Hot orange has become the trademark color for Wilson's Tour line of racquets. Going back to the racquet that started it all, the Wilson Hammer 5.2, the hot orange paint has come to stand for racquets that blend power with control, offer both touch and spin, and play with comfort while offering impressive maneuverability.
While traditionally racquets such as the nTour Two 95 and 105 would appeal most to players around the 4.5 NTRP level, the popularity of lighter, more powerful racquets among advanced players has 5.5+ players taking notice.
Take a look at the top of the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour. The nTour Two is used by two of the cleanest hitters in the game, Justine Henin-Hardenne and Lindsay Davenport. While both players have distinctly different styles of play, the orange Tour line has been hot enough to take both players to No.1 in the world on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour.
Two new performance technologies are included in the nTour Two racquets. Wilson's new nFoam and Double Hole technologies are designed to offer greater comfort at impact and more of a solid feel off the strings. With the nTour Two racquets, Wilson has chosen subtle tweaks to improve performance while retaining similar overall playing characteristics to previous versions.
We hit the courts for an extended playtest with the nTour Two 95 and 105. Our team consisted of players rated 4.0 through 5.5. While we didn't crack into the top of the rankings like Henin-Hardenne and Davenport, we did come away very impressed by the performance of the racquets.
The nTour Two 95 impressed our team by offering a pleasing blend of control and power from the baseline. Our team also found good access to spin and a comfortable response from the stringbed. Finding a good fit with the nTour Two 95 for his topspin baseline playing style was Brad. "I really enjoyed hitting with this racquet and I found my groundstrokes to be very fluid and comfortable. Even though the weight of the racquet is lighter than what I'm used to, its even balance made it swing very similar to my RDX 500 Midplus. Even though this racquet has a pretty flexible RDC rating (62), the upper part of the hoop felt stiffer than this would indicate. I didn't have to over-swing and I could let the racquet do a lot of the work for me. On my forehand, I was able to generate a nice amount of topspin when I wanted or I could hit the ball flat, at will. The only time I struggled with control using this racquet was on forehand approach shots. On the backhand side, I found myself hitting more slice backhands than usual. I was able to keep the ball low and get some very good spin on my backhand slices."
Striking the ball lower in the stringbed and hitting a flatter ball, Granville found a softer response from the racquet. "From the first strike of the ball it was apparent this is a very soft and forgiving stick. I was just ripping my groundies with good depth and control off both sides. The balance just accentuated the soft feel and I was simply 'zoning'. It plays much more head-light than it's specification (1 point head-light) would suggest. It does lack definitive punch - that crisp feel when know you've just about knocked the felt off the ball. However, those are a few select shots over the course of a set and perhaps inconsequential when it comes to overall evaluation of this racquet. I'll take the soft feel and depth I experienced when hitting out with the nTour Two, and sacrifice the 'cruncher' needed two or three times during a match any day."
Comparing the nTour Two to the H Tour and the previous nTour 95 racquets was Chris. "I was impressed by the solid feel of this racquet from the baseline. It played with a solidness I'd expect from a heavier stick. While I found the nTour to be more solid feeling than the H Tour, the nTour Two is more solid still. I was able to hit with plenty of spin off both wings and found good control on my groundstrokes. This racquet was not nearly as powerful or as spin friendly as my Babolat Pure Drive Roddick, but nice to hit with nonetheless." Jon Found a solid blend of control and power. "Groundstrokes were comfortable and dealt with accuracy and power. I found more control with this one compared to the 105 version. I was hitting with enough topspin on my forehand to keep the ball in the court when hitting with pace."
When attacking the net, our team found the nTour Two 95 a willing accomplice. Granville was impressed by the performance of the racquet at net. "Once again, I was delighted with the touch and feel of this racquet at net. The slightly lighter overall weight and head light balance really made for a nice racquet, both for the baseline and/or serve and volley player. I was able to place my volleys well and had no problems knocking off the winner at will." Jon struggled the most at net with the nTour Two. "The nTour Two was OK at the net, but a little too light for my taste. On hard hit shots, I found volleys difficult to control."
Finding more success at net was Brad. "At the net, the nTour Two 95 was very solid. I didn't really notice the extra length and I was able to place the ball where I wanted. Volleys felt very crisp and I was able to get good speed and depth on both forehand and backhand volleys." Chris was in agreement. "The racquet felt comfortable at net. It felt like there was enough behind the ball for a solid hit and the level of control was high. I was able to find my targets with consistency and the racquet felt very maneuverable."
While our entire team served well with the nTour Two 95, they were not in total agreement on the pluses and minuses of the racquet. Finding excellent control but lacking some pace on serve was Chris. "I would have liked a little more pop on serve. I found plenty of control and the level of spin was decent. However, my serves tended to hang a little, rather than being penetrating. This allowed my opponents to be more aggressive on the return, unless I really worked the ball around the serveice box to keep them honest." Granville also found his targets well but would have liked a little extra pace when bringing the heat. "This racquet proves to be a solid performer from all areas of the court. I was serving with confidence almost immediately. Placement was spot on. I could place the ball as well with this racquet as I can with my Wilson Hyper ProStaff 6.1 18/20, although I don't think my speed was quite up there. It was close, though."
