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Prince Phantom 97P Review

Price: $149.00MSRP: $199.00
Overall 81
Groundstrokes 82
Volleys 83
Serves 85
Returns 84
Power 77
Control 85
Maneuverability 83
Stability 81
Comfort 90
Touch/Feel 89
Topspin 85
Slice 82

Summary

Players who loved Prince's Phantom line but craved a head size between 93 and 100 square inches will be delighted with the Phantom 97P. Loaded with feel, this new model will appeal to modern players in search of speed, spin and control. Weighing nearly 12 ounces, this racquet cut through the air surprisingly well. Our playtesters were also impressed by how well the thin beam stood up against big hitters. The 16x18 string pattern offered our team just the right launch angle to access good spin and depth. Even with their varying game styles, our four playtesters all found they could unlock some great qualities from this racquet, including hitting targets on serves, easily whipping returns back into play and having the ease to block balls back or putting them away at the net. Players craving classic control in a modern package will definitely want to take a closer look at the Phantom 97P.

Upsides

  • Feel
  • Comfort
  • Spin

Downsides

  • Smaller sweetspot

Bottom Line

This racquet mixes a buttery, flexible feel with a spin-friendly response.

Ability

Strong intermediate to advanced

Groundstrokes - Score: 82

The Phantom Pro 97P swung fast from the baseline while offering great access to spin and depth. Chris found it to be an easy racquet to use when grinding out points at the baseline. He said, "The sweetspot felt generous, so even though this was very much a control-oriented racquet, I still found easy access to pace and depth. Getting spin was also a snap and further enhanced my control over the ball. I was able to drive through my backhand slice while maintaining precision. On topspin shots, I could gauge the amount of spin I was getting, which helped me flirt with the lines on angles and lobs. I was also impressed with how smooth and comfortable the response felt, no matter the type of shot I was hitting."

"This racquet kept me coming back because of the feel when hitting in the sweetspot," said Michelle, whose own racquet has similar specs to this Phantom 97P. "Unfortunately, that feel wasn't as consistent as I was hoping for. I must admit I am harsher when judging racquets that fall into a similar spec range to my Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph because I adore everything about that racquet. This Phantom was super flexible, which is not my favorite feel. I did note some great pocketing; the ball really sunk into the stringbed, and I could launch it back out. However, the sweetspot felt a bit small, and if I missed it the racquet twirled a bit in my hands, causing some erratic shots. I was craving more stability and a stiffer feel, which is just my personal preference with racquets. I was hoping for a little more swingweight as well. In turn, the racquet was super speedy, and I could accelerate fast even off balls hit deep in the court. I think this racquet is a definite demo for anyone looking for something flexy, fast and more comfortable than some of the stiffer 97-square-inch racquets. When the ball was struck in the sweetspot it was enough to keep me jonesing for that feel over and over again."

Although this racquet is heavier than what Jason typically uses, he found some success from the baseline. He said, "I found it was pretty easy to swing the Phantom 97P and generate racquet head speed. The combination of the weight and the open string pattern made for great slices on my backhand. I also loved hitting drop shots and short slices with it because I felt well connected to my shots, allowing me to judge depth more accurately. I struggled a bit on shots hit at my feet as well as flicking cross-court forehands on the run. I think the weight of the racquet was putting it just out of range for me to fully swing out on every shot."

Julie found that the Phantom 97P worked nicely for her game, especially when she wanted to take some pace off, place the ball smartly and hit with a lot of spin. She said, "It was tough to remain aggressive with this racquet because of its small sweetspot, low flex level and thinner beam. However, as soon as I let the racquet do its thing instead of muscling the ball, I was rewarded with feel, control and spin. The rounder head and 16x18 string pattern created a good launch angle. I was able to reach ideal depth with a nice whirl on the ball, so I didn't fear that my shots would fly outside the limits of the court. This is a low-powered racquet, but I never found it too hard to maneuver. I thought it had the perfect amount of mass behind the ball for me to hit my favorite short cross-court shot. There was also nice feel, and I could hit efficient drop shots. My slices weren't sitting as low as I wanted them to, but considering the amount of spin I was able to generate, I didn't mind this little downside."

