Wilson’s Blade line of racquets has become one of the most popular and visible lines in recent years, showing up on professional and recreational courts alike thanks it its blend of control and punching power. For developing intermediates, the new Wilson Blade 100L V7 offers a lot of the signature Blade DNA and new technology in a lighter, more forgiving package. The new Blade V7 series wears design language from the Clash family with the Blade’s hallmark green in the 12 o’clock position on the hoop. Gone is the somewhat polarizing Countervail material from the previous generation, replaced in favor of a revised technology first introduced in the Clash line. The new Blade 100L now leverages FeelFlex technology. FeelFlex implements Carbon Mapping at key points of the frame for increased frame flexibility and stability. The result is a racquet with impressive stability and pop. Wilson has also introduced a longer handle taper on this update to make it more comfortable for two handed backhand players to grip with their top hand. Having enjoyed the update to the 98 inch Blades, I was eager to see how the newest version of the lighter, more forgiving 100L would stack up on court.
Right out of the gate, I noticed the 100L V7 leaned a bit more into the power side of the equation compared to the 98 inch models. The beam was slightly thicker at 22 mm and the build was noticeably firmer in construction. The result was a frame that produced easy power from both sides at the baseline. I had no problem generating pace and depth from either wing. The 100 inch head size had a generous sweet spot and had a consistent level of power, even outside the sweet spot. At 10.7 oz strung with a swingweight of 317g, it was easy to accelerate through contact and take long, full cuts at the ball. For its weight and head size, I was impressed at the level of control and accuracy the Blade 100L offered. The beam was still relatively thin by modern standards so I felt confident that I could hit out with minimal risk of sailing a bunch of shots. I was consistently able to move the ball around the court and pick out aggressive targets that could end the point quickly. Spin was plentiful to come by off either side at the baseline. The 16 x 19 pattern and quick acceleration allowed me to create plenty of spin to hit with safe margins or use spin aggressively to push opponents back. Stability was solid for its weight class given the near even balance, but it wasn’t as impressive as the supremely stable 98s (especially the 18 x 20). Intermediates should find ample stability and more advanced players would have a bit of room for further customization to their needs.
Volleys & Serves
At net the Blade 100L V7 could hold its own. The easy power level made finishing off weaker balls a breeze. I found it easy to crisply knock off high volleys as I charged forward. The lighter weight made the frame maneuverable despite its even balance. I rarely felt like I was behind in quick exchanges. While not quite as precise as the smaller models, I still found enough accuracy to dictate net play with more than just power. I was able to push shots into the corners and angle other volleys off the court. Stability at net was solid for its weight class. It defended most shots well but had a bit of twisting against bigger hitters. The 100L was also firmer feeling than the 98 inch models and I found it more challenging to pull off delicate volleys as a result I wanted a bit more softness to be able to feather the ball over the net.
Serving with the Blade 100L was enjoyable from start to finish. The lower weight made it easy for me to add pace to my first serve. I was consistently able to whip the racquet through contact and put plenty of speed on the ball. My first serve lacked a bit of authority compared to the meatier swing weights of the 98 but I still won a fair share of free points with pace primarily. The frame showed impressive accuracy for its size and weight as well. My serve moved around the box well and I was confident I could serve to tight spots to start points off on offense. The Blade 100L fit my second serve well. The easy racquet speed and open pattern allowed me to generate plenty of movement on my kick serve as well as add plenty of pace to it. Slice serves didn’t quite have the bite of beefier frames but the racquet did an admirable job of sliding them low and wide, helping me open up the court.
The Blade 100L had a different implementation of FeelFlex from its smaller head size siblings While it boasted the same type of solid stability, the 100L felt noticeable firmer in build. This matched up with its stiffer RA rating when compared to the other models. While the response was crisper, the racquet was still relatively muted and smooth feeling compared to a lot of the other 100s on the market. The feedback was a nice balance I can only describe as “crisply muted.” The response was uniform across the string bed and I appreciated the dampened feel on off center shots as older versions of the Blade 100 had tended to feel harsher off center. Even though it was a bit firmer feeling, I found the 100L to play pretty comfortably. I didn’t have any arm issues during play and felt the racquet would remain comfortable across a wide range of possible string setups and tensions.
Blade fans looking for a bit of extra power and forgiveness have an option in the 100L. It boasts controllable power, easy access to spin and fast responses at net. It also provides a solid, connected feel without sacrificing comfort. The new Wilson Blade 100L V7 blends a host of attributes for intermediate and developing players without compromising too far on any of them.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke formerly served for 3 years as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho. He is a PTR certified coach and is an active USTA 4.5 League and Tournament player.