The Wilson Steam 99s review everyone has been writing.

Discussion in 'Racquets' started by J011yroger, Feb 10, 2013.

  1. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Hit for maybe 45 minutes with the Steam 99s yesternight.

    I've gotta say, the thing is a darned nice racquet which will serve a lot of players quite well. I would put it on the 2013 must try list for almost everyone. Even if you don't seriously consider playing with it, the frame is just enjoyable to play with.

    Groundstrokes: Easy, effortless, ball goes in the general direction of where you want it to, swing faster, the ball does more. Topspin, slice, whatever. You know, kind of like how a racquet is supposed to be. Feels way soft due to the open pattern, the hoop is fairly stiff for good pop, and if you starch a ball, you can feel the frame bend just above the pallet (I didn't like that, but I don't think it will be an issue for the majority of players.) It swings heavier than its listed spec, but is not at all sluggish. My ball seemed spinny, or fast, but certainly not heavy. If I had to pick a down point, it would be that targeting didn't feel very precise.

    Groundstroke grade: A-

    Volley/Forecourt: More than capable, nice soft feel, maneuverable. The bottom line is that it gets the job done, and doesn't feel bad. Let's face it, the vast majority of players who are considering the switch to these frames are not looking for wizardry up at the net, they are looking to knock off some easy balls coming in behind attacks of short balls, or to play some dubs, and for that, it is more than adequate.

    Volley/Forecourt grade: B-

    Serve: Yee-Ha. Serving with this thing was a breeze, throw the ball up in the air, take a rip at it, try to contain your childish glee. My serves probably weren't terribly heavy, but they went fast, and jumped high. Would love to take some video and radar of my serves compared to my normal frames.

    Serve grade: A

    Final thoughts: This is one of those rare frames that the vast majority of tennis players could play well with. Most advanced players couldn't afford to keep string in the thing, and most who have been playing for a long time likely will play better with their own racquet. Personally there is nothing that this frame does for me better than my normal racquet, but that won't stop me from acknowledging that it is one heck of a nice racquet and would be great for a lot of people.

    The only reviews I could expect to hear on this frame would be either "Wow, this thing is great, I will have to seriously consider it." or "Well, it isn't for me, but it is still nice."

    J
     
    #1
  2. corners

    corners Legend

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    Jolly, what was your string setup? Any plans to try Kevlar/stiff poly at higher-than-your-usual tension?
     
    #2
  3. JGads

    JGads Hall of Fame

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    Another total agreement. Jolly's on a roll.

    Everything feels very easy with the 99S. It's the string life that's terrible. I got three hours before it snapped on me.
     
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  4. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    It was a K-Gut/4G hybrid my friend had in there, and the frame was nice in spite of that.

    It would be sweet with my BBO/ALU job in there at maybe 48ish?

    I don't think it has the integrity to hold up to Kevlar at any tension for terribly long, certainly not at 70# I played it at.

    J
     
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  5. Lilguy1456

    Lilguy1456 Semi-Pro

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    Jolly, just curious. What's your current stick of choice? I noticed how much you hated the boardy Blade 93 and liked the spinny 99s. What do you currently use?
     
    #5
  6. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    If I could only find a way to turn profit from this skill...

    J
     
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  7. corners

    corners Legend

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    Still don't think anyone has tried Polymaster in the crosses. That could be the ticket to decent string life in these things.
     
    #7
  8. pshulam

    pshulam Hall of Fame

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    Out of curiosity, what's your normal racquet?
     
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  9. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Sorry, I thought my legend had reached the furthest recesses of the TW galaxy, and that I needed no introduction.

    My regular frame is a heavily modded Wilson 90 (have played with them all).

    Currently experimenting with the IG Prestige Mid also heavily modded (as detailed in my "Basalt Wars: A New Hope" thread)

    J
     
    #9
  10. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Tried it? I've never even heard of it.

    J
     
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  11. Power Player

    Power Player G.O.A.T.

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    Agree, this is pretty in line with my review as well.
     
