The Wilson Steam 99 LS is simply a more maneuverable version of the game-changing Steam 99 S. It features a strung weight of 10.3 ounces, its three-point head light balance, and it has a swing weight of 294. Although a little over an ounce lighter than its older brother, the Steam 99 LS still provides ample amounts of spin with greater access to maneuverability.
Almost instantly, I noticed the Wilson Steam 99 LS’s light weight of 10.3 ounces strung. This gave me ample amounts of maneuverability at the baseline. With its very open 16×15 string pattern, the name of the game was SPIN – and tons of it. Wilson claims that its Spin Effect technology will provide two inches more net clearance while landing 12 inches inside the baseline without changing the player’s strokes. Although the launch angle of the racquet was a bit higher than I was used to, I easily increased my net clearance and spin RPMs with the Steam 99 LS. My backhand slice was smooth and effortless to hit with this racquet. I was able to hit low over the net with good depth and also more side-spin action than I could previously produce.
Volleys & Serves
The Steam 99 LS was easy to hit both forehand and backhand volleys once some technical adjustments were made. I felt the racquet lacked stability when it came to volleying faster, incoming balls. However, the racquet’s high maneuverability allowed me to hit touch shots and angles with ease. Personally, I would add lead tape to increase the stability of the racquet if I was playing 4.5+ NTRP doubles.
The Steam 99 LS generated enormous amounts of spin on my serve, significantly more than my current racquet of choice. Side-spin and topspin were easily created due to faster racquet acceleration. However, I did find difficulty controlling the power of my serve. This may have been due to the Wilson NXT string in the racquet. Putting in a full-bed of polyester or at least hybrid of polyester and synthetic gut would help add more control to my serve.
The overall design of the Wilson Steam 99 LS is sleek and pleasing to the eye. Classic Wilson colors of red, white, and some black cover all areas of the frame. The specs of the racquet can be easily found and read inside the throat of the racquet. The Wilson Steam 99 LS comes with a Wilson Sublime replacement grip, which is very similar to the Prince ResiPro replacement grip in my opinion. It felt very comfortable in my hands and provided the right amount of tackiness.
Besides the huge amounts of spin produced, I believe the Wilson Steam 99 LS’s second greatest feature is its large room for customization. Players who felt the Steam 99 S as too heavy would be able to increase the weight of the Steam 99 LS to suit their needs. I would highly advise frequent string-breakers or those on a budget to put polyester in the string bed as the wide-open string pattern will lead to more string movement and breakage than normal. Wilson recommends using Luxilon 4G polyester string.
As Wilson’s successor to an industry game-changer, the Steam 99 LS is a lightweight, maneuverable spin-monster with loads of room for customization. I found that I could generate tons of topspin on my groundstrokes and serve and effortlessly hit my backhand slice with control and depth. Plus, angled volleys and touch shots were easy to hit. Minor adjustments such as using a polyester string and increasing stability with lead tape and the Wilson Steam 99 LS would definitely find a home in my bag. Due to its high customization level, I would recommend the Wilson Steam 99 LS to any 3.0 to 4.5 NTRP rated player.
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About the Reviewer: Michael Janz is a graduate of the Professional Tennis Management Program at Ferris State University in Michigan. He is also a certified USPTA Professional.