Wilson to Extreme: From Kuebler to the Spin

Discussion in 'Classic Racquet Talk' started by Tennis Man, Feb 12, 2010.

  1. Tennis Man

    Tennis Man Hall of Fame

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    The question is how and why did Wilson go to the extreme, making widebodies like Profile and then ultra slim Hammer Spin. :)

    The pictures of the MidPlus beauties:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2010
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  2. Tennis Man

    Tennis Man Hall of Fame

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    Profile 95, Ultra 95 and Hammer Spin 95:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    It's called 'shotgun' or 'soda pop' marketing in my book. Combine that with the 'clout' Wilson has (Prince and Head also employ the techinique--Babolat may not be far behind), and you get a lot of 'stuff' sold under the guise of technology, innovation, breakthrough, etc.

    In true shotgun fashion, a bunch of 'stuff' is sent flying with the hopes that something will be hit(or be a hit).

    Soda pop marketing comes from the grocery store approach to getting your product on the pegs or shelves of the retailer. The more models you sell, the more exposure(pegs) you get in the store...the more exposure, the more you sell. This assumes you have the ability to convince the retailer to give you that shelf space...this usually can be done only by the top brands or a brand that is in high demand at the time.

    With the ease of developing new molds/moulds over the past couple of decades, the manufacturing costs associated with introducing a 'new' model are less than in the old days when some actual thought was given before a new frame design was offered. Same can be said for paintjobs...apparently, it is much easier to switch cosmetics on frames with the new computer technology and finishes developed over the last twenty years or so.

    Anyone around in the late 80s wouldn't argue the impact that the Profile had on the tennis market(good or bad)...the widebody racket has had a profound influence on tennis for over twenty years. The 'spin' series of rackets, not so much. :)
     
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  4. vwfye

    vwfye Semi-Pro

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    man... i'm drooling! i love the 5.5 Spin middy...
     
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  5. retrowagen

    retrowagen Hall of Fame

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    In the early 1970's, my parents bought sneakers for me and my sisters that were advertised to make us be able to "Jump higher" and "Run faster," although in actuality they were no different than any other sneakers in their performance. Hype? Consumers gobble that up, and have for quite a while...

    In Western culture in the 1950's, companies began actively and aggressively marketing their products to Consumers, and the main ploy in intriguing these buyers of their new products was in showing some sort of amazing advantage the new good had over the old, traditional product (whether there was any difference or not - oftentimes, a fancy name and a new color was put on an older product and it suddenly became a revolutionary new New NEW! item that one had to buy to impress neighbors and friends, and make one's life easier and thus improve one's quality of life in general). The pursuit of Science (in the abstract) reached a genesis of marketability in consumer goods during this era, as well, while space exploration and medical research were at the forefront of the public eye. "Better Living Through Chemistry" was actually a marketplace/popular culture mantra of the time. "Keeping Up With the Joneses" as well. Together, that's quite a combination: at its most cynical, it's the marketplace manipulating and exploiting a self-conscious, envious, and somewhat ignorant consumer base.

    It seemed, however, that tennis equipment side-stepped much of this until the advent of the first scattering of more popular metallic frames in the mid to late 1960's, with the Lacoste / Wilson T-2000 and then many various aluminum models. The new materials and "technology" was marketed to offer advantages over the old, traditional wood racquets which had gone mostly unchanged in materials and design for at least thrity years. These probably did not offer much of a revolution, though, as many of them were actually rather clunky and less than pleasant to play with. However, they introduced new materials into the industry and that culminated in the asking of Howard Head's engineering question, the answer to which was the oversized Prince Classic. The question was, "Can we make a racquet that makes the game easier?" And since then, folks have been buying degrees of Easier since. The original Wilson (Kuebler) Profile has to be the ultimate I Need to Buy Some Instant Power racquet. The Spin must be their I Need to Buy Some Instant Spin racquet. Either is an extreme tool for tennis, and either has its limitations which might lead to a very one-dimensional game or prove otherwise unsatisfactory in the grander scheme of playing the game. But, in the immortal words of C.T. Barnum, "There's a sucker born every minute," and Wilson sold quite a few of these models to folks who thought they would automatically add something to their game (without having to consult a coach, take lessons, or make substantial changes to their actual game). This sort of thing strikes me as akin to taking aspirin every day for chronic headaches, instead of actually consulting a doctor to fix what the root problem is. However, most tennis players are like other consumers in general in that their human nature gravitates towards instant gratification instead of hard, tedious work. That's why these racquets continue to sell, and why we seek out newfangled vacuum cleaners and dish washing machines, electric razors, automobiles that turn their own headlights and close their own doors, etc. I think in reality, most of us (excepting retro grouches such as myself) want to be in command of the fruits of Science making our lives as easy as George or Judy Jetsons'.
     
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  6. vwfye

    vwfye Semi-Pro

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    I loved the hammer 5.5 spin for one reason... slice backhand! It was fantastic for that at a time when all the widebody rackets were frameshotomatics on the slice. It was a below average volley stick and sub par on pop for the forehand, but it was a kick to slice with!
     
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  7. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    Don't forget it was Kuebler who invented the widebody - not Wilson. Forget the Profile, try the Resonanz for a real widebody.
     
