Wilson Hits Homerun with Wilson Steam 99S (mini review)

corners

Legend
Big thing for me would be to see if you can truly flatten the ball out during a kill-shot type of putaway. Drak said you could, but I'd need more proof from more people.. just hard to believe that you'd be able to do anything other than spin it into a corner rather than drive it there.. Also, the slice. That's the other shot that would seem difficult, as others have noted, so as for requests, mine would be just to really try to hit drives and slices and see if they're doable on a regular basis with such a crazy open pattern.
As long as your strings aren't too loose the slice should be fine. Strings that slide and snapback readily tend to launch the ball on a higher trajectory on topspin shots. But because the strings snap back in a different direction on slice shots, towards the court, the ball will leave the strings on a lower trajectory. This may take some slight adjustment, but once dialed in slices should be naturally low and nasty.
 

Mig1NC

Professional
Drak, do you think gut/poly will work well in this frame? I don't hit hard enough to really take advantage of full poly but am really excited about this new stick.
 

dmcb101

Professional
Big thing for me would be to see if you can truly flatten the ball out during a kill-shot type of putaway. Drak said you could, but I'd need more proof from more people.. just hard to believe that you'd be able to do anything other than spin it into a corner rather than drive it there.. Also, the slice. That's the other shot that would seem difficult, as others have noted, so as for requests, mine would be just to really try to hit drives and slices and see if they're doable on a regular basis with such a crazy open pattern.
Yes I will.

It is important to note that high level/professional players put a nice amount of spin on the ball when they "flatten out" the ball. I think trying to strike the ball with less spin is fairly dangerous and most high level/professional players still spin the ball but just don't drop their racquet head as far under the ball and instead "drive through it" more.

Any one care to comment on this thought?
 

dmcb101

Professional
About the 99s, is it harder to do drop shots?
Can you take a look at blade 98 2013 18x20 and if you have used blade 98 compare it to the old line?
Thanks!
I can't promise you that I will do this but if I find some time I will. As I said in my previous post I will be most interested in the 99s because of the ACTUAL new technology. I used to play with the old K-Factor blade 98 and liked it more than the BLX version so my best comparisons will go back to the k-factor version but if I do try it I will let you know how it relates to the BLX version.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
Great thread, Drak...you're making that a habit. I am a little mad now that I pulled the trigger on a couple of Warriors. Doesn't Prince have a like string pattern coming out? Does anyone know?

I personally have always liked more open string patterns and looks forward to demoing these new patterns when they come out.
 

corners

Legend
Great thread, Drak...you're making that a habit. I am a little mad now that I pulled the trigger on a couple of Warriors. Doesn't Prince have a like string pattern coming out? Does anyone know?

I personally have always liked more open string patterns and looks forward to demoing these new patterns when they come out.
Yeah, someone mentioned in a recent thread that Prince already has the 16x16 100 square inch "Exo3 Tour ESP" in the hands of some top juniors. As Drak experienced, removing cross strings from the pattern reduces stringbed stiffness considerably, so I would imagine the ESP is a significantly stiffer frame than the regular Tour but still probably retains the soft feel the line is known for.
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
Yeah, someone mentioned in a recent thread that Prince already has the 16x16 100 square inch "Exo3 Tour ESP" in the hands of some top juniors. As Drak experienced, removing cross strings from the pattern reduces stringbed stiffness considerably, so I would imagine the ESP is a significantly stiffer frame than the regular Tour but still probably retains the soft feel the line is known for.
I used that stick in a rather open pattern (16x19) and I found that it was a great racquet for moving the ball around, but normal winners were tracked down.

Like Gads is saying, I have used pretty open patterns in the tfight 320 and yonex 200, and while they are both amazing sticks, my strokes produced "too much spin" many times and those types of balls never gave a player higher than 4.0 much of an issue. Now thats just on me and how I hit, I have always generated a lot of spin off my forehand. I just notice with a little tighter pattern in the BLX Blade, that my attacking shots are more often clean winners than before. Adding in this stiffness factor of the racquet I question if that much spin would really help my game personally.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Are you saying that a racket which can produce more spin will produce less pace as a trade-off? Or are you saying that the player will try to produce more spin since the racket can do it, and will end up putting less pace?
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
Are you saying that a racket which can produce more spin will produce less pace as a trade-off? Or are you saying that the player will try to produce more spin since the racket can do it, and will end up putting less pace?
Are you asking me? Regardless I can try and answer. It is tricky because everyone hits differently.

