Alfonso Faustino: Volkl C10 Pro to Wilson RF 97 Autograph

Many thanks to: Keith, Greg, Jonathan, Raj, David, Jesse, and Turbo. You all helped during my racquet search with your expert advice. I also appreciate you letting me try out your pro-racquets. Keith: it was great hitting with you again — definitely miss our hitting sessions. Greg and David: thanks for coaching me and working out with me. Raj: thanks for all the ATP-work-outs. Jonathon: thanks for letting me hit with your racquet and also hitting with me — you smack the shit out of that ball with so much control and placement. David: thanks for all the shot tolerance and volley drills and for letting me try out your racquets. Jesse: I enjoy our games. Turbo: thanks for stringing up my racquets and out matches. Karla: you’re an awesome player and instructor — thank you!

Pardon me for not posting in a long time; I’ve been super busy with my acting career — an audition almost every single day with a one day deadline for major episodic series and major studio production feature films.

In fact, while drafting this BLOG, my agent just contacted me for an audition with a CBS television series; hence, after this BLOG, I will Zoom with my audition coach and break my scene down and shoot the audition clip to submit to CBS by tomorrow morning, 22-October-2021.

I’m truly blessed to be getting auditions almost every single day for the major television shows — as a no-name actor, this is very unique and a HUGE blessing, that I thank the Trinity every single day!

As I mentioned many times in my past, my acting career is Priority #1 above all my activities: USCG AUX, Alameda County Sheriff’s Office, and San Francisco Fire Department.

Alright, so let’s get to the strings and things of this BLOG, which I’m really excited about and using my free-time to post due to the rainy weather.

For over 25 years, I have been playing tennis, both competitively and socially with the awesome German Engineered and German Made Volkl C10 Pro. I dig this racquet. When I was playing competitively on a seasonal and regular basis back 25-some years ago, Volkl gave me a C10 Pro to try out. At the time, I was using the Head Radical, which was made in Austria.

The people at Volkl asked me to give them my design specifications for my racquet, and they would customize a racquet that fit my playing style — wow! I never made it to the ATP, and I was never a premier amateur player. I played USTA, college, and junior stuff, but my record was NOT AT ALL impressive.

I was competing in a USTA league match, and the Volkl rep was there watching me play. After the match, he gave me his contact information; and, he told me that he would modify an existing off-the-shelf racquet for me by adding lead tape and silicone in strategic places in the racquet.

After the season ended, we lost in our district/division, I contacted the rep, and I told him I liked a heavy racquet that I can never find at the stores — they are all light.

After 6 months or so after my call, a customized Volkl racquet arrived at my door — brand-spanking new, and it was adjusted be heavier for me.

I hit with it and dug it so much, I contacted Volkl and purchased two additional racquets of the same specifications — I always buy at least 3 racquets, regardless of cost.

I’ve been hitting with my Volkl C10 Pro ever since and enjoy hitting with them to this day.

Please excuse the dirty and worn-out over-grips; I haven’t had time to change them because of my acting schedule. The three racquets are in excellent condition — I take care of all my gear. I will change the over-grips once I’m done with this BLOG.

Volkl got a pretty good ROI by giving me one customized C10 Pro. Through that one gifted racquet investment that Volkl gave me, I bought two racquets; AND, during my 25+ years of using their C10 Pro, 25 amateur tennis players purchased stock C10 Pro because of me. The C10 Pro go for $179 per racquet — you do the math; cuz, I can’t. 😉 Ha!

So, why am I changing out?

Time for new racquet technology that’s more advanced than my 20+ year old Volkl C10 Pros.

I hit with a group of solid and seasoned tennis players every single day. They all use the most current racquets; and, in order to be competitive, I need to train and have the current racquets out in the market.

I consider myself a solid 4.0 under USTA rating specifications.

In the picture, below, is Demijan. He is solid and consistent player. He has very nice ground strokes — one the best I’ve seen in my years of playing tennis.

Snapshot of my buddy and hitting partner, JR, uncoiling into the ball in front of him. Laid back wrist will snap forward later on in this swing to add power to his shot. JR also has very nice groundies with a lot of punching power and pace.

