Yonex VCORE 98 2021 [In-depth Review & Playtest + Video]

Yonex VCORE 98

In-depth Review & Playtest + Video

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Topspin is a crucial factor in the modern game of tennis, and the Yonex VCORE 98 seeks to help players maximize it through intelligent design.

Now in its 6th generation, Yonex updates the VCORE 98 to deliver far beyond spin for excellent all-court performance that exceeds the prior model and is ideal for intermediate to advanced players.

In this in-depth guide and review, I’ll cover all aspects of the VCORE 98, from specs to tech, comparisons, and an on-court playtest, to help you determine if it’s worth an upgrade or purchasing for the first time.

VCORE Models
Yonex VCORE 95
Yonex VCORE 98
Yonex VCORE 98L
Yonex VCORE 98+
Yonex VCORE 100
Yonex VCORE 100L
Yonex VCORE 100+

Article Contents

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Video Review & Playtest for the Yonex VCORE 98

For a more visual walkthrough and review of the Yonex VCORE 98, check out my video review and playtest, where I cover the racquet’s specs, tech, design and put it through the paces in a playtest.

Here’s a list of timestamps that you might find useful if you’re looking to jump to a specific section.

0:00 Start
0:24 Intro

0:37 Specs
0:47 Length, Head Size, String Pattern
0:58 Weight & Swingweight
1:21 Balance
1:33 Stiffness
1:38 Beam Width

2:00 Technology
2:23 Isometric Head Design
2:44 Linear Tech Grommets
2:54 Aero Trench
3:05 Aero Fin
3:16 2G-Namd Flex Force Graphite
3:25 Vibration Dampening Mesh (VDM)

3:32 Design & Aesthetics
4:09 Strings & Tension

4:43 Playtest & Review
5:02 Playtest Notes
5:09 Groundstrokes
5:54 Volleys
6:33 Serves
6:56 Returns
7:25 Summary

8:01 VCORE 98 vs. EZONE 98
9:04 How it Sounds

Keep reading to learn all about the Yonex VCORE 98, including a few topics you won’t find covered in the video.

About the Yonex VCORE Series

Yonex VCORE 98 About the Series

Initially released in 2011, the VCORE line of tennis racquets is a mainstay in the Yonex lineup. Over the years, this series has continued to grow in popularity, and endorsements from players like Denis Shapolov and Angelique Kerber help keep the racquet in demand.

On average, the racquet receives an update every two years, making the latest model the franchise’s sixth generation. Looking back, here’s a list recapping when new models were released and their naming conventions.

  • 2011 – Yonex VCORE 98 D
  • 2013 – Yonex VCORE Xi 98
  • 2014 – Yonex VCORE Si 98
  • 2016 – Yonex VCORE SV 98
  • 2018 – Yonex VCORE 98
  • 2021 – Yonex VCORE 98

The racquet has maintained its 10.4 ounces strung weight and 6pt HL balance throughout its release history. However, Yonex has experimented in a handful of areas, including stiffness, beam width, string pattern, materials, and construction.

For example, in 2018, Yonex transitioned from a 16×20 string pattern to a more open 16×19 variation. The change is one of many refinements they’ve made to enhance the frame’s spin potential further.

Overall, the racquet’s evolution caters to the modern game as an ideal fit for players who prefer to trade heavy groundstrokes. At this same time, its approachable weight makes it an appealing option for many players.

Comparing Yonex Performance Racquets

Comparing Yonex Performance Racquets

At the time of writing, Yonex has four main performance racquet lines, including the VCORE, VCORE Pro, EZONE, and ASTREL.

Each caters to a different audience, so let’s review what you can expect from them to understand how the VCORE line fits into the mix.

VCORE Pro

Although Yonex has introduced some lighter weight models to the VCORE Pro line, it’s best known for heavier control-oriented racquets with smaller 97 in² head sizes for intermediate to advanced players.

Stan Wawrinka endorses the heaviest Yonex VCORE Pro 97 model, weighing in at 12.3oz or 349g.

