Testing PS97's

razuzin

New User
It took me almost 3 months to pick a new racket out of the 3 I narrowed down to: PS97A, PS97 and Wilson Six One 95, 16x18. Actually, I'm not even sure at this time my choice is final.
I actually had to buy all three to come to the conclusion, demoing gave inconclusive results, too many impeding and distracting factors, like strings and grip size.

I'm a solid 4.5 with a versatile forehand and one-handed backhand, lefty. I'd say my forehand is at 5.0 :), I can hit various angles, top spin, flat ball when needed to put away the point. My one-handed backhand however suffers from a common issue: hard to return high bounce top spins, especially on a serve. Also I seeked improvement for my volleys and serve which I'd say on par for my level. My current racket is an old nCode 95 16x18, solid and plush, but fairly underpowered.

True to a common wisdom to pick a racket which enhanced your weakest points, I first looked at the one which improves my backhand. In this category the PS97, loaded with lead, looked initially the best. Maneuverability, large sweetspot are main advantages. However, it fails miserably in the category of versatility for my forehand. I lost my touch and control, my game got much simpler, no more half-strength crosses which fall right before service line. The racket also felt hollow and tweener-like when trying to put away underpowered points against pushers, and somewhat unpredictable.
The volleys improved quite a bit, serves stayed about the same.
I learned to handle the racket by simply swinging slower and shorter since it already provided extra power. I even got improved results against my regular opponents but having to severely limit the variability of my game, which felt terrible.

My conclusion: PS97 is not the racket for the pro's, not even for advanced amateurs like most of us are, definitely not for 5.0+ players.

The PS97A gave me everything and more I'd wish for my forehand. The depth is easily achieved after getting used to the weight and balance, my angels are back so is the top spin and penetrating power of the down the line forehands. Serves are significantly improved, more kick and slice. I never had as good of a volleys. The only minus, my backhand didn't get better, perhaps got worse. It's a heavy stiff stick, actually regular weight is the same as my current nCode, around 12.6 oz, it's the stiffness and low maneuverability which made serve return or even handling deep top spin groundstroke more difficult to play.

So here I am, with my backhand problems getting somewhat worse, and everything else improved quite a bit. I'll probably stick with the RF97A for a while, watching Federer handling it like a feather with his magical, fluid backhand and wondering how he does that :), but I'm afraid my search isn't over. My ideal racket would be as easy to handle as PS97 and as solid and plush as PS97A. Perhaps if all the specs are made just half-way between the two, that may've worked. :)

Btw, the Six One 95 felt terrible after playing with the PS97's, it's true power is addictive, it also has unpredictble return once i started swinging faster, some balls just flew way out. So that was an easy decision to get rid of it.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Every choice is a COMPROMISE.
You can't get it all in any ONE thing.
That's life, that's tennis, that's tennis rackets.
Pick the one with the colors you can stand.
 

Muppet

Legend
If you want to invest another $69 in your search, you could try the Prince Classic Response 97.
 

smirker

Hall of Fame
If you want to invest another $69 in your search, you could try the Prince Classic Response 97.
I wouldn't if I were you. Had two, just sold them. Feel is odd. Kind of pingy and far too muted for my taste. Guess others love them though. Yonex Tour G 330 might be the middle ground you are seeking. My main racket is the PS97. I find it pretty solid all round my level is probably more 4 than 4.5 so I don't experience the same weaknesses as you do.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Talking PS-97 here........
I play mostly with a 100 racket that has the same 68 flex, 16x18 string pattern (compromise between PS and S), 322 SW's, and 11.5 oz strung.
Less strings, more pop.
Less weight, more manueverability.
Good specs.
 

razuzin

New User
I wouldn't if I were you. Had two, just sold them. Feel is odd. Kind of pingy and far too muted for my taste. Guess others love them though. Yonex Tour G 330 might be the middle ground you are seeking. My main racket is the PS97. I find it pretty solid all round my level is probably more 4 than 4.5 so I don't experience the same weaknesses as you do.
Yeah, Yonex G330 is one of the rackets on my list, haven't tried it yet, was always put off by a strange shape of yonexes.

Ona slightly different topic, with modern game where there are many young players with heavy top spin and 2HBH it's getting harder for a one hand backhander to find the right racket to confront this type of play. These are the guys I have to increasingly deal with, myself approaching 50.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
You can always go old school, slice too low for their strikezones.
Or, you can move to net position, which the kids don't see much of.
Or, you can loop the forehand with heavy high topspin, then slice a low backhand from the other side for variety.
What works the worse might be to play THEIR game against them, trying to hit topspin off both sides.
 

razuzin

New User
Talking PS-97 here........
I play mostly with a 100 racket that has the same 68 flex, 16x18 string pattern (compromise between PS and S), 322 SW's, and 11.5 oz strung.
Less strings, more pop.
Less weight, more manueverability.
Good specs.
Sounds like good specs, what's the model?

