Volkl has long been regarded as a brand that puts comfort and feel at the forefront of its engineering. Rather than throwing that heritage out the window, Volkl chose to build on it with its new line of V-Feel frames. For skilled, aggressive players looking for pace and spin, the new Volkl V-Feel 8 300 presents a tantalizing option. Volkl took this already potent performer to the next level with some new technology. V-Feel represents the addition of a cellulose material called V-Cell which is stronger and stiffer for added power but also improved feel. Volkl has also improved the handle system with two more innovations. A new foam material called REVA now surrounds the handle, offering 25% more shock absorption than before. The butt cap is also made out of a new silicone polymer called VTex, which offers better dampening while also being resistant to movement, cracking and shrinking. With so much emphasis on creating more power and feel, I was excited to hit the court with Volkl’s latest update.
The power of the V-Feel 8 300 was immediately evident off the ground. The 22/24/22 mm beam design was a carryover from the previous model but the new model was a touch firmer and I saw that reflected in the pop of my groundstrokes. The 11.1 oz strung weight and headlight balance easily allowed me to generate impressive head speed for dialing up balls with plenty of pace from both wings. The sweet spot felt in line with most 100 inch frames but I felt it had some hot spots toward the top of the hoop that were a little challenging to control. At times I struggled to maintain control over the readily available power the racquet had. This was especially magnified on balls I tried to flatten out. The launch angle of the frame seemed quite high and flat shots had a tendency to sail long. In order to gain better control, I focused on really increasing the amount of spin I put on my shots. Thankfully the whippy nature and open 16 x 18 string pattern provided ample opportunity to do just that. When focused on putting spin on the ball, my shots began to land deep but inside the court and I was better able to direct the ball around the court without over hitting. The stability was average for the class of frame, but I personally wanted a bit more mass spread out to the sides of the hoop to decrease the twisting the racquet had when deflecting high pace balls. Much like its predecessor, the V-Sense 8, I enjoyed the defensive capabilities of this new model. On the run, I was able to use the whippy feel to flick cross court winners or hit a high margin play that allowed me to reset the point and get back into position.
Volleys & Serves
I started to enjoy my time with the V-Feel 8 more as I came forward in the court. The easily accessed power gave me the capability of finishing anything above the level of the net with authority. Given the more compact nature of a volley, I didn’t seem the same control and accuracy issues at net as I did at the baseline. Some shots that I took too casually floated back to my opponents, but overall I had strong control over attacking volleys. The fast positioning of the frame let me use it to drive balls into the corner or angle them sharply off the court. With the firm nature of the frame, I was surprised at the amount of feel it had around the net. I found myself executing touch and drop volleys with little issue and was able to use them as a change of pace volley with great effect.
The lively nature of the V-Feel 8 300 was most advantageous on serve. Acceleration through contact was a snap and the racquet had enough mass to put some weight on my first serve. I did not find a tremendous amount of precision on my serve so I mainly just went for the middle of the box and let it rip. Hard flat body serves proved to be quite effective at generating either service winners or a weak reply that I could make short work of coming forward. I was also able to use a spin laden second serve to good effect with this racquet. The head speed and open pattern gave a lot of jump to my kick serve, yanking up and away from returners who were slow to read it. While liked the added mass of the 315 version more for my slice serve, this model was still effective at carving the ball wide on the ad side and giving plenty of court to take the first ball of the point to.
Feel & Comfort
The V-Feel 8 300 had a very lively and crisp response. On contact there was a firm feel and the ball exited the string bed very rapidly. The lack of ball pocketing contributed to some of the control problems that I had. The ball left the string bed so fast that I had trouble feeling it and figuring out how to make adjustments. As noted previously, there were some hot spots on the upper string bed. They did not result in any increased harshness, they just simply seemed to sail the ball unexpectedly. I’d like to try a more low power, control oriented string in this frame in the future as I believe the response of this frame to be quite string sensitive. Despite an even stiffer layup than the previous model, the racquet continued to play quite comfortably. The addition of V-Cell in the frame and REVA in the handle seemed effective at minimizing vibration and shock. The racquet still had a high 60s RA so players concerned about comfort should be cautious with the string choice to ensure they don’t experience problems post match. One other related note is that the grip size felt fairly large for a 4 3/8 grip. I felt it was more challenging to transition grips compared to my typical 4 3/8 frames. Long term, I likely would have swapped for a thinner grip or played a 4 1/4 grip size.
Volkl continues to offer a unique blend of powerful frame that has above average feel and comfort. The power of this model was sometimes difficult to contain but was fully capable of hitting opponents off of the court. Anybody looking for a frame with tremendous power and spin potential that doesn’t skimp on attention to comfort will want to give the Volkl V-Feel 8 300 serious consideration the next time they take the court.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke formerly served for 3 years as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho. He is a PTR certified coach and is an active USTA 4.5 League and Tournament player.