Prince Phantom 97P Racquet view 2

Volleys - Score: 83

Our playtesters were happy with the Phantom 97P's feel and surprised by its stability and versatility at net. Although the flexible response wasn't to her liking on groundstrokes, Michelle was able to tap into it at net. She said, "I really liked the Phantom 97P at the net. The feel was outstanding and well received. The racquet was easy to get into position and block balls back with. I could swing big, too. Actually, I loved swinging volleys with this racquet. That flexible feel just worked, and I could get that ball moving loaded with spin and pop. Both depth and touch shots were easy to execute. Plus, the racquet was fairly stable and very easy to get into position."

"It's amazing how a little extra mass can help my volley game," added Jason. "Physics: it works! I was able to just get the racquet out in front and let it do the work — whether that was absorbing pace, hitting a short volley, punching it deep or putting away an overhead. The extra mass was great for that."

For Julie, finding the center of the stringbed was key. She explained, "Once again, I had nice feel at impact, but I had to make sure to be in position. Extra focus was required at net because hitting outside of the small sweetspot resulted in loss of stability and feel. The open string pattern helped me find nice depth, but the launch angle was too high when I hit volleys below the level of the net. I felt connected to the ball when it landed in the sweetspot, but it had to be found!"

Chris had all the ingredients he needed to succeed at net with the Phantom 97P. He said, "I liked the balance of maneuverability and stability. I could easily get the racquet into position and punch through my shots. When having to react quickly, the racquet remained solid — even if my timing wasn't. I found a ton of touch on my drop volleys and angles. I had zero complaints and found it a great racquet at net."

Prince Phantom 97P Racquet view 3

Serves - Score: 85

For the most part, our playtesters reveled in their ability to serve effectively with the Phantom 97P. However, Jason struggled a little. He described, "The spin I was getting was really good, but I was having a harder time generating pace. Maybe it was the lower flex, maybe it was the nearly 12-ounce static weight — maybe it was a bit of both."

On the flip side, the serve was Julie's favorite stroke with this Phantom 97P. "If I could start a point on serve with this racquet and grab my racquet of choice for the rest of the point, I would," she said. "Michelle and I hit our first serves with this racquet together, and we were both excited to see how easy it was to reach wider targets on the deuce side. The mass of the racquet and the nice feel at impact helped me slice the ball and add some kick on my second serves. I didn't get the most power out of this racquet, but when the execution was right, reaching my targets was relatively easy."

Like her practice partner, Michelle loved this racquet for serves. She added, "I often struggle with the wide serve on the deuce side, but it was so easy to hit and hit well with the Phantom 97P. Serves were simple and seamless. Easy angles, easy spin, easy targeting, and I could still generate some power. No complaints here!"

Chris served accurately and consistently as well. He said, "I enjoyed the precise response and felt full of confidence when I stepped up to the line to serve. There was enough mass to the racquet to help provide ample power, so I didn't feel like I was giving up anything in the speed department. I continued to be impressed by the level of comfort I found from this racquet even when it was strung with a stiff co-poly string."

Prince Phantom 97P Racquet view 3

Returns - Score: 84

The controlled response of the Phantom 97P made it a fun racquet for Chris to take good cuts at the ball with on returns. He said, "There was enough to this racquet to keep it feeling solid and stable even when the pace picked up. The head-light balance made it quick to maneuver. I could position the racquet and then quickly accelerate through my shots with no issues. The stringbed offered up ample spin to let me confidently swing big and keep my shots well within the lines."

For Julie, the key to success was letting the racquet do its job. She explained, "I had to let the Phantom 97P absorb the pace to place the ball and generate spin. With time, it gave me extra confidence. I was able to find nice consistency and erase unforced errors because I never tried to go for too much. Overhitting was always penalized with a loss of feel, and even stability. I wanted to make sure to feel connected to the ball on each return to be able to start building my point right off the bat."

Michelle's personal preferences for racquets came into play when returning. She described, "While the stringbed felt soft and plush at contact, I just got lost a little. In general, I prefer a firmer response. At times, I found I was swinging so fast I just couldn't get the ball in the middle of the racquet. When the ball wasn't in the sweetspot the racquet spiraled in my hands. A little customizing will make it feel more stable. It was very hit or miss — a winner or a mistake. I was able to hit some good targets but not consistently enough to use in point play. I needed to take pace off the ball to get a more consistent feel, which isn't typically my style."

