2019 has been a year of manufacturers going back to offering more flexible frames in their lineups. Yonex has followed this trend with a brand-new introduction to their VCore Pro lineup. The all new VCore Pro 97HD sports an 18 x 20 string pattern, a weight in between the 97 310g and 330g, and a sub 60 flex rating. Coated in the same impressive matte green and gold paint scheme, Yonex also uses the new tech introduced in the rest of the VCore Pro line. The graphite in the handle is now combined with Vibration Dampening Mesh, resulting in a 30% reduction in vibration. Yonex’s Namd material stays in the mix for enhanced flexibility and response. The Lock Booster System grommets return to the frame to provide better string contact for higher spin and energy transfer. I was extra curious to take the court with this tight patterned, highly flexible addition to the VCore Pro lineup.
Off the ground, the 97HD offered an impressive blend of power and control. The 11.9 oz strung weight and mid 320’s swingweight combined to provide a surprising dose of pace on groundstrokes. I was consistently able to clock groundstrokes from both wings with ample pace. The thin 20 mm beam and headlight balance made it easy to generate plenty of racquet head speed through contact. I felt I had to work a little harder to generate depth compared to a stiffer, thicker beamed frame, but the racquet wasn’t too demanding overall from the back of the court. Accuracy was extremely impressive with the 97HD. The thin beam and low flex allowed me to really feel I could hold the ball on the strings and send it anywhere I wanted to. I was consistently able to pick aggressive targets and hit the lines with confidence. Spin production was about what I expected for an 18 x 20 pattern. The launch angle felt low compared to the other VCore Pro models and it took me some time to adjust my swing path to compensate and get better net clearance. The easy acceleration of the frame was useful in getting enough RPMs on the ball, but I did miss the higher clearance and bounce that more open patterns gave me. The racquet’s stability was solid although at times I wished a bit more of the mass had been distributed to the head. The thin beam and low flex seemed to contribute to some twisting when trying to deflect pace, so a touch more mass in the sides of the hoop could have helped shore up the stability.
Volleys & Serves
The 97HD was a serve and volley player’s dream. Coming forward with it was pure fun. Its easy maneuverability allowed me to stay on top of nay exchange I got into at net. The moderate power level provided enough pop to drive volleys through the court without overcooking them past the lines. The same accuracy I found at the baseline translated over to net play. I was able to direct volleys to corners, create sharp angles and just make the next ball difficult for opponents to play in general. Touch volleys were easy to execute. Every once in awhile the low flex and dampened handle felt a little disconnected from the ball but this was a minimal issue in the scope of all my trips to the net. Stability at net was solid again but I still felt the hoop fluttered a little too much and would have benefitted from a bit more mass.
Much like other frames in the VCore Pro line, the 97HD was highly versatile on serve. The solid mass and fast acceleration allowed me to add heat to my first serve with ease. I might have had to work a little harder than with a stiffer frame, but I still found it relatively easy to ratchet up the pace when I wanted to go for a big serve. I also felt serves with the 97HD penetrated the court well and kept opponents from attacking too easily. Directional control was also excellent on serve. I was able to pick my spots and serve to them consistently. This gave me a wide variety of locations on serve and helped keep returners off balance. Spin production was a bit more limited on serve. My kick serve didn’t generate the height I wanted and sat in the strike zone a bit too much. My slice serves proved to be a much more effective second serve. The solid mass and tight grip on the ball kept it low and fast moving away from returners, helping me open the court. I even felt confident enough to serve and volley on second serve frequently, knowing that if I hit my spot on serve, I’d get a good look at a put away volley.
Yonex biggest innovation on the new VCore Pro line has been in the feel department. The new VDM mesh in the handle did exactly what it was advertised to do. It soaked up a ton of vibration and impact shock. At times, it almost did it a little too well as it combined with the low flex to make the racquet feel a little noodle like against high pace. This wasn’t a huge issue but if this was my everyday frame, I’d use a crisp string setup to ensure I got the level of ball connection I wanted. From a comfort perspective, the 97HD was excellent. The racquet had smooth feel across all areas of the string bed without any hint of buzzing or jarring off center. The frame had plenty of give while still having enough mass to absorb the impact of most shots. My test frame was strung with a hybrid, but the racquet would have easily still been comfortable even with a firmer all poly setup. Players with sensitive arms should have no problem finding a setup that works for the with this racquet.
Fans of controlled, thin beam, flexible frames will have a new potential favorite in the Yonex VCore Pro 97HD. It offers easily controlled power, outstanding accuracy and great all court maneuverability. All of this is combined in a flexible, highly comfortable package with enough mass to please advanced players. The new Yonex VCore Pro 97HD fits the bill as a comfortable, precision frame that will help an attacking player control the point from anywhere on 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.