I’m the video, below, JR is hitting one of his signature heavy, fast-speed, punching forehand. He has an injured calf muscle, but he can still generate power and weight with his early preparation, uncoiling to the ball in front of him, very nice weight transfer, and launching forward to the ball from bended knees as part of his weight transfer. Very smooth and relaxed shot.

Their tennis backgrounds range from former UC Berkeley, UC Santa Barbara, University Of Miami collegiate players, former touring ATP and WTA pros, and seasoned 4.0 to open players in and out the USTA.

Karla, was a former UC Berkeley player, and was a WTA player until she injured her knee. She was my tennis coach until she moved to London before the CoVid-19 stuff. If anyone can tired me out, it was she. Her balls are heavy, deep, and have tons of punching power. The key to hitting with a player of this advanced level is to prepare early with excellent footwork to get behind the shot; AND, to be in peak FITNESS.

My hitting session with Karla ranges from 1.5 hours to 2.5 hours; and, I have one rule of which I do not deviate when hitting with her:

NO HITTING WITH ANYONE BEFORE HITTING WITH KARLA.

I need all the energy I have to keep up with her. To date, I have never beaten her; and, she has consistently crushed me when playing matches against her. I play at 10/10, and she can play at 3/10 and crush me 0-1 in less than an hour.

One time I played against Heather Ludloff. She was a former WTA and played doubles in Wimbledon. She crushed me.

It’s a different tennis experience against Division 1, ATP, and WTA players. Sure, I might be able to exchange strokes with them in a practice session; but, the moment the balls have points associated to them, these players play differently from practice sessions to match-play. The have tons of match experiences that have tempered them to address any ball under extreme pressure.

My third favorite ATP Player is Alexander Zvarev. He stated that his backhand is his-go-to stroke when he is under pressure. He knows he can count on that stroke if he is down match-point.

I thought I was a shit-hot recreational and club-player…well, I ain’t shit when put up against former or current Division 1, WTA, and ATP players.

Below, is former UCSB Collegiate Player, my buddy, and my coach, Greg, pictured below. Like JR, Greg hits with a lag and snap wrist combined with shoulder rotation and weight transfer; however, unlike JR, Greg thas a shorter stroke production and follow-through.

Greg hides his strokes with his body, and it’s hard to anticipate the direction of his shots. In the video, you can see Greg’s stroke-production and short take-back and follow-through.

I take less than a five minute break to get a sip or water from my 20-ounce Klean Canteen thermos, filled with water and two cinnamon sticks, and I’m back on the courts slugging away.

The players with whom I work-out ranges from being 20-30 years younger than me and 7 years older than me. They are fit and no joke when it comes to their tennis!

There is one older player; he is about 10 years older than me. I have practice matches with him, and he kicks the shit out of me — he’s in great shape, and he has a high tennis IQ and can execute. He plays in the seniors nationals. He beats me with consistency and placement. I’m working to beat him. I had him 5-0 in the first set, and he came up to beat me, 7-5. I need to work on my close.

Another picture of Karla, above; is in excellent shape, and I must be, too, in order to keep up with her on the tennis courts. We drill for about 1.5 to 2 hours straight, without breaks. It’s a high intensity work-out!

If I want to hit with the big boys and girls, I gotta stay in shape.

My diet, my blessing of exceptional health, and my HIIT cross-training all help me to play my best against players on the tennis courts — I might not beat them, but they will sweat and fight for their wins against me — hell, I can outlast some of them on the courts, and these players are in their mid-20s to early 40s; hence, the fact that I can physically outlast them is a victory for me.

So, why is it important to be fit for just for a fucking tennis racquet?

Because, the RF97A just ain’t no fucking tennis racquet; you really need to be in excellent fitness…and, my fitness is probably the bare minimum you should be at to swing the RF97A around for match-play, which can take over 44 minutes long — I’m not kidding.

I don’t want you to waste your money buying an advanced racquet that you are not gonna get any value if you are not in good shape to swing that club around the tennis courts.

This racquet, according to Wilson and Roger Federer, has the exact specifications that Roger Federer uses on ATP tour. I particularly don’t believe this assertion, but I do like that it has the heaviest swing-weight that’s available off the shelf.

It is heavy for most recreational players; but, for me, the RF97A is light.

