Price: $245
Head Size: 98 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 11.4 oz.
Balance: 6 pts. HL
Swingweight: 318
RA Rating: 64
Beam Width: 23.5 mm / 24.5 mm / 19.5 mm
String Pattern: 16x19

Never change a winning game plan. It’s tennis tactics 101. Ride your strengths and hide your weaknesses until your opponent manages some answers. Racquet manufacturers treat their popular franchises in much the same way. When something works, drawing lots of users and praise, there’s no need to veer far off course.

That’s why as far as updates go, the latest EZONE 98—the seventh incarnation—is a fairly subtle one. Players of all stripes who have come to appreciate the frame’s easy playability and controllable power wrapped in a comfortable package will find a familiar recipe once again. The most notable change is an ever-so slightly thicker beam width. While this often bolsters power, the alteration appears to be directed more at improving stability. According to Yonex, this frame is more flexible than its predecessor—even though RA ratings are indistinguishable—to enhance feel and control. The beefier profile keeps it from losing any steadiness. From my experience with both models, things mostly even out in the wash.

From a performance standpoint, it would be unfair to pigeonhole the EZONE 98 as a pure baseliner’s stick, but it felt most competent from the back of the court. It was rife with power—perhaps less so than the outgoing model—but with an elevated blend of ball connection and control emanating from a hard-to-miss sweet spot. Impact felt comfortable enough—particularly toward the upper portion of the hoop—even with a full set of polyester string. It swung easily through contact, and made swatting forceful serves or imposing groundies come naturally.

Once points were underway, pace and depth were so reproducible that ground strokes were borderline mindless. It was also one of those frames that requires the briefest of trial-and-error periods. And once dialed in on both wings, I settled into a nice rhythm: groove meat-and-potato backhands, pummel forehands. The racquet had enough stability to handle incoming pace and the necessary consistency to grind with opponents. However, I found the frame more adept at bully tactics. Whether in offensive, neutral, or even somewhat defensive positions, it offered the opportunity to open the shoulders and make an impression.


Players of all stripes who have come to appreciate the frame’s easy playability and controllable power wrapped in a comfortable package will find a familiar recipe once again.

Spin generation was somewhat ordinary, but I’ve never found this model to be a monster in that category; certainly not when compared to Yonex’s VCORE franchise. However, if you don’t need much help in that department there’s still enough access to put adequate work on the ball. I preferred bending shots with topspin rather than knifing the ball with slice. It was fine for blocks and chips, but it could use added heft to produce a nastier skidder.

The more I moved inside the court, and the shorter the swings, the less assured I found the results. It wasn’t incapable in these circumstances, just not as instinctive as other 98s. There’s something about the construction of the EZONE that has generally left me wanting on in-between shots. The beam is so thick by the sweet spot and so thin by throat and the extreme variability can leave contact below center feeling squirrely, with vague feedback. It was steady and capable when I drove a chest-high volley with authority, but if the situation called for defending a hot shot and contact was off-center, I lost a degree of trust. Whenever possible I wanted to take a fast, full cut on the ball.

Some of these problems could probably be workshopped with string and tension experimentation or additional weight. If it’s the latter, the next edition of the heavier EZONE 98 Tour due out this summer could be a solution. The extra mass may foster a more predictable response, although raise the overall demands, a tradeoff highly discerning players can consider.

That said, the EZONE 98 continues to bring mass appeal to the courts. The racquet has almost zero learning curve with a playability that, while somewhat baseline-centric, will still suit a wide range of styles and ability levels; from rising juniors looking to transition into more demanding frames, to aging former big-ballers who now need a little more help from their equipment. It’s a racquet that adds a little bit of excess to your game—more pop and forgiveness—without losing the script.

No reason to mess with that.