Searching for something that serves up a great option for a tennis player you know? Searching for the right racquet can be a never-ending trip around the tennis world. With so many choices, versions and specs to choose from, it honestly all comes down to what the player is looking for in their game. At times, people tend to fall into the trap of buying a racquet just because their favorite player uses it or they fall in love with the idea of the “control” and “feel” that the racquet manufacturer promises.
Every player is different, and needs options such as power, stability, baseline and serve performance. To help narrow down some of the information out there, we've created this review to offer the information you need. For this review, we’ve chosen the Wilson Pro Staff 97 to review and compare to several other great racquets on the market. Among the features looked at are the ease of use, quality of design, product specs, and pricing.
WHAT IS THE WILSON PRO STAFF 97?
To understand what the Wilson Pro Staff 97 is, we have to look at where it originated. This racquet has a long history behind it, going all the way back to 1984 when the Wilson Pro Staff was first introduced. The head sizes have ranged from 85 to 125, though what has remained the same since its first introduction is the frame composition of 80% graphite and 20% Kevlar. The high percentage of graphite allows for a 'softer' feel, while the Kevlar provides more strength in the frame. Also, the combination was braidedin order to increase stability and strength in the frame while at the same time increasing the weight of the frame.
As always, companies make improvements to products over time, and so now we have the Wilson Pro Staff 97. This is a racquet intended for those looking for something not quite as heavy as the Wilson Pro Staff RF97, but still, need a little something behind their play along with maneuverability and great spin. The power is decidedly higher than previous Pro Staffs, but it shouldn’t be classified as a power racquet because control is still more what the Wilson Pro Staff 97 is about.
Similar to previous versions of the Pro Staff, this racquet features a thin beam and provides a lot of feel. The length of the Wilson Pro Staff 97 is 27 inches, the beam width is 21.5mm, and stiffness is listed at 66RA. Even with those specs, you will still get a sleek design, similar to the Wilson Staff Pro RF97. The head size of the Wilson Pro Staff 97 is 97 sq. in. with a 7 point head light balance, and a sting pattern of 16 x 19. This works great for intermediate to advanced players.
It’s designed to accelerate smoothly and efficiently through impact. The swing of the racquet is easier than earlier versions of the Wilson Pro Staff 97 but still retains the distinctive crisp feel. To reduce vibration and decrease the interference with control and comfort, the grip is made of Graphite, and Kevlar braided for solid and more comfortable feel. Also included in the design of the racquet are Basalt fibers used to help reduce vibration of the racquet.
Most users tend to mention that there is power when using it, however, sometimes there can be less control if it hits outside of the sweet spot. It is less stiff than the Wilson Pro Staff RF97, which could be a large reason why people are drawn to it. Another attractive feature that draw players to the Wilson Pro Staff 97 is the weight. Coming in at about 311g unstrung and 315g strung, it can be categorized in a middle category between the Wilson Pro Staff RF97, which is heavier, and the Wilson Pro Staff 97LS, which is slightly lighter.
Some who have used the Wilson Pro Staff 97, have mentioned the maneuverability of the racquet and the performance when it comes to transitioning from baseline, volleys, and groundstrokes.
HOW IT COMPARES
We picked a couple of similar products available on the market to see how they compare.
EASE OF USE 4-STARS
Great maneuverability and performance.
DESIGN QUALITY 4-STARS
Lightweight, arm friendly and a sleek design.
There is a 6-month manufacturing warranty, covering cracks in the frame caused by manufacturing defects.
This racquet is similar to earlier versions by Yonex, however, it does include a substance called Namd, which is a uniquely flexible carbon material used to optimize the response by way of uniformly dispersing carbon nanotube in carbon fiber composites. Other technologies include Yonex's time-tested Isometric head shape, which is designed to provide a larger, more forgiving hitting zone, and faster swing speed. Isometric technology also provides a 7% larger sweet spot.
This racquet replaces the 2015 Duel G version with a slightly more open string pattern and minor tweaks to the layup. The Yonex VCORE Pro 97 330 includes a Lock Booster System, which features raised ridges in the grommet strip to enhance power. The head size of the Yonex VCORE Pro 97 330 is 97 sq. in. with a 7 point head light balance, and a string pattern of 16 x 19. The headlight balance, listed at 7, make the Yonex VCORE Pro 97 330 nice and maneuverable.
