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Wilson Hyper Hammer 6.3

After more than a year of negotiations, Wilson finally signed Serena and Venus Williams to an endorsement contract right before the '99 U.S. Open. No numbers were made public but you can be sure the price was mighty high. This deal put a lot of pressure on Wilson's racquet designers. The talent and charisma of Venus and Serena is going to inspire a lot of players to demo Wilson's new racquets, but how well the racquets perform is going to determine whether or not they buy them. If Serena's new racquet, the Hyper Hammer 6.3, is any indication of Wilson's ability to perform under pressure, their future looks bright.

The Hyper Hammer 6.3 offers many new features not found in any of Wilson's Hammer racquets. It's more than just a replacement for the Hammer 6.2. While the difference in the swing index of the 6.3 and the 6.2 is minimal, the addition of Hyper Carbon and an optional "light" bumper guard help distinguish the 6.3 from its predecessor, and from other Hammer racquets. Designed for players with a "long, loopy stroke style and a fast swing speed", the Hyper Hammer 6.3 comes in 2 headsizes, 95" and 110". Both head sizes feature "custom fit" bumpers. The light bumper with cut out holes "enhances maneuverability" while the traditional (heavy) bumper, which is 6 grams (.2 ounces) heavier, "provides more power and stability". Players who prefer a less head-heavy feel but otherwise like the playability of the Hammer 6.2 may find the 6.3 "light" just right.

Although Wilson isn't the first company to offer differently weighted bumpers (Prince provided hard and clay court bumpers with their CTS frames several years ago), they're the first to market them as "performance options". Essentially, a player receives two racquets for the price of one and can choose the version he or she prefers. The 95 weighs in at 9.6 oz. (strung light bumper) and 9.9 oz. (strung traditional bumper). It features a standard 27" length. The 110 weighs in at 9.7 oz (strung light bumper) and 9.8 oz. (strung traditional bumper). The 110 also features a 27.5" Stretch length for more power. We playtested both head sizes with both bumpers. All racquets were strung at mid-range with Tecnifibre NRG2 17.

Note: While The Hyper Hammer 6.3's custom bumpers successfully provide players with weighting options, they are limited. Some players will prefer to add weight in different areas of the 6.3, outfitted with the light bumper, to make it fit their needs. We applaud Wilson though, for taking a step in the right direction. Perhaps we'll see more Hammers available with the lighter bumper in the near future. The nice thing is that players can experiment with both versions without having to buy a second racquet.

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Midplus
(Light Bumper)

A "real player's Hammer" was the consensus of our playtesters. The lighter overall weight, combined with a modest head-heavy balance makes this racquet appealing to players who previously rejected Hammers. Granville explains, "I've never been a fan of head-heavy racquets, so of course I had a preconceived notion about this racquet. On court, though, I thought I'd picked up the wrong racquet - this couldn't be a Hammer. It feels too maneuverable and is balanced more to my liking. After finding the sweetspot, I enjoyed good depth on my groundstrokes with approximately the same swing as my ProStaff 6.0 85. The open string pattern and traditional length added to the racquet's appeal." Drew, another ProStaff 6.0 85 user continues, "these racquets deliver what you'd expect from a flexible Hammer racquet - power with a soft feel for players with a fuller stroke. The light version has a nice feel to it, allowing decent pace and spin on groundstrokes."

Unlike some player's racquets, the Hyper Hammer 6.3 Midplus-light is fairly firm on balls hit high in the stringbed. Don offers, "with many player's racquets, there is too much frame flutter on high-hit balls. The 6.3's overall material layup and/or the addition of Hyper Carbon prevents this, providing a more solid feel on 'tip' shots. The fiberglass seems to provide just enough flex to keep the frame from feeling too stiff or harsh, like some Hyper Carbon frames." Dan liked the 6.3's control, "I found the control of a head-light frame from the baseline, but without the overall weight. Strung correctly, players with long, fast swings won't find better feel and control from a head-heavy racquet." Mark concludes, "I really liked the weight and flex of the 6.3s. Many of today's new racquets are very light and stiff. The 6.3s have more flex and more weight, so it didn't feel like the ball was overpowering the racquet. The frame flex made it feel like the ball was staying on the strings long enough to generate good spin . I don't get that feel from the super-lightweight frames. The 6.3 was also easier on my arm."

