Like so many, I’m a fan of Wilson’s Six.One line. I adopted the Six.One 95 BLX (16x18) a little more than a year ago, made a few tweaks (added some lead tape and put on a leather grip) and it’s been a happy marriage ever since. I was excited to take the new Six.One 95 out for a test drive, but in a way it felt like cheating. The update has Parallel Drilling, which means the grommet holes are parallel throughout the frame. The result is a sweet spot that Wilson claims is 27 percent larger.
My play test with the new Six.One 95 was a mostly positive experience; many of the things I enjoy about my frame—the crisp response, the balance of power and control—were present in the latest version. Thankfully there wasn’t enough of a difference for me to feel the need to dump my battle-tested frame for the younger model.
Then came along the Six.One 95S—the new model given the Spin Effect treatment. Instead of my 16x18 string pattern, the 95S boasts a reverse 18x16 configuration. This really intrigued me. I flirted with the 95S over several practice sessions, and found the added spin rather enticing. I particularly liked the jump on my forehand and kick on my serve. However, I prefer the heft and stability of my tried-and-true BLX 95and will remain faithful.
Perhaps if I spent a little more time with the Six.One 95S I might have felt differently. That’s what friend of the Pro Shop, Mitch Case, did when he tried out the frame. After a shaky start, the 95S eventually won him over. Here’s his full review:
At first swing, I can’t say I was overwhelmed by the Wilson Six.One 95S. In fact, my initial thought was, “this doesn’t feel like a Six.One.” Though the specs indicate the frame is not far off from the other Six.One incarnations, the feel of the 95S suggests otherwise. For one, the stick is just plain lighter—over a half ounce so. As a fan of heavy players’ frames, I was left wanting. The other feature that took me aback was the distribution of mass within the frame, which seems evenly spread throughout the entire perimeter of the hoop, but lacking in the throat and handle.
My first opportunity to hit the new 95S was in Florida on Har-Tru. The racquet, strung with Luxilon 4G, felt pretty good, but didn’t wow me. After a few minutes, I put it down in favor of the Wilson Blade 98S, which felt more “scalpel-like” in my hands. A few weeks later, I tried the 95S again; this time on outdoor hard courts, in 50 degree weather. Once again, the frame felt pretty good, especially on medium speed swings, but I wasn’t overly enthusiastic about its performance. Hitting a few “trick” shots was fun, especially the aggressive topspin moonball that pushed my hitting partner to the back fence, but hitting a neutral rally ball just didn’t flow. And once I started swinging a little faster, I couldn’t make the necessary adjustment to keep my ground strokes deep enough in the court. My hitting partner and I came to the conclusion that the Six.One 95S was fun to play with, but it wasn’t an all-around performer.
I decided to give the frame one last try. This time, on indoor hard courts (that I grew up playing on), I compared three of the Wilson Spin Effect racquets against each other. I started with the Steam 99LS, which was fast and nimble, but too light for the quality of ball that I usually face. Next up was the Blade 98S, which I had reviewed favorably a few weeks prior. The frame felt agile, and pocketed the ball nicely. I felt confident in my strokes, and even hit one of the best drop volleys of my life. Then I picked up the Six.One 95S. Immediately I noticed the mass in the hoop, which made the frame feel far more substantial than the Blade. The first 20 minutes with the 95S could best be characterized as inconsistent. I struggled to find the best swing path to tame the 18x16 stringbed. Some shots dropped just inside the baseline, while others, just inside the service line. Flat drives sizzled up the line, or sailed long.
Eventually, something clicked. I started to relax and found a swing path that worked. My muscles loosened, and I started to really feel how the 95S moved throughout the stroke and at contact.
Then I felt it: This is a Six.One.
The mass in the hoop made the racquet swing heavier than its swingweight would suggest, resulting in plenty of plow through and stability. The stiffness of the hoop provided the classic feel and response that has made the Six.One line so popular with both recreational and professional players.
I felt capable of inflicting vicious offensive strikes, as well as defensive blocks. Maintaining control within points seemed a little easier than with my usual frame, and I had no problem blocking the ball deep while under pressure. Serves had plenty of action, which jammed up my opponent on a regular basis. On return of serve (which is my most under-practiced shot), I was comfortable with the maneuverability of the frame, which allowed me to be more aggressive than normal. The 95S was reliable at the net as well. Volleys felt plush and traveled through the court with pace.
That is not to say I fell in love with the frame. Despite enhancing my play in some respects, I’m not sure I would make the switch to the 95S. The feel the Six.One series provides is not my cup of tea (or sports drink), as I find the stiffness of the frames to be jarring at times. So this could be an “It’s not you, it’s me” situation. Also, the lack of mass in the handle of the throat of the 95S creates a feeling of disconnect between my hand and the hoop (this could be easily addressed with some lead tape under the grip). In these departments, I prefer the flex and feel of the Blade 98S.
Some frames require more adjustment time than others. This is certainly the case with the Wilson Spin Effect frames, due to the difference in ball launch and trajectory. And player’s frames, by definition, are the most demanding to play with. I should not have been surprised that it took a couple of outings to acclimate to the combination of a demanding frame and an extremely open string pattern. Intermediate to advanced players that enjoy the crisp feel synonymous with the Six.One lineage should give the 95S a chance...or two. I’m glad I did.
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