Discussion in 'Racquets' started by drakulie, Oct 16, 2012.
the grip area and inside the handle.
The more I play with Xcite in the 99s the more I'm liking it. I'm not sure I need to look much further actually.
Want to try something really wild? Try the weed whacker string Mark Woodforde used in his open pattern racquet (Snauwert hi ten 12x13 string pattern !!! ).
Here's a picture of his 15 guage strings :
And here's a pic of the Vortex 100 which was modeled after the woodforde stick ....I'd love to put the 99s in there and compare all three:
And here is woodfordes Wilson which he changed to from the snauert . I think it was a 12x16:
We all owe a thank you to Mark Woodforde for this incredible idea .....Vortex made it even better and Wilson now has perfected.
Haha 'weed whacker string'... I'd be up for it! Actually, I'm sure 'Hi I'm Ray' (from the Racketaholic Diary thread) was telling me a while back he was checking out something very very similar.
Back to Xcite, I'm currently checking out the different gauges ATM but I certainly prefer it to 4G (and 4GS).
What do you like in XCite over 4G?
Well, TBH I just haven't been able to get overly enthused about the feel/performance of 4G. After initial phase when it's similarly stiff, Xcite softens up somewhat and then plays with a combination of power and control that suits me. Spin is pretty good. Comfort good. Tension maintenance seems good. Durability very good. Ultimately though, I think it's mainly the subjective area of feel that clinches it for me.
On a separate matter, Rabbit, as of yet I still haven't quite mustered the courage to surmount my mental block and go below 50 lbs with the 99s... next string job, I promise.
You will enjoy it
I'm at 36 lbs and quite happy. I think the lower tension really helps offset the extra strain on the strings.
Well, that seals it, I will try XCite.
I tell you, 45 is heaven. Give it a whirl with a cheap poly just to try it. I cannot believe how good poly feels at this tension. And net play is 1000% better. I find absolutely no downside. Hell, send me your mailing address through the email link and I'll send you a set of poly to try!
100% agree. As I've noted, a buddy of mine who I string for uses the 99S. He was ready to get rid of them because he was getting 2 sets of tennis out of a string job. After lowering his tension from 58 to 49, he's getting 6 sets out of a string job. I stair stepped him down over a few re-stringings. He says he cannot tell the difference and now loves aspect of the 99S.
For me personally, 45 has been a revelation. I did try 40, but didn't like it as well.
I recently quit one club and joined another tennis-only club. They have 16 clay courts and 5 outdoor hard and 4 indoor hard. I've played tennis every day for the last 5 days at least two hours a match (they have a habit of playing 3 sets regardless) and my arm is perfect.
I'm at 45lbs with the 4Gs and the only downside for me is it makes the racquet feel a little vague on serve. I find myself having to be content with going for general areas of the service box rather than specific spots like I could with the 4G at 62lbs.
At 45lbs it does make the stringbed feel more predictable off the ground.
Yeah it's difficult .....you sort of have to let the strings do the work . Sort of like "cruise control".....you don't have to swing all that hard . Go for accuracy rather than power. Serve at about 70% power and aim for the spots . The strings will do the rest.
36 lbs? :shock: Now that's impressive. :wink:
Haha... Okay, okay... "Clears throat." I do hereby make a solemn oath to definitely check out 45 lbs next stringjob, no excuses. :lol:
Let us know how you like Xcite, Rabbit.
demoed the racquet today. I fully expected to hate it, but it was about the most game changing racquet I've every hit with. I'm not saying it's better, but it's different enough that your game really needs to suit this stick. The extra spin is noticeable and quite useful. Had no issue with power. Strung with 4G. If I was to buy this racquet I would consider a leather grip and possible 15L Black Code strung at around 40-45lbs. Maybe some lead around the side of the hoop like a make shift PWS. After this demo I am seriously considering switching to this stick. The stiffness of the frame is irrelevant due to the open string pattern. That with a low strung soft poly makes the feel very plush. For reference, I play Open events, playing a futures this summer and hit with players with ATP points.
Oh BTW. The most difficult part about hitting with it is that on every shot I was tearing up the ball so bad the cut up fluff (felt) would fly around and almost get in my eyes. It not only eats strings (so I've heard) but balls only last a set or so
That's actually so surprising to hear how much you like it, but I'm pumped you do haha!
