Racquet Review: Wilson Juice 100S
Head Size: 100 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 11.2 oz.
Balance: 4 pts. HL
RA Rating: 71
Beam Width: 25 mm / 26.5 mm /25.2 mm
String Pattern: 16x15
A few summers ago I was looking to switch frames—my [K]Blade Tours were starting to crack—and I demoed the Wilson Juice. It was a best-seller at specialty stores and some solid players in my area were singing its praises. So I gave it a workout and liked it. I could bomb serves and forehands and found the frame to be a nice marriage of manageable weight and adequate stability. Plus, it reminded me of The Cable Guy (“I’ll juice ya up!”)—for my money the best Jim Carrey movie, which admittedly only I would find a positive.
However, the Juice ultimately wasn’t the one. I could see how power-seeking baseliners would gravitate to the frame, but I couldn’t stomach the stiffness. As much as I enjoyed the added pop, it was too firm at contact for me. And shots struck outside the sweet spot could be downright harsh. If it had a little more flex, or a more cushioned response, it might be right up my alley.
Which made the new Spin Effect version—the Juice 100S—extremely attractive to me. It still owns an oak-tree stiff RA rating, but the 16x15 string pattern makes it more comfortable than the previous incarnation. Not surprisingly, it also takes the spin potential to another level. It’s very easy to put a lot of work on the ball. Back when I tried to standard Juice, my hitting partner didn’t feel my shots had enough weight on them, but that wasn’t the case with the 100S. All that spin results in a heavy ball that can drive opponents back on their heels.
It also helps keep a lease—albeit a long one—on the Juice 100S. Of all the racquets I have tested recently, it’s probably pound-for-pound the most powerful. Given the wide beam and effortless pop one of our testers even likened it to the Wilson Profile—one of all-time greats of destroyer tennis. The extra spring created by the open pattern of the Juice 100S offers more dwell time and a higher launch point, making it no trouble to hit with pace and depth. The frame’s power begs you to play offensively and try to dictate from the first shot. Crush serves? Check. Pummel short balls? Check. As many have referred to the spin version’s performance, it plays like the Juice on juice.
But I also found that when I wasn’t applying a hefty amount of topspin to my rally shots, balls could orbit the court. At times I even felt the need to pull back to more of a blocked stroke if I didn’t believe I had the time to generate a proper full swing. I could play at first gear, or fifth gear, but I struggled with my in-between game. It’s something that I think would improve with increased familiarity and string experimentation, but it definitely wasn’t instinctive.
(Like the other new spin-friendly frames with such open patterns, the Juice 100S will punish strings. Getting a decent lifespan may call for a 15 gauge polyester, at least in the mains. Having something that thick may also up the control level. Even still, given all the room for movement and the string “snapback,” expect to have to readjust the strings between points.)
The experience was similar at net. Like its predecessor, the Juice 100S handles well and has a respectable backbone. Driving chest-to-shoulder high volleys back to the baseline was no problem, and overheads had me drooling. But when I tried to play with guile (drop volleys, sharp angles) I couldn’t consistently find the range. While I’m no Fabrice Santoro, I do like employing a little bit of variety on occasion, and it’s not easy to produce with the Juice 100S. As the playing partner of one tester put it: “It’s like trying to carve a turkey with a meat tenderizer.”
But even if I find this to be a demerit, there are loads of players who seek out this quality; players who like to punish opponents from the baseline and wouldn’t blush at committing a slew of errors in the process. If they do come to net it’s on their terms, and it’s generally to put away a sitter. I suppose grinders who want to up their power levels and play more offensively may also find the Juice 100S appealing, although I do think they will have to work hard to maintain their high level of consistency.
Bottom line: If you like to play with power, spin, and baseline aggression—or simply want more of those things in your game—you’ll be able to squeeze a whole lot of all three from the Juice 100S.