The 6.3 midplus-light's reduced head-heaviness makes it more versatile at net than some other Hammers. Gran comments, "volleys were crisp and solid and maneuverability was noticeably better than with other Hammers." Dan continues, "nice maneuverability at net. Volleys had the solid feel of a head-heavy frame but I still had the confidence to hit drop shots and angle volleys." "In fact, it's hard to believe this racquet is 8 points (1 inch) head-heavy", says Don . "Having measured the specs of these racquets, I also had a preconception of how this model would perform at net. To my surprise, it didn't volley anything like I expected. It felt almost evenly balanced - just enough weight in the head to provide stability but still extremely maneuverable. There wasn't that signature 'droopy-head' feel so apparent with some head-heavy models."

On overheads, the 6.3 midplus-light's weight makes racquet head speed easy to generate, allowing proficient net players to hit effective overheads time after time. Don comments, "although the 6.3 midplus-light requires proper setup, I found myself feeling more nimble with this racquet. Nice combination of quickness, power and control, allowing me to place overheads with ease and adequate authority."

Serves are similarly enjoyable to hit with the 6.3 midplus-light. As Dan points out, "the maneuverability of this racquet, combined with its dominant head weight made quick swing speeds possible on serves. Dialing in was not a problem. Second serves, however, did require more swing speed than usual. Otherwise, the 'kick' was weak." Gran offers, "I was pleased with the power and control on serves, especially my slice serve out wide on the deuce court." The 6.3 midplus-light seems to increase player confidence on serves, as evidenced by Don and Drew's feedback. Says Don, "I felt I could put the ball anywhere in the service box. I've served harder with other players racquets, although power was quite sufficient. As with overheads, what impressed me was the racquet's control. I'd pick a target and, like pushing a button, presto, the ball was there - with pace." Drew adds, "I could hit any serve I wanted...".

For a 9.7 ounce racquet, the 6.3 midplus-light was surprisingly stable on reaction shots, pick-up and half-volleys, etc. While it's not as stable as a traditional player's frame (or with the heavier bumper), it is very solid for a sub-10 ounce stick.

Players seeking the flexibility, headsize and length of a traditional player's racquet but with enhanced maneuverability should like the Hyper Hammer 6.3 midplus-light. It's also a great "base racquet" - one that can be easily customized with lead tape (beyond adding the heavier bumper) for players wanting a head-light and/or slightly heavier racquet. A good choice for 4.0-6.0 all-court or serve and volley players.

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Midplus (Traditional Bumper)

While only .2 ounces (6 grams) heavier than the 6.3 midplus-light, the 6.3 midplus-traditional is noticeably weightier to hold and swing. This is because the 6 grams are placed at the tip of the frame, where it has a more dramatic effect on dynamic swingweight. The 6.3 midplus-traditional's swingweight is 20 points higher than the 6.3 midplus-light and feels it. Players who are predisposed to Hammer weight and balance may prefer this version to the midplus-light. It is certainly a more classic Hammer in that sense.

Our playtestesters found the 6.3 midplus-traditional more stable and solid-feeling on most shots. As expected though, the reduction in maneuverability was quite noticeable. Dan comments, "all in all, it felt like a mini-tank with its weight in all the wrong places. It was much slower in swing transition than its lighter counterpart. The heavier swingweight was not only noticeable to me, swinging the frame, but clearly visible to my hitting partner who was familiar with my swing pattern and timing. Early preparation is critical for success. Once I found the timing, taking big cracks off both wings was possible but control was average. I found my groundstrokes flying long if conscious spin wasn't part of the equation. Too much head weight to be effective for serious control players." Drew concurs, adding, "switching to the traditional bumper really seemed to hinder the racquet's performance. While power was slightly enhanced, it slowed down preparation for groundstrokes, volleys, serves and overheads. The extra swingweight turned a good racquet into a so-so racquet. There's no question I'd go for the lighter bumper on the 6.3 midplus." Granville continues, "while the difference is subtle, I found the traditional bumper brought the 6.3 back to the more classic Hammer feel. It was less quick through the air and slower to get over the ball on serves. I like the midplus-light version better, but both models are noticeable improvements over previous Hammers."

