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View Full Version : K90 -- First Impressions


VS_Power
07-13-2009, 11:47 PM
Hey fellow TW'ers

I just got back from playing 4 sets with a brand new US K90. Although I've demo'd the racket before, today is the first day I've used it extensively in matches. I know I speak for the majority when I say match play is entirely different than rallying.

Before I begin, here's the setup:
US K90
Luxilon ALU Power Rough @ 50lbs (recommended tension is 50-60lbs)
3/8 grip (I normally use 1/2)
Wilson Pro Overgrip (White)

A little bit about me: I'm a 4.5 rated player with a 2-handed backhand and an all-court style of play. My 2hbh is my best shot as my forehand can break down in critical moments in a match. I mix my serves up with slice and kick, but being only 5'8 I rarely serve purely flat. Both my serves have heavy spin but I rarely get more than one ace per service game. I come in to volley on both serves, and I'm always looking for an opportunity to come in during a rally since I feel the most comfortable at the net. From the baseline, I hit heavy topspin from both wings but my slices are also very effective. I'll play a counter-punching style of play until an opportunity arrives to hit an approach shot and go to the net--I've always preferred a consistent, control oriented game to a power one. Solid lobbers and flat hitters are my greatest weakness. I usually use a Babolat Pure Drive + with Cortex, with 18 grams of lead tape in the upper hoop. My preferred string is Wilson NXT Tour @ 65lbs. It's definitely not the typical all-court racket, which is why I've been tempted to give the K90 a run.

K90 Review:
My initial impression when short-courting was shock--the K90 has that buttery feel on contact that I've rarely experienced, and I've owned classics such as the MW 200g, Classic Mid, i.Prestige, POG mid, among others. This type of feel only happens when using kevlar rackets, from my experience. But good feel or not doesn't matter, what matters is what translates into the ball. My PD+ @ 65lbs with ALU Power rough is extremely stiff and dead on the arm, but what it does to the ball is amazing. That soft touch does wonders for your confidence however...

Serves:
My serves had just as much spin as my PD+, but less penetration. Finding placement was much easier than on the PD+ however, and I found myself getting many cheap points kicking it high and wide to the backhand. I suspect that even when I am fully comfortable with the K90, my serves will never be as heavy as with the PD+. Definitely one of the better rackets on serve, but comparing it to perhaps the best line of rackets for serving is a bit unfair. 6-8 grams of lead tape in the upper hoop and this racket will definitely benefit on the serve. 88/100. [PD+: 95/100]

Groundstrokes:
That buttery feel of the racket translated into deep, heavy spinning balls with excellent placement. Generating spin with this racket was just as easy as with the PD+, but the control and confidence level with the racket is on an entirely different level. It really whips through the air, letting you get some nice spin and control on the ball at the same time. I won't say I could place the ball on a dime (I never can), but control was never an issue as it was at times with the PD+. My backhand suffered a bit from using this racket because I just couldn't generate the same amount as power as I could before. What used to be a winner was now just a well placed approach shot that needed one more stroke to finish off. This occurred even though I strung the K90 15lbs less than I do with the PD+. At least the placement was better with the backhand though, I was much more confident in the second serve down-the-line doubles return. Slices with this racket, as most people say, are amazing. The pocketing this racket does with the ball really lets you guide through the ball on the slice, and the spin was equally devastating. The downside of this racket is definitely its unforgiving nature. For a players racket though, it is surprisingly forgiving, but you still need to have good footwork on every shot if you want your ball to have pace. I couldn't get away with the some of the lazy shots I unfortunately developed with the PD+. Still, groundstrokes with this racket are a pleasure. I give the K90 a slight edge because groundies are predictable and not as unwieldy as with the PD+. A power player will probably disagree with me here. 92/100 [PD+: 90/100].