On the other hand, Jason really enjoyed returning with this racquet. He said, "It was whippy enough that I could take full cuts and be aggressive when facing slower serves. Against big hitters, the weight really helped when blocking a return back. The only downside was that I thought it was tougher than normal to find angles, especially on my forehand side."

Overall - Score: 81

Likes

Chris - "I love the feel, comfort, control and spin, and I’m even impressed by the clean cosmetics."

Michelle - "Love this Phantom 97P on serve and at net."

Jason - "Great feel. Solid and stable response while still being maneuverable."

Julie - "Definitely the feel and spin generation."

Dislikes

Chris - "I'd add a leather grip, as found on the Phantom 93 models."

Michelle - "I feel like the sweetspot is a bit small and not always easy to pinpoint. I'm looking for a bit more mass behind the ball when returning. This is just not the racquet for me, but I think it will be appreciated by anyone looking for classic control and feel in a maneuverable 97-square-inch package."

Jason - "Just slightly too underpowered for me."

Julie - "Being aggressive can be tough with this racquet because of the smaller sweetspot, thin beam and low stiffness level."

Comparing the racquet to others they've tried, our testers said:

Chris - "The silky, smooth response makes this Phantom 97P tough to beat in terms of feel and control in the midplus category. Head's Graphene 360+ Gravity Pro comes close in terms of frame feel, but its denser 18x20 stringbed offers a firmer and deader string response. The Wilson Blade 98 16x19 v7 also has tons of flex and feel but is a tad lighter and closer to even in balance."

Michelle - "I automatically compare the Phantom 97P to my racquet of choice, which is heavier, stiffer and has a thicker beam, so it's not a great comparison because the two racquets do play differently. Anyone who has played with the Phantom 93P and found that head size to just be too small will want to take a look. The Phantom 97P has a bigger head and an open string pattern, plus it's fast to swing and a bit more forgiving."

Jason - "The Phantom 97P plays like and has similar power levels to the Wilson Pro Staff 97 and Yonex VCORE Pro 97."

Julie - "It's tough to find a comparison to any other racquet. Talking about spin, the Phantom 97P is almost a more control-oriented version of the Phantom 93P 14x18, with extra feel. Compared to my racquet of choice, the Phantom 97P is much more spin-friendly with better feel, while my Tecnifibre TF40 305 is a more solid frame that has better control."

Technical Specifications
Length27 in69 cm
Head Size97 sq in626 sq cm
Weight11.8 oz335 gm
Balance Point12.5 in 32 cm8pts Head Light
Construction20.5mm/19.5mm/16.5mm
CompositionTextreme/Twaron/Graphite
String Pattern16 Mains / 18 Crosses
Babolat RDC Ratings
ScoreGrade
Flex Rating58Range: 0-100
Swing Weight320Range: 200-400
 
Chris' Scores
Power8.4Serves8.4
Control9Groundstrokes8.4
Maneuverability8Returns8.5
Stability8.3Slice8.5
Comfort9Topspin8.5
Touch/Feel9Volleys8.7
Overall8.5
Michelle's Scores
Power7.5Serves9
Control8.5Groundstrokes7.8
Maneuverability8.3Returns7.8
Stability7.8Slice8
Comfort9.5Topspin8
Touch/Feel9Volleys8.5
Overall7.9
Jason's Scores
Power7.8Serves7.8
Control8.2Groundstrokes8.1
Maneuverability8.3Returns9.3
Stability8.5Slice8.5
Comfort9Topspin8.4
Touch/Feel8.8Volleys8.5
Overall8.1
Julie's Scores
Power7.2Serves8.8
Control8.1Groundstrokes8.6
Maneuverability8.5Returns7.8
Stability7.9Slice7.7
Comfort8.4Topspin9
Touch/Feel8.8Volleys7.6
Overall7.9
Price: $149.00MSRP: $199.00

Playtester Profiles

Chris: 4.5 all-court player currently using the Tecnifibre TF40 305. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a one-handed backhand.

Michelle: Open level baseline player with a semi-western forehand and a two handed backhand. She currently plays with the Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph.

Jason: 4.0 baseliner with a semi-western forehand and two-handed backhand. Currently using a Babolat Pure Strike 16x19 (Project One7).

Julie: An open level aggressive baseliner. She hits a western forehand and two-handed backhand. She is currently using the Tecnifibre TF40 305.

Play Tester Profiles
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