prestige MP that would follow in the ensuing years. A new Prestige MP would be released, and some pros would adopt the new model, while others would prefer to stay with their old faithful. At this point, some players are now using pro stock versions of the other models of Prestige MP like the Youtek, IG, and Microgel. But the basic recipe for the modern Prestige MP comes from a racquet from 1993 bearing the name: Radical!