Wilson Pro Staff 97S Tennis Racquet Review
Wilson’s celebrated Pro Staff line has long had a connection to high performing pros, including two of the biggest Grand Slam winners in Sampras and Federer. Looking to connect to the next generation of player, Wilson partnered with Grigor Dimitrov on development of the all new Wilson Pro Staff 97S. Loaded with braided graphite and Kevlar for classic feel, this frame packs in Spin Effect technology for more modern performance and a beefed up swing weight for ball crushing power. Here’s a closer look at how the frame performs on court.
The Pro Staff 97S has the capability to combine excellent control with point finishing power. I found the 97 inch head and thin 19.5mm beam to offer great control and accuracy from either wing. I could pick aggressive targets and play the lines confidently. The high swing weight creates ample power on tap and I was capable of ending points with points with both forehands and backhands. The draw back to the swing weight is that it created a sluggish feel on groundstrokes, especially when combined with the fact that the racquet is even balance when strung. I struggled with timing issues quite a bit as I felt I had to drag the head through contact. But time things right and all is forgiven as this frame absolutely crushes the ball. The racquet has a slightly tighter 18x17 Spin Effect string pattern. I found this configuration offered better control than the other 16x15 versions of SET while still allowing access to enough spin to vary my net clearance as desired. Overall, the racquet rewards offensive play and excellent preparation with the ability to dictate play from anywhere on court.
Volleys & serves
Volleys with the Pro Staff 97S once again benefited from the ample swing weight. It had no trouble finishing volleys and drives the ball through court exceptionally well. It also offered excellent feel and response for executing touch and drop volleys. The head heavy feel did make it a bit more challenging to maneuver during quick exchanges. I had more difficulty bringing it into position quickly on defensive volleys.
Serve was where I struggled to find a groove with the 97S. The swing weight and balance made it feel slow to get through the top of the zone. When I did find a rhythm, the frame produced excellent power and delivered flat serves with high pace. The solid directional accuracy also allowed me to take a bit of pace off and use the entire box to keep my opponent off balance. Spin on second serves was solid but not eye popping. I’d like the racquet to be a little whippier for extra head speed on kick serves. The 18x17 pattern offers access to spin without losing the control and accuracy I enjoyed most. As players adjust to the specs or customize to their liking, they should find a good mix of power and spin when serving.
The Pro Staff 97S offers the same classic feel as the rest of the line thanks to its braided graphite and Kevlar construction. It felt well connected to the ball on contact and had a good sized sweet spot. The frame felt a little jarring on off center contact. It wasn’t a major issue; I could just notice the frame’s crisp response a bit more as opposed to the plush sweet spot. I did not experience any issues with comfort during my time with the frame. It played with a crisply without venturing into the raw feel that can be harsh on the arm.
The Pro Staff 97S presents a unique addition to the Pro Staff family. It rewards aggressive, strong players with immense power and solid access to spin and feel. The hefty swing weight and balance will require adjustment and many users will make some modifications in order to make the frame more maneuverable. Whether you can handle it stock or are looking for a racquet that can be tailored to your specs without losing its ability to control points, the Pro Staff 97S is an attractive option well worth taking for a test drive.
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.