SW102: Initial Thoughts

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
Currently hitting the SW102 for fun. I've previously hit the 2013 Blade 104 with added weight, and a variety of other rackets(six one 18x20, RF97, Blade 98 cv). I played D3 college a few years ago, and currently play some local leagues (and USTA when there isn't a pandemic.) I'm an attacking all-court player, mostly playing doubles at the moment.

As with the 104SW, this racket is absurdly stable. I'm playing it with 4G soft at 54, and found there was still ample power, but a pretty predictable response, more so than with the 104 autograph. I also found more feel with this racket than what I recall of the previous one-- drop shots and placement felt easier. I found that hitting hard returns that dipped at the servers feet in doubles was consistently doable. I had a few instances where maneuverability was tougher than my usual Gravity Pro, but was surprised by how effective the SW102 was for different types of volleys.

On serves, it's a monster. Tons of pace, but it felt like there was more control than with the SW104. Maybe my game has changed over the last couple of years, but I felt a ton of confidence in my first match serving with this stick.

I'll have to keep playing to ensure that there aren't more significant defensive compromises required for all of the pace, but this racket has been a pleasant surprise so far.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I loved the SW Blade 104 but the extended length ended up being a bit too much for my arm. That and I felt the CV didn't do what it was supposed to as far as arm friendliness. I would have been interested in the 102 SW model but then the Phantom 107G was announced and a standard length player's OS was more up my alley.

It looks like a good stick and I'm always interested in Players OS models (even though 102 is offically "midplus"). My aging vision seems to do better with the forgiveness of OS frames.

Extended length is hit or miss for me. They improve my serve and 2HBH but they worsen my volleys and FH's. I end up choking up most of the time with them, so I wonder why I'm using them.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
@kingcheetah Would be interesting if you could get a hold of an SW104 to compare. I'm coming at it from the other direction - the SW104 has been my racquet for the last two years, both v6 and v7 models, and I've only had a short hit with an SW102. A Wilson insider told me the changes are minor - slight narrowing of the hoop and some string pattern changes, but that the basic structure of the racquet that includes Countervail, wasn't modified much. My short hit with the SW102 had different strings in it than I am used to, but it basically felt like the same racquet to me.

As a side note, the drill pattern for the racquet that Serena actually uses is different than the retail version.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
@kingcheetah Would be interesting if you could get a hold of an SW104 to compare. I'm coming at it from the other direction - the SW104 has been my racquet for the last two years, both v6 and v7 models, and I've only had a short hit with an SW102. A Wilson insider told me the changes are minor - slight narrowing of the hoop and some string pattern changes, but that the basic structure of the racquet that includes Countervail, wasn't modified much. My short hit with the SW102 had different strings in it than I am used to, but it basically felt like the same racquet to me.

As a side note, the drill pattern for the racquet that Serena actually uses is different than the retail version.
I've seen the threads on the drill pattern being different, I'd be curious to hit her actual pattern. To me the 102 felt more predictable than the 104. I could have better touch/shotmaking than a few years ago, but I remember the SW104 having more frequent shots that felt erratic off the stringbed.

A part of it could be that I can have a 1/2 grip, finally, versus adjusting to the 3/8.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
@kingcheetah Would be interesting if you could get a hold of an SW104 to compare. I'm coming at it from the other direction - the SW104 has been my racquet for the last two years, both v6 and v7 models, and I've only had a short hit with an SW102. A Wilson insider told me the changes are minor - slight narrowing of the hoop and some string pattern changes, but that the basic structure of the racquet that includes Countervail, wasn't modified much. My short hit with the SW102 had different strings in it than I am used to, but it basically felt like the same racquet to me.

As a side note, the drill pattern for the racquet that Serena actually uses is different than the retail version.
Not sure if you've seen it, but there's a video I found that compares Serena's match used racket from 2009 AO Finals with the retail SW 102 (they look at weight, balance, RA, etc.)
Skip to the second half
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
@kingcheetah Thanks for that video. I do know that in years past, she used a racquet that was more polarized than she uses now, and this video seems to confirm that. It's a hefty swingweight!

For my SW104's, the v6's had a 3/8ths as the largest grip size available and I use somewhere around a 6/8ths. I have two layers of a full size increasing heat shrink wrap on the handle, some additional layers to build up the butt cap, and then I use a thick Gamma replacement grip. I used to all have four or five grams total at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions but found that while it helped my offense, it hurt my defensive game more than it helped my offensive game so I took that off. All of my v6 and v7 racquets are around 350-351 grams, about a 32.1 or 32.2 cm balance point, and swingweight probably in the 345-350 range.

