It comes around every couple of years and every time a new Wilson Blade is announced, intermediate and advanced tennis players alike perk up their ears in anticipation.
The Blade line is a modern classic in the history of Wilson sticks and dominates the courts in the pro tour, as well as throughout the amateur scene. Traditionally, the Wilson Blade has remained true to its name; a thin beamed, heavy hitting weapon that, in the right hands, can carve up an opponent from anywhere on the court. The v8 Blade 16x19 is no different. While remaining distinctly a Blade in the truest sense, it has most certainly adapted in terms of playability. Its bold color shifting paint job will turn heads, and its performance on court will excite any and all tennis players.
The Wilson Blade is a racket designed to blend the modern game with traditional, aggressive styles. Because the modern game requires so much time at the baseline, it is important that a racket be light and maneuverable to prevent player fatigue. It is equally important for that racket to be stable. Because of its thin beam and low static weight, the Blade has always required a balance point further up the racket -- to balance more weight in the head and increase stability. While never considered a “sluggish” racket, this high balance point, and traditionally higher “swingweight” has cemented the Blade as a stable, hard- hitting stick, but it has never been considered a quick, or “whippy” racket.
With the v8 Blade, Wilson has attempted to solve this dilemma, creating a racket with a low static weight, lower swingweight, and a stable response. Strategically laying up the carbon with their “forty-ﬁve” technology, the v8 Blade is able to swing 10 points faster, while remaining equally stable, if not more so, compared to its predecessor.
It is important to point out that this is certainly no easy feat.
The laws of physics have led the racket industry to believe there was a certain “pick 2” system involved in creating rackets. You typically choose between low static weight, a quick feel and/or a stable response. Wilson has accomplished all three without sacriﬁcing much of any one.
Wilson has also managed to drastically improve the feel and response of the Blade v8 when compared to its predecessor. While the v7 was undoubtedly a traditional, soft racket, it did suffer from what many considered a “muted” and “mushy” feel. The v8 Blade, while only slightly stiffer, feels significantly more crisp and connected to the ball. In traditional Blade fashion, when you hit the ball well, you will feel instant positive feedback and know that your ball is going where you want it to go. On both the forehand and backhand swings, this version of the Blade is more forgiving than it has been in years past. Due to the lower swingweight, the new layup of graphite, or a combination of the two, the Blade is easier to adjust mid swing, and also more forgiving when your contact is not as clean as it should be.
As you would expect with a racket named “Blade”, the v8 can carve away any opponent at the net. Because of the Blade’s traditionally high swing weight, every generation has had the same signature stability, plow through and put away power.
To some players out there, the drastically lower swingweight may be cause for concern with regards to those characteristics in this edition. While I will admit that no amount of layup technology will ever be as important as weight itself in determining volley stability, the new “forty-ﬁve” braiding tech certainly does play its roll in making this Blade more stable than any other 316 swingweighted rackets at the net. The more traditional pure graphite and crisp feel of this Blade also spills into its volleying capability. When compared to the v7, this Blade feels much more connected to the ball. Your volleys will go where you place them, and you won't get lost in the string bed when guiding the ball where you want it to go.
The Blade has never been a racket renowned for its big serving capability. Its neither a Pure Drive with its stiff ﬂex that will swat at the ball and pummel it onto the service line, nor is it the RF97 with its heavy hitting hammer of a ﬁrst ball. But like any traditional players’ frame, the Blade gives out what you put in; if you have a big serve, it certainly won't hold you back. If you push the ball over the net in fear of a double fault, it will not help you out.
The return is the one shot in tennis where, given the opportunity, any player would pick a 400 gram baseball bat of a racket to crush the ball back into play off of a big serve. Stability, power and plow through are all needed to deal with returning the serve, and as we have covered earlier, the Blade has two of those in spades. The frame itself may not be inherently powerful, but the players’ frame design requires its wielder to bring that power him/herself. In the right hands, the Blade v8 has all the stability and plow through needed to return the ball effectively. It is again, important to note, that this Blade’s lower swing weight will effect the feel of the racket through the air, as well as its stability at contact in the traditional sense. It has less weight blocking back the ball, however, because of the new graphite layup, there is more forgiving space within the sweetspot to return the ball, more or less equalizing the perceived stability on impact.
The Blade v8 has already made a massive splash in the tennis industry with its incredible, color shifting paint job. What's under the gorgeous paintwork is a truly special racket. Wilson uses its Blade line to constantly push the boundary of what is possible within players’ frames. While it is unmistakably a Blade, it has all the technology necessary to continue to push these boundaries for the Chicago company.
author: Luca Berg— R&R staff member and aficionado in all things Pickleball and Tennis.