It seems like for Wilson a natural next step with the PS 97 series would be filling out the gap between PS97 and 97RF.
For many the former being too tweener-like while the latter too bulky.
 

ednegroni

Rookie
I haven't used the RF97A at all but I have played with the 97 and I can say it's not a racquet for me. My racquet of choice is 6.1 95S (both my sticks are around 11.8 strung) which is around the same weight but the 97's balance kills it for me. I'll be testing the 97S to see if I can move up on head size. For now, I'm enjoying my racquet especially now that my shoulder is almost 100% again.
 

Dominic

Semi-Pro
Hi Razuzin..ah..I understand you 100%...wow... even the exact same rackets, even hate kick serves to my single backhand...I'm probably just going to repeat a lot of thing you said, as been thru the exact same process. Ok, I play with the RF97...and 'pick the racket that improves your weakness is the main topic...I tended to agree. My strong points are my serve and forehand, and my weakness is my backhand (snap) and volley (more of quick reaction issue and getting my racket in position during quick volley exchanges - maneuverability). Okay, so I played with the SixOne 95, great racket, and I played mainly singles. I somehow got into playing a lot of doubles and seemed to struggle with playing at the net and volley - as mentioned earlier. My solution was a more Maneuverable racket . So i went on a mission to solve this challenge. So ended up playing/trying 'lighter' Rackets, Enter the PS97 with this, my Volleys became my weapon..racket was so much lighter and maneuverable, i got everything, and won all quick exchanges at the net...even my backhand improved a bit....(well it couldn't get worse..;-). I will say I really enjoyed this racket. However, my Serve wasn't as strong, and I lost the ability to just crush my forehand. Don't get me wrong the PS97 is a fantastic racket and I still keep one for when I play the odd doubles watch. Well after fiddling around the the PS97 and quite a few other rackets, I drifted back into more Singles matches. I played very well against weaker players with the PS97 (and similar) but I got taken apart by the stronger Players..guys I would beat or very close, were beating me quite easily. Okay, one day of getting hammered by my mate ( strong player who I normally share sets with) I went back to my SixOne, and all of a sudden became competitive again... So thinking this, I thought NO, let me improve on my strong points, ie my Serve and Forehand. I serve well/better and hit much better forehands with 'heavier rackets'. Hence Enter the RF97.
Now my Serve was better then with the SixOne, and my forehand is way stronger then ever...probably why I fell in love with the RF97...just my strengths became stronger. My Backhand actually got better, and maybe that was a confidence issue from using the PS97, then amazing, my net play became better...I could handle the quick exchanges at the net. Now I believe you must get a racket that enhances your strengths...I will say, It took me time to dial my serve in with the RF97. I indeed struggled with my 2nd Serve and there were a few games that I finished with my SixOnes. But after a few weeks I had the RF97 underwraps, and never looked back. SixOne is still an awesome racket, and if it wasn't for the RF97 being so fantastic, i'd still be playing with the SixOnes...also, somehow, i feel the whole experience of trying out a lighter racket; PS97, actually made me a better player...my backhand has actually become fairly decent now..:). So many great rackets out there, each one has their own strengths, if only we could serve with one racket, and hit backhands with another
 

pfrischmann

Professional
I lost a lot of my "playfulness" on my forehand when I switched to the Wilson PS-97 and more-so the RF-97. It's just harder to whip the racquet around and hit the ball thinly. I'm talking about the big angle inside-out forehand. I'm usually off by a good 4 inches with the PS and twice that with the RF. I also tend to hit long a little more often with the Wilsons compared to a weighted up APD (11.8 oz, 322sw.) But, backhand is better, Volleys are better, flat serve is much better. Overall ball is bigger. It's always a compromise.

BTW,
I think the SixOne is an amazing serving racquet. The RF-97 is really good for a one-hander.
 

razuzin

New User
Hi Razuzin..ah..I understand you 100%...wow... even the exact same rackets, even hate kick serves to my single backhand...I'm probably just going to repeat a lot of thing you said, as been thru the exact same process. Ok, I play with the RF97...and 'pick the racket that improves your weakness is the main topic...I tended to agree. My strong points are my serve and forehand, and my weakness is my backhand (snap) and volley (more of quick reaction issue and getting my racket in position during quick volley exchanges - maneuverability). Okay, so I played with the SixOne 95, great racket, and I played mainly singles. I somehow got into playing a lot of doubles and seemed to struggle with playing at the net and volley - as mentioned earlier. My solution was a more Maneuverable racket . So i went on a mission to solve this challenge. So ended up playing/trying 'lighter' Rackets, Enter the PS97 with this, my Volleys became my weapon..racket was so much lighter and maneuverable, i got everything, and won all quick exchanges at the net...even my backhand improved a bit....(well it couldn't get worse..;-). I will say I really enjoyed this racket. However, my Serve wasn't as strong, and I lost the ability to just crush my forehand. Don't get me wrong the PS97 is a fantastic racket and I still keep one for when I play the odd doubles watch. Well after fiddling around the the PS97 and quite a few other rackets, I drifted back into more Singles matches. I played very well against weaker players with the PS97 (and similar) but I got taken apart by the stronger Players..guys I would beat or very close, were beating me quite easily. Okay, one day of getting hammered by my mate ( strong player who I normally share sets with) I went back to my SixOne, and all of a sudden became competitive again... So thinking this, I thought NO, let me improve on my strong points, ie my Serve and Forehand. I serve well/better and hit much better forehands with 'heavier rackets'. Hence Enter the RF97.
Now my Serve was better then with the SixOne, and my forehand is way stronger then ever...probably why I fell in love with the RF97...just my strengths became stronger. My Backhand actually got better, and maybe that was a confidence issue from using the PS97, then amazing, my net play became better...I could handle the quick exchanges at the net. Now I believe you must get a racket that enhances your strengths...I will say, It took me time to dial my serve in with the RF97. I indeed struggled with my 2nd Serve and there were a few games that I finished with my SixOnes. But after a few weeks I had the RF97 underwraps, and never looked back. SixOne is still an awesome racket, and if it wasn't for the RF97 being so fantastic, i'd still be playing with the SixOnes...also, somehow, i feel the whole experience of trying out a lighter racket; PS97, actually made me a better player...my backhand has actually become fairly decent now..:). So many great rackets out there, each one has their own strengths, if only we could serve with one racket, and hit backhands with another
Dominic, thanks for sharing your story. Gives me hope that I could finally improve my backhand with RF97 - after playing with it longer, I've been only using it for 3-4 weeks.
Do you have one-handed bh?
Perhaps I just need more strength training.