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  8. Tennis Man

    Tennis Man Hall of Fame

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    That's in the heading. :) I got both Kuebler's original graphites (R30 and R50) and, aside from graphics, I can't much difference.
     
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  9. Don't Let It Bounce

    Don't Let It Bounce Hall of Fame

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    It's worth noting that there was a decade between the Profile and the Hammer Spin frames. Wilson got the jump on everyone else with widebodies and then, after the widebody craze had eased a little, sought (but didn't find) the Next Big Thing.

    It reminds me too of Prince. They got the jump on everyone with oversize racquets, and several years later (not long after a marketing campaign aimed at midsize competitors in which Howard Head said fervently, "Don't you think we tried those other sizes before choosing what worked best?") introduced the Series 90 frames, "to explore the full range of the Prince patent". I guess their Next Big Thing worked out a little better, though.
     
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  10. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    Not everyone realises that there's even a Kuebler brand - they may think that somebody named Kuebler on Wilson's staff "invented" the widebody. How often do you see Kuebler's racquets on Fleabay? I've never seen one.

    The Resonanz is a good 6mm wider than the Profile by the way.
     
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  11. Don't Let It Bounce

    Don't Let It Bounce Hall of Fame

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    The elusive Great White Whale... Do you have one, Virginia? Does anyone here have one? I'd love to hear what they're like in hand.
     
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  12. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    Is that what the Resonanz R50 is called? Yes, I do have one and compared its beam width with the Profile's, before I posted that comment.

    I haven't played with it - I guess I should give it a whirl, if only to say I've played with the Great White Whale! :evil:
     
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  13. galain

    galain Hall of Fame

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    Retro

    That was post of the year so far. Thanks for taking the time to put your thoughts down.
     
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  14. Don't Let It Bounce

    Don't Let It Bounce Hall of Fame

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    As far as I know, no one besides me has called it that!

    I remember the Profile being utterly unlike any racquet I had ever hit with (in a good way) and in later years itched to acquire one. Then, I read about Kuebler and realized that his original was the real scratch that itch needed. So, besides its distinctive appearance, I was referring to Ahab-like obsessive desire. I really would like to hit with one... and barring that to know what it felt like to someone else.

    Edit: I realized after posting that Tennis Man has both the R30 and R50. TM, do you mean that they both feel the same as the Profile?
     
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2010
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  15. Virginia

    Virginia Hall of Fame

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    Oh well, bouncie, you've set the name now, for posterity. The Great White Whale it shall be! :)
     
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  16. retrowagen

    retrowagen Hall of Fame

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    Vielen herzlichen Dank, mate! :)
     
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  17. Bengt

    Bengt Semi-Pro

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    Great overall post!

    However, does anyone remember what those shoes were? As a very little kid into Superfriends and all I went nuts for those and was very, very disappointed that I couldn't jump over my house with them. I recall they were blue with a small white and red stripe.
     
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  18. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    PF Flyers...never owned a pair myself :( .
     
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  19. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    Siegfried Keubler may have been the greatest racket designer ever.
    He worked as a consultant to Wilson for many years and also manufactured his own racket brand. Siegfried designed the Profile when consulting for Wilson. His rackets do popup now and then, especially on the Germany 3bay.
     
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  20. Sparrock

    Sparrock New User

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    does anyone have the specs for the Profile 95?
     
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  21. Bunky

    Bunky New User

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    From Tennis magazine March, 1990 racquet review issue:

    Wilson Profile 2.7 si 95: Beam width (tip to grip) 24-31-26 mm); 94 sq. in.; 12 1/3 oz.; 1 in. headlight; 16 main, 18 cross, 50-60 lbs.; stiffness 5.0 (scale of 1-5); graphite composite.

    Wilson Profile 3.6 si 95: Beam width (tip to grip) 24-30-26 mm); 94 sq. in.; 12 1/3 oz.; 1/2 in. headlight; 18 main, 20 cross, 45-55 lbs.; stiffness 5.0 (scale of 1-5); graphite, kevlar composite.
     
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  22. muddlehead

    muddlehead Rookie

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    wilson profile 95

    there are a few of us out there. cause i don't win every auction on that site for the wilson profile 95 sq in head - not marked 2.7 or 3.6. i played with the 110 head size for 15 yrs or so. last year i tried the wilson k six one 95 for 11 months. switched back to the trusty profile. but, notched down a size to the 95 head which i had never tried before. played with the 120 and 110 only. seems my swing and playing style has adapted too much to the profile widebodies over the years to play with anything else. you want power? i string 'em at 42. and, lead tape 'em...
     
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  23. coachrick

    coachrick Hall of Fame

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    Atlantans will remember some of the 'geezers' who played at Bitsy Grant TC, usually using the 110 with FISHING LEAD weights taped to the frame and with a 'donut' built onto the end of the handle for leverage. Tension used??? Don't know but you could barely hear the ball hit the strings!!!
     
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  24. Sparrock

    Sparrock New User

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    Thanks Bunky!

    I've been unlucky in trying to track down a Wilson 95 Profile on 3bay. Are there any current model racquets which I could modify to give me the same feel and play as the Wilson 95 Profile?
     
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