Spin focused players have not been forgotten as Wilson replaces the Juice line with the new Ultra family. The all new Wilson Ultra 103S has all of the technology to keep spin junkies happy. It uses a 16x15 Spin Effect pattern for massive spin potential. The racquet has boasts High Performance Carbon Fiber and Parallel Drilling, two technologies aimed at adding more free power to the frame. CushionFoam replaces Amplifeel in the handle and looks to improve the racquet’s comfort level. I spent some time with this spin friendly stick recently and here’s what I found.
Groundstrokes with the Ultra 103S showed a frame that had some extra tricks up its sleeves. The 26mm tapered beam and stiff layup worked to create an incredible amount of power and the 103in head had a generous sweet spot. The 10.7oz strung weight allowed me to accelerate through contact with ease for extra pace. With a higher swingweight than most in its class, I found it easy to keep my shots heavy and deep from both sides. I also enjoyed the slightly extended length on my backhand, getting a bit of extra leverage to drive through the ball. The extremely open pattern had a pretty high launch angle that took some getting used to. Once I adjusted, I was able to create some incredible spin and dip in shots that had no business going in with other frames. Much like other 16x15 Spin Effect patterns, I found the frame to struggle a bit with control when trying to flatten out the ball. My most successful pattern was to play with a lot of clearance and depth, move the ball wide then attack behind it rather than trying to flatten out too many balls. The racquet’s stability was also better than expected thanks to its healthy swingweight. Its stability and the extra length made for excellent defensive capabilities when on the run.
Volleys & Serves
I found the Ultra 103S to be a bit of a mixed bag with net play. While the low weight and head light balance made it fairly maneuverable, the extra length made it a bit less nimble than its 97 or 100 inch siblings. The easily available power allowed me to finish aggressively at the net. I focused on driving volleys deep as opposed to painting the lines as the 16x15 pattern did sacrifice some directional accuracy at the net. Touch volleys were also a bit more difficult as the string pattern tended to float balls a bit more when played more delicately.
Serving with the Ultra 103S presented me with a host of options to take control of points. The quick acceleration through contact ensured I could add pace to my first serve at will. The extra swingweight helped make my serve heavy and tough to deal with. My first serve also gained a bit more pace from the extended length’s additional leverage. The open pattern created some accuracy issues for my flat serve but I was able to create a lot of success by serving flat body serves frequently. The 16x15 pattern did exactly as I expected, creating massive spin for kick and slice serves. My kick serve exploded up and away from opponents’ strike zones. My slice serve benefited from the added swingweight, staying lower than it did with the Ultra 100 and creating havoc on the ad side. The ability to jam opponents with power or yank them out of position with tons of spin allowed me to control my service games with ease.
Compared to other models in the Ultra line, the 103S played with a softer, more responsive feel. The larger head and wide open string pattern gave it more feel than one would expect from a frame with an RA around 70. This made touch shots a bit easier due to the increased feedback, but it was still a balancing act as the Spin Effect pattern sacrificed some control. Vibration was pretty minimal with the CushionFoam handle doing a good job absorbing most of the unwanted feedback. I found comfort to be better than expected and anticipate most players should be able to pick this racquet up and run with it without issue.
While the massive spin of the Ultra 103S may not surprise anyway, its impressive stability for its weight and ability to hit a heavy ball will. It offers a unique blend of point controlling power and spin with defensive capabilities and solid feel. This combination of attributes makes it a great all court weapon that can capably transition between play styles and levels.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.