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  12. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Im happy to hear someone else say they noticed this.

    I have felt that a number of times....its almost like you can feel the frame distort, then bounce back. It honestly reminded me of an old Arthur Ashe Head frame I have where you can very easily feel the racquet resonate after each stroke. The 99S doesnt do that all the time like the Ashe racquet of course, but it does happen enough to notice it. It also doesnt bother me at all, but I was surprised to feel this is a frame that is reported to be so stiff on the flex scale (69 I believe).
     
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  13. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Agree, plays waaaaay softer than the measured spec.

    J
     
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  14. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    yes yes yes.

    This frame has cut down on my DFs big time. I have wicked confidence serving with it. Ive never hit better slices serves. They used to be my lowest percentage serve and now its like I cant miss them.

    I am still working on the flat serves with it, but honestly I hardly ever want to hit any when using this frame. It seems too logical and easy to just slice and kick away.
     
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  15. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    The string is def the issue.

    My approach to this is......buy a reel of cheap poly (Gosen Polylon 16)and restring often (its ~$1.70 in string per job). I like the frame enough to put up with the BS string wear.

    If I was paying $16-17 a pop for string, Id definitely give this frame up, as regardless of whether one can afford it, it would be lunacy defined for someone playing frequently. You also need about 10 frames (which I am sure there are many of this board who already do!) Based on your tennis bag size in a recent photo Jolly, you are probably one!
     
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  16. gplracer

    gplracer Professional

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    My 16 year old really likes this frame but it eats string. We were using gut/4g because it is cheaper for us than nxt/4g because the string lasts so much longer. He broke the gut/4g combo after playing 3 doubles matches. ouch!
     
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  17. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Wilson Enduro Gold baby!

    J
     
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  18. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Try my BBO/ALU job about 10# lower than you string the Gut/4G, and tell him to take a rip at the ball.

    Let me know what he thinks, and how long it lasts.

    J
     
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  19. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    I hit more of a hard topspin first serve, the thing had a ton of MPH, and hit the back curtain seemingly head/shoulder high and still rising.

    I'll have to see if I can get a quick video.

    J
     
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  20. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    Dang....just did a quick check of the big auction site and saw 10 packs for 11 bucks!
     
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  21. Broly4

    Broly4 Rookie

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    It's stiff, as stiff as its competitors, I like the feel and the solidness for its weight. Due to the open pattern, and the fact that looses tension sooooo fast, it can be considered confortable for a 69.
     
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  22. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    It used to come in like a 780' reel or something like that, more than a normal 660' reel and was like 40 bucks.

    J
     
    #22
  23. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    That's what she said.

    J
     
    #23
  24. JGads

    JGads Hall of Fame

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    Steam a surprisingly deadly serving stick. Loads of free points and perplexing accuracy. That was the biggest surprise from my demo session - that, and the fact that it also volleyed very well, another thing I didn't expect.
     
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  25. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    I have also been tempted to try something like this in the Steam.....but in the back of my mind I think "Why?"

    Lets say it plays GREAT! I can hit like touring pro! (Now that string would surely need to come with a genie in a bottle.......)

    Im still not going to want to spend the fortune its going to cost to keep this frame's piehole stuffed full of tasty strings.

    So......the path I am taking now is sticking my head in the sand.

    I dont want to even know how much better something like Alu would be in this frame....so that I dont know what I am missing:mad: Thus...the Polylon approach.
     
    #25
  26. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Yea, same applies to scotch.

    J
     
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  27. Buford T Justice

    Buford T Justice Semi-Pro

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    How do you guys get good radar readings on serves?

    I ask as the only time Ive ever radar'ed was using this small "Pocket Radar" device my brother has that can only pick up the ball on the receiving end (i.e. the service box), so it doesnt give the speed off the strings.

    Of course, I say this in my feeble defense as this device was only reading ~100 (103 max), when it would even get a reading, for my serves at the other end. I just dont know what 100-103 equals off the strings. (Afterwards, I learned that with this device and tennis serves, they suggest a stepladder right behind the server to be able to get reading that is comparable to the better radar guns. Sounds like too much trouble!)

