The History of the Prince Classic by Howard Head | The Berlin Tennis Gallery

Updated: Aug 17



29 May, 2020. Prince “Classic” - In 1976, Howard Head received an American patent for an oversized tennis racquet that did prove to be popular world-wide. Manufactured by the Prince Global Sports

Howard Head

company, this racquet's oversized head created a larger sweet spot and made it easier for a player to hit a ball and control their shot. Hall of Famer Pam Shriver was one of the first players to use this racquet in major competition.

About Howard Head

Howard Head (July 31, 1914 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania – March 3, 1991) was an aeronautical engineer who is credited with the invention of the first commercially successful aluminum laminateskis[1] and the oversized tennis racket. Head founded the ski tennis racquet making firm Head in 1950. Later he became chairman of Prince Manufacturing Inc. The U.S. patents for the laminate skis and oversized tennis racket are in the name of Howard Head.

Tennis racket production

After retiring, Head decided to take tennis lessons and for this purpose he got himself a tennis ball machine, which was manufactured by Prince Manufacturing Inc. Although Howard was not very good at tennis, he figured out that the equipment for the game needed a lot of improvement or he was going to need a lot more practice. To begin with he became the majority shareholder and chairman of the board of Prince. While Head considerably improved the design of the ball machine, he still did not get any better at the game. He figured it out that it was because of the small sweet-spot of the tennis racquet. In order to make the game of tennis easier, Head came up with the design of oversized racquet. He filed and obtained a patent that covered tennis racquets with size 95–135 square inches. He also pioneered the development of the graphite racquet, which eventually became the industry standard, replacing wooden racquets.

Although Prince was the first company to patent oversize racquets, the Bentley Fortissimo preceded the patent by two years, causing Germany to invalidate it. Weed also introduced an oversize racquet in 1975, before the first Prince oversize, the aluminum Prince Classic, was introduced.

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