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Old 02-06-2013, 06:52 AM   #1
JackB1
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Atlanta GA
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Default 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.

Last edited by JackB1 : 02-06-2013 at 06:54 AM.
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