Roger Federer’s matches can go over 1.5 hours — that’s a long time, especially in match play, especially, against guys like Novak Djokovic, who is hitting ground-strokes at over 88 MPH. Roger Federer is in tip-top tennis form like all the other ATP and WTA playas. Unless you are physically fit, this racquet will not do you well…I’ve seen many intermediate players fail using this racquet.

Novak Djokovic is my favorite player; and, I use him as my visual exercise and goal whenever I am out on the courts. He inspires me to stay in shape and cross-train; so, I can hit at high capacity with stamina like him; and, I’m at a good point in my training whereby I’m a force on the court whenever I go out for my hitting session.

Although I’m physically in great tennis shape to compete in sanctioned tournaments, I’m MENTALLY not match-ready for sanctioned tournaments at this point in time. Playing sanctioned tournaments require tennis mental training.

Being MATCH-READY isn’t just being physically ready; it involves a whole level of training my mind to help me get to my tennis goals under the pressure of a tennis match.

If you’re serving at 30-40, and it’s match-point, do you have the serve that you can confidently pull out and execute to get you back to deuce? Can your mind support you in this goal under match-pressure?

Many playas purchased the RF97A thinking it would magically improve their tennis game.

Remember this, the tennis racquet is a tool used to help you get to your tennis goal — a racquet won’t make you a better player — only you will make you a better player — the racquet is nothing but a tool, and it will amplify your existing skills.

If you have terrible tennis form and skills, the RF97A will amplify your ugly and terrible tennis form and skills — your ugly form will look and be uglier, and your lousy tennis skills will look and be even more lousy when using a pro-level racquet.

Conversely, if your form and skills are sound and proper, the RF97A will amplify the soundness, effectiveness, efficiency, and beauty of your strokes.

Many amateur players lack sound technique and physical fitness; hence, they won’t able to swing pro-racquets like the Wilson RF97A and my own personal custom-made Volkl C10 Pro racquets for an effective and efficient amount of time. They will end up playing worse than they ever played before.

So, if you ain’t fit and don’t have good tennis form and technique, stick with a common retail racquet off the shelves. Invest time and money with a USPTA instructor to learn the proper way to hit a tennis ball; lay off the junk-food and get off the sofa and work-out to get fit. Do all these things before purchasing a pro-level racquet.

I’m constantly working on hitting my forehand with the same physics principles as Roger Federer…I’m not imitating his forehand, I’m taking his physics and applying those physics to my own forehand style. Every evening in my crib, I do 100-200 forehand strokes.

I’m this video, below, I am working on my forehand. My tennis partner and coach, Greg, always remind me to always step into my shots.

I’m also doing the same to my backhand; but, I’m using Novak Djokovic’s physics and principles and applying them to my backhand form.

So, every evening in my crib, I do 100-200 backhand strokes to groom myself. In the video below, I’m working on my backhand shoulder rotation and ball contact point.

The two-handed backhand has a different ball-contact point than a one-handed backhand; and, I’m also working on a good spacing of my body from the ball — my backhand has a higher percentage of error than my forehand stroke. I am working to decrease that percentage with the RF97A, which seems to be working better than my C10 Pro.

Weakest part of my tennis game is volleys under the pressure of a match; but, I’m working on it, and my tennis coach and tennis partners mention dramatic improvements; but, I’m still not match-effective with volleys.

After my hitting with the session with the guys and girls, we enjoy our post-work-out discussions; we talk about our games, tennis accomplishments, and equipment; and, they inevitably always recommend that I move to modern day tennis racquets.

Now, I’m all about the latest and greatest tennis racquets; but, I also have an elite attitude — my Volkls were made specifically for me and my style of play — all three racquets were made for my style of play and have been weighed to my specifications from the Volkl Factory in Germany many many many years ago — it was a lucky fluke that I was given this opportunity. As a result, I am spoiled; hence, I just cannot buy a regular common racquet off the shelf that every non ATP player (recreational player) has access to — I don’t and won’t do that.

Yes, I did think about Pro Stock, but those racquets are second-hand racquets from former ATP touring pros, and I don’t buy used (second-hand) anything! All my gear must be brand new. I don’t care if Bjorn Borg used it to win his 5th Wimbledon — if he used it, it is used equipment, and I ain’t buying it.

Alright, I do have an exception; I will buy tennis racquets from my buddy Keith, pictured, supra.

