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The Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six.One 90 comes from a long line of legendary racquets. The Pro Staff family – used by Jim Courier, Stefan Edberg, and Pete Sampras, to name a few – has won its fair share of Grand Slam. And the Pro Staff Six.One 90, the choice of legend-in-the-making Roger Federer, fits in perfectly with the prestige of its predecessors.
I have played tennis for almost 40 years, and have seen quite a few changes in racquet technology and design; the BLX ProStaff Six.One 90 is a throwback, in modern terms. A very narrow 17mm beam on a 90 square inch head would have been standard fare 25 years ago, as would a 12 oz. (340g) unstrung weight. Couple that with a 7 point head-light (12 5/8”/321mm) balance point, strong 329 swingweight and middling flex of 67, and you have a perfect serve-and-volley frame. How will these specs coexist with the modern baseline game?
From the Baseline
The 90’s head-light balance did let me whip it up the back of the ball quite easily for such a heavy frame, and the open 16x19 pattern allowed for a more than adequate grip of the ball – in other words, you can definitely spin your groundies. The narrow beam, small head and handle weighting, however, mean you better hit cleanly. As with other frames of this type, shots hit even a little above center lose power as the tip flexes quite a bit. The mass helps keep the frame from twisting in my hands, which is helpful given the small head size.
I didn’t get much help from the 90 on power, even if I hit it solidly. 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 and lower racquet speed. My best swings were rewarded with excellent control, but my mistakes were magnified. You’ll need a good, full-bodied swing to power the ball deep into your opponent’s court.
One advantage of the narrow-beamed design is great communication. When I hit a shot well, the frame gave me a nice, cushioned feel. On a mishit, I was told immediately just where I’d hit it, as the flex and torque of the racquet head let me know how I’d messed up.
This racquet shines on slice shots, since the majority of the weight sits below center. The sweet spot is also down low, making it perfect for slices (which are often hit closer to the body). Slice feel is excellent, and power is more than adequate, as I felt the ball really bite into the strings and saw it grab the court on the other side. My transition game was outstanding with this racquet.
Net Play and Serving
Heavy frame, head-light racquets will have a high recoil weight (resistance to “kicking back” in your hand), and the BLX Pro Staff 90 is no exception to that rule. The low sweet spot is perfect for volleys, and I found them solid, powerful and easy to control. Touch is also abundant, as the flexible frame combines with Wilson’s Amplifeel handle system to give you all the “good vibrations.”
The light head and flexible frame make themselves apparent once again on serves and overheads. While quick through the air, the shots hit high on the frame aren’t as powerful unless you really hit them cleanly. If you do, you’ll find solid feel and control, along with good slice and kick serve options.
The Pro Staff 90’s leather grip is about what you’d expect, which is to say solid-feeling with good edge definition. You’d also expect it to be low on tackiness, and you’d be right: an overgrip is a necessity. The bumper guard has good depth, so you won’t have to worry about string damage for quite a while (even if you’re an active net player like me).
The paint job will definitely catch your opponent’s eyes, the bright white with asymmetric red trim providing a distraction as it sweeps through the air (maybe Wilson should have another “is it legal” ad about this!). All in all, I found the frame to be well-done cosmetically, right down to the gold-accented butt cap.
The Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six.One 90 props up “old school” racquet design while making it useful for the modern all-court game. A big swing is necessary to take full advantage of its gifts, but you’ll be rewarded with great control and versatility. Good players can take advantage of its control and will enjoy the feel from well-struck shots, as well as its communication on those that go awry. High-level doubles players will love its feel and execution at net, and should add it to their demo list. There’s not much else like it available today.
About the Reviewer: Matt Steverson is a Tennis Professional and former college player based in Orlando, FL. Matt has been playing tennis for over 40 years, and is currently rated 4.0 by the NTRP.
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