VCORE

Despite using the same name as the Pro models, the VCORE line offers a considerably different selection of racquets that are lighter and generally emphasize power and spin for players.

This line offers varying head sizes, weights, and lengths to appeal to a wide range of players.

EZONE

The VCORE line share many similarities to the EZONE, but it’s well-suited for players looking for something that falls somewhere between the VCORE and VCORE Pro models.

You won’t find quite as much topspin as the VCORE models, nor will you end up with the same control and feel available in the VCORE Pro line. However, these racquets offer an excellent middle ground.

It’s worth noting that the EZONE line is the most extensive offered by Yonex, which has made it a crowd favorite among recreational and competitive players alike.

ASTREL

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the VCORE Pro, you have the ASTREL line, Yonex’s lightest weight racquets, which offer excellent maneuverability, effortless power, and forgiving head sizes. As a result, they’re well-suited for beginner to intermediate level players.

Yonex VCORE 98 Specs & Technologies

Yonex VCORE 98 Specs & Technologies

The VCORE 98 is a performance tennis racquet from Yonex that emphasizes spin and power that caters well to the modern baseline game while offering reliable performance from all areas of the court.

Its specs are an excellent starting point to get a sense of the racquet’s performance characteristics. However, as you evaluate the VCORE 98, I’d encourage you only to use the specs as a point of reference since what a racquet looks like on paper doesn’t always translate to feel.

SpecMeasurement
Head Size98 in² / 632.26 cm²
Length27 in / 68.58c m
Strung Weight11.4oz / 323g
Unstrung Weight10.8oz / 305g
Strung Balance6 pts HL / 32.5 cm
Unstrung Balance9 pts HL / 31.5 cm
Swingweight325
Stiffness66
Beam Width22.5mm / 23mm / 21mm
CompositionHM Graphite / 2G-Namd
String Pattern16 Mains / 19 Crosses
String Tension45-60 pounds / 20.41-27.22 kg

For starters, the VCORE 98 is a 27-inch racquet with a lower-end head size of 98 in² to enhance control and an open 16×19 string pattern for optimal spin.

Its weight falls at a reasonable 10.8 ounces (305g) unstrung, which increases to 11.4 ounces (323g) when strung. Keep in mind that strung weight will vary depending on the string you select.

Yonex does a fantastic job sticking to their quoted specs, and the racquet I reviewed weighs in at 10.72 ounces (304g) unstrung.

Yonex VCORE 98 Weight

A racquet’s swingweight is a numeric value that expresses how heavy or difficult a racquet feels to swing and the Yonex VCORE 98 lands at 325. Its balance or distribution of weight is 9 pts HL at 31.5 cm, which drops to 6 pts HL at 32.5 cm after installing strings.

Yonex VCORE 98 Balance

A useful data point regarding a racquet’s feel is its stiffness or RA rating, which is a middle-of-the-road 66 for the VCORE 98. The lower the rating, the more flexible the racquet.

Yonex VCORE 98 Stiffness

Finally, the frame offers a variable width beam, which is 21mm throat, 23 mm at the sides of the head, and 22.5mm at the top.

Yonex VCORE 98 Beam Width

A racquet’s beam influences its power potential and feel.

Yonex VCORE 98 Technologies

The sixth generation of the VCORE 98 introduces a handful of new technologies for enhanced performance while retaining some key ingredients from past models.

As you review these, keep in mind that while it’s useful to learn about the intentions behind the tech, what matters most is how the racquet feels, so I’d encourage you to try a racquet before you buy, if possible, to form your own opinions on its performance.

Isometric Head Design

Yonex VCORE 98 Isometric Head Design

The VCORE 98 features Yonex’s distinct Isometric or square-shaped head design for a 7% larger sweet spot compared to your standard round frame design to kick things off.

A larger sweet spot helps to enhance a racquet’s power without sacrificing control and improving a racquet’s performance and response on off-center hits.

