Price: $249
Head Size: 97 sq. in.
Length: 27 in.
Weight: 11.5 oz.
Balance: 7 pts. HL
Swingweight: 318
RA: 60
Beam Width: 21mm

Some racquets are rocket launchers. Others are spin merchants. The term I frequently come back to when describing the VCORE PRO 97 is honest broker. Perhaps it’s not as provocative, but in certain circles no less a compliment. That’s because when technique and timing are on point, the frame delivers a clean, accurate ball with enough pace and movement to make an impression. However, if the stroke is a little off, don’t expect the racquet to come to the rescue. It can be a humbling experience, but it’s the type of feedback accomplished players crave.

Rather than reinvention, Yonex opted to update the VCORE PRO by tweaking its limitations while doubling-down on its strongest attributes—namely feel and control. To be honest, I never found these traits to be lacking in the previous versions; in fact, they’re what drew me to the line. But, like adding rpms to your kick serve, it’s hard to argue with making a good thing even better. (Opinions will vary, but I also found the 80’s-inspired purple/green/blue cosmetic an improvement).

In order to meet those aspirations, Yonex has employed what it calls the FlexCon System. A tapered box beam design with a lengthened shaft—the longest in the manufacturer’s history—results in a 36% increase in flex over the previous model. That’s a sizeable and recognizable difference. This provides greater pocketing and snapback and a plusher, softer feel at contact. A shock-absorbing resin has also been added to graphite to enhance the comfort as well.

One of the knocks leveled against prior versions was it could feel unstable off-center. Adding flex could potentially make it feel even more like a wet noodle. So to compensate, the constant beam width has been thickened—from 20mm up to 21mm—for added backbone and pop. While beefier, it’s still a thin profile when compared to much of its competition.

In action, the changes delivered as advertised. The sweet spot on the VCORE PRO felt noticeably sweetened. The ball seemed to sink into the strings with a plush comfort that will appeal to players who appreciate softer, arm-friendly frames. Yet it wasn’t mushy or numb; ball connection was apparent, which amplified the frame’s precise nature. That said, players who enjoy a crisp response, or firm-feeling racquets won’t find it here.

From a shot production standpoint, control was still the prime directive. There was confidence in knowing that a certain swing would elicit a reliable, repeatable result. The added beam thickness seemed to do more for enhancing stability than pace. There was perhaps a little extra juice, but it still took a healthy cut and pure contact to create put-away power. And shots struck outside the sweet spot—particularly toward the tip—could feel anemic. If you found previous versions didn’t pack enough punch, this one may not alter your opinion.


There was confidence in knowing that a certain swing would elicit a reliable, repeatable result.

The swingweight of the frame remains rather low, making it easy to accelerate through the hitting zone. This gave the racquet a whippy nature that was particularly effective for producing heavy spin drives, or dipping short angles. The swift handling was also appreciated when scrambling or in a defensive posture. It didn’t offer much in the way of bailout power, but because there was little fear of overhitting, I felt like I could really go after the ball to turn the tables on opponents.

That said, I would personally add some weight to the hoop to raise its swingweight to give shots easier penetration through the court. (There are heavier siblings in the VCORE PRO 97 family that are also better equipped for the assignment). It was quite adept at attacking with steadiness, placement and creativity, but I wouldn’t mind a bit more muscle. And given the head-light balance and manageable 11.5 oz. strung static weight, the frame feels ripe for customization. It would perhaps sacrifice some its quickness, but the tradeoff would be heftier strikes.

Serving with VCORE PRO was a good example. As is, the frame was perfectly effective. Nice pop and deadly accurate. The easy swing speed could be turned into a flat bullet down the middle, or an attack to the corners with more spin. But just a little added dynamite would help start off points on even better footing.

The one area I was completely satisfied was at net. The combination of smooth handling, superb feel and improved stability added up to a wand on volleys. Whether redirecting into the open court, finishing with a short angle or using the increased flex to suck the life out of incoming passes, the racquet covered all the bases. Net rushers and doubles specialists will love what the frame brings to the forecourt.

Overall, the VCORE PRO 97 proved itself a solid update. It stays true to the line’s DNA of producing dependable, accurate and varied shot-making, which should make it an easy transition for the frame’s current users. And the effective improvements to the feel, comfort and stability could make it some new fans. Control seekers who like maneuverable, plush, no-nonsense frames would be wise to put this one on their demo lists. It’s a straight-shooter in every sense of the word.