On the other hand, Jon found plenty of pace serving with the racquet. "The nTour Two 95 was plenty powerful on serve. Topspin was excellent as well, and my serves had lots of kick." Brad found a little extra pop on his serves. "My first serves seemed to have a little more pace than usual, but I didn't feel like I was as accurate. I had a hard time placing my serve out wide to the ad side of the court, where I normally like to place it. I had a similar experience with my second serves, where I felt like I was getting more kick, but I struggled with placement and control."
The nTour Two 95 continued to offer a comfortable response when our team returned serve. Once adjusted to the weight and power level of the racquet, Jon was returning well. "I was able to get decent returns with the nTour Two 95. I was having some control issues as getting used to the weight took a little time. Once I adjusted, the racquet performed well. The racquet isn't overly powerful, but I did need to shorten my swing a touch to gain contol." Finding plenty of control was Chris "I found the level of control to be high and I was able to return aggressively with this racquet. I couldn't generate quite the power and bite on the ball as I find with my regular stick, but I was able to return aggressively enough to steal the offense on occasion."
Granville enjoyed the forgiving response offered by the racquet. "The soft stringbed was very forgiving and lively too. I was hitting reaction returns on big serves, with good control down the line or crosscourt. With time to set up I was taking the offense and hitting solid returns with good pace." Brad was surprised with the level of his play returning with the nTour Two 95. "Returns with this racquet were better than expected. I usually struggle with lighter racquets on service returns, especially when my opponents have a big serve. The racquet felt pretty stable as long as I got the ball on the sweetspot and didn't go for too much."
We found the nTour Two 95 offered a comfortable response from all areas of the court. The racquet's close to even balance and mid level swingweight (320 RDC) made it a universal fit with our team of 4.0-5.5 level players. Both those who play from the baseline, and those who favor attacking the net enjoyed the response of this racquet. Most impressively, we feel that this version of the Tour series improves on an already impressive heritage. In many ways, this racquet shows you don't have to compromise to fit a variety of playing styles and levels. The nTour Two is light enough to be maneuverable, yet has enough weight in the head to be stable. The racquet offers a solid level of power, yet there's no loss of control and feel. If you're looking for a "does everything" Midplus racquet, you should definitely hit the courts with this one.
Brad "The nTour Two Midplus offers a good balance of power and control in a lighter frame. Those looking for the characteristics of a player's frame, but with a lighter weight should look no further."
Chris "I was most impressed with the solid feel of this racquet at impact considering its maneuverability and light weight."
Granville "This racquet should find wide appeal with anyone ready to step up to a more competitive spec, or those currently using a performance racquet but looking for something a bit more forgiving, OR an older competitive player looking for a lighter stick with all the tools needed to remain competitive. It was a very unique overall performer. If anything, I'd compare it to the HEAD Radical Midplus line."
Jon "This was a good racquet. I found good power, spin and comfort from all areas of the court."
|Wilson nTour Two 95 scores|
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
The nTour Two 105 offers a larger headsize and a stiffer, Dual Taper Beam; both of which combine to offer increased pace and spin on groundstrokes compared to the nTour Two 95. Noticing some extra power on his groundstrokes with the nTour Two 105 was Brad. "Right away I could feel the difference in power between the nTour Two 105 and the 95 racquets. I really had to brush the ball to generate extra topspin in order to keep the ball inside the baseline. Whenever I tried to hit flatter shots, or if I didn't get enough, I found that they sailed long." Granville found the racquet to offer a solid performance. "This one was a solid performer, like it's smaller brother. While just a bit lighter, it had a very similar feel. At 105 square inches, this is an oversize racquet in my mind. All the comments I noted above for the nTour Two 95 apply to this one with the exception that I did not find as much stability with this version. The good news is that at only 10.4 ounces, there is room for a little lead tape at 3 and 9 to really add some punch."
Jon also found a more powerful response from the larger of the two headsizes. "This one was noticeably more powerful than the nTour Two 95. However, the added topspin I was finding with this racquet helped keep the ball in the court. I was able to hit with good pace and control the direction and depth of my shots with spin." Chris favored the larger of the two nTour Two racquets. "As when hitting with previous versions of the nTour/H Tour line, I found myself favoring the larger headsize. The power level from this racquet was a better match for my game. I was able to work the ball around the court with good consistency and still have some power on tap for when I wanted to rip a big groundstroke. I was also able to get more topspin on passing shots with this one. I was able to hit some nice angle passes as well as curl the ball around the net player when going down the line. I found a little more pop on my approach shots, and generally felt more comfortable hitting with the power of this larger headsize."
