A couple of years ago the trend was for tennis racquet companies to produce very open spin-friendly string patterns, so called spin “patterns”. What happened to them?
The Wilson Steam 99S was one of the most popular racquets of the bunch and it took it as a far as it goes really with its 15×16 string pattern producing a massive spin on the ball but also breaking strings at a faster rate than ever before. This led to thicker gauge strings like Luxilon 4G S in (1.41) to be able to handle the wear and tear. What this leads to is however wear and tear on joints such as elbows, shoulders and wrists. Especially since most spin racquets are rather firm/stiff.
There were all kinds of attempts with different string patterns and I think Wilson was the company who went most aggressively in that direction. One of the most popular spin effect racquets today is the Wilson Pro Staff 97S, endorsed by Grigor Dimitrov (and later this year to be launched in a Countervail version) but the Wilson Blade 98S also has an ardent following.
Another successful racquet was the highly reviewed Wilson Six One 95S, that was a favorite of Tennis Warehouse reviewer Chris Edwards. It is actually a really nice racquet that you now can get for around 99 USD. A related trend to the spin effect racquets is the adaptive racquet tech that is now championed by Dunlop and HEAD. Dunlop had a highly customizable series called iDapt that didn't sell well at all (makes you wonder about the future about Dunlop) and HEAD has recently released the HEAD Speed Graphene Touch Adaptive and the HEAD Instinct Graphene Touch Adaptive where you have 32 different tuning set-ups in the same racquet (extra length, more open string pattern – 16×16, weightier grommets).
Here's a short clip of yours truly playing some practice points with the Wilson Six One 95S:
So the spin pattern is alive, but not kicking. What seems to be the most popular string pattern right now is 16×19, followed by 18×20, 16×18 and 18×19. Pretty standard patterns that give you control and a reliable ball trajectory.
What did you think about the spin effect racquets and so called spin patterns? Did you try them? Are you still using them? Please share in the comments below!
I think the Tennis Warehouse reviews carry a lot of weight as do the endorsements of top pros. Also better copoly strings have been introduced in the past few years allowing more spin without the open patterns.
Yes, good point about the strings allowing for more spin even with more closed patterns. And spin isn’t everything either 🙂
I think those String Patterns are not popular anymore (except 97s) because you can get the same amount of spin with an 18/20 plus more control! That can be first achieved by bringing the swingweight up a little by applying lead tape in the hub. Second of all it is also the strings which make a big difference. First if bring the tension down which allow poly strings to move more. Second for example with a natural gut and poly hybrid setup. That’s how Dominic Thiem can hit those winners with that amount of spin.
Thanks for commenting. Yes, I think the biggest impact on spin in the game is the strings. I think the main target group for the spin patterns and racquets was to get people with less modern techniques to be able to impart more spin despite playing a rather flat shot. Not sure a hybrid is better for spin than a full bed of poly strings, usually natural gut helps for feel and comfort.
The Poly strings in a Hybrid setup slick back more easily then i a full bed of poly. (except copoly with coding) Of course the full bed gets a few rpms more. But who wouldn’t take more comfort over nearly the same amount of spin.
Just curious if it were possible to string a more standard racquet like the 16×19 Pure Drive but leave out a position to get 16×18? Or would that not accomplish anything since the spacing doesn’t change?
I stumbled upon the Wilson Steam 105s when they radically changed the family after the Steam 96 (the last Steam without Spin Effect). I’ve purchased and thoroughly tested Spin Effect Ultras, Pro Staffs, and Blades, and I’ve empirically discovered that not all Spin Effect racquets are equal. The Steam 105s is clearly the king of maximum spin, and that even includes the Steam 99s (which is in 2nd place). It is also the king of breaking strings, but I finally found a shaped poly (Tier One Black Knight) which can survive 20+ hours of play time and feels reasonably good.
Even in 2022, I still pull out my Steam 105s racquets for matches where I really want to win. Yes, other racquets feel more solid and/or offer more touch, but pushing my opponent to the back tarp on a simple rally ball is worth a lot of free points.