The Yonex VCORE 98 (305) is yet another racquet in the Japanese brand's lineup that is designed for intermediate and advanced players who want a spin-friendly racquet with a great feel.
The VCORE 98 packs a relatively thin beam and 98in² isometric head to offer impressive accuracy on full swings and plenty spin thanks to the 16×19 string pattern which they changed from 16×20 on the earlier models.
To make it easier to swing, Yonex uses Aero Fin grooves in the upper hoop but also the lower portion of the head. This is complemented by an Aero Trench grommet system that submerges the grommets to reduce air resistance further.
As per their claims, the advantage of these technologies is more effortless acceleration, which will help you power the ball with pace and spin.
Who is this racquet for and how does it compare to the myriad of other 98 square inch racquets that fall into this spec range? Let's take a look in this Yonex VCORE 98 305 review.
Yonex VCORE 98 305 Specification
Another excellent example of Yonex quality control here as I put the racquet on a set of scales and it was bang on at 305g.
|Length||27in / 68.58cm|
|Unstrung Weight||10.8oz / 305g|
|Strung Weight||11.6oz / 328g|
|Balance||12.79in / 32.49cm / 6 pts HL|
|Beam Width||22mm / 22mm / 21mm /|
|Composition||H.M. Graphite/Black Micro Core/Namd|
|Grip Type||Yonex Synthetic|
|String Pattern||16 Mains / 19 Crosses|
|String Tension||45-60 pounds|
- String: Yonex Polytour Pro
- Tension: 54lbs / 24.5kg
- Strung weight with one overgrip: 328g
- Balls Used: Tennis Point Premium Balls
I strang up the VCORE 98 with a full bed of Yonex's own Poly Tour Pro String. This is a control orientated polyester that offers decent levels of comfort and good tension maintenance.
It's not a string I've used a lot of, but I continually hear good things about it so figured why not give it a go in the VCORE 98 as Yonex naturally recommends you use that string in the racquet.
There were no other customisations to the frame other than a Tennis-Point Premium Overgrip on the L2 (4 1/4″) grip which took the total strung weight to 328g. I was on the road, so I was not able to measure swing weight as I don't have access to a machine so I'm using Tennis Warehouse specs.
The first hit I had with the Yonex VCORE 98 was against the wall, and this was the first time I've ever hit with a brand new frame in this way.
While this isn't the ideal way to demo a racquet, it's not bad for benchmarking the frame.
The wall never misses, and you can hit 30 forehands in a row and quickly get a feel for power, swing speed, how it feels on the run and how it compares to the Zus 310g racquet I use most often.
The downside is you are not handling much spin, slice, or variable type ball. How you hit it is how it comes back.
My first impressions of the VCORE 98 racquet after doing some standard wall drills were it's extremely spin-friendly, easy to swing, and offers excellent power.
On the flip side, I felt like my slice wasn't as controlled as I'm used to with the Zus 95 square inch model, and it also took me a while to get comfortable when I was doing some volley drills. That could be due to the isometric head size, which does take a bit of getting used to.
Other than that the VCORE 98 felt solid and pretty similar to the EZONE 98 so I was expecting to like it when it finally came to hitting against an opponent or ball machine.
Full Yonex VCORE 98 Review
After hitting against the wall for a couple of sessions, my first real hit came on some outdoor artificial grass courts.
This is like a carpet underlay with a sand top coat. It's medium to high bounce on a warm day, but the ball can also skid through, so it's quite a challenging surface to play on.
A quick short court warmup was followed by some higher intensity baseline hitting, and I quickly found the Yonex VCORE 98 is even more spin-friendly than I expected and has a very high launch angle.
After ripping several shots way beyond the baseline, I made a couple of adjustments and found that I was getting a lot of depth and power on my groundstrokes without too much effort. Often thinking I'd sent the ball way too high, but it dipped in nicely.
Given that I'm generally not a massive topspin player, the spin I was able to generate was impressive (helped in part by using quite a small grip size). Even though I love the feeling of ripping flat winners, we all know that the loopier higher bouncing ball is often harder to handle and the VCORE 98 delivers that kind of shot to push an opponent back.
When the warmup was done, we switched to point play with no serves, and I enjoyed the VCORE 98 on the run. It's at a decent weight where it's manoeuvrable when on the stretch but isn't flimsy enough to get pushed around.
That net clearance can buy you some time to recover, and when my legs started moving that bit quicker, I felt pretty good on the defence off both wings.
Any downsides? I felt a lack of control over some of my shots, and I wasn't quite sure what sort of target I could hit if I were to flatten out my strokes.
