Has it really been 10 years since Wilson introduced the ProStaff Classic (now called the ProStaff 6.1)? What began as one of the first widebody, or aerodynamic player's racquets, turned out to become one of the most visible and best-selling racquets in history. Many would claim the ProStaff 6.1 is indeed worthy of "Classic" status.
Now Wilson has taken the bold move of discontinuing this Classic and replacing it with a "new and improved" Hyper Carbon version - the Hyper ProStaff 6.1. When we first heard this news we thought Wilson was taking a huge risk. Along with the Hammer 6.2, the ProStaff 6.1 has been Wilson's franchise racquet for many players. It's still one of the most popular racquets on the ATP Tour and among junior tournament players.
Produced using the same mold as the Classic 6.1, the Hyper 6.1 incorporates braided Hyper Carbon with a second braid of Kevlar and Graphite to create their new Double Braid Technology. Weight on the Midplus Standard model has been slightly reduced, as has frame stiffness. New, brighter cosmetics make the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 more visible. In addition to the Midplus Standard, Wilson offers the Hyper ProStaff in a Midplus Stretch and Oversize Stretch. We playtested all three models for two weeks and did a comparison of the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Standard and ProStaff Classic 6.1.
The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus remains a full-bodied player's stick, yet it is noticeably more maneuverable from the baseline than its predecessor. Dan offers, "no question, this is a lighter version of the Classic 6.1. It's also a little less powerful but delivers a very comfortable hit with a larger sweetspot than many competing racquets. I also liked the slice and topspin options the Hyper 6.1 Midplus offered." Granville concurs, adding, "since I currently use the original ProStaff 6.1 I was very curious how this new version would play. I wasn't disappointed. Groundies are simply dynamite. I found the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus more comfortable than the original 6.1 and slightly lighter. I believe the enhanced comfort comes from the frame being more flexible (65 RDC vs 70 RDC), which seems to have enlarged the sweetspot overall. It has that nice 'thwap' sound, which tells me the racquet has a good weight-to-balance-to-stiffness ratio. I felt I got all of the same performance benefits of my old 6.1 with added maneuverability and comfort. I'll be switching to the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus."
Drew comments, "I was never a fan of the ProStaff Classic 6.1. I felt the sweetspot was uneven (lively here, dead there - unpredictable) and the racquet itself was a little mushy. However, I liked the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus on groundstrokes. It has a nice, crisp feel and predictable power. When I wanted power it was there. If I couldn't take a full swing I could maintain control and still get enough on the ball. I also liked the spin this racquet provided. I had no problems producing hard, topspin shots, rolling angles or high bouncing moon balls. The benefit also came through on slice shots - I could hit biting approach shots or take off pace by hitting a more 'floaty' slice. I was rarely surprised by how the ball came off the strings, and for a player's racquet that's a compliment." Mark adds, "I really liked the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus. It had a good blend of touch, maneuverability and stability, without being overwhelmed by any one feature. If it had a little more power, it would be perfect. I was able to hit solid, although not spectacular, groundstrokes with this racquet. Its biggest strength is its versatility. I could hit good slice or topspin groundstrokes, as well as flatten out my shots. You can find better racquets for just ripping topspin or if you want to slice and dice all day. However, the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus allows you to hit both shots consistently." Don says, "having never really liked the original ProStaff 6.1 I wasn't expecting to like the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus either. Boy, was I wrong. In addition to the welcome drop in weight and swingweight, the racquet simply has a crisper feel while still being more comfortable. It was more responsive on every shot and I was able to hit with better spin on both sides. My initial skepticism of a 'new and improved 6.1' was quickly erased and I liked the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus more and more the longer I played."