Volleys:
This is where the racket really shines. I could never hit a solid drop volley with the PD+, but again the pocketing you get with the K90 is unmatched. This racket slices through the air and is surprisingly stable even on off centered hits on the string bed. You can volley the ball deep, or pocket the ball at a sharp angle. Simply stunning volleying racket, I will go up to the net even more now. Even half-volleys improved with this racket because you can really guide the ball deep or angled with pocketing you get. I have no clue how this racket isn't less than a 67 stiffness rating, but that doesn't matter. 100/100 [PD+: 80/100]

Returns:
Not the best returning racket since you need good footwork and prep to hit a deep ball. The low power level means you need to take a good cut at the ball as well. Many of my returns fell short, but I was never worried about them getting poached because of the control. The only redeeming factor was returning second serves to the forehand--these were a real treat. The heaviness of the racket lets you block back flat bombs, but such is with most players rackets. I give the PD+ the edge because it is more forgiving. 85/100 [PD+ 88/100]

Overall playing with the K90 is like driving a BMW on manual. It's a high performance racket and you can really take advantage of its features if you're good. If you're not, then it's a bit of a waste but still a pleasure to use. If you're purely a baseliner with a 2hbh, I definitely do not recommend this racket whether your 2h is good or not. There's little reason to use a mid, and perhaps even a standard length racket if you are a pure 2hbh baseliner, however there are control advantages with a 27in. If you're exceptionally strong though this will not be an issue. I can't speak for 1hbh'ers because this very well may be an excellent 1hbh racket. What I like most about this racket is it will improve your footwork and setup, and encourage you to come up to the net more often to finish off those easy points. Again the feel and pocketing of this racket is unparalleled and worth a demo just to experience for yourself. Definitely a "classic" racket worth entering the racket hall of fame.


Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review!

nn
07-13-2009, 11:59 PM
K90 can be used by 2hbh even if you are all court style play. I have used it for 18 months but again 27.5 is ideal for 2hbh. But 27.5 and 27 has it's own advantage which most of the player knows on this board.

VS_Power
07-14-2009, 12:04 AM
Totally agree with you there--the benefits on the bh volley outweigh the loss on the bh groundie. You can run around some bh groundies but not on the volley. If you're only going to baseline though, there are better rackets out there for 2hbh baselining.

roundiesee
07-14-2009, 01:06 AM
VS Power, do you have any elbow pain after using the K90 strung with poly? My concern is not so much that it is not a good racket, but that it may be too stiff and may cause TE with continued use. Thanks.

VS_Power
07-14-2009, 02:21 AM
Roundiesee - I haven't experienced any elbow pains at all with ALU Power on the K90, but I normally don't experience any TE even with the PD+ (70 stiffness rating) and poly strung @ 65lbs. Even so, the K90 plays extremely flexible for its rating (67) so TE may not be an issue. Wish I could give you a more solid response though--has anyone else had any issues with the K90 and tennis elbow? With poly strings?

nn
07-14-2009, 09:28 AM
I had full Luxilon ALU 18 full and 16 in hybrid set up without any pain. But pure drive gives me pain no matter what string I use even at 55lb.

movdqa
07-14-2009, 12:37 PM
You might give the K88 a demo too. I'd say that it has more power than the PDR (stock), comparable spin potential and it feels softer than the K90 (to me). I think that the small additional weight adds to comfort despite its stiffness. You still need good footwork, preparation and timing but you can get more power (need spin to keep it in the court) on your shots.

btangel
07-14-2009, 12:53 PM
I got a k90 off a fellow tw member here and just played an hour with it this morning. I usually string my rackets with BBO @ 55lbs. The seller strung them with Gosen's for me so I just went with it.

I tried the K90 about 2 years ago. I loved the feel, but it was too demanding for my level at the time. Improvements in my game over the last 2 years drove me to give it another shot.

I dunno about you guys, but this racket is just so damn solid to me. I'm 5'11 w/ a sw forehand and an eastern 1hbh and usually play with a n6.1 95.

