If you grew up playing with 95 square-inch racquets, or spent significant time using one, coming back to the head size after a long layoff can be bittersweet. On the one hand, there’s a reason these frames are dwindling in popularity: it’s more demanding to compete with the smaller face. There’s a humbling sensation that perhaps you’re not up to the challenge anymore. However, when everything is clicking, a midsize can bring a command to your game that makes you wonder why you’d use anything else. Especially one that feels and performs as well as the Yonex VCORE 95.
Yonex made some noticeable tweaks to this update to VCORE SV model. The most striking is the difference in feel: it’s softer and plusher at contact, more reminiscent of a classic 95. This also lowered the inherent power and made it more controllable, which I found a worthy tradeoff. Besides just feeling much more comfortable, the SV 95 played too much like a tweener midplus; the new model has more of the trappings of a true player’s midsize. It’s whippy through the air and highly maneuverable, relying more on the mechanics of the user to gin up enough power.
That said, you can still squeeze some juice out of it. It takes a full swing with purposeful acceleration, but it’s capable of inflicting damage. I strung the frame with a softer, twisted poly (Laserfibre Vorso) at 47 pounds, and at that tension it really opened up the sweet spot. (I think a deader poly strung tighter could cause power struggles). It also helped raise the spin production from the modest 16x20 string pattern, which seems more suited for directional control. It’s no slugger, but I got good pop and consistent depth without having to come out of my shoes. And the feel and accuracy were first-rate. Yes, it wasn’t as forgiving as a stiffer frame with a larger head size. But overall, the combination of frame and loose poly added up to great baseline performance.
Which didn’t shock me. What surprised me, though, was how much I enjoyed serving with the VCORE 95. It’s not the type of racquet that’s going to immediately bolster the mph on deliveries. But because it’s rather low powered, I could take advantage of how quickly it moves through the hitting zone and really go after the ball while maintaining consistency. It could get tiring over the course of a long match, but the result was the speed on first serves and the kick on second serves to start points on my terms. And the smaller head size and fine directional allowed me to be more precise with targets. I’m not sure I was serving with any additional pace than typical, but the effectiveness was there.
If there was one clear knock on the frame, it was a lack of high-end stability. This was most apparent at net. It actually has the makings of a great volley frame. The smaller head, quick handling, excellent control and soft flex were all valued assets. However, the racquet could feel squirrely when contact was off-center. When I tried to deflect a hard-hit pass, the frame was not immune to buckling under the pressure. It was the one instance when the stiffness of the previous model was missed. In this regard, the head is begging for some lead tape to provide additional backbone. It might also deliver a little extra thump for those players feeling underpowered from the baseline.
Kudos to Yonex for continuing to produce a quality frame at this head size. It’s undoubtedly for a niche audience, but still feels relevant. It has the response and precision of a more classic frame, with a just enough added pop and spin to appeal to the modern player. Players with a preference for midsize models or heavy-hitters looking to rein in their shots with added refinement will appreciate what the VCORE 95 brings to the court. If you want to experience what a midsize can do for your game, or simply want to take a walk down memory lane, this racquet is definitely worth the trip.