Me and my Pro Staff
There’s a line in the 1988 film Tequila Sunrise starring Mel Gibson and Michelle Pfeiffer that goes like this: “I don’t know what it is about going to high school with someone that makes you feel you’re automatically friends for life”. It’s a good line.
I went to high school that same year with the Wilson Pro Staff 85 in my bag. And like the line in that movie, we were automatically friends for life.
I’ve had new friends since then. I’ve loved them, lost them, fallen out with them, kissed and made up, sworn never to see them again. I’m talking tennis rackets here of course. But my Pro Staff 85 is still around, reliable and trustworthy, growing old gracefully by my side.
The Pro Staff 85, or 6.0 as it was later known, has made a lot of friends for life over the years. It can still be seen hanging out with its many other friends at tennis clubs all over the world, at airports, on stringing machines, on social media. Tennis immortals relied on it in their hour of need, whilst us mere mortals held its hand on clay, grass and tarmac, creating our own inspired magic. Or was it holding our hand when we were break point down? I never quite worked that out.
Why has the friendship endured for so many of us? Why do so many of us smile warmly to ourselves when we see one or pick one up? Why are some of us we still using one? Perhaps there are several reasons.
The nerdish mystique of the production run at Wilson’s old factory on St Vincent in the Caribbean? Yes, that’s one reason.
Pros such as Evert, Edberg and Sampras immortalised in photographs holding its hand moments before holding trophies? Yep, that’s another reason.
The friend Federer learned his craft with? For sure a reason.
But all those reasons have surely grown out of the real reason, which is this. Nothing has quite bettered it for hitting a tennis ball from point A to point B on a tennis court with supreme control over its journey. Add to that the addictive sensation when the ball collides with that matte black 16mm scalpel of a frame adorned with those thin yellow and red lines. A racket for those who know, for those who continued to invest time in that friendship long after it was left behind by so many for bigger, thicker, stiffer things.
That best of friends from high school, automatically friends for life.
But that Pro Staff 85 is not my only friend for life because there was a new kid in town, the Wilson Clash, and we very quickly became friends.
Now, we’re a high school gang of three.
The Pro Staff: Wilson begins developing rackets with an entirely new construction graphite and Kevlar. The Pro Staff racket becomes a favorite amongst pro players.