Traditionally I prefer a slightly more substantial frame with a more closed string pattern, but I feel like if I played with the VCORE 98 for an extended period, it is the sort of racquet that would make me play a more consistent style of tennis.
Up at the net, the VCORE 98 does a reasonable job and has a nice blend of manoeuvrability and stability. I found it useful for punching away volleys but less so on some of the touch plays, half volleys, etc.
I think serve and volley style players will prefer slightly more heft on a more control orientated frame. Still, for players who are primarily coming in behind shoulder-high putaway and overheads, the VCORE 98 is as good as any frame out there.
Overall I'd need a few more hours hitting volleys that were fed from a basket to get dialled in on it, but I felt like I was volleying at a similar level to what I always do so there are no complaints from me here.
Serving with the VCORE 98 was also pleasing. I hadn't hit a serve for about three months due to lockdown so while I didn't exactly hit the ground running, I soon felt like I could generate a decent pace to get the ball through the court and it felt quite whippy through the air when I put my back into it.
As a lefty, I often use the slice serve out wide on the ad court and was able to generate an excellent cut on the ball with this string pattern.
The topspin serve has never been one of my better shots, but my more adept hitting partner hit a few serves with the racquet and was able to get the ball to rear up, so if you're a kick serve guy, you'll enjoy it.
I believe real big servers will want a bit more weight than the VCORE 98 offers out of the box, so will likely see better results from adding some lead tape, but for players who rely on heavy spin serves and mixing it up, the VCORE 98 is going to suit their game thanks to that open string pattern.
On the return, I tend to block and chip quite a few returns, especially off the backhand side, and it took me a while to get some consistency with the VCORE 98 using that approach.
I had quite a few shots popping up high and landing in my opponent's service box for easy put aways or just dumped into the bottom of the net. So if you're a feel/block type returner, you will probably want something a bit more stable.
However, when I took a few steps back to get a fuller swing, I feel like the racquet performed better. Although it's not my true game style, I was able to hit some heavier returns from behind the baseline that got me off to a good start in the point.
So for players who prefer to stand deep and take a fuller swing on the ball, you'll get a good level of depth, and if you need to start dipping the ball at your opponent's feet, there is plenty of spin on hand to do that.
Overall the VCORE 98 is an easy to wield, fast swinging, spin-friendly racquet with decent control and comfort.
I enjoyed playing with it, and after hitting with it for around 10 hours, I've felt more comfortable each time I've stepped on the court.
I still don't have the feeling I can trust this racquet 100% when going for my shots yet but the specs aren't historically with what I've played with, and it's still very much early days with this frame.
Typically, I prefer more weight than 305g, but for me to play with a heavier frame, I need to be playing much more frequently than I am now.
So while I might feel like I need more weight as that is what I am used to, after a few more weeks hitting with this racquet, I think I'll be playing some pretty decent stuff with it.
I plan to string it up with some different strings, probably going for a polyester string like Solinco Confidential first but then trying it in a gut/poly hybrid to see if it's possible to play with or just far too powerful to have any control.
Overall I gelled a bit more quickly with the EZONE 98 but given a longish layoff from lockdown, I find it quite hard to separate the two, and they play very similarly.
For those wanting a comparison to the EZONE 98, the VCORE is the slightly more powerful of the two frames. I think the EZONE 98 is more of an all-rounder (bordering but not quite a ‘players stick') whereas the VCORE 98 does it's absolute best work from the back of the court and is very easy to play with.
Could I see myself playing full time with this stick? Potentially. At the moment I use a ZUS 95sq” frame at 310g unstrung. I've played a fair bit with the EZONE 98 and was tempted to switch, but now the VCORE is also an option I could see myself using.
It often boils down to how often I'm playing, once a week? I think the VCORE and EZONE are both excellent choices, 3 to 5 times a week? I feel like I can play some pretty good stuff with the smaller head size ZUS racquet when my movement is on song, and I'm not having to think too hard about hitting the ball.
Who should use the VCORE 98?
It's an ideal racquet for modern players that hit with a lot of spin, like a loopier launch angle and prefer to work points from the baseline.
- Easy access to spin
- Cool cosmetics
- Good blend of stability and manoeuvrability
- High launch angle
- Tricky to separate from the EZONE 98 (do they need two racquets so similar?)
- Will be too light for some who prefer more control type frames
Alternatives To Demo Alongside It
- Babolat Pure Strike 98 (more control)
- Wilson Blade 98 (more control)
- Yonex EZONE 98 (slightly less power)
- Head Graphene 360+ Extreme Tour (almost identical specs)
- Yonex VCORE Pro 100 (300)
Have you used the Yonex VCORE 98? What did you think about it? Got any questions about the frame? Feedback on my review? Let me know in the comments below.