Expert Review: Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 V13.0 Racquet · Unstrung
This review is my honest opinion of the tennis racquet, which I tested for 5 days in September of 2022.
About this Review: This review is my honest opinion of the tennis racquet, which I tested for 5 days in September of 2022.
The Wilson Pro Staff RF97 V13 is a very demanding advanced player’s racquet that rewards those with the games and strength to handle it with elite levels of control and stability.
About the gear I tested
- Model: Wilson ProStaff RF97 V13
- Grip Size: 4 ⅜ / EU 3
- String and Tension: Tennis Only Proto P6 53 lbs
- Head size: 97
- Racquet Length: 27
- Any Customizations: Yonex Super Grap White Overgrip
- Height: 5’11”
- Weight: 185 lbs
- Previous Racquet Played With: Head Graphene 360+ Gravity MP with Head
- Experience: 28 years
- NTRP/UTA Rating: 5.0
- When I tested these: September 2022
- Days tested: 5
- Court Surfaces: Hard
- Match Play/Practice Session/Both: Both
- Where I’ve used it: Kingsford High School, Kingsford, MI
How it performs
What I was looking for
My 2021 Head Graphene 360+ Gravity MP has worked really well for my game for the past 15 months. It has great mix of control, feel, and just enough power to be effective. However, one shortfall that I’ve noticed is when playing high-level opponents with big games, it can be lacking in stability. I’ve added weight to it in a couple of configurations, but while it improves the stability, some of the other characteristics that I like get diminished. The Pro Staff RF97 V13 is out of my preferred spec range on paper, but so many people rave about it, including a few of my regular opponents, that I had to give it a shot.
Why I chose this gear
After testing this for a week, I decided that the Pro Staff RF97 V13 was too demanding for my game at this point in my life. Maybe at my peak during my college playing days, I could have been up to the challenge of this racquet, but 15 years removed from that and having lost a step, I need a racquet that is more maneuverable and forgiving like my Gravity MP.
What I love about it
- Control: For a racquet that has an open 16x19 string pattern and relatively high 68RA stiffness rating, the Pro Staff RF97 offered laser-like control. I knew that if my timing was on, I could pick the smallest targets and hit my mark. It allowed me to harness that pop from the stiffer frame and the big plow-through power of the heavyweight, so I was confident in playing my normal, aggressive game.
- Stability: With a 333 RDC swingweight and 12.6oz strung weight, the Pro Staff RF97 is built to handle the demands of high-level competitive tennis, where everyone hits with a lot of pace. It definitely lives up to its specs and is very stable in hand. When returning big serves or handling heavy groundstrokes, it never flinches or flutters and allowed me to swing away without having to change my stroke to counter the pace.
- Volleys: With that rock-solid stability I mentioned above, the Pro Staff RF97 is one of the best racquets I’ve ever played with at the net. The racquet seemingly did all the work for me and I just had to get the strings behind the ball. With really great touch/feel, drop volleys were also fantastic.
- Other: The matte black paint job
Issues I’ve encountered
- Maneuverability: That same high swingweight and static weight that make the RF97 such a stable racquet can be detrimental to maneuverability. I struggled with this most on my second serve, where I couldn’t generate the racquet head speed to hit my usual effective kick serves. I also would have liked more maneuverability while on the run.
- Groundstrokes: The Pro Staff RF97 is a demanding racquet to hit off the ground with. When I was able to time my strokes well and hit the sweet spot, I hit some great groundstrokes, but that was inconsistent for me. The high swingweight, small sweet spot, and low launch angle combined to remove some of the topspin I typically play with, limiting my effectiveness on the ground. One highlight of the RF97 on the ground though was the extremely effective slice backhand.
- Serves: I really struggled with serves while playing with the RF97. This is usually a strong point of my game, so losing a weapon I rely on was especially frustrating. As I mentioned above, the lack of maneuverability limited the effectiveness of my second serves, and the small sweet spot really increased the number of mishit serves I put out.
Favorite moment with this gear
Hitting slice backhands with the RF97 was my favorite shot during my test. It’s no wonder Roger Federer effectively hits his slice backhand while using this racquet.
Value for the money vs. other options
The Wilson Pro Staff RF97 V13 is one of the highest-priced racquets on the market today. It is $10 more than similar advanced players racquet, such as the Yonex VCORE Pro 97H and Head Prestige Pro, and $40 more than the Babolat Pure Strike Tour 3rd Generation.
The Wilson Pro Staff RF97 V13 is a demanding racquet that is perfect for high-level competitive players who want a classic feel and control with just a bit of modern power mixed in. For those with the game and the strength to handle its demands, the RF97 can take them to the top of the game.