Wilson Hyper Hammer 5.2 Racquet Review

Wilson's 2001 introductions were highlighted by the extension of their Rollers line, including the Hammer 5.6 Rollers and ProStaff 7.6 Rollers. However, Wilson also introduced a few non-Rollers models, including the Hyper Hammer 5.2 Midplus and Oversize, that stand on their own. These aren't the first racquets with the 5.2 Swing Index rating but are different enough to avoid any confusion with their predecessors. The Hyper Hammer 5.2 racquets straddle the fence between player's and 'tweener racquets. Both racquets (95 and 106) weigh around 10.6 ounces and are only slightly head-heavy. They are constructed of 80% Graphite, 10% Hyper Carbon and 10% Kevlar and have 22 millimeter beams. One might call them "player's Hammers". Lindsay Davenport, 2001 year-end #1 player, uses the Hyper Hammer 5.2 Midplus. We playtested the Hyper Hammer 5.2 racquets for two weeks.

Hyper Hammer 5.2 Midplus

Groundstrokes

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 MP is an easy-swinging racquet from the baseline, thanks to its 10.6 ounce weight and almost even balance. The fairly open string pattern allows for good spin potential and the addition of kevlar provides good damping for a comfortable feel. Don begins, "this was one of only a few Hammers I've ever liked. In fact, I really liked this racquet! It just had the right combination of weight, balance, length, comfort, power and control. I believe the key was it being almost evenly balanced and not really head-heavy. It's reminiscent of the Head Ti. Radical but with slightly more power and better spin potential; something between a tweener and pure player's racquet." Dan offers, "the HH 5.2 MP hits essentially like a head-light racquet disguised as a Hammer. It plays heavier than its 10.6 ounces and felt like I was swinging a racquet weighing an ounce more. This was a welcome feeling. On groundstrokes, my long, loopy swing seemed to work just fine with the 5.2 MP's power level. Make no mistake; this is no game improvement Hammer. It offers good control, helped in part by the 22 millimeter flat beam design and partial kevlar construction."

Drew comments, "I could rally well with the 5.2 MP and felt like I had good control of placement and spin. I could even hit with moderate pace. However, when it came time to put the ball away, I wasn't able to 'rip' the ball, no matter how hard I swung. I still hit some winners but it usually took me an extra shot or two." Granville says, "with a few exceptions, the 5.2 MP is a friendly 'performance' Hammer racquet, when compared to most other Hammers. At a mere 1 point head-heavy balance, it has considerable individuality, relative to the rest of the Hammer line. From the baseline, it felt solid when in position and oddly enough, I found that if I was late, I could make up the time due to the racquet's lighter weight and added maneuverability. By the end of each hitting session, I was hitting through the ball with good depth and pace, feeling pretty good about having a Hammer in my hand!"

Volleys

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 MP is a precision tool and requires above average skill and good technique at net. Dan offers, "I found impressive control and accuracy at net. The racquet is heavy enough to provide needed stability on volleys, while still light enough to maneuver and react to hard-hit passing shots or surprise lobs - a hard to find mix." Drew adds, "I volleyed well with the 5.2 MP. I tend to over-hit my volleys, so a lower power racquet makes me feel like a better volleyer. That was the case with the 5.2 MP." Granville had a slightly different take, explaining, "oddly, I struggled with this racquet on volleys. I just could not get any pop on the ball. I attribute this to the racquet's lighter weight and perhaps a smaller sweetspot." Don says, "volleys demanded I be in position and be moving forward. Otherwise, balls didn't have quite enough pace or depth. The good news is I could be aggressive on my volleys; really go after them, and still keep the ball in the court. This was especially true hitting half volleys. The racquet's maneuverability also allowed me to react to fast-paced shots."

Serves

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 MP is easy to swing fast on serves and most playtesters found it an effective serving racquet. Granville comments, "I found the 5.2 MP a real benefit when serving. It's light enough to really get the racquet head moving (and the ball) and delivers good spin too. I found I was hitting my slice serve down the middle (ad court) as effectively as I ever have, acing my opponent virtually at will (sorry Don..). Dan adds, "because of its weight, the 5.2 MP can be swung with considerable speed, creating enough leverage to hit big first serves. However, spin production was less than I anticipated. Still, control was abundant which allowed me to go out wide, up the middle or into the body with routine regularity."

Drew says, "similar to groundstrokes, I could get the spin and placement whenever I wanted but big velocity was a challenge. It could be done but it took better timing than I could produce on a consistent basis." Don offers, "great serving stick for me. I felt confident hitting almost any serve, particularly the big flat one up the middle. I was serving about as well as with any other racquet I've playtested."

