Wilson giveth, Wilson taketh away, Wilson giveth back.
So goes the enduring story of the Hammer 6.2 (first introduced in 1993), its subsequent discontinuation, and now the arrival of its heir apparent, the Hyper Hammer 6.2. The Hammer 6.2, dubbed "The Skunk" due to its distinctive black and white cosmetics, was one of the most popular racquets of the 1990s. It appealed to a wide cross-section of players, from club players to pros, thanks to its combination of controllable power, maneuverability and solid feel. It also legitimized Hammer technology for many intermediate and advanced players. Prior to the 6.2, Hammer racquets were limited to "game improvement" models, designed for beginning level players.
The new Hyper Hammer 6.2 offers updated technology but retains the familiar black and white cosmetics of the original. As its name implies, the Hyper Hammer 6.2 now incorporates 10% Hyper Carbon (an Ultra High Modulus graphite), for increased stability, combined with 60% High Modulus Graphite and 30% fiberglass (the original Hammer 6.2 was composed of 60% graphite/40% fiberglass). A new Stable Step Frame design (a smoother looking version of Wilson's dual tapered beam design) enhances power and stability. The new Hyper Hammer 6.2 also includes Wilson's exclusive "vibration reducing" Iso-Zorb grommet system - whereby soft polymer grommets at the 3 and 9 o'clock positions (11 center crosses) reduce vibration by up to 30%, according to Wilson. New choices in length complete the "Skunk's" comeback. The Midplus (95 square inches) is 27.25 inches long (a quarter inch longer than standard length) while the 110 Oversize is 27.5 inches. The original Hammer 6.2 racquets were standard length while the later Stretch versions were 28 inches long.
Does the Hyper Hammer 6.2 live up to the lofty reputation forged by the original Hammer 6.2? Serena Williams seems to be impressed, having recently switched to the Hyper Hammer 6.2 Oversize. We playtested the Hyper Hammer 6.2 for three weeks and have the following impressions.
While it borrows some characteristics from the original, we found the Hyper Hammer 6.2 to possess traits all its own. Examples include a cushioned, more comfortable feel and slightly lighter weight. Dan says,"any pre-conceived notions I had about the Hyper Carbon version of the 6.2 being similar to the original 6.2 were quickly dismissed. The HH 6.2 Midplus has a uniquely dampened feel. At the weight class it falls under (9.8oz), I thought vibration might be a bigger issue than it was. But, I found a very solid feel throughout the string bed and a racquet that swung heavier than its actual static weight. There was enough head mass to keep backhand slices from floating and topspin had enough bite to keep me in the game while still hitting with fast swing speeds." Drew adds, "the Hyper 6.2 95 has a very comfortable feel on groundstrokes. The power level allows you to take a fairly full swing and get good pace."
Don continues,"the 6.2 MP swung pretty easy from the baseline and wasn't overly 'hammery', or head-heavy feeling; certainly not as much as the original Hammer 6.2 MP. I prefer this feeling but it does affect the power level. The Hyper 6.2 is less powerful than I recall the original 6.2 being. It's also much more comfortable. In fact, it's the first non-Triad Hammer that I can recall being cushioned. In play, I could take a full swing and still keep the ball in court, although I sometimes got ahead of the ball due to the racquet's light weight. After a few minutes I adjusted my swing and enjoyed good control and comfortable feel." Mark offers,"I was able to hit solid groundstrokes with the HH 6.2 Midplus. I had more success when I flattened my strokes out than when I tried to hit with a lot of spin. I don't think this is a great spin racquet, but it's a solid all around frame. I think it's an excellent all court racquet for someone who can supply most of the power."