I believe some players will get less pace and penetration from this racquet. Most likely I will be that guy. That being said the racquet is rated very stiff so the power is probably high and it could balance things out. It's a tough call, but this is just my experience with racquets that are more open. I have tried a billion racquets and there is no perfect setup, but it seems like I benefit more from a little more of a tight pattern and more control. It results in a little lower trajectory and more pace.

This is all just speculation. Until more people get the stick in their hands, we will have to wait and see. Drak has definitely made it sound like this racquet is the best release of the year though and since I know he prefers more classic sticks, I find it very interesting.
 

drakulie

Talk Tennis Guru
Drak, do you think gut/poly will work well in this frame? I don't hit hard enough to really take advantage of full poly but am really excited about this new stick.
I think a gut/poly hybrid in this frame would be simply incredible, and the spin potential would be even higher than full poly. Only problem is the question of durability and costs.

Great thread, Drak...you're making that a habit. I am a little mad now that I pulled the trigger on a couple of Warriors. Doesn't Prince have a like string pattern coming out? Does anyone know?

I personally have always liked more open string patterns and looks forward to demoing these new patterns when they come out.
I think you'll love this frame, considering you enjoyed the o-ports frames.... I believe the Black???

I believe some players will get less pace and penetration from this racquet.
I think players will actually get more penetration, as evidenced by the height trajectory shown in all the playtesters data. That said, I do think the average mph will be lower.

Remember, not only does this racquet create more spin, it also creates more lift over the net, resulting in deeper shots.
 

Broly4

Rookie
The target of this stick is players whose strokes don't produce top spin naturally, it might have some appeal, but if you have any problems flattening your forehand with an 16x18, with an 16x15 will be simply utopian
 

Fed Kennedy

Legend
The target of this stick is players whose strokes don't produce top spin naturally, it might have some appeal, but if you have any problems flattening your forehand with an 16x18, with an 16x15 will be simply utopian
Is it really? Maybe its for people who love spin already....
 

corners

Legend
I used that stick in a rather open pattern (16x19) and I found that it was a great racquet for moving the ball around, but normal winners were tracked down.

Like Gads is saying, I have used pretty open patterns in the tfight 320 and yonex 200, and while they are both amazing sticks, my strokes produced "too much spin" many times and those types of balls never gave a player higher than 4.0 much of an issue. Now thats just on me and how I hit, I have always generated a lot of spin off my forehand. I just notice with a little tighter pattern in the BLX Blade, that my attacking shots are more often clean winners than before. Adding in this stiffness factor of the racquet I question if that much spin would really help my game personally.
Wilson claims that the data they have from players - they collected a whole new batch of data from Drak and whoever else participated in that playtest - showed an average increase of 141 rpms of topspin AND an average addition of 1.4 miles per hour to those shots. Usually extra spin comes at the cost of speed (switching from nylon to copoly strings, for example, might give you an extra 150 rpms but rob you of 2-3 miles per hour). But if you get both there is no downside, as long as control doesn't suffer.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
I think you'll love this frame, considering you enjoyed the o-ports frames.... I believe the Black???
I was using the EXO3 Tour and have recently changed to the Warrior. Although, a recent bout with pneumonia has kept me off court.


Guys, I think what we're seeing here is an (r)evolution. The racquet guys are finally figuring out how the masses can use poly without killing their arms. This "new" design goes straight back to Mark Woodforde and his frames. I wouldn't be surprised, if this takes off, to see 14 X 14 frames in the near future that are strictly "poly" tuned.
 
