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Wilson KSix-One 95 Tennis Racquet Review

The Wilson ProStaff 6.1 racquet line has been a popular choice among advanced players since the introduction of the ProStaff 6.1 Classic back in the early '90s.

The ProStaff 6.1 Classic offered an ideal transition for players using narrow beam midsize racquets who were looking to move into a slightly wider Midplus model without giving up control and feel.

We turned to our very own Granville Swope, who has the most experience with the Pro Staff racquet line here at TW, to get a sense of the development and appeal of the 6.1 racquets. In the following Q & A, Gran takes us through some of his experiences with ProStaff racquets, both young and old.

TW: Gran, tell us when you first started using a Wilson Pro staff, which version it was and what racquet you were previously using?
GS: Well, it really began with the Wilson Ultra 2 back in college. It was a "breakthrough" stick at that time, as the Prince Pro (black aluminum OS) was the popular racquet when it came on the scene. After college I began playing with the ProStaff 6.0 Original 85, which I still think is probably the single best tennis racquet ever made. I had much success in the 30 and 35 age group tournaments with the ProStaff 6.0 (success being relative of course). When I hit the 40's I needed a little more power, and that's when I switched to the ProStaff 6.1 Classic 95 and really never left. I upgraded as needed (if my racquets fatigued) and went to the Hyper Pro Staff 6.1. When I saw the Euro only version of that racquet with 18 mains I picked up two and really liked them. I skipped the nCode version as my Hyper Pro Staff 6.1s were still very crisp. My Hyper Pro Staff 6.1s are still very sweet and it's like an old friend when I take to the court with them in hand. They remain in my bag just in case the day is not going the way I want it to.

TW: Can you tell us about some of your memorable matches and moments while using one of the Wilson Pro Staffs?
GS: Most recently I was fortunate enough to play an exhibition with Stan Smith - I still had my Hyper Pro Staff 6.1 sticks but decided to take one of the K-Factor demos from TW stock. I was a bit nervous about playing with Stan with a racquet I had not hit with before, but it worked out fine. I held serve and we won the abbreviated format. I also had the pleasure of playing with a unique ProStaff 6.0 Original 85 - one of Pete Sampras' custom St. Vincent sticks for a brief playtest. Woah! That racquet is a scalpel! It remains one of the most memorable hits due largely to the mass of his sticks (13.8 ounces). I could feel the ball "pancaking" in the stringbed. At the net I could place the ball on a dime. Never before had I had such a sense of control. Needless to say, fatigue set in quickly and I almost lost the racquet on a serve. That was the end of that playtest.

TW: Have you ever strayed away from the 6.1 line and if so, what racquets have tempted you away?
GS: Yes - I have been tempted by the fruits of the others. There are so many performance sticks available now. First and foremost is HEAD's Prestige Midplus. Perhaps I am a bit fickle but the shape of the grip can be a deal breaker and the HEAD grips are a bit too rectangular for me. If not for that I would have switched. On the other side are the new Prince O3 racquets - several models here to choose from including the new Black which we just finished reviewing. Nice sticks, but the grip is just too round for my liking. The Babolat Pure Drive Roddick is a great stick - just a bit too powerful for my taste. But I know it has helped Chris' game quite a bit.

TW: Has the new KSix-One tempted you to switch? If so, which version?
GS: I have just made the switch to the KSix-One (18x20) and am still in the tweaking process with Paul Reed, our in-house racquet tech. I've got three spec'd exactly to match my Hyper Pro Staff 6.1s. At this point I'm trying some new string which, as we all know, can dramatically change the playing characteristics.

TW: What is the ideal string for a 6.1, in your opinion?
GS: If I had my choice of string and didn't have to pay for it - no question, natural gut. The best feeling is a set of natural with one or two sets on it. Sweet. But since I'm budget conscious, I generally go with Babolat X-Cel 17g. Currently I'm testing three different strings in my three KSix-One 95s (Kirschbaum Multi-Fibre, Kirschbaum Pro Line I, and HEAD's Intellitour 16g). I'm not on board with all the Polys yet - I'm not a string breaker.

With Gran making the switch to the KSix-One 95 18/20 during this playtest, there's no doubt these racquets made a strong impression on him. To find out if the latest KSix-Ones struck a cord with our other playtesters, read on.

