Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (290) Lite Specs
Head Size: 97 sq. in. / 625.81 sq. cm.
Length: 27in / 68.58cm
Strung Weight:10.8oz / 306g
Unstrung Weight: 10.23oz / 290g
Balance: 13.18in / 33.48cm / 3 pts HL
String Pattern:16 Mains / 19 Crosses
The Yonex Vcore Pro 97 rackets are a family we’ve been very impressed with at TheTennisBros.com. Both the Vcore Pro 97 (330) and the Vcore Pro 97 (310) got great reviews from us and today we tried out the slightly lighter, Vcore Pro 97 (290) Lite.
I always think these rackets look brilliant with their black and red paint job and sleek frame, and we’ve found that they back that up with performance to match. The 310g version had everything I could ask for, with speed, power, spin, and control in equal measures and the 330 was an ideal pro-style frame.
Obviously, the Vcore Pro 97 (290) is aimed at a slightly different player, so I was hoping that it would keep the great characteristics of the other Vcore Pro rackets, whilst being nice and easy to play with for intermediate players. At 290g unstrung, this racket might be a little on the light side for more advanced players, but it certainly has the potential to be a great racket for intermediates.
This racket might be a little lighter than the other rackets in the range, but it keeps its 97 sq. inch head, which we found offered great control and good feel. I do like the fact that Yonex has dropped the weight but still kept the smallish 97 sq. inch head. Many rackets that are aimed at intermediate players go with the larger heads as they drop the weight, but I think there are plenty of intermediate players who can benefit from the precision of the smaller head.
The Vcore Pro 97 (290) has Yonex’s signature Isometric Head, which is designed to increase the size of the sweet spot. When I first started testing these rackets, the shape really put me off, but I must say I have grown to like it. It looks great, and particularly in the Vcore Pros, the performance is brilliant.
This stick also benefits from Namd, a flexible material that increases the response of the racket and Lock Booster System, which sees a change to the grommets for extra power. So, the Vcore Pro 97 (290) has all the same technology as the heavier pro rackets, the question was, how would the weight reduction change the way this stick plays.
If everything came together, I could see this racket being perfect for high-level juniors who aren’t quite ready for a heavier stick. The other Vcore Pros had everything you could want to play a high standard of tennis, so hopefully the same will be true of the 290g version.
I took the Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (290) out with one of my favorite strings, Babolat RPM Blast Rough, strung at 50lbs. This was quite a loose set up by my standards, so I was expecting plenty of spin and power as well as a ton of speed from this racket.
Groundstrokes – 8/10
The Vcore Pro 97 (290) really gives me the feel of a little pro’s racket. By that, I mean a young player who plays some serious tennis, but it isn’t quite ready for the heavier rackets. It reminds me a lot the Wilson Pro Staff 97L in that sense because it has a lot of the qualities of the heavier frames, just with the easy manoeuvrability.
Of course, at 290g, it’s not going to have the stability of a heavier frame, and for an advanced player, this will limit the amount of power, spin, and control you get, but for younger and intermediate players, the easy manoeuvrability makes a massive difference.
The 290g weight allows any player the ability to swing through with plenty of speed and makes improving your swings much easier. I certainly found the Pro 97 (290) to be very quick through the strokes and I was impressed with its performance.
The 97 sq. inch head and 311 swingweight give you plenty of control on your strokes, and the power and spin levels are very good. Too many rackets in this weight category focus on easy power and don’t offer you good control, but the Yonex has both bases covered.
As I mentioned, I would normally go for a much tighter string tension for a light racket like this one, but I thought I would see how it played with a string set up designed to get a little extra spin out of my shots. The racket responded exactly how I want it to, and I was able to get some great spin off both sides.
The best part of it was that I had a setup that is much less control oriented than I would normally go for, but the frame gave me plenty of control anyway. I always talk about a balance between power, spin, and control, and the Vcore Pro 97 (290) has that. This gives you good possibilities when tweaking the playability through stringing. (If you want to know a little bit more about how your string can change the way your racket plays check out Tom’s great article on tennis string tension.)
