Wilson Pro Staff 97LS Racket Review
We loved the Pro Staff 97L as an intermediate racket so we thought we’d take out the Wilson Pro Staff 97LS to see how the Spin Effect string pattern changed this racket.
The Pro Staff 97LS weighs in at 290g unstrung but with a decent 314 swingweight that should help to give this racket some of the classic Pro Staff feel.
Of course, this is a lighter, spin friendlier version of the legend that is Roger Federer’s Pro Staff 97, and that means you get a racket that’s as suave as it is a lethal weapon on court.
We love minimalism when it comes to our rackets and the Pro Staffs hit the nail on the head when it comes to this.
The defining characteristic of this racket is the 18 x 16 string pattern, which Wilson calls Spin Effect.
This gives quite a different design to the traditional 17 x 19 and 18 x 20 patterns that most Wilson rackets have and allows for a lot more string movement, which should produce plenty of spin.
We’ve tried out Wilson’s Spin Effect technology before in the Wilson Burn 100LS and the Wilson Blade 98S, and we had some mixed feelings.
I found it worked for the Burn, but on the Blade, I wasn’t a fan. The Blade 98s are such great rackets as they are and already give you plenty of spin, so I felt like the Spin Effect was wasted on that stick.
However, with the Pro Staff 97LS it’s quite a different scenario.
In this case, Wilson is taking a heavy racket in the Pro Staff and making it much more accessible for intermediate and beginner players by reducing the weight and making spin much easier to attain.
This is a sensible move, because naturally, many people are going to want to play with the “same” racket as Federer, but the Pro Staff 97 is just not right for the majority of players.
Tom is our resident 340g Pro Staff player, but even for players like Larry and myself, who have been playing tennis at a high level for 20 years, the Pro Staff 97 is just a bit too heavy.
As you’d expect, Wilson has introduced a few different weights to cater for a much wider variety of players, and so far, we’ve really liked the results.
If we’re honest, we like the majority of things Wilson do, but one thing we still have some reservations about is the Spin Effect rackets like this one.
Extra spin is not something that suits my game, so I strung up my Wilson Pro Staff 97LS with some Babolat RPM Blast at 55lbs to try and give me a bit of extra control.
Being a Pro Staff, this stick should offer good stability on contact for its weight, and some Federer-esque feel.
I was just hoping that the extra focus on spin doesn’t take away from the classic Pro Staff characteristics.
7.5out of 10
I really enjoyed the balance of this racket.
It feels wonderful in your hand and helps to turn a 290g racket into something that is quite solid on impact.
This is important when it comes to power, spin, and control, because if the racket gets pushed back on contact with the ball then you are going to lose out in all these areas.
You’re always going to find a 290g racket gets pushed around a bit when you’re playing against an advanced player who hits with lots of power, but when the pace isn’t too high this is a very strong racket.
It has more than enough stability for beginners and advanced players, which allows you to work on improving your power, spin, and control.
This particular Pro Staff is geared towards spin, and you do notice a difference in the spin potential between this one and the Wilson Pro Staff 97L.
If you do struggle a lot with getting topspin then the 97LS is a good option, but I do think that most people would be better off with the Pro Staff 97L and working on getting more spin by improving their technique.
The 97LS can give you a little short cut to getting spin, but in the long run, I think the 97L prepares you better for stepping up to the next level and moving on to a slightly heavier racket.
As an experienced player, I felt like I was able to extract quite a bit more out of the 97L than I was the 97LS because I was already generating the spin through my strokes.
You might not be doing that right now, but with time you will, so the question is whether you go for the Pro Staff 97LS in the short term, or look a little bit more towards preparing your future?
If you do choose to go for the Pro Staff 98LS then you will get a racket that is nice and manoeuvrable with good stability for its weight.
I think these are two important qualities for any intermediate player as they help build good foundations from which to improve upon.
People get a bit carried away with power rackets or spin rackets, but really you want something that does a bit of everything, and most importantly is comfortable for you to play with.
The Pro Staff 97LS does that with a slight emphasis on spin that will help some players.
I scored the Wilson Pro Staff 97LS just behind its twin, the Pro Staff 97L.
