The Blade 98 16x19 Countervail is here! First un-boxing impression of these frames: they look fantastic! Wilson dumped the semi-cheesy ruler-scale graphics at the 9:00 & 3:00 position and bring us a beautiful matte finish with signature color blocks in green like the Pro Staff and other Wilson variants of late. Specs and descriptions are laid out in subtle grey on black, a new all-red buttcap and “v6.0” denoting the 6th generation of Blade frames.
New for Blade 98 16x19 v6.0 is Wilson’s “Countervail” integrated material technology. Wilson.com touts 30% less racquet vibration with same feel, 10% less fatigue and 40% more control over shots when nearing exhaustion. Sounds great – we put it to the test. We strung it at 52# on Babolat Star 5 with Solinco Hyper-G 1.20mm.
The Blade weighs in at 11.4, strung, with pro feel dampener, sublime grip, and protection tape. Frame flex is 65 RA (Strung) and swing weight is a healthy 330 due to 337mm balance as tested.
This frame performs beautifully! The weight/balance is very familiar and the string pattern is moderate. The frame definitely feels softer than it plays; generating great power and spin while feeling soft, more like a Head Prestige Rev Pro. The last frame that I felt similar characteristics was the Yonex EZone DR 98 with this Blade being even more so “soft but powerful”. Not visible on the frame is any reference to the smart tennis sensor – technology that probably didn’t take off as well as everyone in the industry thought that it would. The buttcap is still compatible, though.
With the evolution of the game, huge swing speed and lots of wrist, combined with stiff frames and stiff string, it’s no surprise that industry leaders are looking for more comfortable ways to generate big power.