Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six.One 95 Tennis Racquet
This year, Wilson has expanded their traditional-styled racquet line. For some time, we’ve had only the Roger Federer-inspired 90 square inch model or the Pete Sampras-styled 88 head size. For 2012, Wilson has added two larger head sizes to its “old school” series. Our test model, the BLX Pro Staff 95, is the #11 best-selling racquet on the market (according to the Tennis Industry Association Retail Audit for the 2nd quarter of 2012), right behind Federer’s 90 square inch model. Wilson is selling quite a few frames of this type; is it a good fit for your game?
Like the 90, the BLX ProStaff Six.One 95 is a throwback, in modern terms. A very narrow 18mm beam (1mm wider than the 90) on a 95 square inch head brings back memories of the 80s, but the weight has been lowered to 11 oz. (a full ounce less) for improved maneuverability and racquet head speed. Static balance is the same at 7 points head light (12 5/8”/321mm), but swingweight is down markedly, the 95 testing out at a moderate 310 vs a strong 329 on the 90. Flex is surprisingly lower (63 instead of 67). These numbers initially left me a little confused about Wilson’s direction for this frame: why would someone want a lower-powered version of the 90, even if it was easier to swing?
The 95’s head light balance and lower weight make it much easier to get through the air than the 90, so topspin is much easier to apply. The open 16x19 pattern allowed for a more than adequate grip of the ball. The narrow beam, small head, and handle weighting set this frame up for one of the problems with the Pro Staff Six.One 90: shots hit above center lose power as the tip flexes quite a bit. The 95 seems a little better suited to reduced torque and twisting due to its larger head size, but you better hit it cleanly.
This is still not a power frame, however: the head is small, the frame not stiff, and the beams are narrow, none of which help in power production. The lack of an aerodynamic beam design gave me more wind resistance than a more modern frame design would, but control was excellent and the feel was soft.
The narrow-beamed, low-flex frame design offers great communication. When I hit a shot well, the frame gave me a nice, cushioned feel. On mis-hits, I was told immediately just where I’d hit it, as the flex and torque of the racquet head let me know exactly how I’d messed up.
Though lighter than the 90, most of the 95’s weight sits below center, placing the sweet spot a little low, although it feels higher than its cousin. Slice shots seem to carry more power with less effort than those hit higher on the frame, and the open pattern bites the ball nicely for skidding approach shots. A soft flex makes for excellent touch on lobs and drop shots, something all-court players will appreciate.
The 95’s recoilweight (resistance to “kicking back” in your hand) is lower than the 90’s due to its lighter weight, but well-timed volleys show no ill effects ( maneuverability in quick exchanges is also much better). Touch is abundant, as the flexible frame combines with Wilson’s Amplifeel handle system to give you all the “good vibrations” and communicate precisely what’s going on.
The light head and flexible frame make themselves apparent once again on serves and overheads as, while quick through the air, the shots hit higher on the frame aren’t as powerful unless you really strike them cleanly. If you do, you’ll find solid feel and control, along with good slice and kick serve options.
The Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six.One 95 brings “old school” racquet feel to a lighter-weight (for this class) frame, while leaving almost infinite customization options. You can swing it really quickly, producing a great deal of spin, and the soft flex takes some of the jolt away from your arm. Good players can take advantage of its control and will enjoy the feel from well-struck shots. Good doubles players (4.0 and above), and those of us who have a little less weight of shot (and more of body) than before will love its feel and execution at net, and should add it to their demo list.