Our playtesters found a nice middle ground when venturing to the net. Most agreed the HH 6.2 MP was very maneuverable, yet supplied enough control to impress the upper intermediate to advanced set. Mark begins, "I had the most success with the HH 6.2 MP at the net. It was very maneuverable without sacrificing stability. Its power level is low enough to maintain good control. I was able to handle the hard hit passing shots as well as the soft balls at my feet." Don says, "I prefer a head-light racquet at net but the HH 6.2 MP wasn't overly head-heavy and I enjoyed the maneuverability. It had good control and touch on volleys and it was fairly stable for its weight." Dan continues, "I felt the Hyper Hammer 6.2 MP was light enough to get around easily with at net yet powerful enough to send volleys deep with a compact, short block. The dampened feel did at times inhibit my ability to really get the feel I like when hitting drop shots or tight angles." Drew adds,"the HH 6.2 MP is solid at net. It's got a little more control and tolerates my tendency to swing too much."
The HH 6.2 MP offers the stability and solid feel of a 'tweener racquet, while its low to moderate power level belies the racquet's easy wielding mobility. Mark explains, "I found good control when serving with the 6.2 Midplus, but the power was a little lacking. I had a few placement aces, but I couldn't hit an overpowering serve. If you can generate the power, the racquet will provide the control." Don adds, "I liked serving with the HH 6.2 MP. It was easy to swing fast to generate pace on flat first serves, and I enjoyed good spin on second serves. The lighter weight reduced power a little but not as much as I anticipated. All in all, it was a good serving racquet."
Dan comments, "I liked the racquet head speed I could produce with the Hyper Hammer 6.2 (95). It's one of those racquets I could really get the feel for "hammering" (no pun intended) my serves with. The racquet's light weight fit in nicely with my rather quick service motion too. Slice and kick were adequate. However, the dampened feel didn't always give the ultimate feel of control. I felt I had to aim at a general area instead of a "spot" in the service box. For this category of racquet that's not a surprise." Drew shares, "serving with the HH 6.2 MP is pleasurable. It's got enough pop for effective flat serves but you can still hit good topspin or slice serves. It takes a little more effort to get the same results compared to the 110 Oversize, but that comes with the territory for players who prefer 95 square inch racquets."
Our playtesters found more control than power when returning serve. Medium to fast swing speeds seem to work best, depending on the type of incoming serve. Don begins, "I had better results taking some backswing on serve returns. Blocking the ball back didn't provide quite enough depth or power against most serves. The good news is the HH 6.2 MP was maneuverable enough so I could take some backswing. When returning slower serves I could smack the ball and still have good control." Mark comments, "I felt like I was overmatched on hard serves. There didn't seem to be enough weight in the head to combat them. However, I was able to take a full swing on second serves or slower first serves and drive them down the line or cross court effectively."
Dan continues, "I tried blocking back serves and taking shorter swings, even while returning medium paced serves. The result in most cases was a relatively deep return. Simply put, I found a medium powered racquet that responds best to similarly powered strokes. Sliced backhand returns, which I hit often, found good precision and stayed low as long as swing speed stayed high - a trait somewhat rare in a racquet under ten ounces." Drew says, "the HH 6.2 MP has enough power to block balls, although don't expect to hit winners doing this. If it's more your style, you can take a fairly aggressive swing with the Hyper 6.2 95 on returns. I wouldn't say my slice returns were particularly effective; after a few slice returns that fell in the range of nothing-special to fairly weak, I stuck to my much more effective topspin returns."
Like the original Skunk, the Hyper Hammer 6.2 Midplus will appeal to a wide cross-section of players, particularly intermediate to advanced level players who like a slightly head heavy feel but are seeking more control than power in their racquet. Stability and a comfortable feel are key features of this racquet. This isn't an exact reproduction of the original Hammer 6.2 but it comes pretty close. The HH 6.2 MP feels and swings less head-heavy and has a distinctly cushioned feel. Some players, like our playtesters, will prefer these changes from the original, while others won't. To compare for yourself, test drive one through our mail-order demo program.
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
The Hyper Hammer 6.2 Oversize maintains the same comfortable, cushioned feel we found with the Midplus. While the Oversize is predictably more powerful than the Midplus (about a 10 to 12% increase), the open string pattern, light weight and solid feel allow for good spin control. This is the headsize used by Serena Williams.
