Wilson and Roger Federer have teamed up again to produce another great racquet line. The Pro Staff family is getting some design upgrades to make it a little more classy and elegant. Countervail technology is continued in this line giving the racquets a lighter weight feel and allowing players to play longer. As a previous user of the Pro Staff racquet line, I was excited to take to the court and see what changes this racquet had in store.
Similar to the previous version this racquet is quite heavy based on specs. However, the head light balance and countervail technology do a great job in making this racquet feel much lighter than expected. I felt very comfortable maneuvering the racquet for forehands and backhands without feeling tired. The thin beam and 97 square inch head offer great control and accuracy from the baseline. The power level is still very similar to the 2016 Pro Staff RF97 Autograph and this is a great factor in helping players hit deep into the court. I felt that the racquet gave me more natural topspin when I hit compared to previous versions which is great for the new style of play. You will get plenty of pop hitting from the baseline making it easy to control the rallies.
I was very impressed with the volleys. The racquet gave me plenty of stability and power to put the ball away when I came to net. It was more maneuverable than I was expecting on volleys, but the weight still takes some getting used to. The touch and feel at net was incredible. No matter the pace of the ball, I felt at ease hitting volleys with this frame. I felt I had great directional control and didn’t need to worry about the ball going long. If you do put more backspin on the ball, this racquet will work in your favor. Whenever I used underspin I felt rewarded because the ball seemed to have a little more bite and stayed lower to the ground.
Serves & Overheads
Serves and overheads felt very comfortable with the Pro Staff. The heavier swing weight gave me a little extra power and control on my serves. Whether I was hitting slice, kick or flat serves, I could easily direct the ball with this frame. My slice and kick serves seemed to get extra spin thanks to the 16x19 string pattern. I had a blast playing a super aggressive style on serve and following my serve in to knock of easy volleys. I relied more on my slice serve as there was plenty of control for me to serve way out wide and open up the court. This frame was also great for putting away overheads; however, the weight does take a toll on your arm after awhile.
This racquet did feel more comfortable, but it had more stiffness than previous versions. You can feel the stiffness more when you hit from the baseline and it does a nice job in providing you with extra power. However, you will feel a little disconnected with the ball if you like to play with more durable strings. The Countervail and High Performance Carbon Fiber do a very good job in keeping the frame lightweight. The touch and feel at net helped me direct the ball more. To balance out the stiffness from the baseline I would recommend using a multifilament or softer polyester.
All in all, I felt very comfortable and pleased playing with this beast. Although the specs look intimidating, I would still recommend this racquet to a wide range of players due to its power, spin and control levels. The Countervail and High Performance Carbon Fiber really do make a difference for adding feel/comfort into this stiffer control frame. This racquet will suit players that hit flat aggressive shots and rely on backspin more than topspin.
About the Reviewer: Chris Virk-Brown currently works at Tennis Express on the Content Marketing team. He previously played at Neumann University and coached at the collegiate level for 3 years. He is an active USTA League and tournament player.
All new in 2018, co-designed by Roger Federer, the Pro Staff RF97 Autograph delivers the pure, classic feel players have come to love with an all-new uncontaminated design. Meticulous in detail and bold in its beauty, the Autograph sets the standard for design and performance.