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realplayer

Semi-Pro
Willl a thinner string have the same effect as playing with a more open string pattern?
Cause if that's the case then i have an idea if this racket will suit me or not....
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
Willl a thinner string have the same effect as playing with a more open string pattern?
Cause if that's the case then i have an idea if this racket will suit me or not....
No, I don't believe so. The theory with these new patterns is that a reduced number of crosses decreases the "tension lock" on the mains. This allows the mains to move more freely back and forth enhancing/creating spin. A regular pattern, regardless of gauge, won't do this.
 
@drakulie

Have you ever tried a 14x18 pattern racquet like a Prince Graphite II ?

I'm asking this because I found an old one in the closet and played a couple times with it. It feels so smooth compared to my 4d 300 tour (18x20)...
 

tistrapukcipeht

Professional
Personally I think I will be hitting home runs with this racquet, so I will pass a mile away from it, that is just too open for hitting any winners, or flattening out shots. It may be a spin machine at the cost of directional control, the ball will sail long, not to mention controlling other peoples shots when under pressure, that is why I found my racquets to be the best match to me, I hit flat or with a lot top spin with high rebound and get the best of what I need, too much topspin can be a detriment, plus against tall players the balls might sit right on their strike zone.
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
It sounds like an attempt to out-market the babolats on the spin front, so even if the tech did something it will live or die as a marketing device.
 

mikeler

Moderator
I was using the EXO3 Tour and have recently changed to the Warrior. Although, a recent bout with pneumonia has kept me off court.


Guys, I think what we're seeing here is an (r)evolution. The racquet guys are finally figuring out how the masses can use poly without killing their arms. This "new" design goes straight back to Mark Woodforde and his frames. I wouldn't be surprised, if this takes off, to see 14 X 14 frames in the near future that are strictly "poly" tuned.

The Exo Tour is a comfy spin monster. I could actually see using poly again 1 day with it.
 

tistrapukcipeht

Professional
It sounds like an attempt to out-market the babolats on the spin front, so even if the tech did something it will live or die as a marketing device.
Yeah, I found the Yonex Ezone Xi team plus to have more topspin than any other racquet I tried, VCore 100S with just a little more than aero pro drive, but both Yonex have better quality.

The snap back theory has gone out of proportion, still what finishes a point is a flat forehand or back hand, I doubt anything with with that much topspin can hit a nice flat winner of a short ball, where you need strings to control it.

Changing direction of the ball may be a trouble as well going close to the line, on a windy day will be impossible to play.

Kick serves however must be a joy, I wish I could hit a serve and change racquets right after, I definitely buy it.
 

corners

Legend
No, I don't believe so. The theory with these new patterns is that a reduced number of crosses decreases the "tension lock" on the mains. This allows the mains to move more freely back and forth enhancing/creating spin. A regular pattern, regardless of gauge, won't do this.
Main string sliding and snapback happens with regular patterns too, as long as you use slippery strings that don't dent or notch too much. It's just that the interstring friction is reduced dramatically with fewer cross strings and so the mains slide more easily and snap back more quickly and with more energy. The direction this will go is more mains for control and fewer cross strings for less interestring friction and more power (fewer crosses reduces the total stringbed stiffness, increasing the coefficient of restitution in the normal (perpendicular to the stringbed) direction).

Thinner strings also reduce interstring friction by reducing the "angle" of the weave. If you had super-thin strings there would be very little friction between the strings. On the other hand, thinner mains probably reduce ball-string friction. So in these reduced-cross patterns the ultimate will be very thin crosses paired with thicker and/or textured mains. However, one problem with this approach could be reduced spin and inconsistent response on sidespin and gyrospin shots, where the crosses are actually sliding along the mains to some degree.
 
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Broly4

Rookie
Is it really? Maybe its for people who love spin already....
It's not about what you like, it's about what you have and need, if you have power, you'll need a control racket, on the other hand if you don't have it, a stick with easy power will suit you better, with spin production it's the same.
 