From the baseline, the Hyper Hammer 6.2 OS swings heftier (320 RDC units) than its static weight of 9.6 ounces might suggest, due to its head-heavy balance and extended length (27.5 inches). Don offers, "there's certainly power on demand with this racquet and it felt heavier than 9.5 +/- ounces. Just taking a medium swing I could drive the ball deep with good pace. In fact, I found it necessary to increase topspin to keep the balls from flying at times. The open string pattern and large head made this easy and I enjoyed slicing backhands. I might bump up tension a few pounds for added control. I liked the cushioned feel, which was different than I recall from the original Hammer 6.2 OS." Dan adds, "I found a true 10-15% increase in power from the baseline when switching over to the Hyper Hammer 6.2 Oversize from the Midplus, although the same dampened feel is evident. Although spin potential increased with the larger string bed and more open pattern, a short to lower-medium stroke sent the ball deep. My fast-er swing attempts sent the ball sailing and flatly hit balls saw the same result. It took very little to send my sliced backhands beyond the baseline, but as with the Midplus, they stayed low and bit well." John comments, "from the very first stroke I was impressed with the dampened feel and comfort of the HH 6.2 OS. My previous experience with Wilson Hyper Hammer rackets included a dampener as an essential piece of equipment in quieting string vibration. This was not the case with the HH 6.2 OS. The Iso-Zorb grommet system makes for a quiet and stable performer. The 6.2 is the most dampened Wilson racket I have played to date. On groundies I was comfortable from both sides, especially the forehand. Although somewhat light, the racket suited my moderate to fast swing. The relatively light weight (under 10 ounces strung) and head-heavy balance enabled me to swing freely with confidence. I was impressed when getting to well placed balls that I had time to exact an offensive stroke with a simple flick of the wrist." Drew says, "the Hyper Hammer 6.2 OS is a very easy hitting racquet. A medium swing is all you need to produce solid, consistent shots. The racquet seems ideally suited for rallying or playing defense. The HH 6.2 OS has ample power to the point that any problems I had came from overhitting. The large head and open string pattern allow for easy spin and good power. Keeping the ball deep and controlling direction posed no problems. I wouldn't say I had pin-point placement, but someone with a more tempered swing (or more common sense in the shot selection department) than myself should find many things to their liking. The HH 6.2 OS seems built to cover a lot of bases; it provides power, it's fairly maneuverable, it has a big sweet spot and it's stable and comfortable. Unless you're a player with well defined tastes in racquets, you'll probably like something, if not most things, about this racquet. Mark continues, "I never found my range on groundstrokes with the HH 6.2 OS, especially on the forehand side. Most of my topspin forehands ended up in the bottom of the net, and those that got over the net usually flew long. I never felt like I could control the depth of my shots. On the backhand side I was able to slice the ball effectively, but hitting topspin consistently was difficult."
Combining an oversize head, extended length and light weight, the HH 6.2 OS seems to be an ideal racquet at net for intermediate players. Dan comments, "this was a very comfortable racquet to volley with. Frame vibration seems very limited, and like the Midplus, it's mobile enough to react quickly in a variety of situations. The downside for me is the lack of control I felt when pinpoint accuracy was needed. However, comfort and mobility were the upside." Drew continues, "the 110 head and good maneuverability made striking the ball fairly easy. Keep to a small swing or you'll overhit." Don says, "great racquet for blocking back volleys. Too much swing will send the balls flying though. Like the midplus, I didn't care for the head-heavy balance on volleys, but it wasn't severe enough to cause problems. I liked the maneuverability and comfort." John adds, "I found the racket to be maneuverable at net. The 6 point head-heavy balance did not impede my ability to get to most passing shots. The light weight of the racket and the large sweetspot made the 6.2 a useful weapon at net. On off-centered hits, the racket did twist a bit, but overall I found the racquet pretty stable. On well struck volleys I found the result to be crisp, precise volleys." Mark offers, "the HH 6.2 Oversize was very stable on volleys but it was a little too powerful for my taste. Driving volleys required a very short, precise swing to keep the ball in the court. I found myself babying the ball because I was afraid it would fly long if I volleyed aggressively."
