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-   -   Wilson Steam 99S - My Full Review (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=453865)

JackB1 02-06-2013 06:52 AM

Wilson Steam 99S - My Full Review
 
OK, now that I have had 2 weeks to play with the Wilson Steam 99s, here is my full review......

Background
I play at the 3.5/4.0 level. Split 50/50 between doubles and singles. I am a 53 yr old male...6ft 1" - 185 lbs. Hit with a medium amount of topspin. Use a lot of slice and touch shots. "All court" player / baseliner, who changes strategies depending on my opponent's style/weaknesses. One handed backhand, which I slice about 75% / topspin 25%. Come into the net when I can and sometimes serve/volley or chip/charge.

Initial Impressions
I liked the way the 99s looked visually. The red, white and black colors were a little reminiscent of the Pro Staff's. Much improved cosmetics over the Steam 100 for sure. My 99s came in at 331 grams fully dressed. I love the new Wilson handle, the way it flares at the bottom. Feels great and gives you more leverage I think and keeps your hand from sliding off. The 99s feels lighter in hand than it's weight and swings that way too. I would have guessed 320-325 if I didn't know. Mine was strung up with Luxilon 4g 16 guage at 57 lbs for both mains and crosses. So let's hit the court!

Groundstrokes

Groundies felt great. Much better than you would expect from such a stiff (69) rated frame. Nice solid feel with a little flex/cushioning felt on impact. Not jarring or stiff feeling at all. Much less stiff feeling to me than the Juice 100 (which I previously used). Initially, everything was going higher over the net than I wanted, but after I adjusted and aimed lower, all was good. I did notice some extra topspin on my shots...especially in the last few feet of a well struck, deep groundie. Many times, my hitting partner stood there and watched a shot curve down and hit inside the back baseline, while they stood there expecting it to be out. I love that :) Power was pretty high and it was almost effortless to hit deep rally balls. With the 99s, you can really mix up your shots and keep your opponent from getting too comfortable. Hit driving forehands or loopy high bouncing deep shots or slice away or short angle touch shots.
Score on groundies: A Only negative is you have to watch the high power level and hit with the right amount of drive/brush. As with any high powered tweener...you can lose control if you don't take a full swing with proper technique.

Volleys
Volleys are one area I wasn't expecting too much with the Steam 99s, but it surprised me in this area. Well struck volleys felt solid and there wasn't much twisting against hard hit balls. The racquet has pretty good touch for a stiff tweener and really has no weakness up at the net. Once you get the feel for volleys, you are good to go. The extra power is great for punch volleys and makes it easy to place them deep. Overheads were also easy and the easy swingweight keeps you from being late on them.
Score on Volleys: B

Serves:
Serves were another pleasant surprise. I didn't need much adjustment and was serving my best within a few games. Got nice pace on flatter serves and great spin when I sliced across it more for 2nd serves. The racquet feels very light on serves and you have to be careful not to just use your arm too much. If you relax and stay loose, it's very easy to get good pace on your serves. I put this right up there with the best serving racquets I have used...(the Becker Pro, Pure Drive and Warrior). I only tried a few kickers and they were OK, but my kicker in general is just OK. With more practice it could be decent, but my slice for 2nd serves is good enough for me for now, plus it's easier on my back.
Score for Serves: A

Slice/Feel & Touch Shots
Slices can be lethal with the 99s. I think the extra spin really helps herem just as much, if not moreso, than on groundies. The flipside is, you have to make sure and not get too open with your racquet face or they will float and fly on you. If you can hit a driving slice, close to the netcord, you will give your opponent fits. I it a lot of backhand slices and really enjoy slicing with the 99s. Drop shots and touch shots are effective also...you just have to get the feel for them. Again....no real weaknesses here either.
Score for Slices: A+

Conclusion
Overall, I give the Wilson Steam 99s an A
Wilson has done an outstanding job with this new racquet and deserve praise for pushing this new "spin technology". The racquet performs as advertised. You WILL get more spin, but how much more will depend on the player's technique. This racquet will not work for everybody and I think it's designed for the average rec player 3.5-4.0 ...maybe 4.5 level. It is a high powered tweener, so if you prefer those types of racquets, you owe it to yourself to check this one out. The other possible negative here is string durability. Extra hard/heavy topspin hitters may go through strings faster than normal due to the wide open pattern, so if you are in that category, be aware of this. I would highly recommend using a 16 or even 15 guage poly, such as Luxilon's 4GS, with this racquet, as you need something thick and durable. I would never put anything but poly in the mains of this racquet and full poly is optimal. Some experimentation may be needed to find your optimal string/tension setup, so if you don't like to fuss with that, you may be better looking elsewhere. Personally, I had no issues with this, but just be aware.