And also to clarify about the drill pattern, recent pictures of Serena show her using the SW102 paintjob on a racquet where the top and bottom cross enter the frame inside of the two outer crosses. The retail version has the top and bottom cross entering the frame inside only the outer cross. So her drill pattern has a slightly wider cross string spacing, maybe to give her just that slight extra bit of spin by allowing the tiniest amount of extra main string movement.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
@kingcheetah

And also to clarify about the drill pattern, recent pictures of Serena show her using the SW102 paintjob on a racquet where the top and bottom cross enter the frame inside of the two outer crosses. The retail version has the top and bottom cross entering the frame inside only the outer cross. So her drill pattern has a slightly wider cross string spacing, maybe to give her just that slight extra bit of spin by allowing the tiniest amount of extra main string movement.
That drill pattern would make sense, it seems like over her career she's gone for an increasingly spin-friendly setup (like her switch from all gut to 4g crosses in 2012.)
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
Still really enjoying hitting this racket, especially on serves. While the power and stability are very high, I'm still finding great placement. I think the serve misses happen if i don't swing fast enough- then the trajectory can get too flat. The bigger concern has consistently been if the swingweight was going to be too much to allow for effective defense. So far I've still been able to handle low digs and reaction volleys pretty well-- I'm surprised by that part. The racket feels more predictable than the SW104 did.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
@Injured Again I caved lol. I'm at a point where I play a ton of doubles, and even in singles I find this racket to be confidence inspiring. It is fantastic for serving. Pace, placement, different types of serves, all felt great. I also feel like the feel has improved from the 104. I'd say the Gravity Pro has more pocketing, but it's not as large a difference as I anticipated.

Again the funniest thing with this racket is you have to swing fast to get the ball to drop. Technical screw ups do not end well.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
It's funny that the video guy harps on Serena's KBlade being a teensy bit longer than the Blade 102. You'd think he'd be aware that stringing often shortens the frame a bit. The KBlade strings were broken, Blade 102 was intact. That's why the KBlade was a little bit longer.
 

Injured Again

Hall of Fame
@Injured Again I caved lol. I'm at a point where I play a ton of doubles, and even in singles I find this racket to be confidence inspiring. It is fantastic for serving. Pace, placement, different types of serves, all felt great. I also feel like the feel has improved from the 104. I'd say the Gravity Pro has more pocketing, but it's not as large a difference as I anticipated.

Again the funniest thing with this racket is you have to swing fast to get the ball to drop. Technical screw ups do not end well.
I started playing some more doubles, well, until our indoor courts got closed down, and the length really isn't nearly as much of a problem as that I just am not a good doubles player. It's a hefty racquet that definitely rewards a short stroke with a firm grip as that's all I find is needed to get a lot of velocity on any volley.

You're right about needing to swing in a committed manner. When you do so and connect cleanly, it's a fantastic feel. My problem has been that when I get on defense, it sometimes doesn't give me enough help like when I'm just able to get the racquet on the ball. So far, the trade-off to being able to play better offensive tennis with this racquet is worth the worse defense, but as I get older (I'm now 59) that will likely change.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
It's funny that the video guy harps on Serena's KBlade being a teensy bit longer than the Blade 102. You'd think he'd be aware that stringing often shortens the frame a bit. The KBlade strings were broken, Blade 102 was intact. That's why the KBlade was a little bit longer.
Yeah that surprised me too. I figured he would've accounted for the high tension pulling the frame some.
 

kingcheetah

Hall of Fame
I started playing some more doubles, well, until our indoor courts got closed down, and the length really isn't nearly as much of a problem as that I just am not a good doubles player. It's a hefty racquet that definitely rewards a short stroke with a firm grip as that's all I find is needed to get a lot of velocity on any volley.

You're right about needing to swing in a committed manner. When you do so and connect cleanly, it's a fantastic feel. My problem has been that when I get on defense, it sometimes doesn't give me enough help like when I'm just able to get the racquet on the ball. So far, the trade-off to being able to play better offensive tennis with this racquet is worth the worse defense, but as I get older (I'm now 59) that will likely change.
I played some doubles with it yesterday-- I found that especially on high shots, I had to focus on swinging through it, and the plow through was very beneficial. I agree with you that it's about swinging in a committed way, but with the right technique. If you get slappy, it's a problem and a half XD
 
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