I own a Toyota Camry. It is the kind of car that folks like me, who like to plan our spontaneity, and outfit ourselves with a closet full of chino pants, v-neck sweaters, and other easy care and otherwise forgettable fashions, seem instinctually drawn to. Whether cars, fashion, or tennis racquets, we err on the side of practicality, reliability, and predictability. We would not find much of an audience in the world of Tinder, but we are always a solid choice if you need a designated driver or treasurer for your reading club.
Much like Toyota, I tend to find Yonex’s core offerings to be a bland array of well-made, consistent, comfortable, and predictable racquets that have evolved to adapt to today’s game, but have deviated little from the fundamental recipe found in the sticks wielded by Martina Navrotilova, Lleyton Hewitt, Monica Seles, and now Stan Wawrinka. Sure, Yonex racquets are a little rounder than they were in the 1980s (aren’t we all), and they’ve expanded their lineup to include their versions of tweener racquets, such as the EZONE 100, but the Yonex DNA can be felt across its racquet lines year after year.
One thing I have always found with Yonex racquets, regardless of model, is that they always feel familiar and require little adjustment on my part to feel comfortable and confident hitting with them. Such was the case with the EZONE 100. The racquet has great balance—just enough heft to feel substantial—and was easy to accelerate through the hitting zone. I’ve enjoyed previous iterations of the EZONE series and initially thought the paint scheme and look of this one veered it closer to its peers, becoming perhaps a bit stiffer and/or capable of generating gobs of spin. Two rallies in, though, and it was clear that this was indeed old faithful.
Despite not having picked up a racquet for months due to a shoulder injury, my strokes felt great. Most of my time with the racquet was spent drilling, rather than playing sets, as I need to cajole my body back into playing shape. This turned out to be a great chance to really focus on repeating specific shots over and over again with the EZONE.
Forehands and backhands were solid through impact, with a good amount of pace and weight to drive through the court. While it is not a plush feeling racquet, it is extremely comfortable, with the ball seeming to dwell on the strings and exit without feeling brittle or hollow, even on off-center strokes. Likewise, though not a heavy racquet, the balance and weight of the EZONE 100 made for a very stable feel from all areas of the court without feeling bulky or fatiguing.
As an aside, I tend to like to hit forehands with heavy topspin and lots of margin over the net, but the EZONE, as with past versions, seems better suited to somewhat flatter groundstrokes, at least off of the forehand side. Thankfully, even when flattening out my strokes, the EZONE remained very controllable and I didn’t feel like I was forsaking consistency. Ultimately, my errant shots were caused by rust, not the racquet, as I was able to adapt to it very quickly and otherwise forget that I was playing with a new racquet.
At net, the EZONE was awesome—solid, soft, and maneuverable. Whether closing in to cut off a volley, or digging the ball out from my feet at the service line, the ball seemed to drive off the strings and through the court. When returning serve, it was easy to use the pace of the server to drive the ball back deep into their court.
In all areas of the court, the EZONE remained comfortable and composed, and while I didn’t feel it added a new dimension to my game, such as increased power or spin, it seemed to make each stroke better. In this way, it’s hard to truly appreciate how good the EZONE is because its strength is in its ability to blend into the background and be otherwise forgettable—just the way I like it.