KSix-One 95 16/18

Groundstrokes

The KSix-One 95 16/18 offered a solid, control oriented response from the baseline. For Ryan K, it was love at first hit with the KSix-One 95. "I absolutely fell in love with my groundstrokes hitting with this racquet. I was impressed by the crisp, solid feel and amazing control. I was immediately able to dial in my game and add the perfect amount of topspin." Finding an emphasis on control and spin was Jason. "The open string pattern really allowed me to generate great spin on my groundstrokes. I felt that the racquet lacked a bit in power, which ended up being both a positive and a negative. A positive because I could take great big rips at the ball and have it controlled and land in play. A negative because when I needed to hit a winner, there just wasn't enough power for me to do it. At times I felt as if I was maxing out on the power potential of this racquet and my playing style. The spin potential on this racquet was fantastic! Everything from my topspin forehands to my backhand slice had great action on the ball. Hitting groundstrokes with this stick was a joy." Enjoying the solid response from the baseline was Spencer. "I liked the feel and control of this racquet when hitting groundstrokes. It offered plenty of access to spin, which let me take a big cut at the ball and keep it inside the baseline. However, I had a few issues when hitting flatter shots, as the open string pattern seemed to trampoline a few balls deep. All in all, a very solid hit from the baseline."

Finding the racquet to be a solid fit for his game from the baseline was Granville. "The KSix-One 16/18 was as solid as a rock. This latest iteration of the Wilson 6.1 delivers the goods; it has the perfect weight, balance and stiffness for the experienced player to put the ball anywhere on the court with power and depth. The head light balance point makes it maneuverable and equally potent at the net as it is at the baseline. Additionally, this racquet provides a great platform for trying different swing weights by adding some lead tape here or there." Chris also enjoyed the control and response of the racquet from the baseline. "I liked hitting groundstrokes with this racquet. It felt very solid all around and was very comfortable. Even though the racquet felt comfortable at impact, I still had lots of feel and control on my shots. Regardless of whether I was hitting topspin, flat or slice, I always felt I got out what I put in. I never had to worry about the ball flying on me. I always had a good idea of the direction and depth of my shots as soon as they left the racquet. I did not find quite as much feel with this one as I did with the 18/20 version, but there was still heavy emphasis on control with this stick. Power was provided by the mass of the racquet. Whereas lighter, stiffer racquets can max out on power when swung very fast, this one continued to deliver."

Volleys

The KSix-One 95 16/18 provided a very high level of control and feel for our team when volleying. Jason enjoyed the touch and feel he found on his volleys with the racquet. "One of the most impressive things about this racquet was the touch and maneuverability it provided at net. I enjoyed the weight of the racquet. It wasn't too heavy, so I could still quickly put the racquet where it needed to be. It was also not so light that fast paced balls were hard to handle. There were a few touch volleys I hit where I thought that the racquet deserved all the credit because it did all the work, I just made contact. " Also finding lots of feel from the racquet was Ryan K. "I had so much feel at the net with this racquet. I was able to hit solid, well placed volleys and light-touch drop shots with ease."

Spencer was impressed with both the touch and mobility at the net. "This racquet offered nice maneuverability with fantastic touch. It seemed easy to place volleys where I wanted. The racquet stayed very stable on off-center hits, and the ball still stayed on line to where I was aiming. I don't come to net all too often, but I felt comfortable when volleying with this one."

Granville found some surgeon's precision volleying with the KSix-One 95 16/18. "This racquet proved to be yet another 'scalpel' for dissecting my opponent. It was stable and provided what I needed at each moment. Playing defensively, it offered the mass to get the ball back. On offense, I found some solid, stable power. This racquet was one of the few that gave me the feeling that my energy and direction were efficiently and tightly coordinated." Finding a solid response was Chris. "This racquet felt as solid as a rock at net. The racquet never got pushed around by the ball and I was again impressed by the level of comfort. I had lots of control on both deep and angled volleys. I was volleying with lots of confidence and found solid technique rewarded with a very precise feel and lots of control on my shots."

Serves

The KSix-One 95 16/18 proved to be a popular stick on serves. Serving well with the racquet was Chris. "I found some nice pace and spin with this racquet. Faster swings resulted in good pace and some nice weight on my serves. I was able to hit all my serves with pretty good accuracy and I felt like I was serving well." Spencer quickly dialed in his serves with the KSix-One 95. "After only a few serves, I felt I was in a groove. The control was very consistent. This racquet helped me keep my opponents on their toes, as I was able to mix up placement and speed with confidence, which helped dictate several points." Finding an emphasis on control was Ryan K. "I was very comfortable serving with this stick. Even though it lacks in power compared to some (similar) racquets, it made up for it with solid feel and control."

