Harrow has sprung back onto the scene with a vengeance with the introduction of three new top-of-the-line racquets. With the experience of lifelong racquetball loyalist and elite player Woody Clouse at the reigns, Harrow has combined common sense and physics to create a top-notch blend of control, durability, and leverage. A narrow frame and ultra-tight string pattern creates stability and maximizes control, alongside a longer throat that creates extra leverage, which translates into added power. The Harrow Sovereign 170 is the most versatile of the 2012 line. At 170 grams, 9 points head-heavy, and a swing-weight of 160, the Sovereign is a great choice for almost every intermediate to advanced player. As the second Harrow racquet to be play-tested, the Sovereign had a lot to live up to, and didnŐt disappoint the RbW team.
After hitting the lightest racquet in the line, the play-testers expected a more powerful stick when they moved up to the 170. Ben L. really enjoyed the power starting off with, “To me, the strength of this racquet is its controlled power. I wouldn’t rate this as one of the most powerful racquets based on sheer power, but based on the consistency with which you can hit powerful shots in any rally situation. For the majority of players, I expect the Sovereign to be the most powerful Harrow racquet in the line.” Croft felt the same power results stating, “I definitely felt the difference in power with the Sovereign. The extra ten grams made a big difference in power during setups; I definitely couldn’t get it around as fast during the rally. I felt the most response on my drive serves and forehand setups. I feel in the overall category I lost a little power because it didn’t quite fit my game-style and swing-speed.”
Identical to the control-oriented design characteristics of all three top Harrow racquets, the Sovereign was a pleaser in the control category for the team. Ben L. expressed his delight by saying, “This racquet was really easy to pick up and play with at a high level with very little warm-up or adjustment. I was putting my shots right where I wanted to, especially on my drive serves. I give Harrow a lot of credit for creating the most dense string pattern in racquetball – it really reduces the number of errant shots to the point where you just look at your racquet with that puzzled, “blame the racquet” look.” Croft continued on that path commenting, “I was pleasantly surprised by the control I got from the Sovereign. I felt I could control the ball more easily when I was setup, but lost a little during play. Just like the 160 and 180 in the Harrow line, the string pattern really made the control the best part of the racquet, but since I’m not used to the head-heavy balance, it caused me to come around late on shots.”
The tight string bed, narrow frame, and stiff factory string definitely left the team with mixed thoughts about the feel of the Sovereign. Croft began with, “Same with the Connect and the Spiritus, I wish I got more feedback from the racquet. Although I was getting great power and control, it just felt a little dead, so I had to take out the dampener.” Ben L. agreed saying, “Personally, I prefer some feedback from the string bed that tells you when you hit the sweet spot and when you hit it off-center. This racquet is a little over-dampened for my taste, so I would likely play without the dampener. The factory strings are also a bit stiff so adding a softer, thinner string really dialed in the feel on this Sovereign for me.”
The RbW playtest had high hopes for the Sovereign before they brought it on the court, and it came through as expected. Calling it the most versatile racquet in the Harrow racquet line, the Sovereign shined in the power and control categories, and scored a good mark in feel. Ben L. said “This was my favorite racquet of this year’s Harrow line. Once I got used to the racquet and got it dialed in to fit my game style, I enjoyed every aspect of the stick.” Croft wrapped it up with, “I really like the Sovereign. Although it would be my second choice in this year’s Harrow line behind the Connect, I think the Sovereign is a powerful, controllable, versatile frame that can fit a wide variety of racquetball players.”