    In any case.....gone are the visions of 120 mph serves! LOL
     
    #27
  28. Broly4

    Broly4 Rookie

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    and the main reason I bought that stupid couch...
     
    #28
  29. tistrapukcipeht

    tistrapukcipeht Professional

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    I though this was an awful racquet, so bad I could not play with it for 5 mins trying, thus I put it away, I don't know what string/tension they had it , for sure it was no gut to make it soft, but this thing was like concrete to me, really stiff, i was surprised, and it vibrated a lot as well.
     
    #29
  30. Dgdavid

    Dgdavid Professional

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    i think it is a good stick and takes most people longer than usual to get an impression on it. i have taken a slightly different route with the non-S 99 being my preference but I will probably add a 99S to the bag anyway.
     
    #30
  31. Torres

    Torres Banned

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    I'm surprised that in all the reviews that no one's mentioned wanting to rebalance this stick with a bit more weight in the handle. Or that the point of stick, to have a lot of head weighting?
     
    #31
  32. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    I totally agree with J011y. I think it's a great frame, something I've been looking for in while. That said, but it's not for everyone.

    IF you are a chronic string breaker, this racket is not for you, but if you're not, this racket will possibly turn you into one. The reason I say that is, I've known a couple of people who have Natural Gut in thier rackets for over two years, and they play at least 2 to 3 times a week.
     
    #32
  33. racertempo

    racertempo Semi-Pro

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    Huh, the 99s is 5HL and the 105s is 8HL. Adding weight to the handle would only increase those numbers.
     
    #33
  34. Lakers4Life

    Lakers4Life Hall of Fame

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    The 105s is lighter than the 99s, by 15g, even with a wider beam. I guess if you wanted to ad weight to the handle, using the Wilson Hybrid grip or a leather grip.
     
    #34
  35. Pickle9

    Pickle9 Semi-Pro

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    hit with it tonight. its a little weird at first, its stiff but soft (if that's possible, maybe its the strings). once i got use to it it seemed to put a nice arch on the ball. i would like to try it with a full bed of alu rough or the appropriate string.
     
    #35
  36. Ross K

    Ross K Legend

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    Agree with virtually everything said by OP (inc. slightly lacking in the directional control dept.), and also agree with David above that it takes a bit longer than a lot of frames to get fully to grips with it.

    Torres, could you say more about what you mean here. For me, the balance seems a bit off. Could well be QC issue on my rac. Anyhow, a few too many UE on serve and ROS makes me sometimes think mine could do with being a bit more h/light.
     
    #36
  37. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    Ok, well I guess I'll just say nice stick, but not for me, and I'm not really even a string breaker. I'm going to stick with my P1's or switch to the Blade 98.
     
    #37
  38. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    I'd like to echo this. I love the way it serves and volleys are just plain solid.


    Nice write up, Jolly.
     
    #38
  39. corners

    corners Legend

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    Gosen Polymaster is a copoly with a rectangular cross-section. So 1.1 mm thick and 1.55 mm wide in the thicker version, Polymaster I. Poly strings break because interstring friction heats up the intersections, melting a notch into the main string, which is doing all the sliding around, that eventually gets so deep the string snaps.

    A cross string with rectangular cross section should diffuse the friction-generated heat over a larger area of the main string. Instead of all the friction being focused on a "point" where the two circular strings interface, the main should lie along the entire 1.55mm width of the flat, ribbon-like Polymaster cross. In theory, this should result in much less localized heat, less melting, less notching, and ultimately longer string life.

    The rub, in this case, is that Polymaster, being a very soft poly, has poor tension maintenance. All the best polys for tension maintenance are the stiff ones. But stringing a bit higher to compensate for the anticipated loss should work. And if using a kevlar main the softer cross might be welcome.
     
    #39
  40. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Interesting concept. The reason poly enhances performance is the sliding out of place, and snapping back. Increasing surface area between strings would increase the static, and kinetic friction between the mains and crosses therby impeding the main's ability to be displaced and return rapidly.

