Wilsom graphite (r)evolution

Tennis Man

Hall of Fame
*** I just want to share my notes and get more information on these graphite models. I specifically avoid discussion of ceramic and fiberglass versions like Sting or JK Staff although info on their release would be valuable ***

In 1980 Ultra Graphite was Wilson's first graphite tennis racket and one of the first (braided) graphite racquets. Just like a wood racket it had standard head size and similar weight and balance with a constant taper from handle to head. It came with metal Perimeter Weighting System (PWS) plates riveted to 3/9 o'clock. Ultra PWS was exactly the same except Wilson was written on PWS plates.

In 1982 Ultra II was born. Wilson launched the Ultra 2 in three head sizes: standard, mid, and OS. The mid became a favorite of several players on the tour. The first version of Ultra II had metal PWS plates riveted to 3/9 o'clock. The later version had the integrated PWS, was made in St Vincent and one of the early player's racquets to incorporate the stiff frame construction of braided graphite and boron.


Ultra Graphite (original, USA)
- Probably made at River Grove, IL factory near Chicago
- black butt cap
- grip size sticker on the outside
- collar above the grip
- converging grommet channels
- PWS plates on outside
- white single stripe

Ultra 2 PWS outside (USA 1)
- Probably made at River Grove, IL factory near Chicago
- black butt cap
- grip size sticker on the outside
- collar above the grip
- converging grommet channels
- PWS plates on outside
- white stripes
- plastic bridge

Ultra 2 (USA 2)
- Probably made at River Grove, IL factory near Chicago
- black butt cap
- grip size sticker on the outside
- collar above the grip
- converging grommet channels
- yellow stripes

Ultra 2 (St Vincent)
- made on St Vincent
- white butt cap with XXQ
- grip size sticker on the inside of the throat
- no grip collar
- square grommet channels
- Fairway leather grip
- red stripes

The Pro Staff Midsize Original was the brainchild of Wilson marketing back in 1982. Following on the heels of the successful Ultra and Sting models, the ProStaff combined the basic racquet shape of the Sting with the Ultra's braided graphite/kevlar construction and Perimeter Weighting System (PWS).

In 1983 the ProStaff was introduced and originally manufactured in Wilson's River Grove, IL factory, it had no bumper (a bumper was added in 1984). Shortly thereafter, manufacturing was moved to St. Vincent, The Grenadines.

The articles about St vincent can be found here:
http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Reviews/60/ProstaffOrigins.html
http://www.tennis-warehouse.com/Reviews/60/StVincent.html
http://thetenniswiki.com/tiki-index.php?page=Wilson+Pro+Staff+6.0+Original+Mid+85

What I wanted to focus on is the different variations of Pro Staff that I have had, seen or heard of (some of it was recycled from other threads and discussions). All of the earlier rare St Vincent had matte finish and white butt caps and PRO STAFF written in capital letters on both sides.

Pro Staff 85 (Chicago):
- Made in 1983-1984 at River Grove, IL factory near Chicago
- white butt cap with NO registered mark symbol next to "W"
- 3-letter code ending with "I" under "W"
- bumperless construction, so the grommet set was unique
- three separate raised throat grommets
- Fairway leather grip
- red primer can be seen through scratches
- "MIDSIZE" on both sides of throat

stickers inside the throat on one side:
- grip size sticker, recommended tension sticker "String at 65-70 lbs."
- specification sticker "Weight/Oz. 11.6-12.3 Unstrung - Balanced 1.0-1.5 in. headlight"

Pro Staff 85 (St. Vincent ):
1. The first St Vincent production was the same as Chicago PS 85 (bumperless, NO registered mark, etc.). The only change was that the butt code ended with a "Q"

2. The tension on the stickers was lowered to 55-65lb (maybe to reflect the emergence of stiffer synthetic strings?). The (R)egistered mark appeared next to red "W"

3. The next step was the emergence of a bumper guard on the models with stickers wit 55-65lb tension. The grommet set was changed to 22D 1615 (used all way up to Taiwan version).

4. The tension on the stickers was lowered again to 50-60 lb. That was the last version to come with the stickers. At some point "St. Vincent W.I" sticker was added to the butt cap above "W".

5. Soon the stickers were replaced in throat to decals that describe Wilson PWS on one side, recommended tension on the other (50-60 lbs.) and higher/lower tension recommendation for control/power. From here forward the paint finish wasn't very consistent. I've as many frames with matte finish as with a bit more polished/glossier finish. "MIDSIZE" was written on both sides of throat.

