Wilson Blade 98S Specs
Head Size: 98 sq. in. / 632.26 sq. cm.
Length: 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight: 11.1oz / 311.84g
Balance: 13.37in / 33.97cm / 1 pts HL
String Pattern: 18 Mains / 16 Crosses
String Tension: 50-60 pounds
The Wilson Blade 98S is a spin-oriented twist on the Blade 98 that should be a spin lover’s dream! The 98S turns traditional string patterns on their heads by offering an 18 x 16 pattern that they call the Spin Effect.
We’ve been impressed by the Blade line so far, but I must admit, rackets that are highly geared towards spin don’t get me excited for a playtest. I find that topspin is something you maximize through your swing speeds and technique rather than the design of your racket, but perhaps the Blade 98S would be the racket to prove me wrong.
So far, we’ve tried the Blade 98 (18 x 20) and the (16 x 19) and both of them did extremely well, getting an overall score of 9 out of 10 in our playtests. The 18 x 20 appeals more to the control freaks like myself, whereas the 16 x 19 was a great all-round racket.
I found I was already getting very good spin from the Blade 98 (16x19) so I was interested to see just how much the Blade 98S could improve on that. Either way, this Blade 98S should be extremely comfortable to play with as I find all Countervail rackets to be.
The Countervail technology uses a carbon layer within the frame to minimize vibrations and reduce the strain on joints and we’ve found it to work brilliantly in past rackets. The ability to make rackets that are easy on the joints is an increasingly big thing for racket companies, and with Countervail, Wilson is surely near the top.
There’s nothing worse than having niggling injuries when you’re playing tennis. Either they keep you off the court completely or they force you to play through pain and nobody wants to be doing that. Thankfully, racket companies seem to be putting a lot of effort into reducing the wear and tear their rackets inflict on tennis players, with Wilson being one of the best in our opinion.
On a matter that is much less important, but still warrants a mention (somewhat), I do love the designs of the Wilson rackets. I’m not a fan of the green, but Wilson makes such sleek simple rackets that they just look right on the tennis court. I know how the racket looks isn’t going to make much difference to how you play, but it is nice to look the part on court!
I figured that since I’m not hugely into the massive spin rackets, I’d spin this stick up with some Big Banger Original at 52lbs just to try and dampen the feel a little bit and keep me hitting through the ball. I don’t know if this defeats the purpose of the racket, but I thought I’d set it to try and get the best out of it.
Groundstrokes – 7.5/10
I guess if you’re here looking at a review of the Wilson Blade 98S, you’re probably someone who likes good spin potential from their racket. Well, to be honest, I don’t think it does a great deal more in this area than the 16 x 19 Blade.
Clearly, it gives you very good spin potential, but I didn’t think there was that much more in there than with the 16 x 19, and that’s taking into account that I didn’t have the most spin friendly strings.
The major differences I found were in the feel and stability of this stick. Both the 16 x 19 and 18 x 20 Blades had a lovely feel to them but, I didn’t find that with the 98S. I love the fact that this racket has a big 329 swingweight, but for some reason, I didn’t feel like it stayed as solid as the other rackets on contact. This meant I lacked the control that I really enjoyed with the other Blades 98s.
I’m always talking about rackets that seem to find a middle ground between power, spin, and control, and I just felt like the Blade 98S specialized a little bit too much in spin at the cost of power and control. As someone who naturally hits with a lot of spin this was always going to put me off, but for spin lovers, they may just find something different with this racket.
The area where spin lovers might find the Blade 98s to be an improvement on the 16 x 19 is the trajectory it launches the ball at. It seemed to launch the ball at a slightly higher angle, which encouraged me to maximize the spin I was putting on the ball. For me personally, it’s not something that’s useful, but perhaps it will help some people get good shape on their shots.
I love putting people under pressure with a heavy ball that pushes opponents back in the court, but it’s important to be able to flatten the ball out as well, and I couldn’t do that very well with the Blade 98S. If you are testing this racket, I would recommend that you keep in mind that you don’t want to hit every ball with a ton of topspin.
