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View Full Version : Wood racquet demo: Wilson Jack Kramer Pro Staff


money_ball
02-05-2012, 09:08 AM
My ATP-ranked hitting coach was gracious enough to humor me and let me hit with a wooden racquet. You can see a video of it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_kiapu3ZHY

I got a few of these Wilson Jack Kramer Pro Staff wooden racquets from the online auction site (that for some reason cannot be mentioned in this forum), and strung my first one from Brad Gilbert's tennis shop in San Rafael a few years ago. (It was too small for the automatic Babolat stringing machines, so the stringing pro had to bring out the old Prince NEOS manual machine to string it.)

I don't live in the Bay Area any more, and it was difficult to find people who could string woodies. (For example Mason's Tennis Mart in NYC can't string woodies.) While out visiting family in Southern California I found that Hank Lloyd's in Costa Mesa can string woodies, so I got one of my Jack Kramer Pro Staffs strung up with basic 17 gauge Prince synthetic gut at 55 lbs.

The strung weight of the racquet is over 13.5 ounces, and the head size is 65 square inches. Grip size is 4 5/8 inches. I have a couple other Jack Kramer Pro Staffs that are over 14 ounces, but since I'm not used to playing with woodies, I didn't want to hit with them yet as playing with a racquet over 13.5 ounces is tough enough as it is.

I actually prefer hitting with woodies over modern racquets because you really can't get away with poor technique hitting with a woodie. Also the modern racquets and polyester strings allow you to take huge cuts at the ball, and as I get older, my body cannot handle that kind of physical tennis any more. I want to be able to play good clean tennis when I'm old, like John McEnroe, who is still kicking *** in his 50's with his efficient serve-and-volley game.

In tennis, old school is the best school!

ChicagoJack
02-05-2012, 09:54 AM
Todd Martin pulled a JK Pro Staff out of his bag to close out a really tight match in a tie breaker last year against Micheal Chang. Won three successive points to take the match. Twas all in a spirit of good fun, clearly Micheal was hamming it up as well ( taking long breaths before serving as an open display of his nervousness.) Video below.

Chang Vs Martin
http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=vtD_w7Lx9HI

Sampras Serving
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C0_YyhKV0ig&feature=endscreen&NR=1

money_ball
02-05-2012, 10:07 AM
Wow, thanks for the video ChicagoJack!

ChicagoJack
02-05-2012, 10:14 AM
Wow, thanks for the video ChicagoJack!

Hey, no problemo. If you don't mind me asking, who is your hitting coach?

money_ball
02-05-2012, 10:18 AM
Just saw the Sampras video. Excellent! If you have any more video links of pros playing with woodies, let me know! For example Sampras and the Bryan Brothers used woodies in an exhibition last year right before the US Open. It was broadcast on the Tennis Channel, but I only caught a little bit of it. I can't find videos of that anywhere :(

Also this is my hitting coach:
http://www.atpworldtour.com/Tennis/Players/Ve/A/Alessandro-Damiano-Ventre.aspx

Migelowsky
02-06-2012, 12:50 AM
Good rally =), sometimes I hit with a Donnay Allwood,
I love the sound it makes, and Iīm really picky about
shock absorbers , but with wood I donīt use them.

Look at this passing shot from Nastase, I canīt believe how
good they were hitting with those rackets

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=lf4wrrpzdYc#t=74s

money_ball
02-06-2012, 07:50 AM
Thanks for the excellent video Migelowsky! Incredible tennis by both Nastase and Ashe, two of my all-time favorites.

After trying out wooden racquets for myself, it makes me really respect the players prior to the 1980's. The variety in today's tennis is a joke compared to the days of wood.

Sampras once remarked that after hitting with polyester strings it "felt like cheating". I feel the same way about modern racquets after hitting with woodies. The most important things to me in tennis are control and technique. I would rather lose playing with excellent technique than win with poor technique. I'm tired of baseline bashing, and now that I'm in my 30's, my body cannot handle that kind of abuse. I need to develop a more refined game.

roundiesee
02-06-2012, 05:11 PM
OP, thanks for the post! Great skills really! Made me wonder why the powers that be would allow anything other than wood to be played. Wish tennis would return to the good old days where elegance of play and fashioning a point were more important than pure spin and blind bludgeoning of the ball! :(

mmk
02-06-2012, 05:39 PM
I still have a Wilson Advantage medium weight from the late 70s/early 80s that I pull out occasionally, still strung with the (fraying, but) original Victor Imperial gut, and a Kramer midsize from the mid 80s with a syngut of some sort. They are fun to hit with, but I don't think I could beat anyone at my level with either, as long as my opponent was using a modern racquet. I should ask my club about a wood tournament.

money_ball
02-07-2012, 06:13 PM
It seems Brad Gilbert approves of my wood racquet experiment:

https://twitter.com/#!/bgtennisnation/statuses/166734325121953792

Limpinhitter
02-07-2012, 06:24 PM
I still have a Wilson Advantage medium weight from the late 70s/early 80s that I pull out occasionally, still strung with the (fraying, but) original Victor Imperial gut, and a Kramer midsize from the mid 80s with a syngut of some sort. They are fun to hit with, but I don't think I could beat anyone at my level with either, as long as my opponent was using a modern racquet. I should ask my club about a wood tournament.

Victor Imperial! The best!

