If only you could get Roger Federer’s racket in the perfect package for beginner players. Well, there’s good news folks! The Wilson Pro Staff lets you emulate the great Swiss himself all in a lightweight, maneuverable package.
The Wilson Pro Staff Team is made for beginner and intermediate players who are looking for a maneuverable all-round frame. If you’re planning on improving your game quickly then the Pro Staff Team gives you a racket that can grow with you, offering solid performance throughout.
In our list of The Best Rackets Under 300g (Unstrung), we had the Pro Staff Team’s close relation, the Wilson Pro Staff 97L at number 2, so there were certainly some high expectations for the Team. The obvious differences between the two rackets are the weight and the head size. The 97L is a little bit heavier than the Team at 290g as opposed to 280g. The Pro Staff Team also has a slightly bigger head, 100sq. inches as opposed to the 97sq. inches of the Pro Staff 97L.
These changes make the Pro Staff Team a little bit more forgiving for beginner players, giving them extra confidence to practice their strokes. The 100 sq inch head especially is much easier to handle for beginner players. The bigger head gives you a bigger area to aim for and means you’ve got a little bit more margin for error if you don’t get things quite right.
I recently playtested the Head Graphene 360 Speed S which has quite similar specifications to the Pro Staff Team and really liked it, so naturally, I was looking to compare the two rackets.
The big things I look for with beginner/intermediate rackets are maneuverability, easy playability, and comfort. When you’re still perfecting your strokes it’s important you have a racket that you feel comfortable getting into the right positions. It’s easy to pick up injuries if you’re not getting the technique right so you want a racket that’s comfortable and forgiving.
I found these qualities in the Head Graphene 360 Speed S, and I was hopeful the same could be said of the Pro Staff Team. So far, all the other Pro Staff rackets have done really well in our playtests so I don’t see any reason why the Pro Staff Team shouldn’t do equally well.
For this playest, we took the Pro Staff Team out with Head Hawk String strung at 52lbs. This string offers a nice balance of control and comfort, and should help me get the most out of this stick. If you’re looking for the perfect setup then check out Tom’s Tennis String Tension Guide.
We know the Fed gels well with his Pro Staff, but could the Wilson Pro Staff Team be the racket for you, and how would I get on with it?
Groundstrokes – 7/10
I said that the main things I look for with a beginner/intermediate racket are maneuverability, easy playability, and comfort, and the Pro Staff Team impressed me in this area. The full weight Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 is a racket that’s extremely difficult to play with, but this lightweight version is surprisingly easy to get on with.
It’s not an unbelievably powerful racket, and it doesn’t offer mind-blowing levels of control, but it does offer a good balance between the two. This is accentuated by good access to spin that allows you to really work on developing your topspin shots.
All of this comes from a racket that feels comfortable in your hands and is easy to swing. Really, this should be your main concern. Does it feel nice in your hands and do you feel comfortable swinging with it? You see lots of rackets that talk about power and spin over and over, and I get it, you’ve got to advertise the racket somehow, but really, they’re not massively important when you’re starting out.
What I got when I played with the Pro Staff Team was a racket that did everything pretty well. Given its weight, it had decent stability, so it doesn’t get pushed around so long as the ball isn’t coming at you too fast. On the backhand side, this allowed me to keep my swing simple and get good depth to keep my opponent pinned to the back of the court.
On the forehand side, I took advantage of the Pro Staff Team’s spin potential to inject a little bit more topspin into my shots and I couldn’t find too many faults with the stick. Certainly, I think the Pro Staff Team has plenty to offer beginner players and early intermediate players.
I do think the Pro Staff 97L and the Head Graphene 360 Speed S do offer a little bit more performance for intermediate and higher level players. However, for beginner players, I think the easy to use nature of the Pro Staff Team makes it a good option.
The Wilson Pro Staff Team does exactly what it’s supposed to do from the back of the court. It’s easy to use, comfortable and offers solid performance. We’ve given it a 7 out of 10 for groundstrokes.
Volleys – 7/10
Again, I couldn’t find much I disliked about the Pro Staff Team when it came to volleying. It does everything you want it to in an uncomplicated manner. It’s extremely easy to get into position and very comfortable on contact.
When you’re playing at a beginner level the ball isn’t going to be coming at you too fast, so you don’t have to worry about the lack of weight of this racket. The higher level you play at the more you want something extremely solid to absorb the power, but at the lower levels, it’s more about having a racket that’s easy to get into position and the Pro Staff Team is that.
I found I got some reasonable performance for the Wilson when I kept things uncomplicated at the net. If you’re just looking to punch volleys back where they came from then this racket will be more than enough for you.
When you try and do more complicated things like drop shots and angles you do find there is a lack of stability which reduces the feel, but that is to be expected with such a light racket. If you’re playing at a beginner level then this stick will be more than adequate at the net.
We gave the Wilson Pro Staff Team a 7 out of 10 on the volleys. It’s not going to set the world on fire, but it will do a job.
Serve – 7/10
It’s always nice to have a maneuverable, speedy racket on the serve. It’s a complex motion that takes a lot of time to master, so it’s a huge help when you’re playing with a racket that feels comfortable in your hands.
The Pro Staff Team isn’t what I personally look for on the serve, but when I kept things simple it gave me pretty good performance. I liked the fact that it doesn’t lean too much towards power, but instead gave a nice mix of power, spin, and control.
This meant I could keep decent power on my serve whilst hitting a good first-serve percentage and mixing in some different spins. I was able to use the spin to keep my opponent guessing where the ball was going, mixing in slice with the occasional topspin.
Obviously, with this racket weighing around 30g less than my regular racket I wasn’t able to get the kind of power I’m used to hitting with but that’s not what this racket is designed for. It’s designed for beginner and intermediate players to get the most out of their tennis and help them improve. Not to maximize the performance of someone who has been playing for twenty years.
The Pro Staff Team’s performance on serve was very similar to the rest of this playtest. It was nice and easy to play with and I’m sure it has plenty to offer beginner players and some intermediate players.
Once again, the Pro Staff Team earns a 7 out of 10. A good solid performance on the serve.
Overall – 7/10
You might have guessed this score given all the other scores! I think 7 out of 10 nicely represents what is a very decent all-round racket for beginners and early intermediate players. There are tons of beginner rackets out there that offer very little in terms of performance, but the Wilson Pro Staff Team is not one of them.
I enjoyed the comfort levels of this racket and found it nice and easy to play with, which is important for players who are new to tennis. It might not be the most powerful racket out there, but power is not everything, and I thought the Pro Staff Team offered a nice balance.
Overall, I do think the Pro Staff 97L is a better racket than the Pro Staff Team. However, if you are new to tennis then you might well find the Pro Staff Team a better option because of how easy it is to use. If I was interested in either of these rackets then I would look at demoing both of them together just to see how they feel in your hands.
All in all, this was a good playtest for the Wilson Pro Staff Team. It did what I expected of it, and though it sounds understated, that’s a good quality for a tennis racket.
Review by: Will