He is a high-end player and buys racquets like buying food of which he has a craving. We call him Jet-setter. He travels anywhere he pleases and at anytime. Very good playa and has helped me along my tennis development. He has the latest and greatest racquets, and he takes care of all his gear. He is an also a watch-phile like me.

Yes, I did try Wilson Pro Lab racquets that are brand new and are able to be self-customized. The racquet selections didn’t really Wow-me! for their asking prices, which cost less than my RF97As.

I was hoping Volkl had new pro-stock racquets or a pro lab like Wilson, but they don’t; and, even though I really dig my existing C10 Pros, my tennis partner, Greg, mentioned:

Hey, try something different; you used Volkl for a very long time, and you can still use your old C10 Pros if you still want to change it up from using your new technology racquets, so try something different.”

After the cold splash of reality set in with me of having to buy a COMMON racquet off the shelf that’s available to every non ATP tennis player, I began test driving tennis racquets.

After test driving several brands, I decided on the Wilson RF97A — the only racquet out in the market that is close to the same pro specifications as Roger Federer’s tennis racquet, and the closest specification to my personalized Volkl C10 Pro.

Unfortunately, Head doesn’t have a pro version of Novak Djokovic; and, Head doesn’t have a pro lab — if Head had a pro version of Novak Djokovic’s racquet or a pro lab, I would have been tempted to purchase another Head over the Wilson RF97A.

Anyway, I never purchased a Wilson racquet, so the RF97A was a good reason and opportunity for me to make my first Wilson purchase.

A pain in the ass! I will get to that later in this BLOG.

I also like smaller racquet heads…I never used a 100 sq in nor bigger racquet heads — my Volkl C10 Pro is 98 sq in; and, I’m really happy that the Wilson RF97A is even smaller — 97 sq in.

I purchased three of them — I always purchase tennis racquets in threes — regardless of cost.

I wanna take the time to thank Sports Basement (Presidio, Stonestown, and Berkeley) for:

  • Letting me sift through their entire inventory so I can get three matching tennis racquets;
  • Letting me pop the trap-door to ensure the shaft was filled with 100% foam according to Wilson and Roger Federer’s specifications; and,
  • Letting me weight each racquet in their inventory to ensure that all my three racquets weighed the same according to Roger Federer’s specifications.

It took me five hours to get these three tennis racquets from three different Sports Basements. I got three RF97As that all match in grip size, static weight, swing weight, and they all have foam in the shaft.

The Wilson RF97A is a bit light for me even when strung. As mentioned earlier in this BLOG I’m use to swinging a heavier racquet in my Volkl C10 Pro.

It is also head-heavy. Since I modified my backhand and forehand, I found I needed an extra 6 grams of weight spread throughout the hoop of my C10 Pro: 12, 3, and 9 positions.

The nice thing about the Wilson RF97A is that the specs are allegedly used by Roger Federer — for me, even if it isn’t like Roger Federer’s actual racquets, the RF97A fits my swing style.

Before you purchase the RF97A, consider if swinging a 360-gram tennis racquet is something you can do for over an hour?

Vogue or Vanity Fair interviewed Roger Federer, and he mentioned he uses a little lead tape to increase the weight of his racquets even though they are already specifically set for him; so, he’s swinging heavier than 12.6 ounces strung.

The thing that I most like about the RF97A is that the weight is nicely balance throughout the racquet; hence, I really don’t think I need to make any adjustments.

Briefly, I wanna write about the stuff I DON’T LIKE about the RF97A:

First thing I don’t like about the RF97A is that it has his autograph.

I don’t like autographs, so my tennis buddy and friend, Turbo, who is a Rafa fan, removed the Roger Federer Autographs from my sight while stringing up all three of my RF97As.

I’m thinking about sending my three RF97As to my buddy to have them all painted in high-gloss black to get the autograph permanently off my racquets.

I never asked for anyone’s autographs, and I don’t like autographs on my things.

A selected group of Ferrari pilotis met with former racer, Mario Andretti. We met him at his home/winery for lunch or dinner. He would tell us about his racing stories and experiences in life. He would sign the engines to our Ferraris — I was the only one in my group that refused his signature on my Ferrari’s engine.

My father always taught me, no one is superior to you; and, you are not inferior to anyone — don’t be subservient to anyone; You can respect another person’s accomplishments, and learn from him or her; but, always maintain equal eye contact with anyone you meet — no one is superior to you.