2kJosh
02-08-2012, 12:01 PM
My ATP-ranked hitting coach was gracious enough to humor me and let me hit with a wooden racquet. You can see a video of it here:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F_kiapu3ZHY

I got a few of these Wilson Jack Kramer Pro Staff wooden racquets from the online auction site (that for some reason cannot be mentioned in this forum), and strung my first one from Brad Gilbert's tennis shop in San Rafael a few years ago. (It was too small for the automatic Babolat stringing machines, so the stringing pro had to bring out the old Prince NEOS manual machine to string it.)

I don't live in the Bay Area any more, and it was difficult to find people who could string woodies. (For example Mason's Tennis Mart in NYC can't string woodies.) While out visiting family in Southern California I found that Hank Lloyd's in Costa Mesa can string woodies, so I got one of my Jack Kramer Pro Staffs strung up with basic 17 gauge Prince synthetic gut at 55 lbs.

The strung weight of the racquet is over 13.5 ounces, and the head size is 65 square inches. Grip size is 4 5/8 inches. I have a couple other Jack Kramer Pro Staffs that are over 14 ounces, but since I'm not used to playing with woodies, I didn't want to hit with them yet as playing with a racquet over 13.5 ounces is tough enough as it is.

I actually prefer hitting with woodies over modern racquets because you really can't get away with poor technique hitting with a woodie. Also the modern racquets and polyester strings allow you to take huge cuts at the ball, and as I get older, my body cannot handle that kind of physical tennis any more. I want to be able to play good clean tennis when I'm old, like John McEnroe, who is still kicking *** in his 50's with his efficient serve-and-volley game.

In tennis, old school is the best school!

How long ago were you at Hank's I saw one of the guys stringing a Kramer Woodie a while back.

money_ball
02-09-2012, 12:31 PM
How long ago were you at Hank's I saw one of the guys stringing a Kramer Woodie a while back.

Around three weeks ago, during the end of January. That's was probably my racquet!

daved
02-09-2012, 08:54 PM
Some thoughts:

I am also getting older (47) and realize there's no way I can build my game on taking huge cuts with WW forehand. That said, I did try to play Conti (or close) on all strokes a la McEnroe, Gilbert, Edberg, Nastase, Gonzalez and many greats from the "Big Tennis" S&V era...and it just doesn't work for me. I think to do that you have to be one of those people with innately superior hand-eye skills (like that jerk friend of years who can pick up a pool cue after having 3 beers and run the table at will even though he hasn't played billiards in a year).

I am going SW on the forehand and Conti on all else. And if you spend inordinate amounts of time looking at photos of players from the start of tennis through the 50s, you'll find plenty of photos of top players who had SW or W forehand grips, including Tilden, "Little" Bill Johnston, etc.

Odd data points re "classic" grips and game and racquet choice:

One of the very, very best players in our region (in his 50s now, former teaching pro, still wins or in finals of Open Men's Doubles in the state championship tournament every year...a local legend), who plays the most classic, flat, effortless, court-position-and-placement-based game I've ever seen, plays a BIZARRE DISCONTINUED MASSIVE WILSON GRANNY SNOWSHOE RACQUET. Not sure on the model, but the thing must be 115 sq in. and I'm guessing it weights under 10 oz. And yet I see this fella out there schooling the 20-something 5.0 guys in singles.

And a guy on my 3.5 and 4.0 teams -- winning record in singles, in his late 50s -- plays a similar style and his game went up a few notches last year when he switched from a Prestige to a v. light Babolat oversize granny racquet.

Hmmmm...I don't get it.

Jack Romeo
02-09-2012, 11:09 PM
Some thoughts:



Odd data points re "classic" grips and game and racquet choice:

One of the very, very best players in our region (in his 50s now, former teaching pro, still wins or in finals of Open Men's Doubles in the state championship tournament every year...a local legend), who plays the most classic, flat, effortless, court-position-and-placement-based game I've ever seen, plays a BIZARRE DISCONTINUED MASSIVE WILSON GRANNY SNOWSHOE RACQUET. Not sure on the model, but the thing must be 115 sq in. and I'm guessing it weights under 10 oz. And yet I see this fella out there schooling the 20-something 5.0 guys in singles.

And a guy on my 3.5 and 4.0 teams -- winning record in singles, in his late 50s -- plays a similar style and his game went up a few notches last year when he switched from a Prestige to a v. light Babolat oversize granny racquet.

Hmmmm...I don't get it.

i guess there's a reason they're called "game-improvement sticks."

but about woodies, i have a dunlop maxply fort (i think it's the one mcenroe used). it is still in decent condition, considering it was bought about 30 years ago. it was not too extensively used. i don't know what the strings on it are, but i think they're some kind of synthetic gut.

i sometimes take it out for a hit, only to remind myself of some basics - early preparation, swing through the ball, full follow-through. i find that after hitting with it, when i go back to my regular tweener graphite racket, my swing is more grooved. i don't use western grips; i have forehand grip similar to federer, and although i do use two hands on the backhand, i hit primarily flat or with only a moderate amount of topspin. i also like to slice the ball and volley since i'm more of a doubles player.

so i've made it a point that from time to time, like about once a month, i take it out for a practice session as sort of a way to keep my strokes in tune.

michaelscoots
03-01-2012, 08:07 AM
My brother picked up a couple of wooden racquets at a thrift store this past weekend. We both grew up playing with them in the 70's so it was a real treat to try out a wooden racquet again after all these years. Both racquets are apparently out of the 40's. One was labeled "The Professional". I restrung one of them in my Gamma. The 2nd time out we started to combine modern technique with the old school racquets and we were laughing out of control. I hit a couple of flying forehands and after about ten minutes of going at it like this, my racquet cracked. People were amazed by how much control and power we were getting. I'm hooked...again!