Granville found the level of accuracy he's come to expect when serving with a member of the 6.1 racquet family. "As with previous versions of this racquet, I could drive the ball to, or very close to, any spot in the service square. I didn't have to think about it - the racquet felt like an extension of my arm. Furthermore, it provided all the power I could want." Jason was blown away by the level of control he had while serving with the KSix-One 95. "This racquet was extraordinary when serving. The control I got with this racquet was some of the best I've ever felt. By no means was I breaking the sound barrier with my serves, but I didn't have to because I could put it where I wanted it. Hitting my slice second serve was no problem, and the open 16x18 pattern helped produced some great spin."

Serve Returns

Our team found the KSix-One 95 16/18 to be a very solid racquet for hitting returns. Enjoying the mass of the racquet was Granville. "As my father always tells me, 'Form fits function.' When it comes to an effective serve return, weight, balance and mass come together for the common good, but it will be the overall weight of the racquet that really delivers - making this an excellent racquet for returns. It was just heavy enough to get the ball back, even in the most defensive situations. If you have the time or anticipation to take the ball on the rise - again, it will be the mass of the racquet that directs that fuzzy missile to its target."

Mixing up some angled and sliced returns was Jason. "I felt that I could attack more with this racquet. It was maneuverable enough that I could try to take some balls early and hit some sharp angled returns. On my backhand side, slicing back returns became more consistent and under control." Finding plenty of shot variety when returning with the racquet was Ryan K. "I felt as though I was able to catch my opponent off guard at times when hitting serve returns. This one really opened up a range of shots for me, allowing for great down the line and hard cross court returns."

Returning consistently with the racquet was Spencer. "I enjoyed the ability to return with ease and consistency. I didn't feel I could so much attack off a decent server, but did feel I could keep many returns in play and stay in the point more often than not." Finding a smooth response from the racquet on returns was Chris. "Solid and smooth are words that come to mind when returning with this racquet. I enjoyed the response from this stick very much. I was able to place the ball well and felt very much in control of my return game. However, I was missing the power of my regular racquet and wasn't finding quite the snap off my forehand that I'm used to getting."

Overall

The KSix-One 95 16/18 continues the tradition of control and ball feel that has become a hallmark of the 6.1 racquet line. Our team found lots of control and a very solid response from all areas of the court. There's no doubt, if you've got the game, the KSix-One 95 16/18 delivers the goods baseline to net. Our testers also found a high level of comfort from this one - partly thanks to the racquet's mass and resulting stability. The headlight balance keeps the swingweight manageable, and advanced players will find plenty of mobility at net and on service returns. We found the open string pattern to offer a tad more ball speed off the stringbed, but the emphasis here is still heavily on control. A solid stick for 4.5+ level players and a must hit for 6.1 fans.

Last Shots from our playtesters

Jason "This is truly a great racquet that advanced players will enjoy. I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed the open string pattern more than the tight string pattern because my own racquet is an 18x20. It doesn't matter if you want to be a serve and volleyer like Sampras or a baseliner like Agassi or anything in between, this racquet can fit your game. What I appreciated most about this racquet was the feel and control."

Ryan K "Wilson has been my racquet of choice for most of my tennis years and I will stick with them yet again. If you love the previous 6.1 models, you will have to give this one a try."

Granville "In my mind the 6.0 and 6.1 are among the finest racquets ever produced. This latest version of the Classic is on par with the others. If you've hit with this racquet you know what I am talking about - if you haven't, you need to."

Chris "A nice player's racquet with lots of control. While I enjoyed hitting with it, this racquet paled in comparison to my Pure Drive Roddick when it came to spin and power."

Spencer "There is a reason this is the racquet choice of several touring professionals."

