Yonex has been steadily gaining visibility in recent years thanks to breakthrough players like Wawrinka and Kerber. Looking to capitalize on their current exposure, Yonex debuts another new series of frames with the introduction of the VCore SV lineup. The VCore SV 98 incorporates technology like AeroFin for improved maneuverability and Nanometric XT Carbon in the construction for more flex and dwell time. This frame aims to blend power, precision and spin into a user friendly package. I hit the court with the SV 98 recently to see if it accomplished its mission.
The VCore SV 98 proved to be a versatile weapon off the ground for me. While not as high powered as some of the modern frames available, I found that the firm construction and 22/22/21mm beam delivered enough pop to consistently get the ball deep into the court. The 11.3oz strung weight had enough mass behind the ball to keep opponents pushed back in most rallies. The Isometric head shape gave the racquet a sweet spot I felt was larger than most similar head size frames. I had access to consistent power across the string bed; which was a benefit as I tend to hit high on the string bed and I enjoyed not suffering a drop off in power with this frame. The smaller head size and relatively thin beam also provided exceptional directional control. I was consistently able to pick targets in the corners and close to the lines and hit them with ease. My favorite use of the accurate nature of the SV 98 was to drive my backhand up the line into the corner and attack behind it. The 16x20 string pattern was more spin friendly than I was anticipating. I had no trouble generating topspin from either wing and the spin potential helped me lift my backhand and give it some extra margin. The spin also aided in control and helped drop balls into small windows at the baseline. The SV 98 was also a solid performer on defense. There was enough mass to redirect balls with pace and the fast feel and large sweet spot helped me reset points when I was stretched out on the defensive.
Volleys & Serves
At net, the SV 98 showed off its all court versatility. The headlight balance and maneuverable head made it easy for me to keep the racquet in position and make quick work of reaction volleys. The solid weight and power made quick work of any volley left up for me to finish. I also benefited from the level of accuracy the racquet provided. I was able to direct volleys to the corners and create sharp angles that challenged opponents to stay in the point. There was enough mass to fight off most heavy shots but I might add a touch more weight to the hoop to give it just a little more stability. Touch volleys were the one mixed bag for me. The racquet has a pretty firm response so it was a bit more challenging for me to use feel to drop the ball short on touch volleys. I eventually found my way but would have liked a bit more flex on contact to execute those shots.
Serving with the SV 98 provided me with an array of options to utilize. The quick feel let me accelerate through the top of the zone easily, creating enough head speed for excellent pace. I was able to drive flat serves through the court with pace a good deal of weight behind them. Accuracy was another highlight of serving for me. I felt like I could drop my serve on a dime anywhere in the box with this frame. The sheer amount of different locations I could hit made life difficult for returners trying to anticipate where I was going. My kick serve also proved to be an effective weapon. The easy acceleration and spin friendly pattern gave it plenty of jump off the court and kept the ball out of returners’ strike zones. I also used the slice serve out wide to great effect as the ball stayed very low. I was frequently able to slide it way out wide on the ad side, giving me plenty of court to attack on the next ball.
While the SV 98 was solid with strokes from every area of the court, feel was the one area I felt the racquet was a bit lacking in. It had a quite firm response on contact and I found myself missing the extra flex (especially in the throat) that the E Zone series has. It was almost like the ball exited the string bed too quickly and my touch shots could have benefitted from a bit more ball pocketing. The racquet does a good job absorbing vibration but the firmness of the frame was still evident. While the racquet had a crisp response, I found it to be comfortable when strung with a multifilament. I could see my shoulder and arm getting a bit fatigued if strung with full poly, so players with a sensitive arm should be deliberate about their string choice in order to manage the firm feel of the frame.
Yonex has long provided a wealth of options for players looking for racquets that can dictate from anywhere on court. The new SV 98 continues that tradition. It expertly blends power, spin and control into a package that still has enough maneuverability to be used by a variety of players. The VCore SV 98 makes a strong case for anybody looking to open up points with power and accuracy and go on the attack as soon as the door opens.
About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.