The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus delivers few surprises at net. It is best suited for accomplished players used to wielding a full-bodied racquet. Drew explains, "the racquet isn't lightning-fast at net but it is solid and predictable. I could block volleys without giving my opponent an easy passing shot or worrying my balls would fly long. When I could hit with more authority the power was there. I also got better than expected underspin on my volleys." Dan adds, "volleying with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus was like driving a new Porsche! The combination of weight, balance and flexibility strikes a perfect cord for hitting crisp, clean volleys. I could also hold back a little for superb control and touch angles, making this a very nice racquet at net." Granville says, "the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus feels like a scalpel at net, as does my original 6.1. It offers excellent maneuverability and a precise, crisp response. Even when I was in trouble defending those down-the-line passing shots I could make a stab at the ball and keep it in play. It worked especially well on half-volleys, allowing me to keep the ball low and deep on return." Don comments, "while I prefer a slightly lighter racquet the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus performed well for me at net. As long as my stroke was short and I used good form I could let the racquet do the work and hit some pretty effective volleys." Mark offers, "the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus didn't have as much pop on volleys as I like. I felt like I had to swing a little too much to generate power. It is very maneuverable, which is a definite advantage at net, but I'd trade some of that mobility for a little more power."
Serving with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus is a little easier than with the ProStaff Classic 6.1 thanks to its trimmed-down weight. Drew comments, "I particularly liked hitting flat serves with this racquet. I found I could get the head moving well, yet the racquet still had enough mass to produce power. Control was very good - I could pick and choose whether I wanted to hit up the middle, out wide or into the body. Topspin and slice serves were also first-rate, with my slice serves having quite a bit of break to them." Don continues, "I liked the easier swinging of the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus compared to the ProStaff Classic 6.1. Although I've hit harder serves with other racquets, I was able to hit consistent serves with adequate pace and impressive precision. Again, there seemed to be increased spin potential that allowed better spin and kick." Dan adds, "the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus met all my serving requirements - heavy slice potential, better-than-average kick height and the right weight/balance ratio to hit the big, flat bomber without over-hitting." Mark offers, "I was able to serve very consistently with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus, but I didn't get as much power as I would have liked. However, the racquet does swing easy and is easy on the arm."
Similar to groundstrokes, the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus is versatile when returning serves. Drew says, "the all-around nature of this racquet came through on returns. I had no problems blocking back tough serves. When I could take a full swing I had control and power. On the backhand side I could slice or come over the ball with equal ease. My slice return is a little more dependable and I was happy to have decent pace and placement." Dan adds, "I like a racquet to be weighted enough to send returns back with sharp, controlled slice off the backhand side - thick slice that bites and doesn't put me on the defensive. The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus gave me this ability, along with enough feel and flex to drill the easy or short serve." Granville offers, "the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus felt great in my hand when returning serve. It's light enough to really get around on the ball and hefty enough to either block the ball back or take a big swing. As expected, this is a racquet that will follow your lead rather than give you something you didn't ask for." Don comments, "being used to slightly lighter racquets I initially had a few problems returning hard serves. Once I adjusted my swing I successfully hit some good slice backhand returns. Against second serves the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus is maneuverable enough to take a good swipe at the ball."
Our consensus is that the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus is a worthy successor to the ProStaff Classic 6.1. The racquet is crisper, more responsive and comfortable, and delivers on-demand power without sacrificing control. Players who prefer the heftier feel of the original can always add lead tape to match those specs. However, we believe the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus is actually more appealing to a broader base of players. We strongly encourage playtesting this racquet to find out for yourself.
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Although the spotlight is on the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Standard, Wilson has also updated the Midplus Stretch. In addition to the material changes (Hyper Carbon) the racquet has been shortened from 28 inches to 27.5 inches. The denser 18x20 string pattern remains for players seeking more control and extended string life. From our playtesting, it became clear that the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Standard has broadened the 6.1's appeal. The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch, however, is best suited for stronger, more aggressive players seeking even more control.