Wilson KSix-One 95 16x18 scores

Wilson KSix-One 95 16x18
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size95 square inches613 square centimeters
Weight12.3 ounces349 grams
Balance Point12.5 inches
32 centimeters
8pts Head Light
Construction22 mm Straight Beam
CompositionnCoded High Modulus Graphite / Carbon Black
String Pattern16 Mains / 18 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating69Range: 0-100
Swing Weight340Range: 200-400

KSix-One 95 18/20

Groundstrokes

When hitting groundstrokes, our team found an even higher level of control and feel from the KSix-One 95 18/20. Finding lots of control and surprising spin from the racquet was Jason "Although I found this one less powerful than the 16/20, it provides similar amounts of control, which was great. I just wished I could've put some good zip on the ball. Don't be fooled by the tight string pattern, balls coming off this racquet are coming off with good spin." Also enjoying plenty of control from the KSix-One 95 18/20 was Ryan K. "This racquet was very solid, just like the 16x18. I found a little more control, but topspin was more difficult to achieve."

Granville found some added bite from the tighter string pattern. "Same great racquet, same great feel - just a bit more bite on the ball. We are getting down to splitting hairs here, but it feels to me (counter to my logic) that I get a millisecond more bite on the ball with the 18x20 pattern. The result is a bit more spin potential and control. I've been using this racquet for a few years (Hyper 6.1 18/20 which was a Euro only offering) and love it. Another related stroke where I see the benefit of the extra main strings is the approach shot. I can slide the approach (especially on the backhand side) with some inside out sidespin which kicks out a bit wider and can force the error before I get to the net. It felt like having a new tool in the shed or an extra wedge in my bag when hitting the links."

Impressed by the control, stability and feel of the racquet was Chris. "This was my favorite of the two from the baseline. I felt like I had even more control with the tighter string pattern and wasn't giving up pace to get it. I really liked hitting slice approach shots with this stick. I was able to knife backhand slices and was being more aggressive with that shot. I found a very close level of topspin with this version, and had more control when hitting it. Control, stability and feel were the standout characteristics of this stick for me. I did my best to use the feel and control of this stick to my advantage and really enjoyed the playtest." Spencer found the racquet to offer some nice stability through the contact zone. "I enjoyed the solid feel and directional control of the 18/20 string pattern. At 12.3 ounces I found good 'plough-through' and depth from both sides. Though it has a tighter string pattern, the spin production was more than I anticipated, which was a nice surprise. I found this control oriented stick performed exceptionally from the baseline."

Volleys

At net the KSix-One 95 18/20 continued to impress, with our testers noting a high level of feel and control on volleys. Spencer was volleying with confidence during this playtest. "I found many of the same attributes at net as I did with the 16/18 string pattern. Like it's open pattern counterpart, the 18/20 offered plenty of feel and control. This racquet instilled a lot of confidence for me when coming to net." Granville found it hard to distinguish a performance difference between the two racquets at net. "At the net the 18/20 version really did not offer me any significant advantage other than it may string up a little tighter."

Having success with his volleys and overheads with the KSix-One 95 18/20 was Jason. "Volleying was very comparable to that of the 16/18 version. A very solid stick at the net, combining good control and maneuverability. Overheads were easy to put away with a quick snap of the wrist. I felt that volley's that weren't hit cleanly had a harsher feel than the 16/18 version." Finding more feel but less power from this version of the racquet was Ryan K. "I was able to hit very clean volleys, but I found it lacked the punch the other string pattern provided. There was an improvement in touch shots, yet I still preferred the 16x18." Chris enjoyed volleying with the KSix-One 95 18/20. "I really liked the response of this racquet at net. I found a ton of feel and control. Shots hit in the sweetspot felt silky smooth. As with the open string patterned version, stability was great. A very nice racquet for volleying and I thought it felt great at net."

Serves

Serving with the KSix-One 95 18/20, our team all found lots of control. When it came to spin production, results varied. Finding more feel but less pop on serve was Ryan K. "Like the 16x18, the serves were comfortable, but with a little more feel and less power." Jason had similar results. "Maneuverability was the key to my serving success with this racquet. The result was lots of control and placement. Spin was not as easily accessible, but it wasn't really detrimental to the outcome of my serves. I had some good results serving with this racquet but wouldn't have minded if it had a bit more pop."

Placing serves with great accuracy was Spencer. "With the same specs as the 16/18, I felt immediate comfort. Much of the same comfort, if not more, was experienced when serving. I found I could place the ball very well. This one had a slight lack of power and spin in comparison, but having slightly more control made serving equally enjoyable."

