Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV Specs
Head Size: 97 sq. in. / 625.81 sq. cm.
Length: 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight: 10.8oz / 306.17g
Balance: 13.18in / 33.48cm / 3 pts HL
String Pattern: 16 Mains / 19
A modern version of the classic Pro Staff for those of us who don’t fancy the hefty 340g of the regular Pro Staff. The Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV brings Wilson’s Countervail Technology to the Pro Staff range, a technology that we have all been very impressed with in other Wilson rackets.
As I’ve come to expect from Wilson, the Pro Staff 97L CV looks brilliant in whatever colour scheme you go for. At the moment, you have the option of the all black, or an interesting camo look! I’m a big fan of the all black myself and think it’s probably the best-looking racket on the market in this paint job.
While this racket is very different to the regular Pro Staff advertised as Roger Federer’s racket, you still get to feel like Fed when you’re playing with this stick. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s quite a nice feeling to be following in the footsteps of the great man!
While the regular Pro Staff is at the top end of rackets in terms of weight at 340g, the Pro Staff 97L CV is much lighter at 290g unstrung. Of course, if 340g is a little too heavy for you and 290g a little too light, then there is always the Pro Staff 97 CV which comes in at 315g.
As you would expect, this drop in weight has meant that Wilson have had to change the defining specifications of the Pro Staff quite drastically. The swingweight has dropped to 312, while the weight of the racket has moved much more towards the head, with a 3PTS HL balance.
This makes sense, as the 9 PTS HL balance of the Pro Staff 97 is designed to help you manoeuvre the massive 340g weight. When you’re only wielding a 290g racket, you’re going to get plenty of manoeuvrability anyway.
I wasn’t expecting a huge amount of similarities between the two rackets, how could a 340g racket and a 290g racket play similarly? But I did hope that the baby Pro Staff would have some of the legendary stability of the 340g Pro Staff.
I was also excited to be back using Wilson’s brilliant Countervail Technology, which I have been very impressed with when using the Wilson Ultra 100 CV and the Wilson Burn 100 CV. It is a special material designed to absorb shock and generally make tennis a bit more comfortable. In my experience it does an excellent job of this, so I was looking forward to seeing if it would have the same effect on this racket.
Based on the specs, I would suggest this racket is aimed more at younger junior players. The 290g weight is a little bit on the light side for an adult, but it does have some characteristics of a more advanced racket. Normally, an intermediate adult would look for something a bit more forgiving than a 97 sq. inch head if they were going for a lightweight racket, so it leads me to believe it is ideally suited to a fairly advanced junior player, perhaps around the U12 mark.
I’m not quite a budding U12 junior player, but I took the Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV out for a little playtest, nonetheless.
Groundstrokes – 8/10
With a 290g racket, it’s likely that it’s going to perform best from the back of the court. The Pro Staff 97L CV certainly doesn’t do a bad job from the back of the court and I could see some evidence that it is a deserving member of the Pro Staff family.
Of course, with a 290g racket, you’re not going to get a ton of stability on impact. For its weight class though, the Pro Staff 97L CV does give very good stability. With rackets under 290g, you tend to get plenty of easy power from the swing speed and strings, but not much natural power, which is a lot more effective.
That is generally due to the lack of swingweight going through the ball and a lack of stability. You’re generating a lot of swing speed, but when the ball hits the racket, the ball pushes the racket back in your hand and a lot of the energy you have created gets lost.
The regular 340g Pro Staff (used by Tom) is unbelievable at staying stable on contact and putting all the energy you create through the ball. It is clear that some of this prowess has rubbed off on the Pro Staff 97L CV. It’s still far too light for me to play with, but for a young player with some solid, developing strings, the Pro Staff 97L CV encourages them to hit through the ball and generate their own power.
As usual, the Countervail technology has worked a treat in this racket, and it is incredibly comfortable to play with. The light frame makes the Pro Staff 97L CV easy to swing, and the frame cushions the ball wonderfully well. This is exactly what a developing player needs, as picking up injuries as a junior is not something you want to be doing.