Returns

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 MP's maneuverability is a mixed blessing on serve returns. While it is possible to manage a backswing against most serves, it's mandatory in many cases. Dan explains, "serve returns take an adamant swing for enough depth and speed. Fortunately, the 5.2 MP is maneuverable enough to take a full swing in most situations; a nice luxury to have when attacking net on weak second serves too." Drew adds, "returns were a highlight for me. My consistency against a variety of serves was above average. I could also keep the ball low against serve and volley players. My approach shots (against second serves) stayed low as well, and while not highlight film material, were quite effective." Don continues, "returns are one of my weaker shots, but I found myself able to retrieve many hard-hit serves and deliver them back with pace and accuracy. I was very confident returning most serves and this was due to the racquet's weight, balance and swingweight combination. Now, if I could only anticipate those slices up the middle on the ad court.."

Summary

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 MP isn't a typical Hammer. It's slightly heavier and less head-heavy, making it almost a "player's Hammer". It delivers low-medium power, impressive control and a slightly dampened feel. It will appeal most to 4.0-6.0 baseline and all-court players who want a slightly lighter racquet for increased maneuverability, without the trademark head-heaviness of a Hammer.

Hyper Hammer 5.2 Midplus Technical & Statistical Data

Hyper Hammer 5.2 Midplus Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27.25 inches69 centimeters
Head Size95 square inches613 square centimeters
Weight10.6 ounces301 grams
Balance Point13.75 inches
35 centimeters
1 pts Head Heavy
Construction22mm Flat Beam
Composition 80% Graphite
10%Hyper Carbon
10% Kevlar
String Pattern16 Mains / 20 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating66Range: 0-100
Swing Weight335Range: 200-400
Manueverability63A

Hyper Hammer 5.2 Oversize

Groundstrokes

By most playtesters' accounts, the Hyper Hammer 5.2 OS is a pretty much an oversize version of the Midplus. After just a few groundstrokes, though, it becomes apparent there are subtle differences between these two racquets, beyond just the 11 square inches in head size. Drew offers, "the same muted feel as the 5.2 MP but with a bit more power. Not surprisingly, my control dropped off a bit. I also found the OS harder to accelerate than the MP, and as a result, my topspin suffered a bit. Combined with the extra power, I had more balls flying long." Mark adds, "this wasn't the racquet I was expecting. I expected it to be balanced between power and control but it seemed to be tilted heavily towards power. I was able to generate a lot of topspin and slice on my groundstrokes though, which helped harness some of the power." Don offers, "this racquet felt more like a Hammer, with that trademark head-heavy feel, and I'm not wild about that feel. This caused it to seem heavier swinging than the MP, although swingweights are almost identical. I suspect the reduced maneuverability is due to the extra 1/4 inch of length and larger head. I was able to generate good power and decent spin. In fact, I almost had to hold back on my swing, in order to keep the ball in the court."

Dan continues, "I found better spin (topspin and slice) control from the baseline with the OS, likely due in no small part to the more open string pattern. The unique 106 square inch head plays like a full oversize, yet maneuvers better, while the Hyper Bar did seem to lend some added stability not felt with the MP. I found about a 10-15% increase in power, over the MP. Moderate swing speeds were enough to send the ball deep. Thanks to the extra spin potential, fast, full swings were possible without balls flying into the back fence. Overall, a very comfortable ride from the baseline. A nice choice for players used to head-light balance, but who are now looking to switch to a lighter, head-heavy option, without wandering too far from home." Granville says, "I found the OS to have a noticeably larger sweetspot than the MP, providing more comfort and a small increase in power." John comments, "for a thinner, flat beam racquet, the Hyper Hammer 5.2 OS packs a healthy punch. The 106 square inch head and slightly head-heavy balance worked well with my swing. I was able to swing away from both sides, generating enough power to get the ball down the line or crosscourt on passing shots. During rallies, I had the confidence to hit out; keeping my opponent pinned to the baseline with deep, penetrating shots. I was able to put plenty of spin on the ball, ensuring that balls struck hard would find their way between the lines. I found that early preparation was key with the 5.2 OS. Though by no means a 'heavy-weight', it's still a solid frame and has some heft. Consequently, the ball doesn't push around the racquet head. Prepare early, swing through the ball and you won't be disappointed."