On volleys, the 6.3 midplus-traditional was predictably less maneuverable than the lighter version but was impressively more stable and solid. Dan offers, "the extra weight at the net is an asset for those with simple form. Just meeting the ball produced solid, controlled volleys. Doubles specialists, or those who camp at the net might find something here." Other playtesters agreed that stability was enhanced, but as Don explains, "the extra weight is in the wrong place for optimal volleying. I kept having to consciously push the racquet head up to keep it from dropping. The negative outweighs the positive."

Serving with the 6.3 midplus-traditional produces a "heavier" ball but most playtesters preferred the midplus-light version. Don says, "for me, the most dramatic difference between the light and traditional was on serving. I couldn't generate as much racquet head speed with the midplus-traditional, nor could I produce as much spin." Dan agreed, "serves, like overheads, had a feeling of 'top weight' just before impact, as if a train had just lost its momentum. I found myself struggling to carry swing speed to the max just before impact on both shots."

The 6.3 midplus-traditional is more stable on reaction shots, block returns and pick-up, half and stab volleys. The downside is that it can't be flicked as easily for those out-of-position groundies.

Overall, we think the 6.3 midplus-traditional will appeal to fewer players than the midplus-light version. We found the additional weight in the head made the racquet too sluggish and head heavy for a player's racquet. However, players transitioning from the Hammer 6.2 will find a more familiar feel with the heavier bumper.

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Midplus Light Bumper Technical & Statistical Data

Hyper 6.3 Midplus Light Bumper Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size95 square inches613 square centimeters
Weight9.6 ounces272 grams
Balance Point14.25 inches
36 centimeters
6 pts Head Heavy
Shaft Width26 mm/22 mm Dual Taper Beam
Composition10% Hyper Carbon
60% Graphite
30% Fiberglass

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating66Range: 0-100
Swing Weight312Range: 200-400
Manueverability79A

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Midplus Traditional Bumper Technical & Statistical Data

Hyper 6.3 Midplus Traditional Bumper Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size95 square inches613 square centimeters
Weight9.9 ounces281 grams
Balance Point14.5 inches
37 centimeters
8 pts Head Heavy
Shaft Width26 mm/22 mm Dual Taper Beam
Composition10% Hyper Carbon
60% Graphite
30% Fiberglass

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating66Range: 0-100
Swing Weight332Range: 200-400
Manueverability59B

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Oversize (Light Bumper)

Similar to the Hyper Hammer 6.3 midplus-light, the oversize-light is a solid player's Hammer - but in a 110 headsize. It should be noted that all playtesters detected less of a difference between the two bumper weights on the oversize than with the midplus. Our demo racquets measured only 7 swingweight units different in the oversize.

On groundstrokes, the 6.3 oversize-light doesn't require as full or fast of a swing as the midplus and the larger hitting surface is more forgiving. Dan offers, "impressive maneuverability for an oversize. It produced good topspin but slice shots tended to sit up more than I like, as oversize racquets tend to do. Control was far above average for an oversized, head-heavy racquet." Drew liked the stability offered by the 6.3 oversize, adding "many oversize racquets are either trampolines with a handle (too big and bouncy) or too flimsy and wobbly to feel like you're really hitting the ball. The 6.3 oversize (with either bumper) has a good solid feel with plenty of power even if you just take a moderate swing." Don liked the 6.3 oversize-light best, explaining, "the optimal combination of weight, balance, flex, and hitting surface. The open string pattern and bigger head allowed me to generate good topspin and slice with this racquet, without that 'floating' feeling some oversize racquets provide. My shots had good pace, depth and accuracy."

Like many oversize racquets, the 6.3 oversize-light excels at net. "The best of all four choices, when it comes to volleying," says Dan. "Volleys felt solid at or off-center and I had no problem getting down quickly for low volleys or rushing to punish sitters. I was as confident controlling volleys as I normally am with my midplus." Don concurs, "all of the benefits of an oversize with the control of a midplus. I liked the quickness, stability and punch.."

Serves and overheads can be hit with authority and spin. Dan explains, "no problem hitting the big first serves or whipping this racquet into place on overheads. The bigger head provides nice feel and forgiveness on off-center shots - minimal vibration." Don adds, "with many oversize racquets, spin serves are easy but power is reduced. Serving with the 6.3 oversize-light, I could hammer a flat first serve and swing just as hard on the second serve, generating enough spin to keep the ball in the service box."