Hope you enjoyed my review of the Wilson Steam 99s. I am having a lot of fun playing with it and think it will be a big hit at the club/rec level.

jjs891 02-06-2013 07:07 AM

Jack,

I know that you were trying out 200G and pro one. Would you give us a brief comparison vs 99s. Thnanx.

JackB1 02-06-2013 07:45 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jjs891 (Post 7195407)
Jack,

I know that you were trying out 200G and pro one. Would you give us a brief comparison vs 99s. Thnanx.

The 200G and Pro One compare to each other very well. I found the 200G slightly less head heavy feeling and easier to swing. The 200G felt a little more flexible also and had slightly less power. Those 2 are VERY similar, but I choose the 200G due to the fact that I couldn't get a Pro One from TW or Donnay that was equal to or less than published specs.

Comparing the 99s to the 200g/Pro1...The 99s is more of a powerful tweener, like the Juice 100 or Pure Drive with a little more solid feel and spin potential. The 200g/Pro1 are more towards the "players sticks" spectrum and have slightly heavier feeling swingweights. The 99s has the most power of the 3, with the Pro One next, then the 200g. The 200G has the besr feel/touch of the 3, with the Pro1 next, then the 99s. The 200g/P1 are a little harder and more demanding than the 99s and hit a lower trajectory ball.

I love the 200G's and still have 2 in my bag. I want to make sure the 99s has staying power long after the "honeymoon" wears off before I get rid of them. I may keep both for a while.

Rabbit 02-06-2013 08:00 AM

Excellent review. I can vouch for 4.5/5.0 players as many are using this around here. For the record, I'm a 54-year old 4.5 who plays mostly doubles now and hits/drills more than he plays.

Public Notice
To add my 2 bits, it you currently use poly in an 18X20 string pattern and break strings, this racquet is definitely not for you. If you use a 16X19 string pattern and use poly and break strings in under 5-6 hours (or any time you feel borderline too soon) this frame is definitely not for you.


My experience
My experiences echo yours directly. I was most surprised by 1) volleys are this frame felt more solid than any I've used in quite some time -- almost like a wood racquet at net 2) serves are way better than I've been getting, almost on par with the K90 I used for 6 months, 3) service returns are really smooth once you make a little adjustment and 4) my topspin backhand is killer both down the line and crosscourt.

I think this frame will help me recover some of the racquet head speed I lost since I developed tennis elbow. (My strokes have never fully recovered) While my arm feels great now, the pain way back has caused me to adjust in a not-so-good way that resulted in my drop from 5.0 to 4.5. I do not expect to get back to 5.0, nor do I want to at this point, but strictly from a playing standpoint, I would love to start hitting the ball like I used to again.

I should also note that I have always really, really liked open pattern frames way more than closed pattern and this frame is about as open as you can get so it's really up my alley.

jjs891 02-06-2013 08:01 AM

Thank you Jack.

I currently play with pro one and it works well for me but somehow my shoulder is a bit sore each time I play with it. I know it's not due to the wt since I'm used to playing with heavier sticks.

200G sounds interesting. Maybe it's easier on my arm and shoulder.

Good luck with your 99s. I'm very curious to see how well it will turn out in a long run for everyone.

A_Instead 02-06-2013 08:47 AM

Nice Review and format very well done JackB1,
Now you have set the bar on personal racquet reviews.
Can we expect this on all of the racquets that you try?
I am sure many would like it and benefit. (if you have the time and effort to spare)
You are a "Subject Matter Expert" in this forum and have a decent amount of followers.

latestgood 02-06-2013 09:00 AM

what tension did you use?

JackB1 02-06-2013 09:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by latestgood (Post 7195644)
what tension did you use?

57 lbs..........

JackB1 02-06-2013 09:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by A_Instead (Post 7195617)
Nice Review and format very well done JackB1,
Now you have set the bar on personal racquet reviews.
Can we expect this on all of the racquets that you try?
I am sure many would like it and benefit. (if you have the time and effort to spare)
You are a "Subject Matter Expert" in this forum and have a decent amount of followers.

Thanks and I can sure try! I only like to do full reviews on racquets I have spent some quality time with though.

kimbahpnam 02-07-2013 10:11 AM

I just spent about 4 hours over two consecutive days hitting with it and the more time I spent with it, the less I liked it.