The length is 27 in, the beam width is 20mm, and the stiffness is listed at 65RA. A weight of 12.1 ounces strung and narrow beams make this racquet perfect for players looking to add more pop to their game.
EASE OF USE 4-STARS
For intermediate to advanced users.
DESIGN QUALITY 5-STARS
Uses Namd for flexibility; designed for power and swing speed.
There is a 1-year manufacturing warranty, covering manufacturing defects.
This is a racquet design for aggressive players wanting to control with power and spin. This version uses Hybrid Frame Construction, which combines square and elliptical constructions to increase the responsiveness of the frame. The head size of the Babolat Pure Strike 16 x 19 is 98 sq. in. with a 7 point head light balance, and a string pattern of 16 x 19. Babolat includes with this model their FSI Power technology, which provides more spacing between the cross strings.
Due to the lower density string bed, the result is more power, spin, playability, and comfort when striking the ball. The length is 27 in, the beam width is 20.5mm, and the stiffness is listed at 67 RA. Wider beam sections in the throat and at 3/9/12 o’clock enhances precision and increases stability at ball impact. There is a new woofer system installed in the grommets and bumper called the Response Woofer which results in less friction and more flexibility in shots whether they are purely flat or with a lot of spin.
There is a consistent, solid response, and the denser center of the Pure Strike allows for flatter shots and more versatility. Like some of the other racquet models mentioned, this product also allows for power, maneuverability, and allows for better control in a game. The slightly softer frame than the Pure Drive is easier on the arm as well, but some may still find it taxing for long periods of use.
EASE OF USE 4-STARS
Very responsive and controlled action.
DESIGN QUALITY 4-STARS
Designed for control, stability, and a solid response during use.
New tennis racquets have a one-year manufacturer's warranty, and replacements are at the manufacturer's discretion
This version of the Speed Pro introduces Graphene XT, which redistributes weight to the handle and tip. This, in turn, reducing the weight in the center, to create a racquet that swings lightning fast. The head size of Graphene XT Speed Pro is 100 sq. in. with a 7 point head light balance, and a string pattern of 18 x 20. The dense pattern provides necessary grip on the ball to swing big from the baseline and trust that it will find its mark. For an 18x20 racquet it has great access to spin and is more forgiving than other frames, and it also allows for a larger sweet spot.
Also, the tight string pattern helps players remain in control without giving up the ability to generate heavy topspin. The length is 27 in, the beam width is 22mm, and the stiffness is listed at 67 RA. For control, with this model of racquet, it tends to come predominantly from the user’s swing speed and sound mechanics, rather than from the frame itself. The racquet can also deliver more power due to more weight being toward the part of the frame a player makes contact with.
EASE OF USE 3-STARS
Weight distribution contributes to power and control.
DESIGN QUALITY 4-STARS
Great distribution of weight, better spin, allows the player to create control
There is a 6-month manufacturing warranty
Engineered for the next generation of tennis legends, the Wilson Staff Pro 97 continues to deliver supreme performance and class. Inspired by an uncontaminated design, aspiring tennis players everywhere will hold a psychological edge on their competition. This edge entices players to pick one up and allows them to realize that the design is still the timeless design used in the Staff Pros of past years and allows a focus on essentials and less on unnecessary elements of design.
The similarities between the Wilson Staff Pro 97 and the other 3 racquets are numerous and allow them to react in similar ways. The Wilson Staff Pro 97 is able to deliver power and maneuverability while not tiring out your arm, allowing you to be able to play for longer periods of time. This would be great for longer practice sessions. The Wilson Staff Pro 97 works for a variety of skill levels in the intermediate to advanced categories and players should expect to see improvements in their game with repeated use.
The differences in all four racquets mentioned are just slight enough; they still allow the player to weight their options when choosing the one that's best for them. The cost of the Wilson Staff Pro 97 is comparable to 2 out of the 3 looked at. The racquet offered by Head is the lowest priced out of all mentioned; however, the Wilson Staff Pro 97 is a still a good option, for all of the specs and design that goes into creating it.
The Wilson Staff Pro 97 is a great choice for those who are looking for a racquet that is not too heavy or light and still delivers the power needed for all aspects of the game. Most players report liking the way that the racquet performs; however, many do report that there are times when the racquet doesn't quite hit the mark. The final verdict on the Wilson Staff Pro 97 would be 4 out of 5 stars.