Wilson Tennis illuminates racquets with a night session design, as part of a larger racquet aesthetic strategy

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The US Open lights up the moonlit hours at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Wilson Tennis embraces the popular feature of the year’s major final with the creation of a new Night Session collection, featuring three reflective tennis racquets, shoes and additional gear.

The highlight of the Night Session collection, releasing August 15th (early access available here), comes via the Blade V8 98, Clash V2 100, and Pro Staff V13 97, all featuring a black-based design with detailed reflective, part of Wilson’s larger push to use racquet aesthetics – whether paint, texture or otherwise – to add a unique element to frame engineering.

“When the light comes straight from the racquet,” says Brad Schantz, Senior Design Director at Wilson Racquet Sports, “there’s a sense of surprise and delight. It’s not enough for us to have a different color palette We do that and it’s interesting, but we want to push into a space that no one has ever seen in the market.When you unbox a Wilson racquet, we want you to say “Woah.”

For Night Session designs, Schantz said the team wanted to tell a story of working day and night to earn a spot in the spotlight at the US Open. To achieve this, the designers explored the concepts of those who train at night and found a common thread of reflectivity. They wanted to incorporate this concept into the actual setting, keeping it balanced to add intrigue but not too much.

Using popular bike technology, Wilson added reflective decals to the frames. But you may not always see them. The entire racquet – from the base paint to the Wilson logo – is blacked out, and the decals are nearly black themselves. A first glance is “super subtle,” says Schantz, not noticed until the light hits the decals just right. “When you don’t see it on,” he says, “you see tonal black, but once you start interacting with it, there’s a moment of ‘wait a minute, that’s not what I’m ‘have seen.'”

The frames also include the franchise information on the right stick becoming more discreet and the “Night Session” moniker on the frame via an embossed 3D decal. “You’re not going to see it right away, but once you start moving it,” Schantz says, “you see it’s a texture, you see it’s an additional point of interest as you as you get closer and closer.”

The Night Session designs for the 2022 US Open aren’t the first forays into Wilson’s unique aesthetic and texture. The Clash V2 has a soft-textured paint coating and embossed detailing, the Blade V8 features color-shifting paint, and the 2021 and 2022 Earth Day range includes water-based paint.

“We try to suck you in on every level,” Schantz says of the design. “When you see it on the wall, hold it by the handle and turn it in your hands, we want it to be dynamic and super interesting.”

The soft-touch finish that Wilson engineers first developed in 2016 helps give the Clash V2 a unique touch, but also a color. Wilson uses a coat of silver paint topped with an anodized brown. The way the light hits the frame accentuates the geometry of the racquet and shows the color in different ways, changing from a darker red to a brighter red. The embossed Clash logo integrates with the frame for an added layer of texture.

To achieve this, Wilson had to devise a new way of making the racquets, from the coating to the drying processes. So did the water-based solution created by Wilson with partner Sherwin-Williams.
SHW
. “We had to send people to our factories and see how the line is set up and how a racquet is going to go through the line, made using this new type of paint, this new type of material,” Schantz explains. “Whenever we have the opportunity to tear down a production line and rebuild it to make something really interesting and unique, we take it.”

Schantz says they aim to give each line a distinct element, while staying true to the Wilson brand. For the Blade V8, a color-changing metallic paint changes from dark green to copper during movement. The Blade paint, still faithful to the green known from the franchise, highlights the unique X-Loop geometry of the frame, promoting the duality of engineering with the duality of paint.

“One of the overarching stories that you’re starting to see is one of dynamism,” he says. “We want your racquet to be as dynamic as the game. We don’t want you to pick up a racquet and say it’s green or red, we want to reflect your enthusiasm for the game.”

And that effort means Wilson is constantly looking outside of tennis to bring unique materials and features to the industry. “Every time we release something,” Schantz says, “we want people to say ‘Woah’ and get as obsessed with it as we are with doing it.”


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