The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch will mostly favor big hitters from the baseline. Drew explains, "this racquet is definitely in the low-power category. I felt like I wasn't good enough to use it. If I wanted to hit balls with consistent depth I had to flatten out my strokes. The control was there but the effort it required to get pace was a little out of my comfort zone." Dan says, "I was a bit disappointed with the lack of spin potential due to the dense string pattern. The racquet's higher swingweight was also a problem for me. My timing was just never there when playtesting the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch. Being forced to hit flatter shots, many of my normal groundstrokes flew long or sailed high. However, once I shortened my stroke a little and prepared earlier I had better success. This gave me the impression the racquet was playing me, instead of me playing the racquet. This racquet does have some nice leverage though, and I was able to produce a few nice 'buggy whip' shots when pulled wide."
Mark comments, "my groundstrokes with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch were solid and consistent. The racquet's weight made it easy to hit slice backhands. However, topspin shots on both sides required early preparation and a fair amount of muscle to get the racquet moving. Although the racquet's higher swingweight hurt its mobility, stability was enhanced. I felt very little shock or vibration when I hit the ball." Granville offers, "for a longer racquet the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch is very solid and comfortable. Other than having to adjust for the added length and increased swingweight, many of the same features and benefits of the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Standard are evident. I did note a slight drop in spin potential with the denser string pattern but the trade-off was good depth on my groundstrokes." Don says, "I just didn't connect with this racquet. It felt much too 'clubby' and the dense string pattern robbed me of power and spin. Things improved once I shortened my strokes and let the racquet's weight do some of the work. However, it seemed like this racquet simply had half an inch tacked on to the handle which pushed the swingweight up to a point that made mobility very difficult for me."
The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch offers similar control benefits at net, but power may be lacking for most players. Mark says, "I had a tough time volleying with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch. The weight, head size and low power level weren't what I'm used to. When I found the sweetspot I could hit solid volleys with good control but it was tough to put the ball away." Drew continues, "no problems with control or stability. However, put-away power was lacking. I could block volleys and get good depth, but trying to knock away a volley required more of a swing than I could, or should safely take. Again, I felt like a better player than myself would be happier with this racquet." Dan comments, "the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch performed better for me at net, where spin isn't as much of a factor. The extra length helped in sticking volleys even that much harder and the swingweight issue wasn't as prevalent."
Don offers, "the racquet head seemed far away from my hand on volleys. I started choking up to make it seem more normal. Of course, the added length makes it easier to reach wide passing shots but the racquet head and sweetspot seemed small." Granville adds, "the extra length again required some adjustments when playing at net. Initially, I was hitting my volleys below the sweetspot, then above. Finally I settled in and made the racquet do what I wanted. I could really feel the extra 1/2 inch and a sort of 'fulcrum' effect. It almost seemed like the racquet head was smaller than 95 square inches, making me wonder if 100 square inches wouldn't be better for a racquet of this length. Off-center hits created a bit of torque and shock."
The added length and leverage of the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch would seem to benefit serves. However, the heavier swingweight requires a little more effort. Mark explains, "I had mixed feelings when serving with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch. On one hand, I could get good power and control using a smooth, controlled swing. On the other hand, after playing 1 set my arm was worn out and I was happy to switch back to the easier-swinging Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Standard. You need to have pretty good strength and endurance to serve with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch for an entire match." Drew says, "on first serves, I had to make a choice. Do I want pace or control? You can hit decent serves with this racquet but I had to muscle the racquet around at the expense of control. The tight stringbed doesn't help with spin, so second serves require making a similar choice - spin or control? As with groundstrokes, someone who is physically stronger would probably benefit from the control afforded by this racquet."
Dan offers, "predictably, spin and kick height took a backseat thanks to the dense string pattern of the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch. The extra length supplied some added juice, but my timing, again, was disturbed by the balance and/or swingweight of this racquet. I had a difficult time adjusting and trying to find an appropriate swing speed to coordinate with a higher ball toss. I normally don't require such a long adjustment period with 27.5 inch racquets." Granville comments, "the added length seemed to matter little when it came to serving with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch. By this time, I had adjusted to the length and began benefiting from the boost in power afforded by the extra 1/2 inch. Spin serves wide were OK but I didn't feel I was getting the 'grab' from the stringbed I'm used to." Don says, "I was unable to swing the racquet fast enough to generate good pace and the dense string pattern limited spin potential. This wasn't the best serving racquet for me."