Despite the fact the Pro Staff 97L CV is not designed for someone like me, I did have a very enjoyable playtest with this racket. My overriding feeling was that I could just sit back and enjoy with the Pro Staff 97L CV. The 290g weight makes it effortless to play with, and I was able to generate a good blend of spin and control without putting in too much effort.
Generally, with light rackets I will end up getting too much spin and not enough control. But with the Pro Staff 97L CV it was a perfect mix. I obviously didn’t get the kind of power I would get with a heavier racket, but you don’t always need that, and I was quite happy with what I did get from this racket.
Most players who are going to be using this racket will be baseliners, and the Pro Staff 97L CV provides a good platform for someone who is developing their strokes and looking to develop a more advanced game. Given the weight and specs of this racket, I do still think it is ideally suited to a junior player, but perhaps older players who are developing their game might enjoy this racket too.
I have given the Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV an 8 out of 10 from the back. It’s difficult to score these types of rackets; if you asked me for a score for a junior it would be much higher, but overall, I think it is a solid 8.
Volleys – 7.5/10
The Wilson Pro Staff 97 is just about the best racket I have volleyed with since I’ve been doing this playtest. The problem is, all the things that make it such a great racket at the net are the things that have been taken away to make the Pro Staff 97L CV lighter.
Obviously, the Pro Staff 97L CV isn’t going to have the capabilities of much heavier rackets at the net, but how does it do for a 290g racket?
The answer is, not bad. The decent stability that I found from the back of the court transferred to the volleys, and I felt I had a reasonable platform from which to pop back the ball. When the level goes up a bit and you get balls flying at you at 100 odd mph then you’re going to want a more substantial stick in your hand. However, while you’re still developing your game, the Pro Staff 97L CV will do a job for you at the net.
The one thing you do notice with the Pro Staff 97L CV is how crazy fast it is. It feels like you’re Zorro wielding his sword as you slash left and right, getting to balls with ease. It’s obviously not the racket for me, but I still had good fun with this racket at the net.
I gave the Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV a 7.5 out of 10 at the net. Again, if we were looking for a junior, I’d be giving it more of an 8.5 out of 10, but for the general population, it’s lacking a little bit of weight.
Serve – 7.5/10
The serve is the area where I’m a little picky about rackets. I wasn’t a massive fan of the regular Pro Staff on the serve; it was just a bit heavy for me and things didn’t come together. With the Pro Staff 97L CV I had the opposite problem.
This would be my main reason why I can’t really see the Pro Staff 97L CV as a racket for adults. It just lacks a little bit of mass. Most intermediate players would be able to get a little bit more from a slightly heavier racket, particularly on the serve.
For a junior though, whose body is still developing, the Pro Staff 97L CV is ideal. It has some of the characteristics of a more advanced racket, without the weight. This is an ideal combination to ensure that kids don’t pick up needless injuries whilst continuing to develop their game ready for a more adult racket.
I personally didn’t have a great time on the serve with the Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV, but I don’t think that stops it being a good racket for the right person. I think the Pro Staff 97L CV would be an excellent serving weapon for a developing junior and I would recommend it to any aspiring player.
I have given the Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV a 7.5 out of 10, but again with the caveat that I would score it higher for a junior.
Conclusion – 7.5/10
A fairly simple conclusion. The Pro Staff 97L CV is a great racket for a junior. It’s too light for most adults, but perhaps there are some intermediate players that would enjoy this racket.
It is a little more stable and control oriented than the vast majority of rackets in this weight category and I think that is a great thing for a junior. It encourages them to generate their own power without relying on a pingy, power-oriented racket.
The Pro Staff 97L CV didn’t have any real weaknesses, but was strongest off the groundstrokes, where I was pleasantly surprised by its levels of control. While I did enjoy feeling like a mini Fed on this play test, the Pro Staff 97L CV was just a touch on the light side.
Once again, the Countervail technology did an excellent job at making this racket very easy to play with. I don’t normally get too carried away with new technology, but the CV is one that I have been particularly impressed with.
Overall, I have given the Wilson Pro Staff 97L CV a 7.5 out of 10, but if I was looking at getting this racket for a junior it would be more like a 9 out of 10. It is a very good racket, and one I would add to my list of top rackets for juniors.
Review by: Will