The 6.3 oversize-light is versatile on returns, reaction shots and half-volleys. One can choose to block a return for placement or drive the ball without fear of it hitting the back fence. Of course, string type and tension greatly influence control and power, especially on an oversize frame.

All our playtesters agreed the 6.3 oversize-light has the widest appeal. Drew describes it as "one of the better all-around oversize racquets I've played with." It will benefit players with medium swings from the back court and all-court/serve & volley players who prefer an oversize head in a control-oriented frame.

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Oversize (Traditional Bumper)

As stated above, the difference between the light and traditional bumpers is less noticeable on the Hyper Hammer 6.3 Oversize. Nonetheless, there's enough to warrant a separate discussion on the performance attributes.

On groundstrokes, Mark preferred the 6.3 oversize-traditional. "I had more consistency in my swing with the heavier oversize and I was able to get more power without having to swing as hard as I did with the oversize-light." Drew says, "although I'd give a slight edge to the oversize-light in most categories, the heavier version felt a little more solid on flatter strokes, but you have to be right on target. Otherwise, the extra swingweight makes it just enough harder to hit with spin that you feel uncomfortable taking a full swing." Fast-swinging Dan also found the oversize-traditional a little too powerful, adding "full swings found the back fence so I found myself taking half-cuts and concentrating on topspin for control. However, once I found my timing and started taking shorter swings, the better attributes of this racquet started to appear. Very solid on off-center shots with good power. Spin was easy to produce with shorter, compact swings."

As expected, volleys are slightly more stable and powerful with the oversize-traditional than the oversize-light. Maneuverability is slightly reduced but the larger head seems to minimize this effect, compared to the midplus. Don comments, "good stable platform for short, compact volleys. A little more powerful than the oversize-light but control was still obtainable for deft angle or drop volleys."

Serves and overheads are where the heavier bumper influences the oversize-traditional most. Swing speed can't be generated as easily as with the oversize-light, but players with a naturally slower serve speed will get a little more power from the extra tip weight of the oversize-traditional.

As Drew pointed out, the 6.3 oversize-traditional is more solid than it's lighter counterpart on block shots, slices returns and pick-up and/or half-volleys. Less effort is required to achieve the same depth or pace.

There's a lot to like about the Hyper Hammer 6.3 oversize. While we believe most players purchasing this racquet will prefer the light bumper, the oversize-traditional will find its share of fans too. Either way, we think the 6.3 oversize is an excellent all-court racquet and one of the best new racquets for 2000.

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Oversize Light Bumper Technical & Statistical Data

Hyper 6.3 Midplus Oversize Light Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27.5 inches70 centimeters
Head Size110 square inches710 square centimeters
Weight9.7 ounces275 grams
Balance Point14.375 inches
37 centimeters
5 pts Head Heavy
Shaft Width27 mm/23 mm Dual Taper Beam
Composition10% Hyper Carbon
60% Graphite
30% Fiberglass

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating63Range: 0-100
Swing Weight316Range: 200-400
Manueverability69A

Hyper Hammer 6.3 Oversize Traditional Bumper Technical & Statistical Data

Hyper 6.3 Midplus Oversize Traditional Test Results Chart
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27.5 inches70 centimeters
Head Size110 square inches710 square centimeters
Weight9.7 ounces275 grams
Balance Point14.625 inches
37 centimeters
7 pts Head Heavy
Shaft Width27 mm/23 mm Dual Taper Beam
Composition10% Hyper Carbon
60% Graphite
30% Fiberglass

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating63Range: 0-100
Swing Weight333Range: 200-400
Manueverability65A
Playtester Profiles
Granville 5.5 all-court player currently using a Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85
Dan 5.5 all-court player currently using a Gamma Tradition 18 MP.
Mark 5.5 serve & volleyer currently using a Prince Thunder 850 Oversize.
Don 4.5-5.0 all-court player currently using a Pro Kennex Kinetic Pro 5g Midplus.
Drew 4.5-5.0 baseliner currently using a Wilson Pro Staff 6.0 85.

Review date: January, 2000. Hyper Hammer 6.3 Midplus test racquets strung with Tecnifibre NRG2 17 at 55 pounds. Hyper Hammer 6.3 Oversize test racquets strung with Tecnifibre NRG2 17 at 58 pounds. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2000 Tennis Warehouse.

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