I felt that it fits my flatter strokes very well. I don't really have to worry about over hitting the ball considering how low powered it already is. If there's one adjective to describe the k90 it's CONTROL.

On that note though, I really don't think this racket is very top spin friendly. I don't think players that hit with a lot of top spin & a full western grip is going to like this racket as much IMO.

my $.02

tribunal4555
07-14-2009, 12:59 PM
I got a k90 off a fellow tw member here and just played an hour with it this morning. I usually string my rackets with BBO @ 55lbs. The seller strung them with Gosen's for me so I just went with it.

I tried the K90 about 2 years ago. I loved the feel, but it was too demanding for my level at the time. Improvements in my game over the last 2 years drove me to give it another shot.

I dunno about you guys, but this racket is just so damn solid to me. I'm 5'11 w/ a sw forehand and an eastern 1hbh and usually play with a n6.1 95.

I felt that it fits my flatter strokes very well. I don't really have to worry about over hitting the ball considering how low powered it already is. If there's one adjective to describe the k90 it's CONTROL.

On that note though, I really don't think this racket is very top spin friendly. I don't think players that hit with a lot of top spin & a full western grip is going to like this racket as much IMO.

my $.02

Control is a noun.

[/nitpicking mode]


Anyways, nice post. I agree, the K90 is great for flat. But western grip hitters generally should use a larger headsize for maximum spin potential, IMO. Although if it works for you, then that's all that matters; hell, I'm rotating in woodies with my graphite racquets!

btangel
07-14-2009, 01:04 PM
Control is a noun.

[/nitpicking mode]


Anyways, nice post. I agree, the K90 is great for flat. But western grip hitters generally should use a larger headsize for maximum spin potential, IMO. Although if it works for you, then that's all that matters; hell, I'm rotating in woodies with my graphite racquets!

woah oops. good catch.

s/adjective/word :)

skraggle
07-18-2009, 09:09 PM
Hey fellow TW'ers

I just got back from playing 4 sets with a brand new US K90. Although I've demo'd the racket before, today is the first day I've used it extensively in matches. I know I speak for the majority when I say match play is entirely different than rallying.

Before I begin, here's the setup:
US K90
Luxilon ALU Power Rough @ 50lbs (recommended tension is 50-60lbs)
3/8 grip (I normally use 1/2)
Wilson Pro Overgrip (White)

A little bit about me: I'm a 4.5 rated player with a 2-handed backhand and an all-court style of play. My 2hbh is my best shot as my forehand can break down in critical moments in a match. I mix my serves up with slice and kick, but being only 5'8 I rarely serve purely flat. Both my serves have heavy spin but I rarely get more than one ace per service game. I come in to volley on both serves, and I'm always looking for an opportunity to come in during a rally since I feel the most comfortable at the net. From the baseline, I hit heavy topspin from both wings but my slices are also very effective. I'll play a counter-punching style of play until an opportunity arrives to hit an approach shot and go to the net--I've always preferred a consistent, control oriented game to a power one. Solid lobbers and flat hitters are my greatest weakness. I usually use a Babolat Pure Drive + with Cortex, with 18 grams of lead tape in the upper hoop. My preferred string is Wilson NXT Tour @ 65lbs. It's definitely not the typical all-court racket, which is why I've been tempted to give the K90 a run.

K90 Review:
My initial impression when short-courting was shock--the K90 has that buttery feel on contact that I've rarely experienced, and I've owned classics such as the MW 200g, Classic Mid, i.Prestige, POG mid, among others. This type of feel only happens when using kevlar rackets, from my experience. But good feel or not doesn't matter, what matters is what translates into the ball. My PD+ @ 65lbs with ALU Power rough is extremely stiff and dead on the arm, but what it does to the ball is amazing. That soft touch does wonders for your confidence however...