He also taught me, your self-esteem, happiness, identity, and pride comes from only you — no person nor things but only you.

Why would I be proud to have Mario Andretti’s autograph on my Ferrari engine?

In the picture, below, my girlfriend took a picture of my buddy and his girlfriend in the silver Ferrari F430 behind me. Her picture also caught a glimpse of my Ferrari F430 Spyder’s engine that Mario Andretti offered to sign.

I don’t like autographs — period. I never asked for one, and I never will.

Second thing I don’t like about the RF97A is that it is made in China. Come on Wilson, get it made in America — you’re a friggin’ American name and company!

My Volkls are German racquets — guess where they were made?

In Germany!

My Head Radicals are Austrian racquets — guess where they were made?

In Austria!

Wilson…made in China? Are you kidding me?

The third thing I don’t like about the RF97A and all Wilson tennis racquets is Wilson’s poor quality control. Made In China = POOR QUALITY and POOR QUALITY CONTROL!

Yeah, it irks the fuck out of me that my iPhone is made in China…I will leave it at that…back to the RF97A.

I do my best not to buy anything that is Made In China; but, as you may or may not know, that is pretty difficult. I don’t like Made In China!

During my research of the RF97A, I called Wilson, and they told me that not all the RF97As are made to stated specifications — the racquets can be 10 grams off from the stated racquet specifications on the light or heavy side; and, that + or – 10 grams is considered acceptable and within tolerance.

Are YOU FUCKING kidding me?!!! 10 grams is A LOT of weight difference — especially, on the plus side; because, you can’t adjust a racquet to be lighter when it is produced from the factory — if it is -10 grams, still not the best, but a player can add more weight to it using silicone and/or lead tape to make up for the -10 gram weight loss.

Still, Wilson is a crock of shit for charging $279 for a racquet that might not be up to specifications.

That’s the reason it took me five hours and driving to three different Sports Basements to make sure I got a batch of three RF97As that exactly matched Roger Federer’s racquet specifications.

Mind you, the cost for each RF97A is $279. For that price, you would think Wilson would put more effort into their quality control.

Hell, the new Volkl C10 Pro only cost $179, and their quality control team ensures exact weights and measurements stated for their racquets.

Wilson is a joke of a racquet company.

No wonder Tennis Warehouse charges $10-$20 dollars to match racquets for their customers that purchase more than one racquet of the same make. It’s a pain in the fucking ass to match racquets having recently gone through the experience myself!

The final thing I don’t like about the RF97A is that the handle is suppose to be filled with 100% foam…if you open the trap door and look into the handle, some RF97As are filled with half foam and half silicone.

Wilson told me that all RF97A racquet handles should be 100% filled with foam. I asked them for a reason as to some RF97A racquets had half foam and half silicone — they didn’t know the answer.

As long as my three racquets are made to Roger Federer’s stated specifications, I’m happy and that’s all I care about. I’m looking forward to striking the tennis ball with my new stick, and I will update this BLOG with my assessment — I know it will be a great fit for me.

Notwithstanding those four items that I don’t like, supra, the benefits and features of the RF97A are outstanding.

The exposed Carbon Fibre is at the tip of the loop — very classy and sporty looking.

It reminds me of the steering wheel of my Ferrari F430 Spyder.

I really like the RF97A being entirely black — it looks classy and an intimidating weapon.

I don’t like racquets with fluorescent colors — they are a fad and eventually go out of style — remember the 80’s fluorescent ski outfits?

Classic black never goes out of style, and the RF97A looks classy just like my two Rolex watches: The Exclusive and Rare Batman…

and The Popular Submariner.

The RF97A, like all Ferraris and all Rolex watches, will wear well with time and are not fads.

I’m always about style and NEVER about fashion. Style is a way of life and never fades — fashion is a fad and fades out by next year’s NYC Fashion Show — so, I always buy things that enhance and match my style of life.

The RF97A matches and goes very well with my style of life.

I really dig the RF97A’s swing weight — so nicely balanced. I doubt I will need to add additional weight, but I will know for certain during my hit with it after the rain lets up.

I like that the RF97A’s WILSON logo is black and blends in with the black frame of the racquet — it doesn’t pop out; so, from a distance, you don’t see “WILSON” like you do with the Wilson Blades and other Wilson racquets.