Evidently, I really like this racket. Giving it a score is a little bit difficult though because I would always choose the 310g version as a better racket, which means I must give it a slightly lower score. It really depends on you as a player though, for certain players a 290g racket is ideal, and for these people, the Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (290) is a must try racket.
I gave the Vcore Pro 97 (290) an 8 out of 10 for groundstrokes, which is an excellent score for such a light racket. I really enjoyed the characteristics of this stick and played some good tennis with it.
Volleys – 7.5/10
I think the main thing on the volleys for intermediate players is that you want a racket that’s easy to manoeuvre. When you’re at the net you’ve got to be able to think fast and move fast, and the second one is hard to do if you’re not comfortable with your racket.
The Vcore Pro 97 (290) is the perfect weight for young players and intermediate players to improve their volleying technique and start to feel comfortable at the net. It’s not so light that you can’t feel what’s going on with the racket, but it also isn’t so heavy that you can’t get it moving quickly.
Getting into position is wonderfully easy and when you come to hitting the ball it does a decent job. I don’t think you’re ever going to find a 290g racket that is excellent at volleying, because they just don’t have the stability to absorb power that the heavier rackets do, but for its weight, the Vcore Pro 97 does a pretty good job.
It reminded me a little bit of the Babolat Pure Strike Team at the net with its good balance and solid feel. Both rackets seemed to suit my style of play because they offered a little bit more control than the average sub 300g racket. I think this is a great quality for an intermediate racket to have because it encourages players to develop their own power rather than relying on the frame to do the work for you.
To be honest, I couldn’t really find anything wrong with the Vcore Pro 97 at the net. For its weight, it has good stability and I found this made it a very strong racket at the net for a racket in its class. I gave it a 7.5 out of 10, another very good score for a 290g racket.
Serve – 7.5/10
The Vcore Pro 97 Lite has certainly got the speed on the serve, it just lacks a little of the stability that you need to generate real power. This would certainly rule it out as an option for an advanced player, but for intermediate players and juniors, it could be perfect.
For someone with full, aggressive strokes, the Vcore Pro 97 just doesn’t convert swing speed into power as much as the advanced player would expect, but for an intermediate, it is quite different.
When you are still developing your service action, it is much better to have a racket that is a manageable weight. You’re going to get better results getting good racket head speed with a racket that is manoeuvrable, but perhaps not as stable, than you are with a racket that is stable but difficult to swing.
The light racket that you feel comfortable swinging is going to encourage you to develop your swing, whereas the heavy racket is likely to give you injuries. If I was an intermediate player, I would always take the lighter racket over the heavy racket and work on maximizing my swing speed as much possible.
The Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (290) is one of the best rackets in its weight class and I would certainly recommend trying it if you are an intermediate player. I gave it a 7.5 out of 10 on the serve.
Overall – 7.5/10
Overall, this is another great racket in the Vcore Pro 97 range. It’s nice when a range offers a variety of weights but keeps the same characteristics throughout the rackets. That’s the case with the Vcore Pro 97’s and I enjoyed playtesting all three of them.
The Vcore Pro 97 (290) is agile and offers an excellent combination of power, spin, and control that makes it an excellent option for intermediate players. I found it performed best from the baseline, but having said that, I couldn’t find any real weaknesses with it at the net or on the serve.
I think this racket is excellent for intermediate players, but even more so, young juniors who play great tennis but aren’t yet strong enough for the 300g+ rackets. You can play some really nice, attacking tennis with this racket and it has enough control to give you the ability to place your shots close to the line.
How it works out for intermediate adults would depend on ability and strength. For a 28-year-old male, like myself, I would recommend trying this one but also checking out similar rackets around the 300-305g weight. There are a lot of good sticks in this range and you may find the weight is a bit better suited to you than the 290g.
Whichever weight of racket you go for, the main thing is that you are comfortable with it. If you don’t feel comfortable on the swing, then it’s going to be much harder to improve your game.
There are a lot of people who are going to find the Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (290) to be that perfect fit and I gave it a 7.5 out of 10 overall. Certainly, a racket worth trying!
Review by: Will