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Thursday, January 20, 2011 Yonex EZONE Racquets

For anyone that watched Ana Ivanovic at this year’s US Open, you caught one of the first glimpses of the new Yonex racquets that were later released on October 1. The initial line consisted of three racquets, all under the EZONE label, none of which were actually in her hands. Starting at the Western and Southern Financial Group Women’s Open, Ivanovic began using a new frame, which was painted entirely black leading up to the US Open. The appearance of her racquet now resembles the new EZONE 100, but underneath the paint, the frame is still in its prototype stages. Yonex EZONE 100 Tennis Racquet

Along with some renewed confidence, Ivanovic has been pleased with the new EZONE technology stating, “I really love this new racquet. It's very powerful, and has a larger sweetspot too, that helps on off-center hits. Yonex has done a great job in developing a racquet that has helped me improve my performance . . . I liked it as soon as I tried it.” So the next question to answer is, exactly what is new in this series of Yonex frames? People that are familiar with the Yonex brand know that for the most part, they prefer to keep it simple. They tried not to radically change frames while still making improvements along the way. The EZONE line throws all of that thinking away as they have come up with a series of technologies that sync together to create the whole EZONE experience. To begin with, the line is named for what Yonex refers to as the “Explosive Zone” of the stringbed. This is the area where maximum power and the best feel come from. Yonex has created a better sweetspot by enlarging it and giving greater repulsion for more power without sacrificing control. The classic Isometric head shape along with the all new Quad Power system combine to create a large, symmetric area of maximum performance. Other technologies combined in this frame are the all new X-Fullerene material, the Neofade material, and a new frame profile. The EZONE line also features classic Yonex technologies such as the Oval Pressed Shaft, and Nanoscale Elastic Ti. alloy. First let’s discuss the technology behind the EZONE line, and then we will get into the racquets themselves. The first technology to discuss is obviously the new material added to the frame, X-Fullerene. Typical racquets are made using flat sheets of graphite, which are simply linked carbon molecules. The new X-Fullerene on the other hand, is a collection of linked carbon sphere, which are crosslinked together and incorporated into the standard graphite matrix. This material is placed primarily at the sides of the racquet for two purposes. These areas of the frame are effectively stiffer, resulting in more power, as well as increased torsional stability. The all new Quad Power system is actually a two part technology seen around the corner areas of the frame. The noticeable part along the inside of the frame is that the frame is inset a bit, effectively increasing the movable length of strength allowing for greater string deflection, leading to an increase in the sweetspot size. The second part of the technology utilizes a deeper grommet channel, which decreases the overall string length at the shoulders for greater control. At first, it sounds as if the two parts cancel each other, but in fact, they assist each other in creating a larger sweetspot without sacrificing the control that is normally associated with larger headsizes. The Isometric head shape along with the Quad Power system make it possible for the racquet to possess more power than racquets of similar size, but still maintain impressive control. Implemented into the Quad Power and grommet systems, the new Neofade material absorbs impact shock and vibration in the string bed and the frame for a more comfortable feel. Originally intended to absorb string vibration, the placement of the material helps to dissipate overall frame shock before it has a chance to reach the player’s arm. This is one of the first technologies introduced by Yonex to specifically target players with any kind of potential arm issues. This isn’t meant to compete with brands such as Volkl or Pro Kennex in terms of arm comfort, but it allows for a more controllable level of power to fit a wide range of players, a philosophy not typical of previous Yonex lines. The initial release line included only three frames, the flagship model being the EZONE 100. With specs similar to some of the most popular racquets in existence over the last eight years, the 100 comes in as standard tweener frame of the group. One important feature to notice is the tapered beam width, ranging from 23mm to 26.5mm, which is widest at the sides of the frame for greater stability. This is similar to the tapered beams in the popular Babolat tweener frames. The Oval Pressed Shaft on the EZONE racquets guarantees optimum ball dwell time for easy access to spin and control. For the players that love classic tweener frames but prefer a bit lighter weight, Yonex answers with the EZONE 100 Light. This one shares the same mold as the 100, but comes in at a more manageable 9.7 ounce unstrung weight. Featuring all the technology as the heavier version, this one will appeal to juniors and doubles specialists due to the lighter weight and excellent maneuverability around the court. This also makes a great transition frame for junior players moving into their first adult size frame as it provides enough weight to be stable and promote proper technique, without weighing development down. The largest head size in the initial line is the EZONE 107, coming with a slightly larger headsize and a solid 9.9 ounce unstrung weight. Keeping the headlight balance from the rest of the EZONE frames, the 107 looks tailor made for players with compact to medium strokes as well as doubles players seeking a bit more forgiveness. The larger head size provides extra power, but reviews indicate that it still possesses excellent control. As with the entire line, this frame is intended to fit a wide range of players, from the consistent baseliner seeking a little extra power, to the attacking all courter looking for a little more forgiveness.

 

While Ana’s true frame is still in the testing stages, right now you can use the same technology in three popular configurations and see the advantages for yourself. The new Yonex “Explosive Zone” is sure to wow players with power from around the court, but the surprise will come from the excellent control.


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