Fed Kennedy

Legend
It's not about what you like, it's about what you have and need, if you have power, you'll need a control racket, on the other hand if you don't have it, a stick with easy power will suit you better, with spin production it's the same.
Really? Why does any pro use a babolat then? Rafa needed to bump up his power and spin?
 

sstchur

Hall of Fame
The Exo Tour is a comfy spin monster. I could actually see using poly again 1 day with it.
I think it's a little sad that you've moved from the PK :-(

Gotta use what works for you I guess though. I tried several of the Exos a while back but I really disliked the feel of every racquet I tried with the O Ports.
 

VGP

Legend
hi drakulie - you said in your original post you were able to use the Steam 99S, Head Speed, and Aero Pro Drive. Were you able to use other frames and to measure your performance with those as well?

What I'm getting at is how old style frames (PS85, Prestige Mid, PSBLX90) stack up when you've got a way to quantitate performance.

You know I'm stuck in the past (using a Wilson Graphite Force Mid) and I haven't been coming around here as much lately.
 

mikeler

Moderator
I think it's a little sad that you've moved from the PK :-(

Gotta use what works for you I guess though. I tried several of the Exos a while back but I really disliked the feel of every racquet I tried with the O Ports.
Before I became an equipment junkie, I used a purple Prince O3 Royal from Sports Authority and played some of my best tennis with that frame. The bottom line is my arm. I still get a twinge or two of pain during a match but afterwards my arm feels fine.
 

drakulie

Talk Tennis Guru
Anyone know where to buy 15g poly? :twisted:
Luxilon 4G will be available next year in 15L gauge.

hi drakulie - you said in your original post you were able to use the Steam 99S, Head Speed, and Aero Pro Drive. Were you able to use other frames and to measure your performance with those as well?

What I'm getting at is how old style frames (PS85, Prestige Mid, PSBLX90) stack up when you've got a way to quantitate performance.

You know I'm stuck in the past (using a Wilson Graphite Force Mid) and I haven't been coming around here as much lately.

One coach there brought his 6.1 Pro Staff Classic and tested it against the other frames. He didn't get as much spin with it as the 99S, which provided him way more spin, but did get more spin with it than the Aero. To add, it was strung with PSG.

I remember him stating he had been using the Classic since it first came out, but it was time for him to finally switch, and he was so impressed with the performance of the 99S, that he was strongly considering it.
 

drakulie

Talk Tennis Guru
@drakulie

Have you ever tried a 14x18 pattern racquet like a Prince Graphite II ?

I'm asking this because I found an old one in the closet and played a couple times with it. It feels so smooth compared to my 4d 300 tour (18x20)...
I have played extensively with the POG Mid, which has a very open pattern, and have even written a review on it here on TW. Frame is powerful, extremely spin friendly, great control, and very stable,,,,,,,, so I would imagine it has similarities to the frame you are referencing.
 

klementine

Hall of Fame
^What racquet are you hitting with regularly nowadays Drak? Or is there no 'regularly'? :smile:


Your taste for frames is forever legitimized, thanks to that MgPresMid thread you started a while back.

Gonna have to demo this 99s now as well.
 

Kenzik

New User
So what's going to happen in the future then? Do you think other companies will begin to make racquets with similar string patterns?
 

raging

Professional
Luxilon 4G will be available next year in 15L gauge.




One coach there brought his 6.1 Pro Staff Classic and tested it against the other frames. He didn't get as much spin with it as the 99S, which provided him way more spin, but did get more spin with it than the Aero. To add, it was strung with PSG.

I remember him stating he had been using the Classic since it first came out, but it was time for him to finally switch, and he was so impressed with the performance of the 99S, that he was strongly considering it.
Found this comment make me want to try it.
(As coach who has changed contracts from various companies over the last 30 years).
I used 6.1 Pro Staff as well, also Head Prestige, later Radical MP & now Babolat Pure Drive. I think it is possible to change strings & get the racket to do what I want but I will still be testing the Wilson 99S. If only to have a bit of fun!:)
Actually think it is great Wilson have redesigned something & maybe improved it. It keeps all the other companies on their toes.
 

