Tennis Prose



Wilson Ultra Play Test NYC

By Scoop Malinowski

Yesterday was the “Wilson Ultra Play Test” at Town Tennis, a club on E59th Street in NYC I had never heard of. Three perfect har-tru courts in a luxury apartment complex. I asked a couple of NYC tennis friends about if they ever played at Town Tennis, and one, Jim Roemer, who is a born and raised New Yorker from the East Side, never even heard of it. And Steve Siebert, the CEO and founder of Uomo Sport, said he has been invited to play there a bunch of times. He revealed that Bill Gates is a member of the historic but very private Town Tennis club.

There are no secrets about the new blue Wilson Ultra V4 100 (square inch) racquet. It has a 16/19 string bed and weighs 300 grams. Wilson bills the new Ultra in colorful terms: “Pure BEAUTY. Ruthless POWER.”

The easy power was noticeable instantly and I can’t wait to use the Ultra in a real match.

We did various drills with other media and Wilson ambassadors testing the new blue Ultra which is used by Maria Sakkari, and then we played doubles “King of the Court.” ALL Wilson racquets always feel good for my arm and game. You can always count on Wilson to get it right, they have been around since 1914 creating the best equipment in the sport. I think the first big Wilson sensation, huge-selling racquet was the wooden Jack Kramer Pro Staff from the 1940s or 50s which, coincidentally, a new member of my club (Packanack Lake Tennis Club, six red clay courts, in Wayne, NJ) named Curtis Melton still uses! A couple of weeks ago Curtis played singles next to me and it was somewhat distracting to see him use an old school net rushing game with that classic Wilson wood racquet. I almost wanted to watch him play instead of focusing on my own opponent!

Though I have never used the old Jack Kramer Pro Staff woody, how good a stick must that be for a man to still be trusting and using it almost a century later against opponents who use modern equipment?

There were some spectacular players at the Ultra Play Test, hitting the ball like ATP pros. Bryce Pereira told me he played five years at UCLA and one of his highlights was losing 63 64 to an opponent and then beating him a week later 76 16 76 saving four match points in a Pac 10 conference tournament match. Then in the next round of the Pac 10 he saved four match points again and won! Now that is a special kind of player to save four MPs two matches in a row. So you could imagine what it was like to see this kind of player with a birds eye view. Bryce is now a tennis coach at USC. Bryce also said he won his first USTA gold ball in doubles playing with Brandon Holt, who he knows since age 11.

Michael Schaeffer was another amazing player at the Test, he played at Oregon and now works for Wilson. He described to me the differences of the Clash and Ultra like a doctor! (Clash pockets the ball more, Ultra has more firepower.) Looking at these two athletes and a third guy I didn’t get his name, how fast and well they could hit the ball, it’s mind-blowing that the US Open players are even on a totally higher level. I can’t wrap my head around this fascinating reality that tennis has so many different levels.

Long-time colleague and pal Richard Pagliaro of also took the train from the Open to participate and John Hannah of Tennis Channel came from Atlanta and also graced us with his fine game and some stories at lunch after the court activities finishes. The most memorable was him telling us about asking a certain retired “Mr X” ATP player about his chances to win the next Grand Slam and the player replied, “No chance, I’m very happy ranked outside the top ten, I have a great life…” This player once did reach a Wimbledon semi and won a doubles slam.

Wilson tennis has been around since 1916 and is still a top leader in the sport, with Federer and Serena the most notable champions who wielded Wilson equipment weaponry for their entire, historic careers. Djokovic used to play with Wilson too for many years and scored his first win vs Federer in Montreal with a Wilson racquet. Some other big Wilson players today include Tsitsipas, Lopez, Raducanu, Dimitrov, Goffin, Carreno Busta, Opelka, de Minaur, Halep, Kvitova, Keys, Anisimova, Jabeur, Sabalenka, Ostapenko,.

31 ATP top 100 pros use Wilson racquets, the most of any brand.

Wilson racquets have always been a part of my playing life, the old Pete Sampras Pro Staff, the Jimmy Connors T2000 which I still train with on occasion, Hyper Hammer, and lately the Clash which won me over instantly during a demo at Miami Open in 2019.

I will add on to this article after I played my first match with the new Ultra so stay tuned…

Update: Tonight I hit with the Ultra and it exceeded my expectations. I hit with a big hitter and had no problem controlling his power and trading shots on hard court. I felt the Ultra actually gave me the little extra power I needed. It also helped my slice, I saw my hitting partner hit many of my slices into the net. I could sense his surprise as though he has never beaten me in singles I know he’s confident with the normal pace of my ball. But that changed today.

Another interesting aspect is that last week I lost with the Clash to a very strong player 62 61 on red clay after beating him 63 62 two weeks earlier on red clay. One club member who watched part of the match came up to me a few days ago and told me, “You’re strokes are perfect form. But you need more power and more depth.”

Well the Ultra provided me with the missing link. After 20 minutes of singles hitting today and gaining the full trust of the racquet I played two doubles sets with four different opponents.

The new power was evident and the other players noticed my new power. “Is that a new racquet?” “You have power now.” We won the first set 6-2 and I don’t remember making any stupid or sloppy errors.

There were even a couple of times when I was very off balance on a deep shot and the racquet handled it and got the ball back for an unexpected winner. This racquet is special!

The second set was against two more strong players and again the Ultra got the job done, 7-5.

Every shot went where I wanted and I felt so confident to swing harder and dig my feet in more, really rip the ball. The Ultra also helped my serve, one ace and a good amount of free points.

One guy said, “That racquet is beautiful.”

Another guy inspected it closely and said, “This racquet is 300 grams, that’s the perfect weight.”

Thank you Wilson, very happy with my new toy and can’t wait to keep using it, next tournament is the intersectional competition tournament called the Atlantic Cup for 45s at Baltimore Country Club next weekend.

UPDATE: The ultimate test was using the new Ultra vs the player who I lost to 62 61 using the Clash. Well we played last night and with the Ultra I won the rematch 63 75. The power, precision, and trust in the Wilson Ultra made the difference. I was able to get that extra boost of power on shots and returns which made the difference. It’s an amazing racquet.

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