Racquet Review: Yonex Percept 97HBy Nov 14, 2023
String Review: Babolat XaltBy Nov 30, 2023
Holiday Shopping List: Top Racquets of 2023By Nov 28, 2023
The tennis holiday gift guide: All the best women's shoes and apparelBy Nov 27, 2023
The tennis holiday gift guide: All the best men's shoes and apparelBy Nov 20, 2023
ATP Finals Player Profile: Novak DjokovicBy Nov 11, 2023
ATP Finals Player Profile: Holger RuneBy Nov 10, 2023
ATP Finals Player Profile: Holger RuneBy Nov 10, 2023
ATP Finals Player Profile: Alexander ZverevBy Nov 08, 2023
ATP Finals Player Profile: Stefanos TsitsipasBy Nov 08, 2023
Racquet Review: Yonex Percept 97H
The heaviest and most demanding frame in the Percept line is the epitome of stability and mass-based power.
Published Nov 14, 2023
Head Size: 97 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 12.2 oz.
Balance: 8 pts. HL
RA Rating: 61
Beam Width: 21 mm
String Pattern: 16x19
For those familiar with the brand’s racquets, the Percept is taking over for the VCORE Pro line. While the name is new, the design focus of top-notch control, connected feedback and all-court versatility remains the same. The updates underwent three principal updates to improve its playability. First is Servo Filter, a transparent film placed between the graphite that enhances flexibility and dampens unwanted vibration. Next is the FlexCon System, located in the tapered and elongated box beam shaft, which adds flex at contact to extended ball pocketing and enhance control. The final addition is Stiffer Racquet Face Design, an increase in graphite in the face of to give it more backbone. In the case of the 97H, the swingweight has also been lowered to improve its handling.
The “H” on the Percept 97H stands for heavy. And with more than 12 ounces of strung weight—a rarity in today’s marketplace—it’s certainly a fitting label. Some frames are like sports cars, capable of producing swing speed and power with minimal effort. The different iterations of this 97 model have always behaved more like trucks that need a little time to get into top gear. But once there, the frame barrels through contact and delivers a stinging punch.
Fortunately, when compared to its predecessor, the Percept 97H hides its weight more effectively. This is primarily due to a noticeable lowering of its swingweight. It still feels beefy and arguably remains the defining characteristic of the frame, but it’s much less cumbersome than the previous version.
Which means faster swings that can put all that mass to good use. When properly positioned with time to step into a ground stroke and give the ball a rip, you’re rewarded with that great pancake feeling; the ball compresses on the stringbed and shoots off with easy depth and substantial plow-through. Serves also carry extra weight when you accelerate the head through the hitting zone. It’s still not whippy, though, favoring drives and penetrating slices over loopy topspin and kick serves.
The smoother handling also bettered the frame’s management of in-between shots over the previous model. It’s easier gaging the length of swing needed to hit a drop shot, shovel a short ball deep, or roll an angle. There’s greater confidence in manipulating the shot, or just flicking the ball to a desired location.
But more than anything, it’s the rock-solid response that distinguishes the racquet. The added graphite to the hoop gives it a slightly firmer feel, but it’s still flexible and comfortable, with a remarkably stable response. All the mass and sturdiness work to great effect at handling and turning around incoming traffic such as rifled serves and heavy forehands. You can block the ball back with depth, or step in to take it early and send it back with interest. The frame doesn’t wobble and shots are controllable even on imperfect contact.
Volleys were another notable highlight. The mass makes redirecting passing shots a breeze—just get the frame in front of the ball, hold steady, and let it do the work. Whether deflecting a ball to the open court or reflexing a tough shot, the frame handles the assignment. The friendly flex also fosters the feel and touch to put the ball anywhere. All-courters with soft hands who like to play with angles will be able to do a lot of damage with this frame.
More than anything, it’s the rock-solid response that distinguishes the racquet. The added graphite to the hoop gives it a slightly firmer feel, but it’s still flexible and comfortable, with a remarkably stable response.
What Needs Work
As noted, the maneuverability is an improvement compared to the outgoing model. However, that’s not necessarily the case when compared to other competing racquets. The 97H is still a frame that demands a certain level of physicality. Serving with it over the course of a lengthy match will test a shoulder’s stamina.
Along the same lines, this also makes the racquet unforgiving in certain situations. Most notably, when late on a swing due to inadequate preparation or an opponent’s aggression. The sweetspot on string bed is a respectable size, but there’s an unmistakable drop in power when missed. So the demands go up even higher on defense when swing length and speed can be compromised. It’s a frame that seems more at home instigating in the point rather than reacting.
"Stable, plush feel with a more maneuverable swingweight than the last version."
"I love that the racquet never gets bossed around. It simply owns contact."
"For a high-level player with the right swing, it's one of the best racquets out there."
Solid and stable as they come, the Percept 97H is a great choice for advanced ball-strikers who crave the feel and performance of a heavyweight frame.