The Hyper Hammer 6.2 OS delivers plenty of power and spin on serves. Drew explains, "the power level and open string pattern are a good combination for serving. I could hit hard flat serves or big spin serves comfortably. It's easy to get the racquet head moving, which should help anyone looking to add power, but people with already big serves may find keeping the timing right can be a little tough." John says, "I thoroughly enjoyed serving with the 6.2 OS. The combination of head heaviness and light weight enabled me to serve flat or spin serves with velocity and accuracy. I was pleased at the amount of spin I was able to get on my kick serve, considering the weight of the frame. On overheads, I was pleased with the maneuverability of the frame and my shot was not influenced by the head-heaviness of the frame. I didn't pull balls down into the net. If anything, on the serve and overhead, I was able to get lots of wrist snap resulting in good power and accuracy." Mark offers, "I served well with the 6.2 Oversize. The racquet provided plenty of power and I was able to place the ball hard down the middle or out wide with spin. My kick serves had good pace and a nice, high bounce." Don comments, "I was pleasantly surprised with the power of this racquet on serves. I expected a typical oversize racquet - great spin but limited power. The HH 6.2 OS gave me both. I could crank a flat serve down the middle or slice out wide. On second serves, I could take a full swing, with confidence that spin would keep the ball in the service box." Dan counters, "I didn't feel like I could 'hammer' serves like I could with the Midplus, but we're talking a Cadillac Coup De Ville upgrade here - there's more racquet to move around. The Oversize finds its best trait where spin is involved. Kick serves jumped higher and slice went wider. As with the Midplus though, control is best described as aiming at a general area, not a spot. Intermediate doubles specialists will find a nice serve and volley ally."
The Hyper Hammer 6.2 OS is best suited to shorter backswings on serve returns. Dan offers, "compact to moderate swings send the ball back with plenty of pace. The trick for me (fast swing type) was spin control. If I had a good look at a return, my concentration was on imparting enough topspin or slice to gain better control." Drew adds, "I found keeping my swing short yielded the best results. The racquet is maneuverable and provides the power so all I had to work on was managing the control. The large head and open string pattern allowed for biting slice returns." Don says, "I could block back big serves effectively but returning slower serves required some discretion. If I took a big swipe at a second serve the ball would often fly. Once I found my range and applied more spin, these balls dropped in. Backhand slice returns were sweet and the ball stayed nice and low." John comments, "I did find the light weight of the frame affected my returns a bit, especially on hard, well struck bombs. My blocked returns often times landed short and were fodder for easy put-aways. I was pleased that off-centered hits sometimes found their way into play and the racket did not torque uncontrollably. I was also pleased with the spin I could generate on approach shots from both sides, but I found the weight of the frame (or my lack of follow through) caused some of my approach shots to land a bit short. I seem to get better 'bite' on approach shots using heavier racquets." Mark continues, "I didn't return serves very well with the HH 6.2 Oversize. The racquet felt sluggish on hard hit serves and I had trouble catching up to them. On high kick serves I had a tough time keeping my returns in the court. My slice returns floated a lot and were ineffective even if they landed in the court."
The Hyper Hammer 6.2 Oversize isn't an exact replacement for the original Hammer 6.2 OS. However, it offers many similar traits and a few improvements for those who prefer a cushioned feel and improved maneuverability (over the original). Best suited for 3.5-4.5 players (with apologies to Serena...) who like an oversize head and rely on spin control. Great doubles racquet.
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
|Dan||5.0-5.5 all-court player currently using a Babolat Pure Control Zylon.|
|Don||4.5 all-court player currently using a Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 7g.|
|Drew||4.5-5.0 player currently using a Wilson Triad 6.0.|
|John||4.5 all-court player currently using a Prince Triple Threat Bandit OS.|
|Mark||5.5 all-court player currently using a Prince Thunder 820.|
Review date: July, 2002. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2002 Tennis Warehouse.