No tennis racket has ever stretched so wide, but then again, none has ever been so stable (there is talk of reducing tennis elbow, but proof is still coming). The ball has more time to roll or be "wiped" across the strings, which increases that all-important "polar moment of inertia."
The string area of the Prince is as oddly elongated as it is wide. The reason for this is a surprising discovery made by Head's engineers during tests using the "coefficient of restitution" to plot the optimum places to hit the ball. They learned that the "sweet spot" is two-thirds of the way down toward the handle, a place that is not even on the string area of the normal racket. To get the strings down where they do the most good Head simply lowered the racket throat.
In the course of plotting the test results, Head came upon what might be called the ultimate sweet spot, where the coefficient is 20% greater than on any traditionally shaped racket. Head had predicted that the Prince would return the ball with maximum power and minimum effort, but the new zone so surprised him, he has yet to name it.
Overall, the head is 60% larger. The effective hitting area, however, is twice as large. If the racket came with a contract attached, a clause would surely read that "twice as many balls will be hit cleanly without touching the frame." Tennis players have for generations learned to hit the ball in the center of the racket. The Prince rewards the best students by aligning the center of the racket with the "center of percussion" to assure consistent returns. But one thing will have to change. New canvas tote bags with larger racket pockets must be manufactured. When the Prince buyer visits his broker to invest in nylon, it wouldn't hurt to check on canvas stocks, too.
There was a time when two bits bought a hot dog, and four bits bought a program, and six bits bought a pennant, and a dollar bought a seat in the end zone. But that was when the clich� of the year was "May the Best Team Win," and many seasons before college football became "Big Business," which is this year's clich�, spoken by everybody who did not win seven games. Football is big business in more ways than you can shake a life-size poster at.
Hardly anybody is shaking pennants. The pennant was fine in its day, that of conservative formations and G-rated bumper stickers. The trend in merchandising college football has shifted from mums and even those daring-in-their-time binocular-flasks to souvenirs that do not have to be stored in the offseason, such as the Wisconsin toilet seat ($24.95) that says "Go Badgers" when somebody raises the cover. Your alma mater's gift guide will show today's most popular items.
Many gifts are educational because of their expensiveness, such as the University of Southern California Tiffany lamp ($165), USC's clock commemorating its 55-24 victory over Notre Dame in 1974 (battery-operated, it includes a photo of the scoreboard with 5:52 left in the game—large model $44.95, small $39.95), and the rocking chair being sold with Northwestern and Harvard seals ($70-$85). Nobody can afford to make toothpicks out of a rocker every time the home team is beaten, so these items are valuable aids in teaching fans to be nonviolent losers.
The best-selling souvenirs on campuses during bad years continue to be glasses capable of holding large amounts of spirit, such as the Auburn snifter (25 ounces, $2.35). Winners are easy to merchandise. After good years, stadiums are expanded, and football helmets are creatively converted into purses (genuine plastic Oklahoma helmet-purse, $20) and radios ( Tennessee radio-helmet, $15.95).
Best-selling gifts are not always reflective of the teams they represent. You would imagine the big item in Columbus, Ohio would be a pound of chocolate yard markers, or an indestructible Buckeye doll that goes three yards without recharging. But the Lazarus Department Store in Columbus sells women's bikini panties accented with an Ohio State helmet for $1.19.