Roforot

Professional
Found this comment make me want to try it.
(As coach who has changed contracts from various companies over the last 30 years).
I used 6.1 Pro Staff as well, also Head Prestige, later Radical MP & now Babolat Pure Drive. I think it is possible to change strings & get the racket to do what I want but I will still be testing the Wilson 99S. If only to have a bit of fun!:)
Actually think it is great Wilson have redesigned something & maybe improved it. It keeps all the other companies on their toes.
Yes the way Wilson's going about this seems like they have a real game changer rather than the usual technojargon companies throw at us w/ new lines. I'm not aware of any other companies doing demonstrations allowing other frames and objectively quantifying spin/pace.

I will be curious to see how this line of racquets is perceived come March/April when the novelty has worn down.
 

dmcb101

Professional
99S lives up to hype

Hello TW Forum readers,

As promised I have tested the new Steam 99S and I have a few things I would like to share. I will give a mini review on my overall impressions, serves, ground strokes (topspin & slice), volleys, drop shots, and interestingly playing against the 99S.

After reading the review given by drakulie, I will second his thoughts. For topspin, this racquet makes the ball do things that I did not think I could do. When hitting my forehand with my focus being on spin, the ball moved through the air almost like a wiffle ball dipping at an extraordinary rate. I hit a few shots that made a couple other pro's at my club (I am also a teaching pro) almost swing and miss because of the immense jump off the court due to the increased spin. Now to specific shots review.

Serve

Because this racquet is geared towards topspin, I naturally tried my kick serve first. I noticed a great deal of spin as the ball bit the court and kicked up high to my opponents shoulders. Comparing it to a 16X20/16X18 I was not blown away, but that being said I did notice that I gained more spin with this racquet.
I am happy to report that flat and slice serves were also great and I got great power on my flat serves. I was a little nervous at hitting shots without spin but found I had no problem what so ever with hitting slat serves.

Groundstrokes

Forehand This stroke is the highlight of the mini-review. The topspin forehand with this racquet was no less than impressive. I am an ex-D3 college player with a 4.5 NTRP and a teaching pro so I would assume most all of you know that I hit with the appropriate amount of topspin; that being said, I have never hit with this much topspin. I could not help but think that hitting with this much topspin reminded me of watching professional tennis at the masters in Miami and being impressed with how much the ball moves in the men's game. My ball was dipping in when I was sure it was going at least a foot out and I was basically swinging as fast as I could. This to me is the selling point for this racquet as I felt I could swing out more and not feel the consequences of hitting just long.

Hitting flat was another potential issue but I found no issues here. I will say that I do not hit very flat when I play, but one of our other pros at the club does and he was absolutely spanking the ball! It looked to me that even his flat shots had a bit of spin that helped him control the ball even more. He commented by saying that he felt he could swing out more in this department which I would agree (especially being on the other end of it!)

Backhand

For your information I play with a two-handed backhand but I can hit a good one-handed backhand. Also, I tend to hit with less spin on my backhand than on my forehand but I would assume that is how most two-handed backhand players play. The backhand was great for me and I only felt like I was hitting a little long when I was on defense just trying to punch the ball back. Other than that, when I swung out all was well. I really liked hitting angles with this stroke as you might imagine because of the increased dipping abilities.

The slice with this backhand appears to be one of the concerns as the string patters is so open and I believe that drakulie said that you really needed to go after your slice to insure the ball would not float and he is totally correct. There were a few times where I would not try and put a decent amount of bite on my slice and the ball floated long. After seeing this outcome I just drove through my slice a little more and all was good. I think with any racquet there are certain shots that take a little adjusting too and for this racquet I believe the slice will be that stroke.

Volleys

This is another stroke that I felt might be a bit subject to error but I felt absolutely no difference when hitting volleys than I would with my current six.one team (leaded to the same weight as this racquet coincidentally!) I hit a few kick serve and volleys on the Ad side (i'm right-handed) and had to dig out some tough low volleys that I placed nicely to the open court. I was afraid that I would lose control in this department but no worries as all was good here.

