Yonex EZONE 98+

Reviewed by Jon Levey | July 20, 2020

Tags: racquet

Overview

Pros

  • Power

  • Comfort

  • Improved feel

Cons

  • Added length is an adjustment

Gear Review

When players want extra juice on their shots, going to a stiffer or heavier frame—sometimes both—are typically the chosen paths. But taking the extended route shouldn’t be overlooked. Playing with a longer racquet is a proven way to inject more potency in your game. It doesn’t hurt when a frame can combine that added power with impressive feel and playability. Exhibit A being the new EZONE 98+.  

One of the goals of the updated EZONE line was to bring it back closer to the feel of the DR model from two generations ago. For those familiar with that beloved edition, this quest wasn’t lip service—the DR 98+ was my frame of choice during many matches, and this latest update shared many of the same qualities. Besides having the power, easy depth and forgiveness the line has become known for, there was a plush, comfortable response at contact that eludes many of the competitors in this category.

As I’ve gravitated back toward standard length frames since using the DR 98+, the half-inch extension took some adjustment. As I’ve theorized in past reviews, the added dimension tends to be an amplifier of a player’s game. If you produce heavy ground strokes, they’ll carry more weight; big serves will be more imposing; late, sloppy preparation exacts a stiffer penalty. For that reason, I enjoyed a larger discrepancy between performance highs and lows when compared to something like the standard length EZONE 98.

When I eventually established a groove on my ground strokes, fewer recent tests have been so enjoyable. The extra leverage upped the pace and spin on shots, and made playing dictatorial tennis a blast. Although it didn’t have quite the same stability as the slightly heavier DR+ model—it could feel particularly out of sorts when contact was above the sweet spot—I always appreciate how just that half-inch seems to turn my two-hander from moody to self-assured. Occasionally, the confidence grew into arrogance, prompting too much aggression and poor shot selection. But the composer bared the blame, not the instrument.

That said, the longer swings and added pace did prompt me to seek bigger targets. I wasn’t sloppy when narrowing my focus on passing shots or a short-ball put-away, just a notch below my typical accuracy level. Same goes for control on half-swings and wrist-flicks on mid-court balls. However, I do think that with weeks of dedicated play, the response on these types of shots would become more familiar, and ultimately more skillfully executed. 

I also had to be more conservative on defense. When scrambling into the corners there was a tendency to catch the ball a little late. This is less of an issue on my backhand where I often slice these returns, but can be more problematic on the forehand which I often resort to a buggy-whip (following through with the racquet over the dominant shoulder). I hit some great point-reversal shots from this position, but also sent my share sailing beyond the baseline. Alas, the highs and lows. Again, more time and greater feel for the racquet’s predilections would help keep me in more of those rallies.

Less familiarization was needed on the serve. Like the two-handed backhand, it was another area where the extra reach seemed to turbocharge the ball. Lots of mph and rpms resulting in free points and attackable returns. If I had to nitpick, I could’ve spotted the ball better. I had to remember not to compensate by trying to take extra advantage of the power supply and overcook the shot. But aside from those rushes of blood to the head, serving was a strength.

Net play was what I’ve come to expect from this racquet. In one of Kristie Ahn’s clever TikTok quarantine videos, she reviewed several racquet franchises and deemed the EZONE for players who only come to net to shake hands. I’m not sure it deserves such a distinction—not to mention nobody shakes hands anymore—as it’s capable of finishing points in the forecourt. But I do agree it has baseline tendencies. There’s just something about the EZONE 98 construction—both standard and extended length—that left me wanting. Most notably, combatting tough jam shots contacted just below the sweet spot could feel anemic. As long as the menu included a steady diet of driving chest to waist high volleys deep in the court, there were no issues.

Overall, the EZONE 98+ continues to be a great choice in the extended racquet category. The extra leverage bolters power and weight of shot on serves and ground strokes, without crossing the line into unruly. The updates to improve the feel of the frame have given it an unusually friendly response, especially when compared to many other offerings in its class. If you’re a fan of longer frames, or simply want to experience how it can impact your game, put this one on your demo list.

Info & Specs

For hard-hitting players looking for additional power and comfort.

Length:27.5 in

Head Size:98 sq in

Strung Weight:11.4 oz

Balance:5 pts. HL

Swing Weight:333

String Pattern:16x19

Flexibility:Firm

Suitable NTRP:4.0+

Beam Width:23 mm / 24 mm / 19 mm