Wilson BLX Steam 100 Racquet Review
- Easy to hit with pace
- Some stability issues for big hitters
- Feel not for everyone
The light feel of the Wilson BLX Steam 100 provides excellent maneuverability from all areas of the court. Easy to swing, it is perfect for players looking to enhance their groundstrokes with pace and spin. The BLX Steam 100 inspires confidence from the baseline. Both forehands and backhands are satisfying to hit, as the light weight gives the player the ability to take the ball down the line or cross court. Long sets are not a concern because this racquet makes rallying enjoyable - it's a racquet that won't tire any player out. Despite a little loss of control at net, its stiffness allows pace to be created easily, with little effort from the volleyer. A big first serve comes easily with this racquet, and even though some playtesters struggled with accuracy, the combination of weight and mobility makes generating spin and ball speed effortless. With its light weight, ability to increase power and create heavy spin, the Wilson BLX Steam 100 can help you add some zip from all areas of the court.
Groundstrokes - Score: 77
The Steam 100 was easy for our playtesters to swing from the baseline. That translated into power for Mike . He said, "The lightness of the racquet made it easy for me to swing and to develop pace, especially on my forehand. It was a little tougher to generate power on the backhand side and I had to swing the racquet a lot faster than I'm used to, putting a little more stress on my body."
Tiffani noted the feel, saying, "I thought I would like this one a lot more because the specs aren't too far off from a favorite racquet of mine, the Yonex RDS 003. Perhaps because of that, it was an easy racquet for me to pick up and use. I felt like the racquet performed moderately well on forehands and backhands, with good pace and more noticeable spin production. However, there was a disconnect for me when it came to feel. I struggled to feel connected with my shots, so I had some trouble hitting with pinpoint control. I just couldn't feel the ball as much as I would like on impact."
The Steam 100 was easy for Brittany to swing. She said, "When I was holding this racquet in my hands and taking some practice swings before my first hit I noticed it was light and easy to maneuver. When I did hit with it I was able to generate lots of spin on both wings. However, I did find there was a hollow feel to the racquet when making contact with the ball, which was hard to get used to. I found more success trying to hit deep in the court than trying to angle the ball off the court."
Karly agreed. She added, "The first thing I noticed about the Wilson BLX Steam 100 was how easy it was to swing. The lightweight feel of the racquet made it comfortable for me to change the direction of the ball. I didn't mind playing long sets with this racquet since it doesn't tire my arm out. However, I had difficulty hitting my groundstrokes deep."
Volleys - Score: 76
The outstanding maneuverability was again a highlight for our playtest team at the net. Brittany, who plays a lot of singles and doubles, said, "The racquet was extremely quick at net. I was able to easily get my racquet in position for volleys, especially when they were coming right at me. I didn't feel like I was able to control the ball as well as I wanted, usually when I was hitting with more touch or angled volleys."
Having similar sentiments was Tiffani. She offered, "Sometimes I worry about mobility with extended racquets, but this continued to be a maneuverable enough racquet. However, just as with groundstrokes, I was seeking better ball feel, and I again felt a little lost with control."
Karly was happy with the power level. She said, "Not only did the racquet have great maneuverability, but the stiffness of the racquet helped generate power to my volleys. I didn't have to put too much effort into getting pace behind my shots, though I thought the Steam lacked touch and feel. If a hard ball was hit to me I wasn't able to soften my volleys and hit a drop shot as easily as I would've liked."
It was up and down at the net for Mike, who said, "Volleys were easy to get back because of the power the racquet had, but I did have some issues with controlling and placing the volley. If the person hit at a consistently fast past I felt pushed back, and it just made it a little tougher for me."
Serves - Score: 78
Spin and pace came easy to our testers when they served with the Storm. Tiffani felt like the racquet gave her a boost. She said, "I liked the Steam 100 best on serves. My serves are not weapons by any means, but the racquet offered me some nice spin and good pace. I felt like my serve was not a liability when I was playing with the Steam."
The racquet's mobility was again key for Mike. He said, "I really enjoyed serving with the Steam. The lightness of the racquet made it easy for me to develop racquet head speed and hit my first serve with lots of pace. I was able to get some freebies on the serve."
Karly served with variety. She offered, "The lightweight feel of the racquet made it easy for me to control the spin on my serves. Whether I wanted to serve a flat ball down the T or kick it out wide, I could move the racquet effortlessly to generate the spin I wanted. I do think the stability of the racquet could improve. The harder I tried to hit my serves, the more unsteady it felt."
Also swinging quickly was Brittany. She said, "I enjoyed the ability to really generate racquet head speed with this racquet. The Wilson BLX Steam made it really comfortable to swing fast and create pace. There was definitely easy access to spin on the second serve. My one negative on the serve is that I wasn't able to be as accurate on the placement of my serves as I would have liked."
Serve Returns - Score: 73
Our team had mixed reviews when it came to serve returns. Karly was able to mix it up when returning. She said, "The lightweight racquet was great for changing directions with ease. I felt I was able to get the racquet around in time no matter how hard the serve was hit toward me. Though, like the serves, the racquet felt more unstable the harder the serves were hit."
"Similar to volleys, I had no problem getting the racquet into position to hit all different types of returns," said Brittany, who likes to be aggressive with her returns. "Nonetheless, the racquet didn't feel as solid when making contact with the ball, and I felt the racquet was being pushed around a little bit on heavy or flat serves. "
Mike also noted stability, saying, "Returns were probably my least favorite shot just because I felt like I couldn't really get a hold of the return. I kept getting pushed back, especially when I was playing someone who had a fast serve or hit just a little heavier than I do."
It wasn't always smooth sailing for Tiffani, who said, "The Steam 100 felt solid and was easy to get around. I didn't have any issues with stability, but I couldn't get a handle on depth. Sometimes I just threw in a really short return and couldn't put my finger on the reason."
Overall - Score: 76
Mike - "The lightness of the racquet made it easy for me to develop racquet head speed. I enjoyed serving with it, as I could generate lots of pace on both first and second serves."
Tiffani - "Both topspin and slice are easy to hit off the baseline and on serve."
Karly - "I enjoyed the lightweight feel of the racquet, which made it easy to maneuver."
Brittany - "I liked the maneuverability and the light weight."
Mike - "It was tough for me to return serves with this racquet, and I gave away lots of free points to my opponents."
Tiffani - "I felt disconnected from the ball on impact."
Karly - "I would've liked more depth behind my shots. It was hard for me to consistently hit the ball deep in the court."
Brittany - "I wasn't a fan of the hollow feel of the racquet."
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Mike: 5.0 baseliner with a semi-western forehand and two-handed backhand. His current racquet of choice is a customized Prince Triple Threat Warrior.
Tiffani: 4.0 level baseliner with a semiwestern grip on the forehand and hits a two-handed backhand. Currently playing with the Tecnifibre Rebound Pro.
Karly: 4.0 baseline player currently playing with the Wilson nCode nTour. She hits with a semi-western forehand grip and uses a two-handed backhand.
Brittany: Open level player with a semi-western forehand and a two handed backhand. She currently plays with the Yonex V-Core 100S.
Review date: January 2012. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
All content copyright 2012 Tennis Warehouse.