Wilson Burn FST 99S Tennis Racquet Review
In early 2016, Wilson is looking to light a fire in groundstroke players games with the introduction of the all new Burn FST line. Despite the name, this series has little in common with the existing Burn line. Sporting a stealthy, blacked out paint job, this frame is all business. The spin friendly Burn FST 99S takes advantage of the line’s Fast Speed Technology, an octagonal frame design built for maximum swing speed. Wilson incorporates High Performance Carbon Fiber in the construction for additional stiffness and power generation. Another interesting update is the inclusion of the X2 Ergo Handle. This system uses a series of changeable handle inserts to provide extra leverage for the top hand on two handed backhands. I took to the courts recently with this feature packed frame, so here’s a look at its overall performance.
The Burn FST 99S is incredibly fast off the ground. The moderate 11oz strung weight and frame geometry made it incredible easy to generate racquet head speed off either wing. I was able to attack groundstrokes from either side at will. There were a few times where I was actually a bit in front of balls due to the quick swinging nature of the frame. I was impressed by the X2 Ergo system on my backhands. I had an easy time creating a lot of leverage and really driving through the ball on that side. The power level of this frame was significantly lower than the existing Burn line. While the power level is solid, I found it to be more control oriented than most modern baseline frames. The frame had good directional accuracy, allowing me to pick aggressive targets with confidence. Spin from the 18x17 Spin Effect pattern was only slightly above average. It wasn’t the spin monster that Wilson’s 16x15 patterns are but it had a nice balance between spin and control. I was able to play with margin while also being able to step in and flatten out short balls. The racquet could have used a bit more weight and stability against big hitters and the frame had a tendency to wobble and drop in power outside the sweet spot.
Volleys & serves
At net, the Burn FST 99S was fast and aggressive. The headlight balance made it quick to maneuver and it had no problem snapping off reflex volleys. The balance of power and control made it easy to direct volleys deep in the court and create angles. Touch volleys took me awhile to dial in as the frame had a very muted feel and there was a bit of disconnect from the ball. Stability was again a bit of an issue as the frame struggled against big hitters and shots close to my body.
Serving with the Burn FST 99S was a balanced attack. The overall speed of the frame made it easy to accelerate through contact for maximum speed. There was good pace on tap but flat serves just didn’t have the heavy feel that a racquet with more mass produces. Mixing in spin serves was where this racquet was at its best. The 18x17 pattern and easy speed allowed me to produce high bouncing kick serves and biting slices out wide. Accuracy while serving was solid and I was able to move the ball around the entire box and pick spots to keep opponents off balance.
The feel of the Burn FST series is very unique. For a frame with a fairly high stiffness rating, I found it to play surprisingly comfortable. The feel on contact was very muted. At times I was hoping for a bit more feedback to stay better connected to the ball coming off the string bed. There was very little vibration from the frame, even with a full set of polyester in. Players with sensitive arms should still be cautious with their string and tension selection but the low vibration and dampened feel made this one of the most comfortable high RA frames I’ve played recently.
Recognizing that not all baseliners are the same, Wilson has created a unique new offering with the Burn FST line. The 99S blends control, power and spin into a package that makes it dangerous from anywhere on court. It allows you to attack with high margin spin, aggressive big swings and excellent accuracy. Players who want to build baseline points on their terms should give strong consideration to the Burn FST 99S.
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.