6. Later a black rectangular grip size sticker placed at the outside of the throat above the handle and a WIlson holgram was place on the opposite side.

7. The latest variation of St Vincent had "MIDSIZE" written just on one side while "80% braided graphite/20% kevlar" decal was on another side. "Wilson Quality" hologram sticker had become standard.

Pro Staff 85 (Taiwan):
After the St. Vincent factory closed, Wilson tried to make the rackets in Taiwan using an all uni-directional layup. However, the racquets didn't have the same feel as braided construction. Within 4 months of the St. Vincent factory closing, Wilson went through 12 - 15 iterations of braided construction. Shortly thereafter, they were up and running with braided construction ProStaffs from Taiwan. I have yet to see a Taiwan version with unidirectional layup.

- Racquets were still made with white butt cap
- 3-letter code was moved above "W"
- the grommet set was still 22D 1615 like St Vincent and the channels were more rounded
- the paint finish became glossy
- Fairway leather grip remained
- red primer was changed to dull grey
- "MIDSIZE" was written just on one side while "80% braided graphite/20% kevlar" decal was on another side. "Wilson Quality" hologram sticker was standard.

1. The earlier Taiwan models were very similar to the latest St Vincent except for grey primer, glossy finish and different butt cap code. Also the lettering inside the throat became smaller in font.

2. Later the color of pinstripes became darker in tint. The PWS letters became smaller and the recommended tension decal has added recommendation for using Wilson syn gut. A barcode was added to the Wilson Quality sticker.

Pro Staff 85 (early China):

Transition to China:

- same as late Taiwanese, but has all cap "CHINA" sticker below "W" on butt cap (assuming use of last Taiwanese stock)

Chinese PS85 (early):
- Produced at CHIAO TA factory in mainland China
- new design with wider throat and one-piece throat grommet
- slightly different drill pattern as the old grommets no longer easily fit
- white primer
- Pro Staff logo is written in Italics
- larger font for "PWS" at sides of head
- "85 sq. in." decal on inner face of head near throat
- brighter, wider pinstriping
- Fairway leather and white butt cap

Chinese (mid):
- throat decal has specs and square with "6.0" swing index info
- use of "Pro Staff 6.0" in Garamond font at face of throat
- transition from Fairway leather to Wilson leather
- transition from white butt cap to black butt cap with red square and small white Wilson "W"


Chinese (late and last):
- silver specification decal at insides of throat
 
Last edited:

plasma

Banned
indeed this is a microcosmic element of the historic and technical evolution of the sport itself. The history of manufacutring and how these items were produced and marketed affected more than just swingweight.
I beleive it is valuable to add, simply to contextualize this evolution of technique, equipment, history et al. that there was a midsize incarnation of the ultra 2 which had a nylon (commonly referred to as "plastic") throat bridge.
 

Tennis Man

Hall of Fame
I beleive it is valuable to add, simply to contextualize this evolution of technique, equipment, history et al. that there was a midsize incarnation of the ultra 2 which had a nylon (commonly referred to as "plastic") throat bridge.

hey, thanks for noting that. That would be the only racquet in my entire collection with a fake heart :)
 
Last edited:

gpt

Professional
excellent work Tennis Man. imagine someone reading this in 50 years. a great hisorical record
 

psp2

Banned
- 3-letter code was moved above "W" and was anything from GAY to SEX.

TennisMan, "GAY" is a China code.
 

plasma

Banned
is any other sport in the midst of the technical evolution that we are in??? anyone who hasn't tried a standard ultra pls do. Like hitting with an aeropro, 200g, ps 85, or kneissl, it's something to be experienced...something unique....
 

plasma

Banned
sorry to interrupt the party. There's been a lot of talk of feel and touch lately, no not that kind fellas. Interesting to note that the ultra and ultra 2 standard were smaller than an average standard racquet.
I still saw pro players back in the day get awesome topspin with it on clay, probably as much or more than pros today. Even with the tiny head the ultra and ultra 2 standard play great.
Evidence that sweatshop free quality makes a huge difference in terms of playability. You can be the worlds best racquet designer and engineer, but if your frames are badly produced out of sub par materials, your racquet will feel like crap, the specs will be meaningless, and the evolution of the key piece of the games equipment will continue to stagnate.
your momma,
your daddy
that tennis pro in the alley
plasma
 

jimbo333

Hall of Fame
Some of the Chicago PS85's have Black Primer. Does anyone else agree with this statement?