Volleys

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 OS' "fuller" headsize and lighter weight would seem to make it a sound performer at net. Dan begins, "I felt the racquet's 'spring' potential the most during volleys. Simple, compact strokes worked best, while efforts at manipulation or extra punch resulted in balls flying long. Maneuverability was as expected for an almost-11 ounce, head-heavy racquet. Don't expect a feather up there, but do expect a large sweetspot and a very stable feel." Granville adds, "volleys were comfortable and consistent, with good touch. This is a good choice for doubles players looking to upgrade to a less head-heavy racquet." Mark, our pure serve and volley player says, "I wasn't able to hit volleys or half volleys very well with this racquet. Everything I hit went long unless I babied the ball over. Even the slightest swing sent half volleys flying. My volleys weren't much better. My swing felt good but I couldn't get the ball to stay in the court. It felt a lot like the old Hammer 5.5 Aire Shell I used a few years ago, although the 5.2 OS is much more maneuverable." John says, "volleys were comfortable, if not as powerful as I expected. The head-heavy balance also slowed movement some at net." Don comments, "the larger head and Hyper Bar seemed to provide more stability and forgiveness on off-center shots, especially at net. I was able to hit nice, deep volleys or finesse the short, angle off either side. My only complaint was the slight top-heavy feel, due to its head-heavy balance."

Serves

No surprises here. Most playtesters found the Hyper Hammer 5.2 OS most effective on slice and kick serves. Dan says, "whether slicing out wide or kicking a second serve, spin potential was the most impressive on serves. It almost felt like I was serving with a head-light racquet, instead of a Hammer. It was very stable for a sub-11 ounce racquet." John offers, "I found the combination of lighter weight and slightly head-heavy balance a good combination when hitting serves and overheads. I was able to serve the ball up the middle or push my opponent out wide with slice. The string pattern enabled me to generate good spin and the head-heavy balance helped me generate faster swings for hard, deep serves." Granville comments, "if there was one stroke where power was lacking for me, it was the serve. While I could place the ball anywhere in the service box, I was lacking the one shot I can usually count on - the flat serve up the middle. The ball went where I wanted but there just wasn't enough power to hit outright aces." Drew continues, "I felt like I had to put my all into each serve to get enough racquet head speed. My control suffered considerably from swinging so hard." Don says, "I discovered quickly that my best first serves were slices into the body or out wide. Flat serves simply didn't have enough oomph and my opponent jumped all over my early attempts at these shots. Once I adjusted, I hit some decent by not really impressive serves."

Returns

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 OS is light enough to maneuver against most serves but has enough heft to block hard-hit balls. Dan offers, "like groundstrokes, moderate swings are enough to produce deep returns. I had particularly good results hitting slice backhand returns. Again, the somewhat open string pattern really provides excellent control, whether hitting topspin or slice. I felt comfortable chipping and charging off slice backhands or going for a heavy topspin shot for the forehand side. The trick here is to stay moderate with swing speeds; too little and the ball lands short, too much and the ball flies too long." Don agreed, adding, "I had some good returns but had to 'measure' my swing. I hit some good block returns against big first serves but mostly against net-rushers. The balls landed a bit short, which worked out well. Against baseliners, though, I needed to add more swing to hit deep returns. I enjoyed hitting slice approach returns against weaker second serves, and this strategy ended up being my most effective with the 5.2 OS."

Summary

The Hyper Hammer 5.2 OS is a good choice for players seeking an "almost oversize", tweener racquet. It provides more power than its Swing Index might suggest and works best for medium swings. Recommended for all-court singles and doubles players who want a racquet that's comfortable and delivers more power than control.

Hyper Hammer 5.2 Oversize Technical & Statistical Data

Hyper Hammer 5.2 Oversize Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27.5 inches70 centimeters
Head Size106 square inches684 square centimeters
Weight10.7 ounces303 grams
Balance Point14.125 inches
36 centimeters
3 pts Head Heavy
Construction22mm Flat Beam
Composition 80% Graphite
10%Hyper Carbon
10% Kevlar
String Pattern16 Mains / 20 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating71Range: 0-100
Swing Weight337Range: 200-400
Manueverability62A
Playtester Profiles
Dan 5.5 all-court player currently using a Prince Triple Threat Bandit MP.
Don 4.5-5.0 all-court player currently using a Yonex Ultimum RQ TI-1700 MP.
Drew 4.5-5.0 baseliner currently using a Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85.
Granville 5.5 all-court player currently using a Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85
John 4.5-5.0 all-court player currently using a Prince Triple Threat Bandit OS
Mark 5.5 all-court player currently using a Prince Thunder 820 OS

Review date: January, 2001. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2001 Tennis Warehouse.

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