Last Friday, the highly anticipated Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph launched around the world for pre-sale! There has been chatter around this racquet for months, and finally, it is here (or at least available for pre-order)! With specs that point to a strung weight of almost 13 ounces (with an overgrip and dampener) and a hefty swingweight, some players out there might be wondering if they have what it takes to swing this stick. But I’m here to tell you, it really does make you betterer!
Let’s put it this way, I’m slowly starting to learn that a higher swingweight may be just what I need to help control some of my raw power and put balls away even deeper and heavier on our slow TW court. With that being said, this racquet hasn’t really been targeted to the female player, but that doesn’t mean she won’t enjoy it. Since our TW gents took this one out for the formal playtest, I’m here to give perspective from the ladies’ side of things!
Listen up, this racquet isn’t for everyone, but I know there are a lot of women out there who will enjoy hitting with it! So if you’re reading this wondering if this is a racquet you should check out, here’s what I think: anyone out there who finds themselves to be on the more advanced side of tennis, has a fast swing and spends a good amount of time in the gym — this might be the one for you. Personally, the bigger adjustment for me was the smaller head size than the weight or swingweight. One of my favorite specs is a customized Pure Drive Roddick weighted up to 12.6 ounces with a swingweight in the high 330s — I love it and have no issues swinging away. I also have been known to spend some time in the gym — if I’m not at my desk or on the court, I’m probably doing the Crossfit WOD. So, all those strong women out there that swing heavy racquets already, this one could be for you. I also think the ladies who have been playing through the decades will enjoy this one or anyone who has played with heavier racquets before racquets trended toward being light. And anyone who has been using the Pro Staff series of racquets through the years — this might be the answers of your dreams. A little more power with a solid feel might be just what the racquet doctor ordered.
As you can imagine, when we first got our hitter, the demand to hit with it was high. Finally, I’ve had a chance to spend some quality time with the racquet and here’s a quick take from me: This racquet is a beast in the best way possible! The second I accelerate and drive through the ball while being aggressive, it is gone and penetrating heavy and deep into the court. I can slice and dice with complete confidence, so if by chance I am not controlling the point and find myself on the run, I know I can play some defense until I get back in control. Serves…wow! I feel like I can’t be broken with this one. First serves are bombs, and I love the precision I can find. Big body first serves produce short returns that I can pounce on. With second serves, I can pinpoint my targets and get exactly whatever spin I want out of it — kick, slice, you name it. The only struggle I had was returning against big serves — which is partly due to the great serving of my opponent but also because I was trying to cream returns instead of block them back in a smarter fashion. Volleys feel great — crisp, precise and clean.
All in all, I’ve never been a huge Pro Staff fan so maybe my tennis taste is maturing along with Fed’s…or maybe this racquet just has something special to it! Either way, I can’t wait to keep crushing balls with this one and I’m excited for the rest of the line to come in so we can start playtesting that one as well. Don’t be intimidated by this racquet — if you are used to a heavier spec, give it a go; if you normally swing something lighter, the Pro Staff 97 could be for you. I am slightly worried that this racquet may ruin me for anything to come…so beware, if I start sounding like Troy and asking for added weight and a leather grip…you’ll know why.
Play with heart,