Wilson Pro Staff 97 UL V13 Racket Review
The Wilson Pro Staff line of rackets have a rich history in the company’s existence.
They trace their lineage back to the early 1980s and have been the choice of some of the most recognisable players across multiple generations.
Tennis greats like Chris Evert, Jimmy Connors, Stefan Edberg, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have all sported the iconic Pro Staff brand.
Given the way these legends played, it is clear that the Pro Staff line is aimed at advanced players that are looking for the most precise feel and control from their racket.
Pin point accuracy and having complete command over the ball have historically been the major selling point of these rackets.
However, Wilson collaborated with Roger Federer in 2014 to create a more user friendly 97 Sq in. version that we see an evolution of today.
This more forgiving racket has a larger sweet spot than its control focussed predecessors, so is accessible to a much wider range of players.
The Pro Staff 97 UL is the most user friendly version of the Pro Staff yet.
This ultra light version of Wilson’s control focused stick is a great choice for players looking to generate a lot of racket head speed and swing quickly through the ball, but retain that crisp feel that is so recognisable from the Pro Staff range.
I was very much looking forward to playing with this racket and it did not disappoint.
One of the main reasons is because I simply love how this new blacked out line of Pro Staffs look.
They are so elegant and subtle in their design, making them instantly recognisable and actually stand out from the usual bright coloured rackets.
The updated paint job harks back to the original version with the iconic red and yellow stripes, which is also a really nice touch.
The racket itself played great. It is not to my usual specifications as I tend to prefer using a heavier racket of at least 300g unstrung, but it still offered plenty of precision, control and feel.
Effectively, the UL version of the Pro Staff 97 opens up the range to a younger or less experienced audience.
It is designed for a weight of shot perhaps slightly lower than what I am used to, but it is easy to swing and very maneuverable nonetheless.
It is great for knifing slices and makes you feel like Roger when you’re volleying!
The racket feels stable on contact and is great for attacking the ball with longer, more aggressive swings.
You can really throw this racket at the ball with pace and it will reward you for it!
Overall this is a great all rounder that offers good access to spin and is easy to use, whilst focusing mainly on control and precision.
8out of 10
As we have come to expect from Pro Staffs over the years, they are fantastic rackets for control and precision and have been generally aimed at more advanced players.
This is because of their low power rating and historically low usability, meaning they reward full swings with good technique but can punish you if your timing is off.
It was notoriously difficult to find the sweet spot consistently with the smaller headed rackets, but this new generation is a lot more forgiving.
This being the lightest version of the current Pro Staff line up, it certainly didn’t have the plow through you would expect from the Pro Staff 97RF Autograph or even the standard Pro Staff V13, but this is to be expected when using a racket this light.
Personally, I would have preferred playing with one of the heavier versions from the baseline in general as they would have made it easier to hit a heavy ball, but the UL was great for resting quickly and whipping up the back of the ball when I wanted to generate my own pace.
Where this racket shined was on the more difficult to hit shots, such as tight passing shots, acute angles, short slices and low approach shots.
It was so easy to maneuver, very precise and feelsome thanks to the braided graphite and kevlar construction.
It was easy to dictate exactly where I wanted the ball to go in this play test, as the light weight, open string pattern and relatively thin beam of this racket offered a good level of spin and predictability.
8.5out of 10
The Pro Staff 97UL was surprisingly effective up at net. As you would expect, it was very nimble and feelsome so it was great for picking off put away volleys and soft touch shots.
This is a common trait of the Pro Staff line in general, but you never know what adding such a lightweight version might entail.
Where this racket surprised me is how stable and solid it felt for such a light racket.
Obviously it was not as robust as its heavier brothers, and this did show at times when I hit a firm redirecting volley that I just needed to steer back into court.
But, overall it was a lot more predictable than I expected.
The combination of such an agile racket with that dialled in feel and a good level of stability makes for a predictable playing experience that you can really dial in to and enjoy!
7out of 10
The Pro Staff 97 UL was easy to swing and therefore didn’t place and undue strain on my body when serving for long periods of time.
It would be great for a junior player who has developed their technique but needs a lighter, control oriented racket whilst they fill out physically.
The racket offered great access to spin and control, meaning I could hit my targets with ease.
Although this is not the most powerful racket out there, the fact that it is so easy to swing makes it a good weapon for a big server that wants to dial in their accuracy.
6.5out of 10
Returning serve can be a difficult skill to nail down, particularly when testing different rackets.
On the one hand you want a racket that will give you enough power to block the ball back deep in your opponent’s court, even when using a compact backswing.
But, you also need a good level of control and accuracy so you can steer the ball into the right position, or feel confident enough to take a full swing and trust the ball won’t hit the back fence!
Therefore, the Pro Staff 97UL was a solid racket to return with, but not perfect.
Its light and whippy nature made it great for stepping back and taking a full swing at the ball, as I could generate a lot of spin and felt in control of the ball.
However, it does not have the largest sweet spot in the world, so if you miss-time a return it is not always that forgiving.
Also, the underpowered nature of the racket meant even though it was accurate, it took a bit of time to dial in when trying to block the ball deep.
At times the same chip return I would hit deep with a more weighty racket would fall short and be attacked by my opponent.
But, I suppose this is to be expected from such an ultra light stick.
7.5out of 10
All in all, the Wilson Pro Staff 97UL was a refreshing and surprisingly pleasing racket to play with.
It combines the unmistakable control and precision that has become synonymous with the Pro Staff line with an accessible, easy to use, lightweight platform.
The upshot of this is a great racket for players that have sound foundations in their technique, but are looking to add more accuracy and control to their game.
This is not a particularly powerful racket, but it is a great option for a player looking to get the same plush feel as the fully weighted Pro Staff models, in a more accessible package.
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