Enjoying some added kick on his serves was Granville. "This is the stroke that sold me on the 18 mains. I can SEE the extra action on my kick serves wide, which takes my opponent a little bit wider. I did not see any extra power, and don't want to. This racquet is for a very control oriented player." Pleased with his level of serving with the KSix-One 95 18/20 was Chris. "I served well with this one. I was able to use the mass of the racquet to hit with good pace and weight. I found a very control-oriented response from the stringbed and was finding my targets well. I was hitting both my slice and topspin serves with good control and feel. I preferred the response of this version of the KSix-One 95 when hitting flatter serves as I felt I was getting more control."

Serve Returns

Our playtesters enjoyed the control oriented response of the KSix-One 95 18/20 when returning serve. Feeling well connected to his returns was Chris "The KSix-One 95 18/20 was also a great stick for returning. I was able to attack serves with lots of confidence. I felt really connected to my shots and enjoyed the solid response of the racquet." Spencer also quickly found his targets returning with the KSix-One 95 18/20. "This is an easy returning racquet. I didn't fear any kind of serve coming at me as the stability and control of this racquet helped me feel I could get any serve back. This racquet gave me more chances when returning, as my off-center hits were still getting back over the net without setting up my opponent with 'sitters'."

Granville enjoyed the similar response between both string patterns. "Here again, I did not see much difference between the 16x18 and this 18x20. With this racquet I am able to move into the court and take the ball early by either blocking it and letting the racquet do the work or taking a full swing and driving the ball down the line, or through my opponent." Returning well both on offense and defense was Jason. "No complaints here. Shots that I blocked back landed with some depth, while attacking soft first serves or second serves produced favorable outcomes." Enjoying the solid response of the racquet was Ryan K. "I was able to send back solid returns with this racquet, but I didn't have the extra topspin I had with the other string pattern(16/18). I also felt like I couldn't rip it as hard as I usually can."

Overall

The KSix-One 95 18/20 impressed us with a high level of touch and feel from all areas of the court. While the response from the frame is the same as the more open 16/18 version, the stringbed offered a slightly more controlled feel. The difference between the two racquets is subtle. For those that like a lot of feel and control off the strings, this one's hard to beat. For those that like a slightly livelier response, go with the 16/18 - either way, the KSix-One 95 has got you covered.

Last Shots from our playtesters

Jason "Although I couldn't give this racquet as much praise as its more open patterned sibling, this racquet was no slouch. There was a decent amount of power and spin, but what really sets this racquet apart is the control. Placement on down the line shots and sharp angled cross-courters was precise. Big hitters with booming forehands and serves will appreciate the control and feedback this racquet can provide."

Ryan K "This was a very comfortable racquet to hit with, though not my favorite of the KSix-One series."

Granville "Considering this racquet was available for Wilson customers (and pros) in its Hyper Carbon version in Europe and N-Code versions in the US and Europe, I would surmise that clay court players are also enjoying the benefits of 18 mains, as I do."

Chris "A really nice hit. I thought this racquet strung with Wilson NXT 17 was a great match. Even more feel and control without any loss in power made this my pick of the two."

Spencer "I usually prefer racquets with open string patterns. However, this would be one exception. I really felt the control was more pinpoint and consistent with the 18/20, which is more beneficial to my game. Thumbs up!"

Wils on KSix-One 95 18x20 scores

Wilson KSix-One 95 18x20
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Technical Specifications

Length27 inches69 centimeters
Head Size95 square inches613 square centimeters
Weight12.3 ounces349 grams
Balance Point12.5 inches
32 centimeters
8pts Head Light
Construction22 mm Straight Beam
CompositionnCoded High Modulus Graphite / Carbon Black
String Pattern18 Mains / 20 Crosses

Babolat RDC Ratings

Score
Grade
Flex Rating69Range: 0-100
Swing Weight340Range: 200-400
Playtester Profiles
Ryan K. 4.0 all court player currently using a Wilson ProStaff 6.0 Classic. Ryan uses a full-western forehand grip and a two-handed backhand.
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.
Granville 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.
Jason 4.0 baseliner currently using a Head Flexpoint Radical Midplus. Jason has a fairly aggressive semi-western topspin forehand and hits a one-handed backhand.
Spencer 4.5 Baseline player currently using a Tecnifibre TFlash 310. Spencer uses a full-western forehand grip, and hits with a one-handed backhand.

Review date: July 2007. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.

All content copyright 2007 Tennis Warehouse.

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