When a racquet checks in at 100 square inches, 300 grams and with an RA rating hovering at 70—arguably the sweetspot of the tweener class—I’ve come to expect a certain level of harsh in the feedback. It’s the price you pay for getting access to attractive power and respectable stability in a fairly lightweight package. But the V-Feel 8 from Volkl has me rethinking that sentiment. It’s easily one of the most comfortable and playable frames I’ve encountered in this category.
I’ve generally considered the 8 line to be Volkl’s answer to the Pure Drive, but that’s probably an oversimplification. It does provide easy depth and pop from controlled swings, and the 16x18 string pattern certainly offers opportunities to apply ample topspin. But I didn’t find either characteristic to be quite as robust as I do in comparable frames like the PD, Pure Aero or the Wilson Burn. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Serves and groundstrokes still had plenty of life to them, but the V-Feel 8 was better behaved when it came to control, with a much more pleasing response at contact.
Some of that can be attributed to the updates for this model. New to this generation is V-Cell, a lightweight polymer added to strategic parts of the frame to improve the feel and responsiveness. Enhancements have also been made to the butt cap and handle dampening system for greater shock absorption. Strung up with a Cyclone/Power Fibre II hybrid, the combination was somewhat muted and unusually comfortable. I put the frame in the hands of a playing partner who uses a Yonex EZONE 100, and he loved the feel and performance.
At net, the V-Feel 8 was fairly stable in the sweet spot, and pretty dependable. The dampening that was so enjoyable on full swings, however, did give volleys a slightly numbed response. It wasn’t impossible to play with touch, but there was a slight disconnect that caused me to shoot for bigger targets. The butt cap also flares more prominently than I’m accustomed to, and for some reason I noticed it most when volleying. So, I did prefer the frame from the baseline, but I still had no qualms about moving forward to engage in the forecourt.
The one area I felt lacking in the frame was heft. Granted, I normally use a frame that’s strung up just shy of 360g. Even still, I wanted more plow through when putting away shots, and more resistance when defending incoming traffic at high speeds. Shots contacted outside the sweet spot weren’t unpleasant, but I noticed wobble on occasion. Slices also had a tendency to float instead of bite. Given the favorable swingweight and deft handling, some weight could be added to solve some of these issues. Or, for players who hit or face heavier shots, a step up to the 315g model might be in order.
Those minor quibbles aside, the V-Feel 8 (300g) really has a lot to offer. It’s quick, peppy, spin-friendly with nearly unmatched dampening and comfort in the category. A contact at Volkl believes the quiet, kinder response of their frames, especially in a hitter like the V-Feel 8, belies its power, which some recreational players equate with a stiff feel. But if you like something that can put some hurt on your shots without doing the same to your body, definitely give this frame a serious look.