It got a 7.5 out of 10 for the groundstrokes, which is a very good score for a light racket.
Although it had a bit more spin potential than the Pro Staff 97L, I just felt its all-round performance wasn’t quite as good.
7out of 10
I think the Pro Staff RF 97 might be my favorite racket to volley with. If not, it’s certainly in the top 3.
The Pro Staff 97LS is a whopping 50g lighter than its much bigger brother, so obviously, this makes a massive difference when it comes to volleying.
When you’re at the net, the ball is coming much faster at you, so the racket has to absorb more power.
Lighter rackets are not as good at this because they just don’t have the mass.
Luckily, when you’re playing beginner or intermediate tennis the ball isn’t coming at you that fast, so it’s not going to make a big difference.
The one thing you really need when you’re at the net in beginner or intermediate tennis is a racket that’s easy to swing.
Volleys can be quite awkward strokes when you’re starting out in tennis (Larry still hasn’t figured them out), so what you need is a racket that you can get into position quickly!
The Pro Staff 97LS is ideal for this because it is so beautifully balanced.
It just feels right when you’re swinging it. You don’t have to think too hard about swinging it, yet you have the feedback to know where it is and what it is doing.
“Feels right” doesn’t seem like a very good description, but that’s just how it is!
I did find that the Spin Effect takes a little bit off this racket’s volleying performance.
There’s a bit too much movement between the strings, which affects the feel a little bit, but other than that, it did pretty well.
I certainly wouldn’t have any worries about the Pro Staff 97LS’ performance at the net if I was an intermediate or beginner player.
I gave the Wilson Pro Staff 97LS a 7 out of 10 on volleys.
7out of 10
I always find the serve to be a bit of a catch 22.
I like to have the speedy manoeuvrability of a light racket, but I also want the mass of a heavier racket.
There aren’t many rackets that seem to get this balance right and I found the Pro Staff 97LS to be lacking a bit on the mass side.
If I was looking for a light racket and my main concern was the serve, I’d probably go with something like the Babolat Pure Drive Lite, which was a blast on the serve.
The thing is though, you can look to maximize your performance in one area, but generally, you end up sacrificing in other areas.
Personally, I generally optimize towards the groundstrokes, and that’s why I would be very happy with the Pro Staff L and the Pro Staff LS.
They might not give you quite the power levels on serve as some other sticks, but you still get good control and feel.
My serve speeds were down a little bit, but I hit a ton of first serves in court, and this can make a big difference.
Spin wise, I did find the 97LS to be a little bit loose.
I love to hit my leftie slice serve out wide (if you’re a leftie and you’re not working on this serve – you should be), but strangely, I find you don’t want too much string movement to hit this serve well.
The 97LS gave me a little bit too much spin and I could have done with less spin and more control.
Overall, I gave the Wilson Pro Staff 97LS a 7 out of 10 for the serve. Another decent score.
There’s still plenty of spin, but it does take away from the control a little bit.
7.5out of 10
I would recommend this racket to intermediate and beginner players who struggle to consistently hit with topspin.
The Pro Staff 97LS is a good racket, but for the majority of intermediates and beginners, I would recommend the Pro Staff 97L as a slightly better racket.
The Pro Staff 97LS is best suited to baseline players, for whom it offers speedy swings and good access to spin without losing too much control.
For a racket of just 290g it has good stability on impact, which means you can make the most of the power you get from your strokes.
At the net the 97LS did a decent job, making strokes easy through its good balance.
The most important thing at the net is being able to get into position easily and this racket allows you to do that.
This stick isn’t the most powerful on the serve, but you do get good spin and decent control.
If you’re obsessed with maximizing the speed of your serve then you might want to look at something else, but for the majority of people, the Pro Staff will do the job.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty good playtest.
I don’t think I’m ever going to be fully convinced by the Spin Effect rackets, but I’m sure there are people out there who will benefit from them.
I gave the Wilson Pro Staff 97LS a 7.5 out of 10 overall a solid score for a racket in this weight category.
It’s a nice option to have as an intermediate player as there aren’t too many sticks that combine spin and control so effectively.
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