Review

Wilson Blade 104 v7 Racquet Review | Napo News Online

This Wilson Blade 104 tennis racket is one of the most popular racquets in the game today. It has a lightweight design that allows for an easy swing, and it comes with a variety of features that make it great for players at all
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Wilson Blade 104 v7 Racquet Review | Napo News Online
Wilson Blade 104 v7 Racquet Review | Napo News Online

Groundstrokes – Score: 79

Our playtesters found easy power and depth with the Wilson Blade 104 v7 thanks to the new 16×19 string pattern. Mark has plenty of experience with the Blade line, especially with the 104-square-inch versions. He started, “Like most players, I spend much of my time at the baseline, so I look for a racquet that is light enough for me to swing over a long period of time, yet heavy enough to fend off my friends’ groundstroke attacks. As far as a blend of those two traits, the new Blade 104 v7 erred slightly on the side of maneuverability, but not enough to keep me from playing my game from the backcourt. The other aspect that I noticed straight away was the Blade 104 v7’s switch away from the tight 18×19 string pattern to a 16×19 pattern, which made it very easy to generate a high arcing ball with lots of spin. I also like to use the backhand slice quite a bit, and longer frames with tight string patterns best complement that shot, so I am always a bit concerned about keeping the slice low with an open patterned stringbed. That said, the extended length was enough for me to be effective with my backhand slice. Lastly, if there was one shot from the baseline I loved to hit the most with this racquet, it would be the forehand.”

“From the first hit it became evident this new Blade 104 v7 provides a high launch angle, easy power and easy spin,” continued Chris. “When rallying, I was able to relax and focus on being smooth and steady. Picking targets was harder since the racquet tended to feel a tad wild due to its high launch angle. I found it best to hit to big targets where I could allow the ball to fly on me a little and still leave room for it to drop within the lines. I thought the comfort level of the Blade 104 v7 was excellent, and the overall response was very forgiving.”

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It took Brittany a little while to calibrate to the updated string pattern, but she found some success once she started dialing up the spin. “I was a fan of the previous version, and the Blade 104 is my favorite racquet in the Blade family, so I was definitely interested to see how this update would perform with some of the major spec changes Wilson made to it. The new 16×19 string pattern caused the ball to have a pretty high trajectory, and a lot of my groundstrokes were landing well past the baseline at the beginning of the playtest. Luckily, after a small adjustment and added spin, I was enjoying rallying with this racquet and loved getting into a groove hitting cross court in practice. However, when it came time for points, I was missing a little bit of the control and precision the 18×19 string pattern offered, and I ended up having to aim for bigger targets. At first, I was holding back and being tentative, but I found more success when I took big cuts at the ball and added extra spin.”

Consistency seemed to be Tiffani’s biggest issue with the Blade 104 v7 from the baseline. She noted, “I could hit a shot that amazed me with its excellent depth, then on my next stroke hit a shot that made me groan as I watched it sail long past the baseline. The move to an open 16×19 stringbed was the most noticeable change from the previous version’s tighter 18×19 pattern. The 16×19 spec made easy depth accessible, and I enjoyed that higher launch angle and ample sweetspot when I was pushed back off the baseline in a defensive position. However, when stepping up and attempting to place the ball toward the lines to get my opponent moving off the court, I often missed my target. I just don’t typically use enough topspin to control this racquet. Even with those struggles, I did find the racquet fun to rally with because I hit shots that I typically wouldn’t be able to execute. This racquet delivers easy power and depth, and it swings more easily than a lot of other extended-length racquets. It felt comfortable and stable in most instances, and I only noticed a slight flutter when hitting really high up in the stringbed.”

Wilson Blade 104 v7 Racquet view 2

Volleys – Score: 79

The playtesters benefited from the extra length of the Blade 104 v7 up at net. Tiffani had nothing but positives when it came to volleying. She said, “I was shocked at how easily this Blade 104 v7 maneuvered at net. The downside of most long racquets is that they can feel unwieldy at the net. This racquet got into position quickly, and it felt comfortable. Unlike from the baseline, I found the open string pattern to be a big benefit to me at net. When I was digging out low volleys the ball would fly up and over the net, whereas I would typically find the net.”

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Brittany was also quite impressed with the Blade 104 v7 up at net. She described, “I loved the extra length and surprised myself by getting to a couple extra passing shots. The 104-square-inch head size is very forgiving as well. I loved punching put-away volleys deep and had no problem with swinging volleys. I wouldn’t say my touch volleys were the strongest, but I didn’t worry about that when playing since I typically don’t hit those in a match.”