As one might expect, block returns seemed to work best for our playtesters. Dan offers, "I never wanted to take much backswing with this racquet when returning serve. It felt heavy coming around and never seemed to want to 'get there'. The good news was that short, compact strokes delivered adequate power in most cases." Granville says, "it just feels different holding this longer version when returning serve. I was always conscious of serves into my body, which required more touch with a longer racquet. If I was ahead of the ball and moving forward I was able to place the ball to either side with comfort. Blocking the ball was perhaps the most effective strategy." Don comments, "my only option against first serves was to set the racquet head and step into the ball. Even on second serves I had to take an abbreviated stroke in order to avoid being late." Drew adds, "I enjoyed the control and was able to return most serves. However, it was difficult to put much pressure on my opponent. I also had a little trouble getting the racquet around to hit topspin backhands so I had to depend on my slice more."
The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Stretch isn't simply a 1/2 inch longer version of the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Standard. It is noticeably different, mostly in terms of swingweight and string pattern. You better eat your Wheaties before taking this racquet out for a long match! It is best suited for accomplished baseline players who prefer a heavier swinging stick and denser string pattern.
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
At 106 square inches the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch barely qualifies as being an oversize racquet. Consequently, the power and control assumptions many make when discussing an oversize racquet may not apply. Also, the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch is the lightest of the three models, has the lowest swingweight and features a fairly open 16x20 string pattern. It's also the only Hyper ProStaff 6.1 featuring a Hyper Bar in the throat, which is designed to increase stability.
The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch was popular with our playtesters from the baseline. Mark begins, "Of the trhee new Hyper 6.1 racquets I liked the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch the most. This isn't surprising since I normally play with an oversize racquet. Although I had a little less control on groundstrokes than with the other two Hyper 6.1s, I had fewer mis-hits on heavy slice or topspin shots. The Hyper 6.1 Stretch OS also had the best combination of power, control and maneuverability. These advantages were worth giving up a little control." Granville adds, "I'll just blurt it out. This is one of the nicest oversize racquets I've ever played with. From the first groundstroke I was hitting the ball with good depth from both sides. The racquet is very stable; I assume due to the stabilizing Hyper Bar. I really had to hit balls way outside the sweetspot before any wobbling occurred. It has a very predictable response on groundstrokes and enough touch to mix it up with short angles or drop shots. The open string pattern really adds some nice spin potential for added control."
Don comments, "the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch offered a nice combination of weight, swingweight, power and control. The headsize and length also seemed to fit well together. Despite weighing over 12 ounces it was fairly easy to swing. I also liked the spin I was able to generate, whether hitting topspin or slice." Drew offers, "I noticed the extra spin offered by the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch right away. Whipping the ball around the court was no problem. The racquet has comparable power to the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Standard but not quite as much control. I felt more comfortable taking advantage of the spin and trying to hit a winner with angled topspin than trying to blast a ball by my opponent." Dan says, "after just a few minutes of hitting groundies with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch I came up with a new name for it - the 'Lazyboy' of player's racquets. It is traditionally weighted and balanced but with an extra helping of power. This racquet swings lighter than its printed specs while still providing impressive stability and comfort. I was able to generate good pace with a medium swing from both sides. The open string pattern allowed excellent ball bite and spin rotation."
Not surprisingly, the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch scored high marks with our playtesters on volleys. Mark comments, "I really liked the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch at net. The larger head made it much easier to volley and half-volley with than the other two Hyper 6.1 models. I felt like I had as much control and power with the oversize as I did with both midplus models and I had a bigger sweetspot. I think the oversize is far and away the best of the three for serve and volley players." Don agrees, adding, "the combination of this racquet's characteristics make it a natural at net. There is enough mass to keep from getting pushed around by hard passing shots, yet the racquet is maneuverable enough for quick exchanges. It's a great choice for serve and volley singles and/or doubles players."
