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Tennis Racquet Review: Wilson Blade 98 (16x19)

March 13th, 2013

filed in Tennis Product Reviews, Tennis Racquet Reviews

Wilson Tennis Racquet

No doubt this review will be read and\or interpreted as my taking shots at Wilson, but everything I write here can be applied to every one of the ‘top’ racquet manufacturers.

This racquet is A) Not at all a useful tool\weapon for serious players in my mind; and B) Indicative of the wild design and manufacturing quality swings that are almost routine these days even for the major companies.

A month ago I hit with and reviewed two Wilson frames (Blade 93 and Four BLX) that I was wildly enthusiastic about. I didn’t like anything about this racquet and upon reflection I think it is the kind of accident that happens when the racquet companies try to produce 20 new models every year.

The Blade 98 I hit with has a 16 x 19 string pattern (although it also comes in 18 x 20 format). It weighs 11.2 ounces strung and according to the promotional materials is one point head light. I found the balance to be even, which isn’t important but does point out the gap between the experience a player has with a racquet and the testing\PR process inside the company.

I found the racquet to be underpowered for its weight and difficult to maneuver. The handle felt very blocky to me, and this is a common issue with Wilson frames the last few years. I am still partial to the Wilson basic handle design more than that produced by any racquet company. This handle for example was supposed to be 4 3/8 sized, but it felt very large even in my exceptionally long and wide hands. When I measured it at the standard spot right above the butt cap it was 4 ½ size easily and this is without an over-grip.

I just did not have good feel with this frame on ground-strokes or volleys or serves. I mis-hit a ton of balls on a day that I was hitting very well with my personal racquets; both during lessons and a short serving practice when I was done working. No two swings felt alike with this racquet, and my biggest complaint is that I could not produce swings that felt consistently smooth with this racquet.

The thing looks nice from an aesthetic standpoint with a nice black paint job and the Wilson white ‘Sublime’ grip that comes standard. But it plays like a poorly produced ‘B’ movie. I just could not produce much power with this frame, or control it when I did hit the ball hard. Because of the grip issues I had a very hard time finding the usual spin angles on my serve and forehand. I could rip my one hand backhand well enough with this racquet, but I could not slice the backhand or hit the topspin loop that I usually use in baseline rallies on the backhand wing.

This racquet didn’t work for me. And I think Wilson needs to think about whether they need more ‘new’ product every season, or more quality entries into the market. This is quite the easy call after hitting with this thing.

Check out this video review of the Wilson Blade 98 (16x19) from Do It Tennis’ own Malek.