Our Pro Staff 97 v13 Review

 

Whether they’re your ideal racket or one you just couldn’t get along with (we’re much more on the love them side of things), you’ve got to admit the Wilson Pro Staff line is one of the most iconic out there.

 

So naturally, we were pretty excited to get our hands on the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13 to do a pre-launch test and let you know our thoughts. 

 

Having first released the Pro Staff range in 1983, Wilson has been gradually improving its performance in the years since, and we found they’ve done an excellent job with this latest stick.

 

If you love oodles of control and classic feel, then you’ve certainly come to the right review, and we’d recommend you go out and get your hands on a demo as soon as possible.

 

Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13

 

One of the things we find with the Pro Staff rackets is that the headline RF version is too heavy for the average player to play with. The problem is, because it’s got RF in the name, a lot of people are drawn to it even though it’s not necessarily the best stick for them.

 

Instead, many of those people should be looking at this Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13, which is a brilliant racket in its own right. 

 

At 315g unstrung, this stick is much more manageable, allowing you to swing with more freedom and really maximize your strokes. That’s something we all love to do here at thetennisbros.com, so we were pretty happy with this playtest. 

 

To help us give this racket a fair playtest, we went for a fairly standard string tension for us, Babolat RPM Blast at 55lbs. This helped us to keep plenty of control in the racket, but also get that heavy spin that’s required in the modern game. 

 

So, you can probably tell we enjoyed our playtest with the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13, but what are the key details you should be looking out for?

 

Wilson Pro Staff 97 V13 Specs

 

Head Size 97 sq in
String Pattern 16×19
Unstrung Balance 31.2cm/10 Pts HL
Series Pro Staff
Unstrung Weight 314 g
Length 27 in – 68 cm

 

Groundstrokes – 9/10

 

We really enjoy the rackets that come in around 315g unstrung, and this Pro Staff was no exception.

 

The thing that stood out to us was just how stable this stick is. I played with this one before switching to the new RF 97 and I hardly noticed a difference when it came to stability despite the fact the RF is 20 odd grams heavier. 

 

What this meant was that I had some serious control on the groundstrokes and could make use of all the power I created through my swings.

 

Pro Staff scores

 

The feel was exactly what I look for, and this allowed me to feel extremely confident in what I was doing from the back of the court. 

 

From a spin standpoint, this stick doesn’t offer a huge amount of help, but if you’re someone who’s got well-developed swings this shouldn’t be an issue.

 

For me, I generate a lot of topspin and have more problems flattening the ball out so the Pro Staff was ideal in that sense. 

 

The one area where we did find the Pro Staff was a little more difficult was maneuverability. Of course, this is the tradeoff you make to get some of that stability, but it does mean you’ve got to be very confident in your strokes to get the most out of this racket.

 

It is much more manageable than the RF 97, but it doesn’t quite have the maneuverability of some of the more modern style rackets. 

 

We don’t really see this as a problem, because that’s what the Pro Staff rackets are about; they’re classic players rackets, and you know what you’re getting. If you’ve got the strokes to handle that, then you’re going to get a serious weapon full of controlled power and feel. 

 

Overall, the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13 felt brilliant from the back of the court and is a great stick for advanced players. We gave it a 9 out of 10. 

 

Volleys – 9/10

 

If I had to choose one racket range I had to volley with for the rest of my life it would probably be either Pro Staff or Prestige. They’ve just got such great feel and control that makes volleying a pleasure. 

 

I’m not someone who’s in a rush to get to the net in singles, but when I had the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13 in my hand I just felt the urge to get my volleys out that bit more often. If you’re not a great volleyer that’s probably not a great idea, but for those players for whom attacking the net is a big part of their game this racket is beautiful.

 

Wilson Pro Staff v13

So much of volleying is about having stability from the racket and being able to control power and that’s perhaps the Pro Staff’s defining characteristic. From the back of the court, it felt like you had the ball under your spell and it’s exactly the same thing at the net. 

 

The only weaknesses is the maneuverability – it’s a little sluggish, but if you’re confident in your strokes that’s not a problem. 

 

There’s very little to complain about with this racket at the net, and we gave it another great score of 9 out of 10. 

 

Serve – 8/10

 

I thought this would be an area where I much preferred this 315g version to the RF, but strangely it wasn’t. 

 

The combination of not brilliant maneuverability and lots of control meant I struggled to get quite as much pop as I would have liked with the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13.

 

The RF on the other hand seemed to be much more agile for its weight, and I was actually able to crank some big first serves out, which I wasn’t quite expecting. 

 

Nonetheless, you know exactly what you’re going to get with the 315g Pro Staff – tons of control, and you can work with that. If you’re someone with a bomb of a first serve, then this is exactly what you want.

 

At the end of the day, it fits the pattern of this racket, if you’ve got strong strokes, then you’re going to get some serious performance. 

 

8 out of 10 on the serve is still a good score, but I just felt it was a little harder to get the most out of it on the serve than the groundstrokes and volley, hence the slightly lower score. 

 

Return – 9/10

 

I always tend to find if a racket plays well on the volleys, then it’s likely to do well on the returns as well and this was certainly the case with the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13

 

Again, it’s all about feel and control here which allows you to guide the return back into court with great precision. The big thing to concentrate on is making sure you’re getting the contact point out in front because it’s not the fastest racket through the air, but if you get the timing right you are well rewarded. 

 

I’m someone who really looks to get on the front foot and be aggressive on return, and this setup was absolutely perfect. It allowed me to keep my swings short, handle the power on the first serve, and redirect the ball back deep with good direction. 

 

The return is an area that often gets forgotten in the reviews, but it’s an important shot, and the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13 is a great weapon to help you get the most from it. We gave it a 9/10 for the return. 

 

Overall – 9/10

 

Overall this is a great racket. At 315g it’s much more accessible than the RF, and it’s going to appeal to a lot of advanced players. 

 

The feel and control with this racket are pretty much optimal, and the only area where you make a slight sacrifice is maneuverability. However, if you’re someone with strong strokes, then you will be able to use this to hit a seriously heavy ball, and do so with good comfort. 

 

As updates go, I think the v13 is a good one because it stays true to what the Pro Staff should be, whilst making the strides in comfort that you expect with modern technology. There’s not much more you could ask for from this racket, and we enjoyed giving it a good playtest

 

So far, 117 Grand Slam titles have been one with a Pro Staff, and we’re sure that number will only increase with time!

 

We gave the Wilson Pro Staff 97 v13 a 9 out of 10. 

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