At the net RF97 lags PS97 quite a bit in terms of maneuverability, but I feel like after each match it's getting a little better.
Also had a problem with 2nd serve initially, but got it dialed in.

In general I found that a more relaxed whipping motion where racket speed comes mainly from the wrist/forearm vs. shoulder rewards you a lot with RF97, especially on serves.
 

Zoolander

Hall of Fame
You sound like me. Dont weaken your biggest strengths to strengthen your biggest weakness!

If RF and F.Lopez can get away with bunting and slicing backhand returns in a pro career then so can you!

My backhand is the same so i learnt if a guy is hitting big kick serves to the backhand i stand back a few extra feet to get in the right spot for a topspin B/H return. I also learnt standing in more and using two hands just for the B/H return, which works well for me if the serve is faster
 

razuzin

New User
You sound like me. Dont weaken your biggest strengths to strengthen your biggest weakness!

If RF and F.Lopez can get away with bunting and slicing backhand returns in a pro career then so can you!

My backhand is the same so i learnt if a guy is hitting big kick serves to the backhand i stand back a few extra feet to get in the right spot for a topspin B/H return. I also learnt standing in more and using two hands just for the B/H return, which works well for me if the serve is faster
Well, RF has ful arsenal incl. topspin on bh return.

I prefer to stand closer, just behind the base line and just block return with a slice or short flat bh. The problem is as a lefty I usually play the ad side in doubles so need to return inside out, quite difficult with a heavy RF97.
My more natural shot is down the line slice which I use quite a bit to catch the opponent offguard.
 

Dominic

Semi-Pro
Dominic, thanks for sharing your story. Gives me hope that I could finally improve my backhand with RF97 - after playing with it longer, I've been only using it for 3-4 weeks.
Do you have one-handed bh?
Perhaps I just need more strength training.

At the net RF97 lags PS97 quite a bit in terms of maneuverability, but I feel like after each match it's getting a little better.
Also had a problem with 2nd serve initially, but got it dialed in.

In general I found that a more relaxed whipping motion where racket speed comes mainly from the wrist/forearm vs. shoulder rewards you a lot with RF97, especially on serves.
Hi Razuzin - yes - I have a Single Backhand. I took me at least 1-2 Months before i had fully adjusted to the RF97, so i recommend you keep at it. I agree on the relaxed whipping motion, I find that you have to be confident and assertive with this racket and 'hit the ball' as soon as you become tentative, and not committed to hitting the ball, one starts to struggle and the mass and SW of the RF97 causes you to catch the ball late. This is really evident in the Volleys, as soon as i started going after the volley, ie really hitting it, as opposed to just getting the racket in the way of the ball...it all changed for the positive.
 

Doc Hollidae

Hall of Fame
You sound like me. Dont weaken your biggest strengths to strengthen your biggest weakness!

If RF and F.Lopez can get away with bunting and slicing backhand returns in a pro career then so can you!

My backhand is the same so i learnt if a guy is hitting big kick serves to the backhand i stand back a few extra feet to get in the right spot for a topspin B/H return. I also learnt standing in more and using two hands just for the B/H return, which works well for me if the serve is faster
It's actually easier to return kick serves by stepping into them/taking them off the rise. You also cut off the angles by stepping in as well.
 

razuzin

New User
It's actually easier to return kick serves by stepping into them/taking them off the rise. You also cut off the angles by stepping in as well.
In theory, yes. But you have to assume you know where exactly it lands. A few feet away, and you're in trouble.
 

Doc Hollidae

Hall of Fame
In theory, yes. But you have to assume you know where exactly it lands. A few feet away, and you're in trouble.
With your reasoning, its actually worse if you're standing further back. You'll most likely be chasing the serve as it spins away from you. There's a reason people step in on second serves, not step back.
 
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