I do notice about the ball fuzz though, using Wilson US Opens makes me sad, because they fluff up so much as is, and the 99S just eats them even faster.
I also hate stringing racquets so i'm all for 15 crosses vs 19
I didn't notice the fuzz in the air but after a hit I always notice the green fuzz all over the strings.
Great to hear. Interesting too about how you might set it up.
Just curious re that remark you made, so what exact game in your opinion do you think this frame suits?
It’s more about feel than a certain racquet improving a specific game style. But… I wouldn’t see the benefit of this stick if you pancake the ball. I think if you hit a lot of spin the strings would actually last longer because they snap back and forth in the string bed and don’t cut into the strings like they do if you hit flat like a pancake. I saw some lower level players hit with this thing really flat and the strings started to cut into themselves. They showed more wear than my hitting much heavier than they did. Remember poly is not like syngut that used to Frey when you hit lots of spin. Modern coated poly seems to have more durability if you hit with spin and let them slide around rather than if you hit it flat and hard. But that’s my personal experience and theory. I haven’t really done any scientific studies on it hehe.
One thing I wasn’t really able to test out fully was serve and return. I hit a few second serves and yes they kicked up quite nicely. But I wasn’t warmed up enough to hit first serves or return big serves. My biggest worry about these light tweener frames is in the serve and return. While you hit, this racquet feels great, but in a match when someone is bombing a 125mph serve, it might not be so hot. It’s tough to tell unless I spent a week or so really testing it.
totally agree that your game needs to suit this stick. This is true with any racquet, but especially with the 99s since it is so "different". I think the ideal model for the 99s is this:
- a baseliner who probably uses an extreme grip (W or SW)
- likes to move his opponent around and hit deep, high bouncing shots with lots of topspin.
- likes to swing fast... high swingspeed is almost a requirement, so the user should also be comfortable swinging like that most of the time.
- swing should be "modern" with lots of low to high and WW action. Traditional players that hit more linear with classic strokes will struggle with this frame.
if the above is YOU, then the 99s can be a great weapon in your hands.
But......the BIGGEST issue IMO with this frame is that you better be OK with using full poly and also with restringing quite often. If you aren't a "yes" on both of those, don't even consider it.
I tested the 99s for about 2 months and ultimately found it didn't work for me due to the following reasons:
-I hit semi flat, driving the ball more than looping it.
-I rely on touch and feel a lot
-I don't like to swing fast all the time
-I like to get the ball through the court quickly when an opening is there
-I prefer not to use full poly (like the feel of a multi or gut mains)
-I don't like to restring every 2 weeks ( I play 4 times/week)
I used to restring Timo in my C10s about every two weeks, so it's no biggie for me.
just to show you how individual racquet selection is, the above bullets describe my game to a tee! I started playing in 1974 with wood racquets. My "high" NTRP rating was 5.0 a few years ago. I have been, and still am, a 4.5 for the majority of the time in NTRP.
I posted here several years ago that I hated the feel of poly, but loved the results it produced; i.e. control and spin. I have found that reducing the tension to the mid-40s not only makes it feel great, but it actually feels good around the net and gives great feedback too. I love natural gut, but in the 99S, poly feels fantastic. I also attribute some of the better feel to using a later generation poly. I think they've made great strides in tension maintenance and feel. 4G feels like natural gut compared to Timo.
IMO, this racquet is worthy of a demo for anyone who is looking for a versatile stick that is super easy to play with.
Of course "guidelines" are just that and not a black/white thing.
I also agree that the wide open pattern makes full poly feel much nicer than in does in a traditional pattern frame. I had no issue whatsoever with the 99s' ball feel. It was quite nice.
I think the difference in our skill levels, Rabbit, is a major reason why you have found success with this racquet and I found erratic-ness. Your strokes I'm sure are more "honed" and "repeatable" and mine are more apt to stray off course. I found the 99s to exagerate the latter and found much more consistency with tighter pattern racquets. I rely much more on placement, than I do on pace and had trouble with my accuracy using the 99s.
FWIW, in reading most of these threads, it seems like the folks that have had the most sustaining success with the 99s are more advanced level players around 4.5 and higher. I think it takes a certain upper skill level to properly weild this stick.