I've seen one that does, what do others think about this?
 

FedererClone

Semi-Pro
Why did such an informative thread end so abruptly? Can anyone ascribe their hitting experiences with variations of this frame?
 

Arafel

Professional
Actually, the Ultra 2 with integrated PWS was first made in Chicago, then moved to St. Vincent around the time of the Pro Staff. The Ultra 2 in Chicago had a black butt cap and a plastic piece with a W on it at the top of the grip; the SV model had the white butt cap and no plastic piece.
 

Tennis Man

Hall of Fame
Actually, the Ultra 2 with integrated PWS was first made in Chicago, then moved to St. Vincent around the time of the Pro Staff. The Ultra 2 in Chicago had a black butt cap and a plastic piece with a W on it at the top of the grip; the SV model had the white butt cap and no plastic piece.

Thanks for the information. It would make sense that the Ultra and Sting were originally produced in Chicago. They are the predecessors of Pro Staff 85. They also both have black butt caps. I haven't seen Ultra 2 with a white butt cap yet. Can anyone confirm they were made in St Vincent and how long?
 

Tennis Man

Hall of Fame
On another note, I'm still missing the valuable information about the Sting Midsize Graphite line. Can't really find anything. Afterall, Ultra and Sting were the "parents" of Pro Staff 85. :)

My Wilson collection at present has or will have the following racquets:

Jack Kramer Autograph Midsize
Jack Kramer Staff
Jack Kramer Autograph Millenium Limited Edition

Ultra original,
Ultra II
Ultra variations

Sting Midsize Graphite (no bridge)
Sting Midsize Graphite (with bridge)
... is there a graphite Sting with PWS? ...

Pro Staff 85 Chicago
Pro Staff 85 St Vincent
Pro Staff 85 Edberg PJ

Pro Staff 95 St Vincent/Taiwan (can't find one)
PS Classic 6.1 95 Taiwan/China
 
Last edited:

Tennis Man

Hall of Fame
bump ...


I was looking for more information on Wilson Ultra and realized that the original Ultra 2 had yellow graphics. The later version was orange red. There is Ultra with a collar and one without it. I saw some made in St Vincent and some made in USA (is it before or after SV).

This one is made in USA (with collar):
WilsonUltra2MidsizeStVincent46012.png


Mine is made in St Vincent (no collar).
 
Last edited:
I actually have an old Ultra at home, but not sure which one it is--I bought it on a whim thinking that I'd get an Ultra 2, but it turned out to be a much older model in the Standard size, with PWS plates at 3 and 9. I'll post some pics later tonight.
 

Bud

Bionic Poster
I actually have an old Ultra at home, but not sure which one it is--I bought it on a whim thinking that I'd get an Ultra 2, but it turned out to be a much older model in the Standard size, with PWS plates at 3 and 9. I'll post some pics later tonight.

There's a pic of the original Ultra with the metal PWS plates right above your post :oops:
 

Tennis Man

Hall of Fame
Hi all, I recently came across a really clean Chiao Ta (early China) PS 85. Anybody remembers when and how long they were made at the factory?

The racquet has a Fairway grip on and a stencil recommending one. I want to continue the write up of the Pro Staff variations. I spotted a few more interesting versions lately.
 

Roadway

Rookie
A question here.
Are Wilson's palyer racquets almost braided?
I had a Sting Mid (cross-bridge at the throat version) and a Midsize 80/20 (no other specified terms printed on the frame), both looks braided from the wearing of the head.
 

Tennis Man

Hall of Fame
A question here.
Are Wilson's palyer racquets almost braided?
I had a Sting Mid (cross-bridge at the throat version) and a Midsize 80/20 (no other specified terms printed on the frame), both looks braided from the wearing of the head.

Not all of them are braided. Braiding is more expensive technology and used on high-end racquets only. I doubt that Sting was braided.
 

Roadway

Rookie
Not all of them are braided. Braiding is more expensive technology and used on high-end racquets only. I doubt that Sting was braided.

I see, thank you! I am not sure about Sting, but quite sure about Donnay's Graphitr Borg, which is definitely braided. By the way, I've just got an unfamous Titan Maxpeter, that is braided too.
 
Top