Price: $259 (buy here)
Head Size: 98 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 11.4 oz.
Balance: 6 pts. HL
RA Rating: 62
Beam Width: 23 mm / 23 mm / 21 mm
String Pattern: 16x19
Ever since the SV version of the VCORE three models ago, the frame has undergone a gradual softening of its stiffness rating. This 7th generation—noted with an “07” inscribed on the beam—is the most flexible to date. It’s also thinner at the tip to help bolster racquet acceleration. A slight widening of the head at the 2 and 10 o’clock positions of the face helps expand the sweet spot in the upper hoop. This also results in more spacing of the main strings. Along with the new silicone-infused grommets for faster string snapback, this creates greater spin potential.
In the VCORE family, the 98 offers a welcome compromise between the precision of the smaller 95 and the bombast of the bigger 100. If you’re familiar with the past few iterations of this model, this one has a familiar playability. On ground strokes there’s command enough to move the ball around the court with ease, rip one when necessary, or hit a solid slice on defense to stay neutral in a rally. The added flex this time around gives the racquet a sweeter feel at contact, along with a deeper pocket; the ball sinks into the strings before shooting off deep into the opposing court.
The tweaks made to the frame shape, thickness and grommets all seem to help elevate the spin potential as well, which is the specialty of the VCORE line. Whether biting slices or heavy forehands, it’s highly capable of putting lots of work on aggressive shots, making them troublesome to return.
Serving in particular was a highlight. The racquet accelerates easily and has an extra gear that produces screamers without coming out of your shoes. Balance that with the action available on sliders and kickers, and it was a fun and effective weapon for starting points.
At net the racquet more than holds its own. The combination of soft, connected feel, good control and deft handling add up to dependable volleying. The racquet approaches the touch and frontcourt versatility found in a more traditional player’s frame, but in a lighter package.