Granville offers, "the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch is great for volleying thanks to its maneuverability and good power. Finally, here is a performance oversize racquet that 4.5 and above players can use. It was very solid on both sides with enough mass for that extra punch. I had no problems adjusting to the oversize head or added 1/2 inch of length. This racquet has a very distinctive feel on volleys, producing a very tight, clean punch." Drew says, "the oversize head makes it a little easier to make contact, particularly on half-volleys. However, I didn't have the same touch as I did with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Midplus Standard." Dan adds, "with a big sweetspot, head-light balance and hefty weight, the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch volleys with a stability found in few other racquets. Compact volley form delivers enough punch to put away easy sitters. The crisp feel at net, whether volleying or hitting an overhead, leaves an impression that puts this racquet head and shoulders above competing oversize models."
Our playtesters found the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch a pleasure on serves. Mark offers, "I served well with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch. I had good spin and placement and my arm didn't wear out. The power level was about the same as both midplus models but spin potential was enhanced." Dan continues, "oversize head plus hefty weight plus head-light balance plus open string pattern equals a big-time serving racquet. Want power? No problem. Want ultimate spin control? It's there. Looking for good kick? This racquet will deliver. I found all this in the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch." Don says, "I enjoyed serving with this racquet. I was able to generate good racquet head speed for adequate power and the added spin potential allowed for some great slice serves. I was confident hitting out on second serves, knowing the ball would drop in thanks to the topspin I was able to produce." Granville comments, "serving with the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch was a pleasant experience. The racquet seems to provide a bit of kick as the ball leaves the strings and it flexes just enough to deliver the control I'm accustomed to." Drew says, "unlike the other Hyper 6.1 models, I found spin serves to be more effective than flat serves. The ball dug in nicely to the open string pattern and allowed for nice kick and slice serves. Flat serves had adequate power and adequate control. I didn't worry about missing my first serve since the second serve would probably be at least as effective."
The Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch proved effective on serve returns for most playtesters. Granville begins, "I had great successs with the oversize on returns. The larger head gave me a fraction more room for error and I was able to chip returns, block the ball back, or drive returns with little thought." Dan adds, "I was able to swing away on returns as long as I applied some spin to the ball. Flat balls tended to float long, but control was easy to find by adding slice or topspin. My backhand slice returns were very effective, biting nicely and staying low." Drew says, "nothing stood out as particularly good or bad on returns. I made some shots and I missed some shots. Pace was adequate but not outstanding. Ditto for control and feel. For someone who normally doesn't care for oversize racquets 'not bad' may be good." Don offers, "I found the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch quite versatile on returns. I could block back the big blasters, drive slower second serves or (my favorite) slice backhand approach shots. The racquet just has a nice combination of weight, swingweight and headsize for my game."
While many oversize racquets are developed as an afterthought, the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch is clearly a stand-alone racquet. With its barely-oversize head, traditional weight and balance, and added 1/2 inch of length, it may even appeal to some aging midplus players seeking a transition racquet, as well as accomplished doubles players. From our playtesting, we believe it will be much more successful than its predecessors. If this sounds compelling to you then we urge you to test drive the Hyper ProStaff 6.1 Oversize Stretch.
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
|Dan||5.5 all-court player currently using a Prince Triple Threat Warrior MP.|
|Don||4.5-5.0 all-court player currently using a Yonex Ultimum RQ Ti-1700 MP|
|Drew||4.5-5.0 baseline player currently using a Wilson ProStaff 6.0 85.|
|Granville||5.5 all-court player currently using a Wilson ProStaff 6.1 95.|
|Mark||5.5 all-court player currently using a Prince Thunder 820 OS.|
Review date: July, 2001. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2001 Tennis Warehouse.