Interestingly enough, Yonex’s racquets seem to look less and less square these days, which I imagine has been intentional for a more traditional aesthetic.

Linear Tech

Yonex VCORE 98 Linear Tech Grommet System

The VCORE 98 also has a Linear Tech grommet system, which reduces the angle for drilling select grommets to enhance string movement for spin while expanding the horizontal sweet spot for power and comfort.

Aero Trench

Yonex VCORE 98 Aero Trench

The latest generation also incorporates the Yonex Aero Trench for aerodynamics and enhanced swing speed, which embeds or submerges the grommets below the frame’s edge to reduce drag.

Aero Fin

Yonex VCORE 98 Aero Fin

Similarly, the frame’s Aero Fin technology on the inside and outside edge of the racquet’s head and just above the racquet’s throat reduces air resistance for faster racquet head speed, a key contributor to the amount of topspin that a player can generate.

Flex Force Graphite

Yonex VCORE 98 2G NAMD Flex Force Graphite

The frame’s new age Flex Force 2G-NAMD graphite integrated into the racquet’s midsection enhances flex and snapback for improved topspin.

Vibration Dampening Mesh

Yonex VCORE 98 Vibration Dampening Mesh

Finally, vibration dampening mesh (VDM) wraps the graphite in the handle to reduce vibration and improve comfort and feel.

Yonex VCORE Models

Yonex VCORE 98: VCORE Models

The VCORE series offers a selection of eight different models to cater to a wide range of players’ needs and preferences. From kids to adults, there’s something in this line for everyone.

VCORE 95

The VCORE 95 is the most demanding racquet in the lineup, with the heaviest weight and smallest head size of them all. As a result, this racquet caters to higher-level intermediate to advanced players.

Its weight is only five grams heavier than the VCORE 98 for a bit of added stability, and its head size is a full three in² smaller.

Although it doesn’t sound like much, the smaller head size dramatically impacts the racquet’s control.

VCORE 98

The VCORE 98 is the most popular and is effectively the line’s flagship model that’s well-suited for the broadest range of players. For my playtest, this is the racquet that I chose to review.

Its 98 in² head provides plenty of control without sacrificing too much power and spin – a nice blend for intermediate to advanced players.

VCORE 98+

Players looking for a bit more power and maximum leverage for increasing racquet head speed and topspin will appreciate the 98+, which weighs the same as the standard VCORE 98 but is a half-inch longer.

It’s worth noting that the balance point does shift with more weight in this racquet’s handle, resulting in a higher swingweight too.

VCORE 100

The VCORE 100 has a larger 100 in² head size, which helps improve power while opening up the 16×19 string pattern further for even more grip and topspin. To further enhance power, the racquet offers a slightly thicker variable-width beam.

Although the frame weighs 5g less than the VCORE 98 at 10.6oz (300g), its swingweight remains nearly identical as more weight shifts to the head, resulting in a balance that’s 4 pts HL at 33 cm when strung.

VCORE 100+

Like the 98+, the VCORE 100+ retains a near-identical spec to the VCORE 100. The only difference is its length at 27.5 inches, which results in a slightly modified balance point and swingweight as more weight resides in the handle.

VCORE Game

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the VCORE 95, you’ll find the VCORE Game, which is the lightest full-sized option in this series.

It weighs in at an easy-to-manage 9.7 ounces (270g) unstrung, making it super easy to maneuver. Yonex does increase the beam thickness at three and nine o’clock of the racquet’s head to improve its power.

VCORE 25 & 26

If you’re buying a new racquet for your child, then the Yonex VCORE 25 and 26, which reference each racquets’ length, are excellent options.

Both are full graphite racquets with the same paint job as the adult models and a few similar design elements. The 25-inch model will work well for kids ages 9-10, while the 26-inch frame is best suited for kids ages ten and up.

Yonex VCORE 98 Design & Aesthetics

Overall, the Yonex VCORE 98 is a solid looking tennis racquet, and they continue with the red theme that’s been a constant since they first launched the line back in 2011

Yonex VCORE 98 Design and Aesthetics: Touch of Blue

However, for a fresh look, you’ll now get a touch of blue throughout, while darker red areas of the frame feature brighter red paint speckles.