Chris agreed with Brittany and Tiffani, adding, “The Blade 104 v7 was a very easy racquet to use at net. The racquet was easy to maneuver, and I didn’t have to do much to punch volleys deep. I also liked the feel. There was a nice comfortable response, yet I still felt adequately connected to what was going on. I felt like I had better control over the ball on a more compact stroke like a volley, and the launch angle wasn’t as prevalent. The racquet felt a little unstable off-center when strung with a co-poly, but the response is greatly improved with a softer multifilament type of string.”

On the other hand, Mark was looking for a little more mass. He said, “If I am going to be picky, this is the one area of the playtest where I would have liked the Blade 104 v7 to weigh just a little more, but that unstable quality was only evident under the pressure of a heavily struck passing shot. I imagine that giving the Blade 104 v7 the TW playtester ‘Troy treatment’ (leather grip, plus a smidge of weight in the hoop) would get it close to its Goldilocks potential.”

Wilson Blade 104 v7 Racquet view 3

Serves – Score: 82

Serves were the Wilson Blade 104 v7’s standout stroke for our team. Mark found success starting off points with his serve. He explained, “Along with the forehand, serving with the Blade 104 v7 was my favorite shot to hit during this playtest. Older examples of the Blade 104 had more flexible hoops, but Wilson firmed up the head of the Blade 104 v7 with its FeelFlex technologies. The result was a more predictable and reliable serve, along with a higher degree of comfort relative to prior iterations of this frame.”

The serve was also Tiffani’s favorite stroke to hit with this racquet. She added, “I love how that extra length came into play, giving me a bit more power on my flat serves. I did struggle somewhat with my slice serves, and I needed to be certain that I was swinging completely through my motion. When I failed to do that I was dumping my serves into the net. Still, I felt more confident than usual in my flat serves and relied on that most of the time.”

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Brittany appreciated the Blade 104 v7’s power on first serves, but she had some trouble keeping second serves inside the box. She said, “The ability to hit pace on my first serve was a highlight for me. It was super easy to generate racquet head speed, and I could maintain that power throughout a session. I definitely received some extra free points off my first serve. However, my second serves were landing deep, and I was double-faulting a lot. I then made a conscious effort to snap my wrist to get the ball to dip in front of the service line. I was never completely confident with my second serve, I but was able to hit some neutral to offensive second serves since they landed so deep in the service box.”

Chris loved the pace he was getting when serving with the Blade 104 v7. He said, “I enjoyed some useful power and excellent spin when serving with the Blade 104 v7. I wouldn’t say this was the most accurate Wilson Blade, but it sure was fun to rip serves with! I found it best to go big on both first and second serves and maximize the amount of spin I could get. I had good results on second serves when I would go for safer targets, swing as fast as I could and brush the ball with spin.”

Wilson Blade 104 v7 Racquet view 3

Returns – Score: 77

Even though the Blade 104 v7 is an extended-length racquet, our playtesters were impressed with its maneuverability. That being said, they were looking for a little more control at times. Brittany’s experience with returning was similar to her groundstrokes. She explained, “The Blade 104 v7 offered easy power, and it was actually quite maneuverable for an extended-length racquet. I had no trouble getting the racquet going and into position even on the fastest of first serves. However, I had to aim for bigger targets to play it safe on my return. When playing points I tended to aim deep middle to keep myself in a neutral to offensive position.”

“Once again, I was happy with how maneuverable this racquet felt despite its extended length,” said Tiffani. “I did think this Blade 104 v7 felt more stable than previous versions, and I felt comfortable returning most serves. As I did with my groundstrokes, I had some problems with depth control, especially off my forehand side. I really needed to make sure that I added some topspin to my forehand returns. When I didn’t, I saw my returns go long.”

As long as he was paying attention to his swings, Chris had a great time returning with this racquet. He commented, “There was enough power in the Blade 104 v7 to get into trouble if I was reckless with my return swings. However, when keeping everything in check, I found this racquet to work very well. I enjoyed the comfortable response, and the racquet felt softer than previous versions. I think both the open string pattern and the more forgiving frame flex combine to provide a very smooth feel.”

Mark finished the playtest on a high note. He concluded, “To a degree, the extra length made up for the fact that this racquet is pretty light for me. This ended up being a great combination for my game. The lightness afforded me a high degree of maneuverability, and the 27.5-inch length increased both reach and stability.”

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Overall – Score: 79

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