The last time we tried a Yonex racket, it was the Yonex VCore 95, which Lawrence really enjoyed, but I just couldn’t get on with. I found the VCore’s head shape to be very odd indeed and spent most of my time with the racket shanking balls out the park.
So, I was pretty relieved to find the EZone 98 had a much more classical shape to it. The EZone 98 weighs in at 305g unstrung, with a swing weight of 316g, which is a little lower than I would normally go for, but I was expecting to pick up some good racket head speed and hopefully have a fun play test.
Previous versions of the Ezone 98 have picked up really good reviews in the past, and it’s a racket that felt quite good when I tried it. It was known for being spin friendly, but very comfortable to play with and providing nice touch, so I was excited to see what effects the new developments have had.
With the EZone 98, Yonex have introduced quite a bit of technology which should have stiffened up the frame a little bit. An Isometric head shape has been introduced, which Yonex say increases the sweet spot, meaning more balls in the court for you! Additionally, Micro Offset Layout has been added, which reduces the number of vibrations pinging through the racket, and also, Hyper MG, meaning less frame bending on impact.
These are all changes that in theory should suit me. I like playing with quite a stiff racket, and I believe that reducing vibrations is the direction racket manufacturers must take. (Think of all the injuries people get from tennis.) A lot of people really disagree with me on this one as they love very responsive frames, and reducing vibrations, to many people, means dampening the feel.
With this knowledge in mind, I was expecting this newest Yonex EZone 98 to suit me a little better than the last version, but potentially put off those people who raved about the older versions.
As we started warming up in the service boxes, it was easy to notice the increased sweet spot on this racket, as everything seemed to come nicely out the middle of the strings. This continued throughout the play test.
I would say that this racket’s greatest quality is its spin potential, which, coupled with good precision and fast maneuverability make it a great racket for anyone who loves to unleash “the force” on the ball.
I could see it suiting someone who likes a modern style racket that’s not too heavy and looks for easy spin and fast swing speed. If you love the classic, heavier, control-orientated “Pro Staff-like” rackets then it’s probably not the one for you, but if you’re a fan of a power racket, keep reading…!
Groundstrokes – 8/10
Groundstrokes – the area in which every modern racket is going to be most harshly judged in! In theory, this racket should be best suited to an aggressive baseliner, who loves to rip through the ball and dominate points with a combination of power and spin.
That was certainly the feeling I got with this racket. The 316g swing weight and an 8HL balance meant insane racket head speed, and I was whipping the racket back and forth with ease.
I was quite thankful for the added stability Yonex have added on impact, as that is something that I really like in a racket. Everything about the hit felt sublime on my backhand. I felt I was generating good, kicking spin, and the contact felt comfortable with the increased sweet spot.
My only negative criticism on the backhand side was that I felt it was lacking a bit of plow through. All this racket head speed was going into the ball and I was getting easy power and spin, but the lack of weight at the end of the swing coming through the ball meant I wasn’t hitting as heavy a ball as I’m used to… This didn’t bode that well for the forehand side.
To be honest the Yonex EZone 98 just isn’t set up for my forehand, personally. I prefer a classic racket, with a big swing weight and limited spin and power potential. Control is everything for me on this side, as I generate enough power and spin on that side naturally.
But when I judge this racket by what other people might like, I think it does do an unbelievably good job. Personally, I like the slightly stiffer frame that the newest Yonex EZone 98 has brought in, and I think it can benefit a lot of people.
The old spec felt great, but it was a very much a racket where you don’t need to swing hard and the racket does a lot of the work for you. The new version encourages you to take a little more responsibility for generating power whilst still giving you plenty of it.
I would see the Yonex EZone 98 in the hands of an aggressive baseliner across any level from beginner to reasonably advanced. It has the power and easy spin to help out someone who is at the beginning of their tennis journey, but it also has the feel and precision for someone who is playing a much higher level.
The Ezone 98 will appeal to a wide variety of players, it just didn’t appeal to me! But nevertheless, I think it is deserving of an 8 out of 10 on the groundstrokes.
