I have had the fortune to test a lighter Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph from the German customization company Ring&Roll. Here is my review.
A lot of players love the hefty feel of the Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph racquet, but many also find it a bit too heavy and cumbersome for longer sessions. This custom RF97A is quite a bit lighter and therefore easier to use. But what are the tradeoffs?
First of all, let's look at what Ring&Roll did to my racquet:
- They removed the old handle
- Removed all the weight and foam
- Added a new one in TK82S HEAD pallet shape
- Added some silicone not to make the racquet too head-heavy
Ring&Roll Custom Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph Specs
The idea was to make the racquet lighter and more user-friendly and they sure managed that! The new unstrung specs were 320g, 295 swing weight, and 31.5 cm balance. Much lighter and more recreational player-friendly.
I added an overgrip, strung it with Babolat Xcel in the mains and HEAD Lynx Tour in the crosses and got the following strung specs: 341g, 327.5 SW and 32.2 cm balance. This is not “light” by any means, but compared to the standard RF97A it is a big difference and does make the racquet more maneuverable.
How does it play?
There are of course a few pros and cons of reducing the weight of a racquet, but in this case, the pros outweigh the cons. The main benefit is that the racquet is easier to maneuver and that helps in the following ways:
- Faster at the net
- Easier to whip around on serve
- Better access to racquet head speed (improved control)
There are obviously downsides:
- Less stability
- A decrease in plow-through
- A slightly lower power level
For my game, I preferred the Ring&Roll customized RF97 Autograph. It did not subtract enough of what is great with the RF97A but added what I have been missing. Especially the ability to swing the racquet faster through contact.
So if you love the RF97 Autograph, but want to change some of the characteristics, this could be the way to go. You could order this frame straight from Ring&Roll (€200 + €80 for the customization = €280) or get them to customize yours (€80 per racquet).
How would you compare this to a Pro Staff 97?
More controlled, better plow-through, fewer hot spots in the string bed.
I’m surprised they were able to remove 20g of weight from the handle area, but not effect the balance massively. Did they put most of the new handle weight near the butt, whilst perhaps the RF has the weight more evenly distributed through the handle? It would be very interesting to know how precisely weights are moved around in different rackets, or are they more agriculturally balanced. For example, the normal PS97 is 25g lighter than the RF. Is that just a similar lighter handle treatment, or is the hoop actually different? Could we ever know?
They are in a better position to reply, but I am pretty sure the racquet wasn’t exactly as the listed specs as well. Interesting questions! Not sure who knows…
Do they customize yonex frames?
Yes, they do
I was surprised that you don’t really address some points that seem clearly called for (and I’m quite curious):
(1) How does this racquet play compared to the non-autograph standard ProStaff 97?
(2) How does this new modified racquet play compared to other favorite racquets of its kind (especially from other manufacturers now or even from earlier in the Six One and related lines)?
Is it a favorite of its type now? Or what are the tradeoffs now?
1) More controlled, fewer hot spots in the string bed
2) It has a bit of a unique position in the market place, but as it is not commercially available on a large scale, it is tricky to compare it to other retail frames.
You get a bit more detail in the video review. Regards / J
That’s definitely my specs, but I set up Wilson pro staff 97 CV, and leave Wilson handle. I played all my life with Head and first months of swich felt discomfort. Handle was too thick and squarish. But right now feel complitely good.
Right now I use xcel for main and Kirschbaum (or RPM Blast) for crosses (26/24), but want to find another main string to increase durability. Duramix HD, Ashaway Dynamite tough or Ashaway MonogutZX for mains already on test.
Someone brave needs to do a teardown on a few stock rackets to see how the different weights are achieved. Slicing through the frame, handle and PWS areas to see if different weights are made by adding lead or using more graphite. Would be interesting to see. Or go to a dentist and x-ray them ?
Dentist help is a great, great idea! I’ll contact a dentist friend of mine after the quarantine to do so on my PS97 2014 and fill in the contrast