After playing with it for a while, I'm on the fence with the steam 99s. On one level it feels best to me strung with 4G at 62lbs. But after the severe notching that occurs the strings are all over the place, which is annoying. With the 4GS at 45lbs I get a more "predictable" string bed but the thicker gauge strings just don't feel as good, and the racquet becomes less fun. It really deadens the string bed and I don't feel as connected to the ball.
+1 here on your theory.
Must say from that I pretty much fit the bill.
I found the best of both worlds.
I string 4gs at. 45 pounds but I put string savers on every other main.
This leaves half the strings tight and half the strings loose and creates some heavy topspin . It's not my idea though . I got it from YouTube .
I'll try and find the video .
I dunno guys, still loving it!
I think my biggest gripe with the 4GS 45lb setup, is that serving accuracy drops tremendously. I find I have to just be content with serving to general areas of the service box, rather than specific spots. Thats just too big of a drawback for me.
Not sure whats going on but my 1st serve is all of a sudden like 10 mph slower with this racket. It wasn't like this for the first couple of weeks.
I trip out at the net with this racket. Its like some shots hit the racket , go over and don't bounce , flat hit,so i get an easy winner. No idea why. No other racket did this for me
Can you test your tension and see if it changed?
practiced serves a bit yesterday and same thing here -> flat hit, uber low bounce with respectable pace (boom sound with no decrease in mph). also happened serving with 2 different racquets and neither racquet was a Steam of any kind.
gotta be a technique (or lack of...lol ).
Watch this short video . The guy is boring as hell but his idea is great.
Works perfectly on the 99s and your control will go way up on the serve as well:
strung at 72 for me, think it lost some, took a month for one single string to even move
Er... strung at 72?
lol.... so funny. stop trolling, seriously.
Well, I've been using the 99s for a couple of months now and really trying to like it - it's almost there but not quite, for me. Firstly it's a little on the light side (I play lots of dubs, lots of volleying) and could do with some extra stability. Weighting it up a little in the handle and at 3&9 helped here. The topspin (using decent poly strings) from the back of the court is very good. Does not hit a particularly heavy ball but can get away with it because of the way the ball dips at the last second if you hit deep.
The problem for me (other than the weight) is the way all strings lose tension quickly (yes, even the Luxilon 4G, although they are better than others I've tried). The tension loss means more erratic volleys (trampoline effect) and general loss in precision play.
I've gone back to an older (and much heavier) Yonex RDS002 Tour that I used to use and whilst I feel I play slower shots with this, the plowthrough and precision is much greater than using the 99s. Which inevitably means more points and better results against opponents.
So yes, the 99s is a nice racquet for one style of play (rallying from baseline) assuming you get it restrung often to get consistent results. Less so for all round court play with a lot of variation and volleying.
I'll keep trying it but the signs are that I'll have to change back to something else.
all these items have been well documented within this thread. The 99s will either work for you or it won't...there's no in between.
Yeah, seems like it. It is a nice racquet, although in the end, all things considered, I play better all round with a higher weight more stable racquet (such as the mentioned Yonex, or Volkl PB10 mid).
Shame, as I can hit some really wicked shots with the 99s, but then lose control on shorter balls and quick exchanges at the net. So on average, the racquet perhaps doesn't work for me and my style of play.
I have started the 99s experiment and was pleased with the first hit. I'm a 4.5 with an eastern FH and 2HBH. I normally play with a Donnay P1 full poly around 45-50 lbs.
I didn't notice a different trajectory off the strings like others have noted. Two shots really stood out to me. First was the full swing half volley groundstroke on a ball hit at me near or on the baseline. I like to hug the baseline and everything that was close to it, I hit out as much as I could to test out the racket. I had no problems keeping these balls in the court, even on mishits from mistiming the half-volley full swing.
Second, I play with a guy that hits really low bouncing slice that I usually have a hard time hitting up on. These balls are really easy to dump in the net. I had no problem getting these balls back with just a standard stroke. I was even able to hit out on these low balls which are around the knees. I wasn't clearing the net by a huge margin but just getting these balls back over the net with a topspin stroke rather than a slice was impressive to me.
The racket is currently strung with 4g. I have a hit scheduled tonight and have restrung with Cyclone 17 at 45lbs.
low balls - ok. try against heavy higher bouncing balls near the baseline if u can find an opponent like that and post back.
