WILSON Steam 99 Tennis Racquet Review
WTA tour pro Flavia Pennetta has chosen the Wilson Steam 99 to be her weapon of choice for 2013, and is looking for its benefits to help her win more matches against the world’s best players.
The Steam 99 is a classic a “tweener” frame, coming in with an unstrung weight of 10.7 oz. (303g), right inline with its main competitors like the Babolat Pure Drive. To aid maneuverability, balance is 2 points head light on the standard-length 27” frame. However, swingweight is a strong 328, implying a full stroke is needed. A strong flex of 70, combined with the 24mm Dual Taper Beam frame design, should ensure more than adequate power for a 99 square inch head. An open 16x18 string pattern should increase comfort and spin production, and Wilson’s new Amplifeel 360 handle technology is there to help filter out unwanted shock and vibration.
The high swingweight of the Steam 99 helps it plow through even the strongest shots your opponents can produce, allowing effortless power and depth. The sweet spot is well-centered in the head, and the mid-wide beam’s added stability helps mishits travel closer to their intended targets.
The open string pattern helps produce extra power and is pretty spin-friendly, but you do need a fairly strong swing to whip it up the back of the ball. It doesn’t produce the whopping amount of spin the Steam 99S does, but it also doesn’t require an adjustment in ball flight, either. A player’s normal swing will produce powerful, controlled shots in the target zone. Even balls hit high on the string face produce a fair amount of pace.
Net Play and Serving
The high swingweight of the Steam 99, and its fairly high balance point, produce a lower recoilweight than traditional net players would like, and make it better-suited to mid-court, swinging volleys than to classic net shots. However, it lets you pound volleys away when you have time. The wider beam reduces feel on touch shots, but provides solid power and depth.
Overheads are powerful and crisp-feeling, and you can pound away normal lobs. Those that get behind you, though, are tougher thanks to the higher swingweight. An advanced, athletic player will not have any trouble, but those with less flexibility in their games will want to let them bounce.
The Steam 99’s stiffness and wider beams greatly aid power on serves, and the open pattern produces more than enough spin for fine control. The weight, however, means a strong swing is necessary to serve well for a long time.
The Wilson Sublime grip is soft and comfortable, with just enough perforations to stay dry on all but the most humid days, and the bumper guard has a nice string groove depth to protect the strings from the rigors of hard court play. The paint job is, like almost all current Wilson frames, quite bright, so everyone will see you coming. The Amplifeel 360 handle does a fine job of absorbing shock while transmitting feel.
Strong-swinging intermediate to advanced baseline players may find a new home for their games with the Wilson Steam 99. Strong weighting and a solid flex combine for a powerful and controlled response from the back court and, while net play is not its strong suit, its mass and stability make it a perfect fit for the swinging volleys the modern style prefers. Check it out today.