    J
     
    #40
  41. racertempo

    racertempo Semi-Pro

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    Wider beams usually are lighter, but the 105s is even more HL then the 99s at 8HL......so again, any weight to the handle is going to make the frame 10+HL....not sure anyone wants a frame that HL. I think if any weight needs to be added it would be in the head to bring the balance a little back down.
     
    #41
  42. corners

    corners Legend

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    Friction is independent of surface area. Surprising, bit is so. Polymaster is among the very best copoly strings in terms of low string-on-string CoF: http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/COFreporter.php
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2013
    #42
  43. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Yea, when you are talking about pushing a brick, it doesn't matter which side is down, but I can't imagine a rectangular string not locking up, for a variety of reasons. The first of which is that when the ball hits the corner of the rectangle, the opposite corner will dig in and the ball will exert a torque on the string, trying to roll it up on edge, which will further displace the cross strings increasing the normal.

    I would love to try a set, and see what it does, for science if nothing else. Maybe I am totally wrong and the stuff works. Wouldn't be the first time.

    J
     
    #43
  44. corners

    corners Legend

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    The Coefficient of Friction tests done by TWU used actual strings in a rig designed to simulate in-racquet conditions to some extent, so the very low CoF evidenced can be counted upon. Your point about the possibility of digging in at the corners could be a good one, but these are not sharp corners - the string is not a perfect rectangle. Tourbite has a square cross-section and by all accounts it slides and snaps back marvelously. And we're talking about using it in the crosses, where it is held flat by the mains, so any tendency to roll over would be greatly reduced; and in the crosses the ball would almost always be sliding along the length of the string, rather than catching it on the edge. Also, Polymaster is a flat ribbon that is thinner than a circular string, so the separation between the mains and the crosses, and thus the angle of the weave, would be less acute than usual, which should further reduce interstring friction.

    I don't know either, as I haven't tried it. This is just theorizing. A couple people around here have tried it with gut mains and the reports have been positive. I've got a couple sets coming. The logic regarding diffused interstring friction-generated heat seems sound to me.
     
    #44
  45. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    Wonder what it is like to string? Wonder if it sucks to keep straight? I'd string it tight as hell with a loose BBO main.

    J
     
    #45
  46. corners

    corners Legend

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    I haven't strung it, but I saw some posts over at Grand Slam Stringers about it. I think it should be pretty easy to do in just the crosses as it would tend to naturally lie "flat" between the mains. But it could get messy and fussy too. The GSS posts were inconclusive.
     
    #46
  47. J011yroger

    J011yroger G.O.A.T.

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    *shrug* sounds like something to take a flier on, just for the heck of it, if nothing else.

    How bad could it be?

    J
     
    #47
  48. WileyCoyote

    WileyCoyote Rookie

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    Coefficient of Friction

    Corners: Ideally, friction has nothing to do with surface area of the materials involved. The assumption that makes this so is that there is no interference (grab) between the surfaces. The coefficient of friction is the Tangent of the angle that the pieces must be inclined to in order for slippage to occur.

    And, the coefficient of static (non moving) friction is higher than the coefficients of dynamic (sliding) friction. This is why once slippage occurs, it does not stop.

    Ideally.

    But in real life, there is interference. As in wide tires on your car provide more traction than narrow ones. And so on. Lots and lots of real world situations where surface area is related to forces required to effect movement because there is "grip" between the parts.

    An extreme case is velcro.

    So in real life, surface area is usually a big deal involving friction. Really.

    The 99S's use of 15 crosses instead of the more normal 18 results in less mating area between strings and thus interstring friction which lets the mains slide more easily out of position and then snap back.

    Chicago Jack has a thread relating to coefficients between various strings that is very insightful.

    Harry
     
    #48
  49. JGads

    JGads Hall of Fame

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    [​IMG]

    Can listen to Corners' mad racquet/string theories and explanations all day. Totally over my head, usually, but I love it.
     
    #49

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