Yonex VCORE Pro 97 (330) Specs
Head Size: 97 sq. in. / 626 sq. cm.
Length: 27in / 68.5cm
Strung Weight:346g / 12.2oz
Unstrung Weight:330g / 11.6oz
Balance: 31.98cm / 7 pts HL
Unstrung Balance:31cm / 10 pts HL
String Pattern: 16 Mains / 19 Crosses
A hefty, pro-style frame – my favourite type of playtest! The Yonex VCORE Pro 97 is the racket of choice of Stan ‘The Man’ Wawrinka. An absolute beast of the tour, I was hoping this racket would give my backhand the kind of power that Stan generates.
I’ll start you off with something pretty irrelevant – this racket looks brilliant! The black and red colours with just a bit of blue thrown represent exactly how I want a racket to look, and I’m even starting to get used to the funny isometric shaped heads of Yonex’s rackets.
In today’s tennis climate, there seems to be a big move away from heavier style rackets, with the list of rackets coming in at 330g and over growing ever shorter. I understand there are probably good reasons for this, but there are a lot of players out there who are still going to be looking for a 330g racket.
When Head cut the weight of the Speed Pro range, I was initially very upset, and I would have seriously considered moving over to something like the VCORE Pro 97. As time has passed though, I have mellowed to the idea of playing with something a bit lighter. I think racket technology has advanced, and you can get lighter rackets that play like heavier rackets now.
Nevertheless, there will be a lot of people out there who still want a 330g racket, and Yonex will hope the VCORE Pro 97 puts them in a position to scoop up that market.
Technology wise, the Yonex VCORE Pro 97 introduces Namd, a special carbon material that increases the responsiveness of the racket. This version continues with Yonex’s signature Isometric Head, which is designed to increase the size of the sweet spot, and it also has Lock Booster System, which uses special grommets to improve the power of the racket.
I don’t know about anyone else, and I know Lawrence quite enjoyed playing with the Yonex VCORE 100, which has the same Isometric Head, but when I’ve played with them before, I have thought they should be named the Isometric Shank System.
Perhaps when you’ve been playing with regular shaped rackets all your life, you just need a little bit more time to get dialled into the Yonex rackets, so I was hoping I’d get on a little bit better with VCORE 97 Pro.
After all, it does have a lot of the characteristics I like, including a very solid 330 swingweight and a 7PT HL balance that should make it pretty speedy in the swings.
Anyway, I stepped out onto court feeling pretty good about how I looked with the very attractive VCORE Pro 97 and was confident I would enjoy this racket.
Groundstrokes – 8.5/10
The VCORE 97 Pro is defined by two main characteristics from the back. It’s very fast and it’s beautifully stable. This was an excellent combination for my backhand, where I felt I greatly benefited from playing with this racket.
You can easily generate good racket head speed with the VCORE, which is followed up by great stability on contact meaning all that energy you create throughout the swing goes into a very powerful shot. You can see how fast Wawrinka moves this racket on his backhand, and you can see why when you’ve got this stick in your hands.
The 330 swingweight gives you good plow through which helped me to get good depth, and the slightly more open 16 x 19 string pattern allowed me to get good spin. This combination of spin, power, and depth, made for a big, heavy ball, and I was constantly putting my opponent under pressure off the backhand side.
When I was forced into difficult positions on the backhand side, I felt I had good control off the slice, although, you do start to feel the weight of the racket a bit more when you’re at the end of your reach.
On the forehand side, I do tend to prefer a slightly different balance with the Yonex VCORE 97 Pro being a little bit too headlight for my liking. It just felt a little bit whippy, which sounds silly for something that weighs 330g.
This wasn’t a huge turn off though, and I actually enjoyed the extra little bit of spin you get from the 16 x 19 string pattern. As you’d expect with a pro style racket you still get quite a bit of control, but perhaps this racket has lost a little bit of that precision compared to older specs with a slightly more closed string pattern.
As for who this racket would suit, it is very much in that pro style mode, suiting someone with advanced strokes who can generate good racket head speed and natural power. For its specs, this racket does give you a little bit of easy power and spin, but it’s not enough for someone who is not an experienced player.
