WILSON Pro Staff Six.One 100 BLX Tennis Racquet
This year, Wilson has expanded their traditional-styled racquet line. For some time, we’ve had only the Roger Federer-inspired 90 square inch model or the Pete Sampras-styled 88 head size. For 2012, Wilson has added two larger head sizes to its “old school” series. Our test model, the BLX Pro Staff 100, is the best-selling model in the series, rated # 8 in the Tennis Industry Association Retail Audit for the 2nd quarter of 2012, 2 spots ahead of Federer’s 90 square inch model. Wilson is selling quite a few frames of this type. Is it a good fit for your game?
The BLX ProStaff Six.One 100 is not quite as much of a throwback as its smaller-headed siblings. The beam width has been increased to 22mm (4mm wider than the 95, and 5mm wider than the 90),and the weight is down to 10.1 oz. unstrung (almost a full ounce less than the 95) for improved maneuverability and racquet head speed. Static balance is a little more toward the head (4 points head light vs 7 on the 90 and 95, and swingweight is down markedly, reading only 302, noticeably less than the 95’s 310 and way below the strong 329 on the 90 (The weight and swingweight numbers have been reduced, I must surmise, to make up for the ¼” additional length Wilson has deemed to give this frame). Flex is a moderate 65, and the string pattern has one less cross string than the 95, whose final cross was more for looks, anyway. These numbers leave quite a large window for customization, but how does it play out of the box?
The 100’s head light balance and lower weight make it much easier to get through the air than the 90 or 95, so topspin is much easier to apply, and the open 16x18 pattern allowed for a more than adequate grip of the ball. The larger head, extra length and slight “headward” balance bias conspire to move the sweet spot just a touch higher, giving a little better power to shots hit toward the tip; in this respect, the 100 runs circles around the 90 and 95. The 22mm beam also gives a little more power to all groundies, and offers quite a solid feel. This racquet just doesn’t take as good a swing to produce a successful shot. The lack of an aerodynamic beam design gave me more wind resistance than a more modern frame design would, but control was excellent and the feel was soft. The wider beam takes away a little communication on impact, but it still flexes enough to let you know what the ball is doing. Mishit high on the face and the frame still lets you know it, but you get a little more pace, too.
Net Play and Serving
The 100’s recoilweight (resistance to “kicking back” in your hand) is low due to its lighter weight, but well-timed volleys show no ill effects, and maneuverability in quick exchanges is quite good, even with the added length. Touch is also abundant, as the flexible frame combines with Wilson’s Amplifeel handle system to give you all the “good vibrations” and communicate precisely what’s going on. The light head and flexible frame make themselves apparent once again on serves and overheads as, while quick through the air, these shots it higher 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 Hybrid grip (like on the 95) isn’t exactly traditional leather, but the foam backing is a fine comfort aid. It’s a little thin, which allows for good feel of the handle’s bevels. 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. Something to keep in mind about this frame’s relatively low weight is the customization options it opens up.
You can, without making it too heavy, design it to help whatever part of your game you want: leave it “as is” for extra racquet speed, weigh down the 3 and 9 o’clock positions for reduced twist, “lead up” the tip for a higher sweet spot if you really reach for the ball, or add weight all over the frame for a solid, stable all-round hitting platform. This is a “genius” setup from a customization standpoint, as it leaves a multitude of options for the player and racquet technician to perfect the racquet for a particular style of play.
The Wilson BLX Pro Staff Six.One 100 is probably the best choice in the line for the majority of players, providing a little extra power and stability with little sacrifice in control. You can swing it really quickly, producing a great deal of spin, and the flex takes some of the shock out without sacrificing feel. Good players will enjoy the feel from well-struck shots, as well as its communication on those that go off a little. The weighting leaves countless customization options, and you’d almost be crazy not to take advantage of it. Strong players (4.0 and above), and those of us who have a little less weight of shot (and more of body) than before will love its feel and execution at net, and should add it to their demo list.