Sorry for jumping in, but I found the 99S the best stick for dealing with high balls. I play against top 100 wheelchair player quite frequently, and his bread and butter is really high loopy balls. The 99S allows me to take a full cut above my shoulder, but donates just enough spin to keep it in with depth, especially on the defense.
With all the talk of quicker than usual tension loss, has anyone tried SPP in this, given its regard as one of the best tension holding polys?
If you open the trap door, do you have some clear silicone in the handle? Or is it hollow?
I ask because 1) I got my 99s's used and 2) the silicone is definitely not uniform--one 99s has silicone in only one of the chambers, near the buttcap, while the other 99s has silicone in both chambers, a little bit more spread out and closer to the midpoint of the handle.
So I'm guessing mine have been modded?
Now that I think about it, I always felt like one was heavier, but I figured it was just my imagination.
Hmm, you know, this just isn't really my experience. I'm guessing it's just a playstyle difference. I find the 99s to be great at all the shots. When spinning any of them, it just adds an extra bite to the spin. And it still hits really great flat shots for me.
I also string it very low (trying 37 lbs right now) which has cured the fast breaking issue, while raising the power and spin. The control is more difficult at the lower tension, but after an adjustment period, of about a week, I find it well worth it. I feel like I can do anything with this stick.
I have to say, there are two very special things that this stick does that have seem to gone under the radar, but have become rather powerful weapons for me: 1) top spin lobs, and 2) side-under spin strokes/serves
1) I will often top spin lob over the net man, in doubles, and the result will be either an unreturnable (because the court just isn't long enough) or such a tough shot that the reply is short and and easily put away. With the extra topspin... it just feels like cheating.
2) I'll hit side-under slice forehands, and backhands, but the forehands especially jump so far over, that even opponents of mine who know what's coming are extremely surprised by just how far the jump goes.
I just won a 4.5 level doubles tournament. We won the final 6-1, 6-2. I wasn't even playing that well (missed lots of first serves, missed some returns). Just solid enough, letting the spin do the work for me...
Oh and I forget to talk more about the side-under spin serves. I could never hit Roger Federer's slice ace wide in the deuce court first serve, until I started using this racquet. But I don't just hit that one. I'll also hit the same sort of side-under, almost a baby serve, down the T. In the deuce court. The bounce is so ridiculous, that it is often an ace. My opponents seriously don't know what's coming. I feel like Fabrice Santoro.
Some of the effects you are describing may be due to the extreme low tension you've strung it at. I'm getting similar incredible spin effects with my 4D200 Tours strung at 36lbs and currently even 32lbs, although I can imagine that these effects could be amplified in the 99s.
So........ now that its been 8 month's since the original post, we should re-ask the question:
"Did Wilson really hit a homerun with the Steam 99s"???
I am not so sure? Maybe a ground rule double, but certainly not a "homerun". I thought by now, you would see this racquet popping up everywhere at local parks and clubs, but I do not. I still see way more "Juice's" and "Blades" than I do "Steams". Is the 99s a "novelty" who's appeal has run it's course? Will Wilson choose to expand on this type of racquet or drop it entirely and return to more traditional frames? Time will tell.....
I still love my 99S.
keep the string pattern idea and implement it into different sticks. PS95 box beam with a 16x15 or 16x16 why not. The problem is the lack of "real choice"
I would say it's a homerun. Homeruns are quite common, after all.
When we see Wilson combine the Steam string pattern with more player orientated frames like the Blade, then we may be on the lookout for some grand slams. 8)
My experience and sentiments exactly. I can't count the number of times I've heard "that ball was going out and the bottom just dropped out"
Wilson goes yard!
Update for my fellow steam room devotees...
Very little tennis lately so that will have a bearing here, but played today and - the good news - as well as the aspects of feel and solidness that continues to impress, this frame still swings the best for me out of everything in a similar class of rackets I've checked out since the turn of the year. Just so into the balance and weighting I suppose. I don't know. But, for me, it just clicks instantly right into gear re how it swings (even after long absences), how fast it gets to the ball, and, well all things manoeuvrability-wise etc.
But re a more negative slant, I do wish there was more penetration and precision off my 2hbh. I was also (frustrating this) overhitting rather too often out there today in the warmth and sunshine (not used to that here in the UK, so maybe a contributing factor?)
Anyhow, much "operator error" relates to the above and, well... it's still my no. 1.
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