While the Yonex VCORE Pro 97 played very nicely, it does have a much more responsive feel than I would normally play with. I found that the weight and the feel combined made my arm quite tired and that’s something you might want to consider before you buy this one. Also, it doesn’t do an amazing job at dampening vibrations, so worth giving it a good test before you buy.
The VCORE Pro 97 does everything well from the back, it has great plow through, stability and manoeuvrability, which is a recipe for some great shots. I have given it an 8.5 out of 10 on the groundstrokes as I did play some great tennis with it. My one worry would be whether I might pick up a few injuries playing with this stick.
Volleys – 8.5/10
As you would expect from a racket with this kind of stability, the Yonex VCORE Pro 97 is excellent at the net. The whole balance of the racket feels wonderful when you are volleying as it gives you easy manoeuvrability and rock-solid stability in equal measures.
I’ve not always been the biggest fan of Yonex’s Isometrical Head, but with the VCORE Pro 97 at the net it does work well. You have a very big sweet to aim for and when you hit it, you get everything you could ask for.
I don’t spend a huge amount of time at the net, but I do enjoy a good volleying session and the VCORE Pro was great fun to volley with. You know it’s going to be a good day when you come into the net for the first time and pick up a half-volley off your feet!
With the VCORE Pro I felt like I could spend all day at the net without missing. It’s got everything you need with excellent manoeuvrability, good control, and it stays rock solid throughout the hit.
I couldn’t find any real weakness with the VCORE Pro at the net, so I’ve put it up there with some of my favourite volleying rackets at 8.5 out of 10. Somehow, I seem to score rackets a little more harshly at the net, so 8.5 is a great score from me!
I can sometimes struggle with the heavier rackets on serve, losing a little bit of pace, but with the Yonex VCORE Pro that wasn’t the case. The 16 x 19 string pattern gives you a little bit of extra pop that the 18 x 20s don’t and this helped me hit some excellent serves.
The superb manoeuvrability of this racket meant I constantly kept good racket head speed and once I got to contact point, I was encouraged to keep swinging through the ball by the excellent plow through this racket gives you.
I found this particularly handy on the second serve, where the swing speed and plow through allowed me to generate a lot of topspin. This meant I could go after the second serve, safe in the knowledge that the spin would bring it down into court.
I benefited on serve from this racket, winning a lot of free points during match play and I was able to set myself up very well in points. This is one of the most important aspects of tennis, and I felt the Yonex did a wonderful job of maximizing my ability on the serve.
Again, the VCORE Pro 97 is tailored more to an advanced player, as you do need to be very comfortable with your strokes to get the most out of it. While it does offer you a little bit of pop from the 16 x 19 string pattern, you are going to have to generate the majority of the spin and power yourself. If you’re comfortable with that, then this is a great racket for a big server.
I thought the Yonex VCORE Pro 97 was excellent on serve and I have given it a 9 out of 10.
Conclusion – 8.5/10
As you might have guessed, I got along really well with the Yonex VCORE Pro 97. I liked almost everything about it from the moment I picked it up. It looks stunning and is a top-level tennis racket to match.
From the back of the court, the VCORE Pro 97 is strong and fast, with surprising spin potential, it allows you to hit a very heavy ball and dominate points. I felt the benefits of the VCORE Pro 97 on my backhand side where I felt it was more of a weapon than it normally is, but it was also very good off the forehand side.
As I would expect from a pro-style racket, the Pro 97 is very strong at the net and offered everything I look for. The big surprise for me was how well I got along with this racket when serving. I played some excellent points with the Pro 97, and they all started from an excellent serving display.
I would recommend anyone who is looking for an advanced pro-style racket to give this racket a try. The one worry I had with it was with the vibrations. Modern rackets are becoming lighter for a reason, and I’d question how friendly this racket would be for anyone who suffers the odd injury.
That’s something people must discover for themselves by spending some time playing with this racket, but other than that I couldn’t find any downsides to the Yonex VCORE Pro 97. It is an excellent racket and thoroughly deserves its 8.5 out of 10 rating.
Review by: Will