As most of you loyal readers know, I’ve been play-testing the Angell TC 97 Custom 18×20 for a while now and I wanted to throw in a comparison between another popular racquet: the Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph.
The reason I wanted to do this test is because the Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph is a great, best-selling racquet used and endorsed by the GOAT himself, Roger Federer, while the Angell TC 97 Custom has become a legend among a lot of racquet aficionados as a great way to get a “proper” player’s racquet made to your own specs. Now you can also get the beautiful H19-inspired Wilson Ultra Tour and lead it up, which I’ve also been testing recently.
I also wanted to compare these two racquets since the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 is a powerful, heavy racquet (stiffness rating RA 68 strung) and the Angell is quite plush around RA 62 and more of a control and feel-oriented racquet.
Mind you, the two tested racquets are slightly different in stock weight. The RF97 is 355 grams strung while my Angell weighs 347, but I added some extra lead to it to make them as close as possible. Another difference is the string pattern, my Angell is 18×20 while the RF is 16×19, but I’ll take that into consideration and the Angells are available in the more spin-friendly 16×19 pattern too.
Here is a video of me and my hitting partner playing some points (so called “elevens” and a practice set) with the RF97A and the TC97C.
What people will tell you about the Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph is that it is a lot to swing. I’ve been known to enjoy racquets up to 375 grams previously and the RF97A is only 355 grams, but you’ll definitely feel it after a while. It just doesn’t cut through the air as well as I wish although if you have Roger Federer’s technique, I’m sure that’s not a big issue. But I could definitely get the Angell TC 97 Custom moving much faster, also with lead. It has a lot to do with the 1,5 mm thinner beam on the Angell (20 mm compared to 21,5). A lot of times the RF 97 feels clunky to me.
Okay, the RF97 takes more to swing and moves slower through the air, but once you make good contact you’re in for a treat. The ball really pancakes on the racquet and you get nice injection of power and that wonderful “thwack” sound. Volleys are amazing, the serve is as great, slice shots are magnificent. However, on average ground strokes that extra drop in racquet head speed doesn’t work for me and I much prefer the ultra-fast response of my Angell racquet.
Another thing that bothered me with the RF97 is that (with a hybrid of a multifilament and a poly string) still felt some arm fatigue after an hour’s play. Part of it might be the heft, but the stiffness also bothers me. Can Federer really be using a 68 RA stiffness racquet (most pro players use racquets in the low 60s or below) or is it to give recreational players more power? I much preferred the plush feel of the Angell here.
But when it came to heated exchanges where I wanted the extra juice for stability and power, the RF97 did not let me down. As long as I timed it right, I could place my balls on a dime with interest and when my opponent used the RF97 the weight it gave his shots really bothered me. Here, the Angell TC 97 Custom felt more low-powered and required better movement and more from me to get that extra injection of pace. With the RF97 I could just “block” the ball back, it wasn’t as easy with the Angell.
So there are definitely pros and cons in this comparison of two great racquets. In some situations I prefer the RF97, in others I’ll go with the Angell TC 97 Custom. Let’s look at the different points below.
Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph
+ Decent spin
– Slow through the air
– Can bring arm fatigue
– You need good technique and footwork
Angell TC 97 Custom 18×20
+ Great feel
+ Maximum control
+ Pretty fast through the air
– Lower trajectory (get the 16×19 for more spin)
– Smaller sweet spot
Which racquet would you choose based on the above? Let me know in the comments field!
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