Serves:
My serves had just as much spin as my PD+, but less penetration. Finding placement was much easier than on the PD+ however, and I found myself getting many cheap points kicking it high and wide to the backhand. I suspect that even when I am fully comfortable with the K90, my serves will never be as heavy as with the PD+. Definitely one of the better rackets on serve, but comparing it to perhaps the best line of rackets for serving is a bit unfair. 6-8 grams of lead tape in the upper hoop and this racket will definitely benefit on the serve. 88/100. [PD+: 95/100]

Groundstrokes:
That buttery feel of the racket translated into deep, heavy spinning balls with excellent placement. Generating spin with this racket was just as easy as with the PD+, but the control and confidence level with the racket is on an entirely different level. It really whips through the air, letting you get some nice spin and control on the ball at the same time. I won't say I could place the ball on a dime (I never can), but control was never an issue as it was at times with the PD+. My backhand suffered a bit from using this racket because I just couldn't generate the same amount as power as I could before. What used to be a winner was now just a well placed approach shot that needed one more stroke to finish off. This occurred even though I strung the K90 15lbs less than I do with the PD+. At least the placement was better with the backhand though, I was much more confident in the second serve down-the-line doubles return. Slices with this racket, as most people say, are amazing. The pocketing this racket does with the ball really lets you guide through the ball on the slice, and the spin was equally devastating. The downside of this racket is definitely its unforgiving nature. For a players racket though, it is surprisingly forgiving, but you still need to have good footwork on every shot if you want your ball to have pace. I couldn't get away with the some of the lazy shots I unfortunately developed with the PD+. Still, groundstrokes with this racket are a pleasure. I give the K90 a slight edge because groundies are predictable and not as unwieldy as with the PD+. A power player will probably disagree with me here. 92/100 [PD+: 90/100].

Volleys:
This is where the racket really shines. I could never hit a solid drop volley with the PD+, but again the pocketing you get with the K90 is unmatched. This racket slices through the air and is surprisingly stable even on off centered hits on the string bed. You can volley the ball deep, or pocket the ball at a sharp angle. Simply stunning volleying racket, I will go up to the net even more now. Even half-volleys improved with this racket because you can really guide the ball deep or angled with pocketing you get. I have no clue how this racket isn't less than a 67 stiffness rating, but that doesn't matter. 100/100 [PD+: 80/100]

Returns:
Not the best returning racket since you need good footwork and prep to hit a deep ball. The low power level means you need to take a good cut at the ball as well. Many of my returns fell short, but I was never worried about them getting poached because of the control. The only redeeming factor was returning second serves to the forehand--these were a real treat. The heaviness of the racket lets you block back flat bombs, but such is with most players rackets. I give the PD+ the edge because it is more forgiving. 85/100 [PD+ 88/100]

Overall playing with the K90 is like driving a BMW on manual. It's a high performance racket and you can really take advantage of its features if you're good. If you're not, then it's a bit of a waste but still a pleasure to use. If you're purely a baseliner with a 2hbh, I definitely do not recommend this racket whether your 2h is good or not. There's little reason to use a mid, and perhaps even a standard length racket if you are a pure 2hbh baseliner, however there are control advantages with a 27in. If you're exceptionally strong though this will not be an issue. I can't speak for 1hbh'ers because this very well may be an excellent 1hbh racket. What I like most about this racket is it will improve your footwork and setup, and encourage you to come up to the net more often to finish off those easy points. Again the feel and pocketing of this racket is unparalleled and worth a demo just to experience for yourself. Definitely a "classic" racket worth entering the racket hall of fame.


Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this review!

Great review. Very helpful. Thanks for sharing...

Topspin24
07-19-2009, 08:31 AM
I just hit with this racket yesterday and I really enjoyed it. I didn't feel the weight that people complain about and I was easily able to generate a solid swing for me sw forehand and 1hb. I agree that this racket does shine at net, I was capable of hit well-placed volleys. I love this racket so far!

Topspin24
07-19-2009, 03:01 PM
Whoops, eastern forehand grip, not sw