Finally, the main reason I dig and chose the RF97A is because it is close to the SAME specs that Roger Federer uses. How cool is that?

The thought that I’m swinging a racquet that has close to the same specs as Roger Federer is pretty cool to me; and, surprisingly, Roger Federer’s racquet specifications are similar to my own racquet static and swing weights.

Like I mentioned, even though Roger Federer and Wilson market the RF97A to be Roger Federer’s specs, I really don’t believe it. Rather, I believe the the off-the-shelf RF97A is a baseline or minimum specifications Roger Federer uses prior to tuning his actual Wilson RF97A. As he mentioned himself, he modified the weight of his racquets with lead tape.

I won’t get into the specs of the RF97A; that’s already been done by some real good tennis players on their YouTube channels — check them out.

Rather, when I get out to the courts, I’m gonna talk about my direct hitting experiences with the Wilson RF97A once the rain lets up.

I could hit indoors, but I do not think that would give you a full and proper evaluation of the racquet; because, I also believe that a racquet needs to perform well in windy conditions. If you ever played tennis in the wind, you will know what I’m talking about here…a gust of wind can easily throw the pitch of the racquet during stroke production and up to the contact of the tennis ball.

In case you’re interested, here is my playing profile:

  • Solid 4.0 USTA player;
  • I use an Eastern Grip. I never went Semi Western nor Western; because, those grips were too extreme for my sense of feel when I went to the Continental grip to volley and for my service motion;
  • My string tension is 55 LBS for all three racquets. I generate my own power; hence, I’m more about control;
  • I play predominantly right-handed, but I’m naturally left-handed; I made the switch to playing right-handed when I was very young; because, my tennis classes were all right-handed oriented; and, as a kid of 5 years old, I could not conceptualize in my mind the reverse of the right-handed lessons for left-handed play. When I get pulled out wide on the backhand side of the court, I can go left-handed;
  • My grip size is Europe: 3 or United States: 4 3/8;
  • I am primarily a baseline player;
  • I can get my first serve to ~100 MPH; but, I’m only 30% consistent at that speed;
  • I can get my second serve to ~85 MPH — I’m about 45% consistent at this speed;
  • I am a singles player; but, I did play some USTA doubles, but I don’t like it; because, I like being alone on my side of the court; I don’t like to share my side of the court;
  • I use a modern backhand and forehand;
  • My favorite players are Djokovic, Federer, and Zvarev in that order;
  • I use 16 gauge Gosen strings; though, one of my tennis buddies, Jonathan, recommends I go for a blend of gut and poly; and,
  • I do not use dampeners; because, I like the sound of the racquet, the feel, and I seldom feel any vibration when I hit; hence, I don’t use dampeners.

So, I gotta bounce out of here to memorize my lines for tomorrow’s audition and for my meeting with my audition coach tonight at midnight.

Once I hit with the RF97As, I will update this BLOG; and, maybe, I will post a video clip of my hits.

I wish you well — remember, don’t give up on your goals and dreams — fight for them — don’t listen to haters or negative people — they are just jealous of you, and they are losers that have nothing going on in their pitiful lives. Remember, with the exception of a handful of people, in general, people want you to fail; because, they failed and gave up on their dreams — ignore them — failing is part of the process, and not quitting is the key; so, stay in your lane, focus on your track, leave those losers in your rear view mirror, and ignore them. Move forward, full throttle, to get to your goals and dreams as if tomorrow doesn’t exist.

My father use to tell me, Drive that Ferrari like you stole it.

Check out the load factor on my two right wheels of my gorgeous 1988 328 GTS. I dig this shot of me hitting and coming out of the apex. Poetry in motion and great instructions from my racing instructor.

Oh, pappy, I do drive it like I stole it, but…occasionally, I get caught.

(I will BLOG about this picture, supra, when I have some time — it’s quite funny.)

I hope this BLOG gave you an idea of the RF97A; I hope this BLOG will motivate you to get fit, pursue your dreams and goals of getting whatever you want in life, Ferraris, Rolexes, becoming an actor, becoming a touring ATP or WTA player, or whatever.

Remember, failing is part of the process to getting to your goals — just don’t give up!!!

Check 6! and Break a leg!

/s/ Alfonso Faustino