Wilson Burn FST 99 Tennis Racquet Review
With baseline play being so predominant in modern tennis, it’s only logical for manufacturers to look for ways to expand their frame offerings for that play style. Wilson expands their segment with the introduction of the new Burn FST line. Built for speed, the line uses Fast Speed Technology, giving it an octagonal frame profile for the quickest swing speed possible. A new layup using High performance Carbon Fiber provides stiffness and power. Players with two handed backhands also have a new innovation called the X2 Ergo system. It adds adjustable inserts to the handle allowing players to use their top hand for additional leverage on two handers. Here’s a closer look at the on court performance of the Burn FST 99.
On groundstrokes, the swing speed of the Burn FST 99 was immediately evident. The frame design and head light balance worked together to generate high racquet head speed from both sides. I was able to step in and attack balls off either wing and dictate play. My down the line backhand was especially effective and I felt the X2 system provided a noticeable improvement in the leverage my top hand had on my backhand. The power level of the racquet was a bit low overall, especially outside the sweet spot. I found myself wanting the racquet to provide a bit more pop off the ground as I got pushed into defense more than I would have liked. The frame’s 11.5oz strung weight gave it more stability than the S model and it was easier to create depth on my shots. Spin production was also a bit of a mixed bag. The FST 99 has an 18x19 pattern. While this setup provided great control and accuracy, I found it lacking in the ability to create additional margin for safer shots. I struggled to put air under the ball and reset points as easily as the S version of the frame. This made me focus on being hyper aggressive and step in to any short ball I could flatten out and drive through the court.
Volleys & serves
The Burn FST 99 was a more than capable performer at the net. The head light balance and maneuverable head size allowed me to position the racquet quickly and stay in front of quick exchanges. The additional mass of this model made it more effective at finishing high volleys. I was able to drive balls deep into the court from either side. The 99 had stronger stability against big shots and I fought off body shots more effectively, keeping me in the point longer. The muted feel of the FST line still made touch and drop volleys a bit more challenging. There needed to be more connection to the ball for me to mix those shots in as much as I typically would.
I had some serving struggles with the FST 99. Despite the additional mass, I never got fully comfortable with the swing speed on my flat serve. I hit a lot of long serves and eventually had to dial back the first serve pace in order to keep my serve percentage high. I also had less effectiveness on spin serves. While the racquet generated plenty of head speed, the tight 18x19 pattern just did not produce enough kick to allow my serves to do damage. Kick serves stayed closer to the returner’s strike zone. My slice serve was a bit more successful, with the additional weight keeping the ball low and skidding away. Overall, the 99 seemed most effective when balancing disguise and variety as opposed to relying on outright power or spin when serving.
For a stiff frame, the FST 99 played with a highly muted feel. It was surprisingly dampened on contact and exhibited very little vibration. For me, the feel was a bit too disconnected. I rely on a lot of feel and touch shots and I found it more difficult to execute those shots with confidence. The feel did however make the racquet quite comfortable to use. I did not have any arm pain or fatigue that I have seen in other high stiffness frames. Players with arms concerns may want to be selective with tension and string type but the comfort of hits frame was a pleasant surprise, especially compared to the stiffness and feel of the original Burn line.
The on court performance of the FST 99 is a bit of a puzzle. It responds well to aggressive play but could use an increase in both power and spin production. Players who want to grind out baseline points may not find the margin and power they need. However, this racquet seems ideally suited for those who want to step in, flatten out the ball and then follow in behind it aggressively. The unique feel and comfort level not typically associated with stiff frames make the Burn FST 99 an interesting demo option for aggressive players.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.