After seeing online images of this new release, my anticipation was high. However, while the online images looked great, it’s not until you hold the racket in hand that you really appreciate the design.
Past meets present as Wilson has updated the look of the new Pro Staff by bringing back some of their iconic design language from the Pro Staff 6.0 85. Subtle yellow and red pinstripes are found on the outside of the throat of the frame, as well as along the inside of the hoop at 12 o’clock, sitting on top of the exposed carbon fibre. And can we talk about the exposed carbon fibre for a moment? Just 👌 !
Perhaps the coolest thing about Wilson deciding to expose the carbon fiber and show us the inner workings of the Pro Staff is that you can actually see the new layup of the Pro Staff 97, which features double braided fibers arranged at 45 degree angles.
While I undoubtedly feel the Pro Staff 97 V13 is a beautiful frame, I do wish Wilson had pushed their homage to the Pro Staff 6.0 85 just a little bit further by perhaps extending the pin striping throughout the hoop.
Pulling the Pro Staff 97 V13 out of my bag for my first hit with it, I swear I could hear Kevin’s (our resident Obi Wan at Rackets & Runners) voice in my ear saying “this is the Pro Staff 97 V13, an elegant weapon for a more civilized age."
In all honesty though, that’s exactly what this racket is, an elegant weapon. If you are looking for a racket to sit back, grind, and counter punch your way through matches, look elsewhere. This is a racket that makes you want to stand on the baseline, take big cuts at the ball, and move forward. This racket caters to all-court players who are just as comfortable at the baseline as they are at net.
Off the forehand wing, this update felt like it had more control than its predecessor, likely due to Wilson closing up the string spacing through the sweet spot. The new layup, featuring double braided fibers arranged at 45 degree angles, offered plenty of comfort without the muted feel of countervail while also eliminating the “tinny” feel that the previous version had on off center hits. I found this version reminded me of the old Tour 90 series both in feel, and how quickly it came through impact much more than the RF97 ever has.
On backhands, however, is where I noticed the drop off in power compared to my racket of choice. The higher static weight and smaller head size on the Pro Staff meant the emphasis was more on me to generate racket head speed if I wanted any sort of depth or put away power. The slice however, like almost every Pro Staff I have ever hit with, was a thing of beauty. The Pro Staff’s 21.5mm beam cuts through the air so effortlessly, while the weight of the frame ensures deep, and low bouncing slices.
As expected from a Pro Staff, this version shines at net. On volleys is where I really noticed the updated feel from this frame. Gone is the “tinny” feel of off center hits. The mass of the racket prevents it from being bullied by heavy hitters, meaning that at net this racket is stable and responsive. Couple this with a 10 points headlight balance, and you have a very capable weapon at net in the right players hands.
Very much like other areas with this racket, the result is really what you put in. Once you get this racket going, power and spin come quite easily. The trick is just getting it going. This racket offers plenty of plow through, and a lot of precision on serve. If you generate enough racket head speed on serve, you’ll be starting points on the front foot.
As with most Pro Staff releases, this is not a frame for everyone. As racket static weight creeps over 300 grams, the pool of players that the frame is suited for begins to shrink. As a result, this racket is best suited for aggressive all-court players looking for a control oriented racket that will give them confidence to control points from the baseline and finish at net.
Like all their recent releases, I think Wilson has really dialed in the feel of their frames. They have found the right balance of dampening unwanted vibrations while still offering enough feel and feedback to the player. While ultimately, I do not have the type of game style that this racket will suit, nor does this racket fall within the spec range I normally play with, I think Wilson has done a fantastic job with this update and I would absolutely recommend it to any current/past Pro Staff user, or anyone looking for a modern “players” frame.
Weight: 315g / 11.1 oz
Head Size: 625sq.cm. / 97 sq
String Pattern: 16x19
Balance: 310mm / 10pts. HL
Length: 68.58cm / 27 in
Tension Range: 23-27kg / 50-60lbs
Stiffness: 66 RA