I am coming from using leaded up APD 2013s. I started out like everyone else thinking the extra spin was awesome. There was a noticeable amount of extra spin.

The pros: spin, feel, easy power, drop shots, slices

Cons: lack of control, weak off-centered shots, grip pallet felt a little short

The deal breaker was the control and poor off-centered shots. I had a hard time controlling my shots and it was really weak when it came to off-centered shots.

I was using MSV Focus hex soft at 54lbs, the lowest recommended tension. I could probably up the tension, but I don't think my elbow would be able to handle it for long sessions. I'll be sticking with my 2013 APDs.

Dgdavid 02-07-2013 10:46 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kimbahpnam (Post 7198079)
I just spent about 4 hours over two consecutive days hitting with it and the more time I spent with it, the less I liked it.

I am coming from using leaded up APD 2013s. I started out like everyone else thinking the extra spin was awesome. There was a noticeable amount of extra spin.

The pros: spin, feel, easy power, drop shots, slices

Cons: lack of control, weak off-centered shots, grip pallet felt a little short

The deal breaker was the control and poor off-centered shots. I had a hard time controlling my shots and it was really weak when it came to off-centered shots.

I was using MSV Focus hex soft at 54lbs, the lowest recommended tension. I could probably up the tension, but I don't think my elbow would be able to handle it for long sessions. I'll be sticking with my 2013 APDs.

Demo the non-S 99, well worth it.

TimothyO 02-07-2013 03:41 PM

Excellent review Jack! I especially appreciate the fact that you spent a couple of weeks with the frame. Good job!

I'm intrigued by this frame's pattern but being a control freak I don't think it would fit my game. I love to hit "threading the needle" type shots that might not have a ton of pace but are placed perfectly so the opponent can't reach them. Painting the lines is my specialty.

This doesn't seem like a control frame but does something like 4G improve the frame's control enough for a control freak?

aimr75 02-07-2013 04:03 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kimbahpnam (Post 7198079)
Cons: lack of control, weak off-centered shots, grip pallet felt a little short

The grip pallet is very short.. anyone with a 2hbh might not like this aspect.

JackB1 02-07-2013 05:24 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TimothyO (Post 7198684)
Excellent review Jack! I especially appreciate the fact that you spent a couple of weeks with the frame. Good job!

I'm intrigued by this frame's pattern but being a control freak I don't think it would fit my game. I love to hit "threading the needle" type shots that might not have a ton of pace but are placed perfectly so the opponent can't reach them. Painting the lines is my specialty.

This doesn't seem like a control frame but does something like 4G improve the frame's control enough for a control freak?

Not really. The 4g is just to tame the frames power and for durability. It's definitely more power tweener than control stick. I think I know what you prefer and this ain't it. I would let you hit with it though if you want to meet up for a hit.

JackB1 02-07-2013 05:35 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by aimr75 (Post 7198719)
The grip pallet is very short.. anyone with a 2hbh might not like this aspect.

you would have to have huge hands for that to be an issue. I wear a large size glove and can easily get 2 hands on the handle. Also, you can always rewrap with a new grip and go a little higher up the handle.

Ross K 02-07-2013 09:29 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TimothyO (Post 7198684)
Excellent review Jack! I especially appreciate the fact that you spent a couple of weeks with the frame. Good job!

I'm intrigued by this frame's pattern but being a control freak I don't think it would fit my game. I love to hit "threading the needle" type shots that might not have a ton of pace but are placed perfectly so the opponent can't reach them. Painting the lines is my specialty.

This doesn't seem like a control frame but does something like 4G improve the frame's control enough for a control freak?

Echoing the response already provided, I just don't think this is a 'threading a needle' type frame.

mad dog1 02-07-2013 09:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ross K (Post 7199142)
Echoing the response already provided, I just don't think this is a 'threading a needle' type frame.

it can. as long as the eye of the needle is REALLY big! :)

Dgdavid 02-08-2013 12:15 AM

I can get two hands on the handle fine but I actually prefer to have the index finger of my left hand wrapped around the frame over the top edge of the handle anyway so suits me.

JackB1 02-09-2013 05:08 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Dgdavid (Post 7199252)
I can get two hands on the handle fine but I actually prefer to have the index finger of my left hand wrapped around the frame over the top edge of the handle anyway so suits me.

David..can u do a comparison between the 99 and the 99s?

Mick3391 02-09-2013 05:26 PM

Don't want to discourage anyone from trying it, but I can get as much spin off a wood racquet as this.

It's a nice marketing gadget, we'll see how many pro's play it, it was just a weird racquet.


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