When Yonex set out to update the VCORE SV, there was a clear goal: Make the most spin-friendly racquet the company has produced to date. And according to internal lab tests, the resulting line—dubbed simply VCORE—delivers on that ambition. And while the numbers may bear that out, just as impressive is what the changes did to the frame’s overall playability. It made a good racquet a whole lot better.
The previous SV 98 possessed inviting power, spin and stability in a relatively lightweight player's frame. (And the SV 98+ was a baseline beast). But, unless you like rather crisp racquets, the comfort and feel was less welcoming. According to Yonex, the VCORE 98 is 7% more flexible than its predecessor and the alteration made a noticeable difference. Contact felt far friendlier, with a plusher response. Power was perhaps tempered a bit, which I actually preferred since the frame can be unruly at times for my standards. Still, there was more than enough muscle to put opponents on their heels with forceful serves and heavy ground strokes.
Then there are the changes to the layup designed to better spin production. Aero Fins—grooves along the frame to reduce air resistance—were placed on the previous model at 10 and 2 o’clock on the inside and outside of the hoop. The update carries that over along with additional Aero Fins on the shoulders. With less wind drag, swing speed can be higher. It also has a relatively thin beam when compared to other spin/power frames on the market, which also helped it cut through the air. And the VCORE 98 was certainly whippy.
Along those same lines, the frame has new sunken grommets along the top of the frame for better aerodynamics. There’s also a new grommet layout that allows strings to have a more vertical entry angle into the frame for greater string movement and a wider sweet spot. This produced a juicy ball pocket and high launch angle that lent to the frame’s easy pick-up-and-play nature.
Also, structurally different, is the addition of Namd to the bridge of the frame. First seen in the VCORE Pro frames, this flexible graphite creates more torque at contact to increase spin. As does the elimination of a cross string—the racquet now has a more open 16x19 string pattern. The changed configuration might lessen directional control and call for bigger targets, but I found with the impressive spin output and a set of polyester strings (Yonex Poly Tour Strike @48 lbs.) consistency was not an issue.
The one area of performance that didn’t immediately click for me was at net. The handling was smooth and, as mentioned earlier, the improved feel was actually quite good. I felt confident driving volleys into the corners, or taking pace off incoming passes. However, if I was late to contact or missed the sweet spot, the frame could buckle. I had a similar issue when returning serve, although less of a problem with the longer swing. Not a deal-breaking demerit, though, and could probably be solved with some weight added to the hoop.
The hope with any update is that it improves upon the previous model, and that was my experience with the VCORE 98. Fans of its predecessor’s stiffer response may disagree, but I found the softer, friendlier flex, enhanced quickness and more open string pattern welcomed adjustments. It’s still plenty solid at contact, producing a lively ball laced with spin and pace. What separates it from the pack is it does so without the brassiness that dogs much of its competition. If you appreciate speed and spin and a comfortable feel, then the VCORE 98 will not disappoint.