Volleys – 7/10
The Yonex Ezone 98’s reputation for great feel and comfort should make it a decent racket at the net for a racket that has quite a low swing weight and not too much stiffness. The added stiffness in the newest version did make it a little bit more responsive at the net, but I would still class the Ezone 98 as firmly inside the groundstrokes category.
The biggest plus point with this racket at the net is the maneuverability, which allows you to get the racket into position quickly, ready to unload on the ball. The Ezone 98 maintains a good comfort level at the net, but it could do with some more stiffness in the frame, as I found the ball winning the collision against the racket at the net.
This meant I didn’t have the control I would have liked, and I didn’t find myself volleying particularly well with the EZone 98. Again, different people like different feels at the net, but I don’t see this racket suiting someone who spends a lot of time at the net.
The EZone is certainly most effective in the hands of an aggressive baseliner who comes to the net for a single volley when the point is all but one. For me it was a 7 out of 10 at the net, and the weakest part of this play test.
Serve – 8.5/10
The EZone 98 really surprised me on the serve, as I had great fun using its easy maneuverability to slam through the ball and target different areas of the court.
When you’re going for a flat serve, the Ezone 98 has plenty of juice to get you maximizing your MPH, but it is also brilliant at hitting with spin, and I was able to get great variety on my serve.
On my leftie serve out wide, the string pattern was open enough to give me plenty of opportunity to get the strings moving and creating spin, but without going over the top. Sometimes with that serve you can have too much movement in the strings, and all you get is spin and no power, but that wasn’t the case with this racket.
Whether you’re looking for power or spin this racket is an excellent option on the serve. It has a rare blend of power and spin that works exceptionally well on the serve, and I had great fun playing with it.
Again, it fits the mold of an aggressive baseliner’s racket. I don’t see it as the racket for a big server like John Isner, because he generates all that power naturally, so he would want to maximize the control aspect of the racket for his serve. But for someone who loves to attack the serve but has their main strengths in their groundstrokes, this is an ideal serving weapon.
I surprised myself to find that the best aspect of the Yonex EZone 98 was on the serve. It has a great set up for someone like me, who perhaps doesn’t get as much out of his serve as he should. Lovely blend of power, control and spin gets this racket an 8.5 out of 10 on the serve.
Conclusion – 8/10
For me, I quite liked the new additions to the Ezone 98. While personally, it’s not my kind of racket, I thought the EZone 98 benefited from a little extra stiffness and the new vibration combating technology. This made for a comfortable player’s racket that had great maneuverability and good spin and power potential.
I can see however, why those people that loved the old version of this racket are a bit upset with the new version. If you love a very involved, hectic feel on contact then you’re probably not going to like the slightly more control orientates feeling of the new version.
I do think however that this particular version is a step towards a slightly more advanced players racket. It is still a very useable racket, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone at an intermediate level, but I think the new updates have made it more accessible to advanced players as well.
In my opinion, it is absolutely an aggressive baseliner’s racket that suits players who love to step into the court and hit through the ball with a lot of racket head speed. You will benefit from a good combination of power and easy spin with the Yonex EZone 98, and it rewards players who go after the ball.
The EZone 98 backs up its baseliner credentials, with some serious power and spin on the serve, meaning it is an excellent option for anyone who is looking to boost their serve. I felt like the speed of my serves was up a little with the EZone, and I was able to generate some really good spin to put my opponent under pressure.
The weakest part of this play test was at the net where the EZone didn’t feel quite as supreme as in did on the groundstrokes and serve. But if you don’t spend too much time at the net then that is not a big issue. If you only visit the net once in a while to finish off the point, then the EZone 98 will do a decent enough job.
Overall, I liked the new updates to the Yonex EZone 98, as it brought the racket a little bit more into my range, however it’s still not the racket for me. I think there are plenty of people who will have a great time with this racket though, and I can see why it was so hotly anticipated.
I gave the Yonex EZone 98 an 8 out of 10 overall. It’s very comfortable and generates good spin, and I could see it suiting a lot of aggressive baseliners.
Review by: Will