Wilson Pro Staff v14 Tennis Racket Review (2023)
So, you are curious to get the lowdown on the latest iteration of Wilson’s iconic Pro Staff frame, the fourteenth edition of maybe the most identifiable and desirable racket of the past decade?
As we have documented in our comprehensive coverage of Wilson rackets, the US-based manufacturer has an enviable stable of frames for every style and level of player. Still, nothing compares to the Pro Staff line when it comes to pedigree.
As long-time admirers of all things Pro Staff we simply had to take the v14 for a test drive and share our thoughts.
Quick Notes on the Wilson Pro Staff v14
It is maybe unfair or too much of a generalization. Still, it seems that two types of players often gravitate towards a Pro Staff frame – hardcore Roger Federer fans and those whose game genuinely merits the small-headed, control-focused weapon.
Either way, in a world dominated by plus-size rackets that really help with one or more aspects of our game such as spin, power, and comfort, it’s a brave choice to select a 97-sq inch offering that has a tendency to ask much of its user.
Maybe it is symbolic that Wilson retired the classic black aesthetic to coincide with Roger leaving tennis, but does the brave new ‘rust’ color herald a new dawn for the Pro Staff or should even the strongest of club players be better served by selecting a friendlier frame that will either amplify a strength or compensate for a weakness?
8.5out of 10
Judging cosmetics is so subjective that it is almost unfair to attribute a score to this department. Many consumers will love the new rust-colored Pro Staff whereas others (your reviewer for one) will feel that moving away from the classic black silhouette is a crime.
Personally, at the risk of being labeled a dinosaur, I feel that the Pro Staff line is and always should be black, a perennial classic and instantly identifiable scheme that quietly whispers ‘I can really play’- but for those happy to embrace change, the new color is actually quite fetching in its own right.
8out of 10
We test many rackets of all descriptions and nearly every one we trial aims to either accentuate strengths or address weaknesses in a player’s game. We try rackets that focus on spin, power, and forgiveness and cater to whatever style of tennis someone wants to play.
So, it was a little different going back to a classic 97-sq inch frame that basically asks the player ‘What have you got?’ rather than voluntarily offering up help in one or more areas.
Truthfully, we like the v14’s neutral aspect and the smaller head which focused our attention.
The v14 wasn’t shy to let us know when we miscued and when you find the center of the racket the pure, unmistakable Pro Staff feeling is still there – but without question, you have to be on your game.
However, providing you can routinely strike the ball from the middle of the strings the reward is a crisp, powerful hit with bags of plow-through thanks to a very substantial 315g static weight and 332g swing-weight.
Absolute control is the v14’s calling card which makes it easy to ‘hit out’ with confidence, especially as this frame is relatively underpowered anyway. Furthermore, if like Roger you have a one-handed backhand you are in business, especially if you like to carve out some heavily sliced shots from the backhand wing, an area where this frame truly excelled.
The v14 may lack a little bit of its predecessor’s feel and is indeed less plush than Babolat’s counterpart, the Pure Strike VS, but if you enjoy crispness over a more dampened feel, you are in luck. And if having full mastery over spin and control is your thing, the v14 is a super capable companion willing to bend to your every whim.
9out of 10
It is a shame that ‘serve and volley’ as a game style is almost extinct because the Pro Staff v14 would undoubtedly be the default choice for this brand of tennis. Nonetheless, for those who still enjoy a foray into the net and naturally, for doubles tennis, volleying is still a key component of today’s game and in this regard, the v14 will not let you down.
At 97-sq inch the v14 is very maneuverable and although it weighs 315g (unstrung) it can be deftly moved into position with minimum fuss. And once called into action, we found the v14 to be very stable and solid with most of our volleys dispatched cleanly and with great accuracy.
Interestingly, Wilson has changed the construction of the v14 introducing added stiffness in the hoop but greater flexibility in the shaft.
When volleying, we could feel a hint of this flex and it created a nice sense of a ‘cushioned punch’ that encouraged volleying with real authority.
9out of 10
For the better player, serving with the v14 will be a genuine blast.
As we have discussed, many frames will specifically focus on spin or power, and asking them to do something different than what they were designed for can sometimes be a challenge.
With the Pro Staff v14 however, the end product when serving is completely your call.
If you desire power then turn on the gas and let Wilson’s ‘Paradigm Bending’ flex-technology kick into gear, fully engaging the substantial swing-weight to help send some missiles your opponents way.
There again, if you want kick and fizz, the v14 still has the Pro Staff trademark versatility for those with the appropriate skill set (choosing the right string is a big help too!).
Critically however, while Wilson has introduced newer technology to make the v14 a little more user-friendly, the onus is completely on you to achieve the type of power associated with Babolat’s Pure Drive or the levels of spin synonymous with Yonex VCore range – but where those frames will excel respectively in certain areas, the Pro Staff v14 is a legitimate chameleon.
7out of 10
It was difficult to grade the Pro Staff v14 in terms of returns as it largely depends on the player’s skill level.
In the hands of a top-tier player, it is conceivable that the v14 could get a solid 9/10 whereas there will be genuinely skilled players who struggle to award anything beyond a 5/10. In short, returning with the v14 is where the racket really asks questions rather than provides answers.
In our experience, blocked/sliced returns were a pleasure as the racket did not yield, but against clean first serves it was a challenge to return with interest – largely due to our playing ability (being honest!)
The narrow beam (a constant 21.5mm) and the small head demand pure striking and against a good server you really have to be on point in order to execute full-bore returns. There again, this racket is targeted at a specific demographic that ‘should’ be able to stand and deliver from the baseline, against strong servers.
Ultimately for us, returning felt like the biggest challenge by far when using the Pro Staff v14.
8out of 10
In many ways, asking the Wilson Pro Staff v14 to follow and indeed build upon the v13 (notably the RF97 Autograph version) is a lot like asking the new crop of ATP Professionals to not only replace Roger but to improve upon his legacy — a big ask.
Credit has to be given to Wilson however, for breaking with tradition and releasing the newest Pro Staff in a distinct new color and with technologies such as the aforementioned ‘Paradigm Bending’ construction and their proprietary ‘FORTYFIVE’ layup that further accentuates this frames’ ability to bend throughout impact – all of which makes the v14 a rewarding hit with more than a hint of feel and punch.
The v14 is a crisper hit than its predecessor and with a far more substantial swingweight, it feels a little more powerful than previous iterations within the Pro Staff line – a move we appreciate, especially from a racket that has traditionally demanded everything from the player with little or no mercy.
Ultimately, however, the Pro Staff v14 remains every inch a player’s racket, despite the addition of some user-friendly aspects. But, for the more consistent and cleaner hitters, the Pro Staff can morph on a dime to suit your exact game style.
With heavy spin, pinpoint accuracy, and laser-like topspin backhands, this frame will facilitate your full repertoire – but only if you have the goods.
For everyone else, you may be better looking towards something more helpful and in that regard, our excellent custom fitting service will ensure your next frame is tailored specifically for your own game – and who knows, it could actually be the Pro Staff v14!
Ultimately, the Wilson Pro Staff v14 may not attract the same level of interest as enjoyed by previous models, those released during Roger’s reign, but in the right hands it remains an excellent frame that can accommodate any shot demanded of it – providing you will tolerate its unforgiving tendencies.
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