In terms of rackets that are similar to this one, there was nothing that really came to mind. Obviously, it has some similarities to the other Blades, but in many ways, it’s very different to the other ones. The one that did pop into my head was the Head Instinct MP based on the spin potential and my slight disappointment at the rest of the performance.
Having said that, I would much prefer the Wilson Blade 98S. I think possibly the thing that’s drawing out my negativity is that I enjoyed the other Blade 98S so much, I had high hopes for this one too. It’s really not designed for players with my style though, and perhaps others would get a lot more from it.
I think the Blade 98S is best suited to intermediate players who are looking to add a bit more topspin to their game. I felt it was more of a counter puncher’s racket than one for an all-out aggressor, but I could be wrong on that one.
Anyway, I gave the Wilson Blade 98S a 7.5 out of 10 on the groundstrokes; quite a drop down from the 9.5 I gave the 18 x 20.
Volleys – 8/10
We’ve always found the Blade’s to be excellent rackets at the net, and the Blade 98S continues that theme. Again, I would say the 18 x 20 and the 16 x 19 perform slightly better, but the 98S was still very solid.
I think a lot of that is due to the solid swingweight these rackets have that helps them win the collision with the ball. When the ball is coming at you with a lot of power, you don’t want a racket that’s going to get knocked back by the ball, because you’ll lose all control.
That certainly didn’t happen with the Blade 98S, as it felt nice and solid on contact, but I did find I got a little bit too much movement from the strings. There’s not much need for spin when you’re at the net, so you ideally you don’t want your string to be moving around too much. The 98S is, however, set up for those big topspin groundstrokes, which does take away from the performance at the net.
Although this did lead me to take half a point off the Blade 98S’ score, it still came out with a very good score of 8 out of 10. Not too far behind the other Blades. However, (I couldn’t not throw this in) I don’t see what the 98S offers as an overall performance over the 16 x 19.
Serve – 8/10
We liked everything about the Wilson Blade 98S, so it seems obvious to say we loved serving with it. We might not have been as complimentary about the 98S so far, but this was probably the areas where we found it to be closest to the regular Blades.
The 98S gave a great blend of power, spin, and control on the serve that gave me a ton of options. Whether I was looking to hit a big flat serve, a kicker out wide to the deuce, or a slider out wide to the ad, I felt like I had everything I needed and got some really good results.
The extra spin potential was especially useful on the second serve as it allowed me to attack the ball, but keep a good flight path, maximizing my margin for error. I don’t think I hit a double fault in two sets of playing with this racket which is pretty rare for me.
I think if you’re looking for a spin friendly racket around this kind of weight, then it’s well worth giving this stick a try. On the serve particularly, it gives good performance for a racket that weighs under 300g unstrung.
I’d certainly try the Wilson Blade 98 (16 x 19) as well though because it’s not that much heavier, and in our opinion, it’s a better racket. Regardless of which is the better racket, the Wilson Blade 98S 18 x 16 performed very well on serve and I gave it an 8 out of 10.
Overall – 7.5/10
For a racket under 300g the Blade 98S is very good if you’re looking for something that is super spin friendly. I just don’t think it is as good as the Wilson Blade 98 (16 x 19) and the weight difference isn’t that huge.
If you are trying the Blade 98S I would highly recommend trying the regular Blade 98 as well. You may still prefer the 98S, but at least there won’t be that doubt in your mind.
I thought that for its weight, the 98S was very good at the net, and I did enjoy serving with it. The weakest part for me was on the groundstrokes, where I thought it leaned too much towards spin potential as opposed to giving a nice even balance.
I guess the good thing is that the 98S offers something slightly different to the other Blades whilst still giving a pretty good end product. With its slightly different characteristics it will appeal to a different type of player than the other rackets and there will be some players who find this stick to be ideal.
I think this particular racket is better suited to intermediate players who enjoy playing with quite a high flight path and plenty of topspin as opposed to the regular Blade 98 which would perform better at a higher level. For someone with very advanced strokes, I think the spin potential of the 98S would be a little bit wasted and personally, I would want a bit more control.
Overall, I gave the Wilson Blade 98S a 7.5 out of 10. This is not a bad score at all for a racket under 300g, but if it was me, I’d certainly be looking at the regular Blade 98.
Review by: Will