For the most part, the nTour Two 105 continued to impress our team when they moved up to volley. Chris was very impressed with the racquet at net. "Like the nTour 105 it replaces, this racquet was effortless at net. I found enough power to dispatch high volleys, yet didn't feel like there was a huge sacrifice when it came to control. This was a very comfortable racquet to volley with and I really enjoyed playing doubles with it." Also finding plenty of comfort was Jon. "The nTour Two 105 was comfortable at the net. I found it powerful, which made it a little harder to control. It felt like it had a large sweetspot, which was helpful for returning those tough volleys when I couldn't get everything behind the ball."
Finding the racquet to offer a good fit for his net game was Granville. "A very 'roomy' headsize, accented by a soft feel made this a dynamite performer at net. Light and maneuverable, this racquet will please the competitive singles or doubles player." Brad struggled to find his regular form at net with the nTour Two. "I would have liked a bit more touch from this racquet at the net. I wasn't able to place the ball as well as I normally do. On drop volleys, I either didn't get enough on the ball and hit it into the net or got too much on it and left a sitter for my opponent."
The nTour Two 105 offered plenty of pace and spin on serve. Hitting some big kick serves with the racquet was Jon. "This racquet was plenty powerful on serve. I liked the larger headsize more when hitting a hard kick serve. The larger sweetspot and ample spin made this a pleasure to serve with." Brad found the power level a little overwhelming. "Like groundstrokes, I really had to make some adjustments to my serve in order to keep the ball in. A lot of my serves landed deep and I wasn't able to get a lot of first serves in. I had to hit my first serves at about 80% in order to get the ball in."
Granville enjoyed the comfortable feel of the racquet. "While this racquet was very comfortable and offered good pop, I never quite made the adjustment to the headsize when it came to targeting. I'm a midplus (95 square inch head) player so this was not surprising. Everything else considered, the racquet played well."
Finding the best fit for his serving game was Chris. "I had much more success on serve with this larger version. The power level was more in line with what I'm accustomed to, and I was able to serve more aggressively. I found some good kick on both topspin and slice serves. My favorite serve with this stick was to take a little pace off my first serve and slice out wide to the deuce court with some added spin. I was able to consistently find my target when going wide, get some good kick and really open up the court."
Finding a forgiving response from the nTour Two 105 was Brad. "One advantage with this racquet was that I had a larger margin of error on returns. On serves hit to my forehand, as long as I kept my swing short and compact, I was able to get good pace on my returns while still keeping the ball in play." Chris enjoyed the level of power he was finding with the nTour Two. "I continued to enjoy this racquet when returning. I was able to keep the ball deep and under control - both when blocking and when returning aggressively. The racquet felt maneuverable and I was able to take a good cut at second serves. I was finding more power than I had with the nTour Two 95, but the level of power was predictable."
Granville would have liked more stability from the racquet. "I could have used a tad more stability during off-center shots with this one. This was especially noticeable on returns. If I was prepared, out in front and early - no issues. If I caught the ball off-center in the stringbed, there was a little flutter from the racquet. Again, the addition of lead tape at 3 and 9 would address this." Finding a better fit for his return game was Jon. "I found a nice blend of power and control from this racquet. I was able to get decent, aggressive returns most of the time. The nTour Two 105 generated good power with only a short swing."
We found some extra pace on our shots from all areas of the court with the nTour Two 105 compared to its smaller brother. Our testers also noted that the nTour Two 105 seemed more spin friendly; most noticeably when hitting with topspin. The larger headsize offered a more generous sweetspot and the level of comfort and overall feel of the racquet impressed our team. As is, this racquet makes a great choice for both singles and doubles players looking for some added spin and pace. Beef up this racquet from its stock 10.4 ounce strung weight and it also becomes a good fit for advanced players who favor oversize racquets.
Brad "I found the nTour Two 105 to be a lot more powerful than its smaller counterpart. I really struggled with control while playing with this racquet and found that I had to slow my swing down quite a bit to keep the ball in play."
Chris "My favorite of the two and much more my kind of stick. I was getting more spin and pace on my shots and didn't have to work as hard with this one. This is the best version of the nTour/H Tour line I've hit with."
Granville "This racquet offered a radical departure from my usual spec., but it comes up shining and is certainly one of the standout OS racquets (any racquet for that matter) reviewed this year."
Jon "This would be a good racquet for a 3.5+ player looking for a solid tweener. It generates decent power and has good balance."
|Wilson nTour Two 105 scores|
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Chris: 5.0 baseline player now using the Babolat Pure Drive Roddick. Chris uses a full-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a two-handed backhand.
Brad: 4.0 baseline player currently using a Yonex RDX 500 Midplus. Brad uses a semi-western forehand grip, has a medium-fast swing style and hits a two-handed backhand.
Jon: 4.5 baseline basher with a big kick serve currently using a Dunlop Muscle Weave 200G. Jon uses a semi-western forehand grip, has a full fast swing style and hits a two-handed backhand.
Granville: 5.5 all-court player currently using a Wilson Hyper ProStaff 6.1. Granville is an aggressive player who uses an eastern forehand grip and goes continental on everything else, hits with a flat swing and a one-handed backhand.
Review date: September 2006. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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