Dropshots

Before reviewing this stick someone on the forum asked me to check out dropshots with this racquet so I decided to try these out when the chance came during some point play. The dropshot reminded me of the slice in the sense that you needed to give it a little stick in order to hit an effective drop shot. I did just this and the ball checked very nicely and I actually hit three winners this way, so that was nice! Overall I liked hitting dropshots with this racquet because you could be confident in the stroke and gain rewards with the extra bite after it contacted the court.

Playing against the 99S

I feel like this part of the review is important because I had a unique chance of fighting fire....with fire! Another pro and I hit against each other with the 99S's and it was almost comical. The rallies simply looked different. While in the rallies it looked like we were playing ping-pong as the ball was dipping and diving at such an extreme rate. We both tried to only hit heavy topspin and was incredible how much the ball moved. The other pro I was hitting with even got on the outside of the ball while hitting topspin and the ball was almost bouncing like a kick-serve; just nasty!

I also hit against another pro who was trying the new 93 blade (awesome, awesome paint job by the way) and I was making hit mishit all day long. My spin simply just put him on his heels.

Wrap-up

My opinion of this racquet is no secret. In the gear article on tennis.com they state that this racquet will specifically help recreational players which I agree with but I would also add just about anyone up to 5.0-5.5. The spin science that went into this racquet is no gimmic, it is actual truth. For those who say it's marketing are incorrect as they have never tried this stick or probably have not read up on the actual data behind the racquet.

One thing that I will say that concerned me was the stiffness of the frame as it felt more stiff than my current racquet but I also string my poly's in the low 40's and I believe that the demo was strung in the recommended range which was probably 55lbs or so.

For me this racquet opened up different parts of the court that only players on the tour are capable of, so for that, I thank Wilson for their research and development of this racquet.
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
Great review. That racquet sounds like a lot of fun. The stiffness and fact that you will need to string more often with full poly is not ideal for me though. I am sure my forehand will be obnoxious with this thing though..lol.

Definitely cool that wilson is doing this just because as stated it is real tech and not a gimmick.
 

dmcb101

Professional
Great review. That racquet sounds like a lot of fun. The stiffness and fact that you will need to string more often with full poly is not ideal for me though. I am sure my forehand will be obnoxious with this thing though..lol.

Definitely cool that wilson is doing this just because as stated it is real tech and not a gimmick.
It was a lot of fun. I could totally understand that having to restring for you would be a problem. For me, I pretty much get free string and our stringers at our club string for us, so its no big deal. I think if you are committed to tennis and are willing to get a reel of poly, it is not to big a deal. But I can completely understand concerns on that point.
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
Im definitley willing to get a reel and restring. I guess my main issue is full poly in a stiff racquet can be a bad experience sometimes if you are not dilligent in your restringing. I have the open pattern yonex 200 and ended up going full poly with it as everything else broke too fast. Some weeks i get busy with work and get behind in my stringing, which you just cant do with full poly.

Ill put it like this..i think another unfair advantage in many ways is gut mains and poly crosses. Maybe not as much spin in a tight pattern racquet, but the court penetration combined with the spin is very precise and allows for consistent hitting into tight windows. That is a setup that just would not last at all in the steam, but is definitely another awesome way to enhance your game.

Im still definitley going to demo this racquet as i love wilsons, and it sounds like it is a whole lot of fun.
 

realplayer

Semi-Pro
It was a lot of fun. I could totally understand that having to restring for you would be a problem. For me, I pretty much get free string and our stringers at our club string for us, so its no big deal. I think if you are committed to tennis and are willing to get a reel of poly, it is not to big a deal. But I can completely understand concerns on that point.
I'm very sensitive to poly so i only use a low powered synthetic gut. If i use a thick gauge synthetic would that be a good combination with this racket?
the most open pattern racket I used was a rds003 and it felt too open and powerful with a 1.30 gauge and i didn't like it.
I can only think that this racket is too powerful and not suited for my serve and volley style but I would like to know what's your opinon about this.
 
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Power Player

Bionic Poster
You know that is a great question..15 gauge syn gut in the 99s could last a decent amount of time and still provide really nice spin. Unfortunately the string movement may be pretty bad as syn gut does not snap back that well.

I think it is safe to assume that this stick is really best with full poly.
 
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