Yonex VCORE 98 Design and Aesthetics: Dark Red with Brighter Red Speckles

The main Yonex logo on the throat and a few other areas include some silver highlights with a bit of shimmer.

Yonex VCORE 98 Design and Aesthetics: Silver Highlights

Although red isn’t one of my favorite colors, I do like this brighter shade. Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if they introduce another color like the Galaxy black option available for the prior generation.

Players Endorsing the Yonex VCORE Series

Yonex VCORE 98 Pro Players Endorsing the VCORE Series

One of the reasons the VCORE line has continued to grow in popularity revolves around the endorsements from young players like Denis Shapovalov and tour veterans like Angelique Kerber.

Although the racquet isn’t quite as popular as the EZONE on tour, it has excellent recognition, which I’d expect to continue to grow in the next few years as more up-and-coming players use it.

It’s worth noting that while these players endorse the VCORE series, many are using older models. Furthermore, virtually all pros have their racquets customized to fit their personal preferences.

Men (ATP)Women (WTA)
Denis ShapovalovAngelique Kerber
Radu AlbotEugenie Bouchard
Denis KudlaCaroline Garcia
Kamil MajchrzakDonna Vekic
Sabine Lisicki

Over time, players do change racquets. I’ll do my best to keep this list updated, but if you spot anything that’s changed, feel free to drop a comment at the bottom of this article to let me know. I’d be more than happy to update it for accuracy.

Yonex VCORE 98 Strings & Tension

Yonex VCORE 98 Strings & Tension

The recommended tension range for the Yonex VCORE 98 is 45 – 60 pounds (20.41 – 27.22 kg). Players looking for a recommend starting tension should consider stringing toward the middle of that range and then adjusting up or down based on their experience.

I strung with 1.25 mm Poly Tour Spin at 52 lbs or 23.6 kg in red for my playtest. It’s a shaped five-sided poly that will enhance the racquet’s spin-friendly characteristics while also offering exceptional control and above-average tension maintenance for a polyester tennis string.

Yonex VCORE 98 Poly Tour Spin G 1.25

Although Poly Tour Spin is only available in a 1.25 mm gauge, it’s available in red and orange.

Yonex VCORE 98 Review & Playtest Notes

Yonex VCORE 98 Review & Playtest Notes

On paper, the 2021 update to the VCORE 98 is compelling. However, nothing beats hitting with a racquet to gain a feel for its performance and learn whether it lives up to the marketing hype.

To that end, I’ve hit with the VCORE 98 for a few weeks so that I can share my thoughts and experiences. Although there’s plenty of subjectivity when evaluating a frame, I hope my review proves useful as you evaluate or considering purchasing this racquet.

Main StringsYonex Poly Tour Spin (1.25 mm)
Cross StringsYonex Poly Tour Spin (1.25 mm)
Mains Tension52 lbs / 23.59 kg
Crosses Tension52 lbs / 23.59 kg
Forehand GripSemi-Western
BackhandTwo-handed
Grip Size#3 – 4 3/8
GripYonex Synthetic
OvergripYonex Super Grap
Weight165 lbs / 74.84 kg
Height6’0″ / 1.83m

To help make this review more concrete, I’ve rated the Yonex VCORE 98 across the following criteria, which I use for all racquet reviews.

To learn more about why I gave a particular rating, check out my playtest notes in the sections that follow.

Groundstrokes 8.6
Volleys 8.6
Serves 8.4
Returns 8.6
Power 8.6
Control 8.5
Spin 8.9
Slice 8.3
Touch/Feel 8.3
Maneuverability 8.3
Stability 8.4
Comfort 8.1
Average 8.47

Groundstrokes

Yonex VCORE 98 Groundstrokes

On groundstrokes, the VCORE 98 packs a solid punch. Although the racquet is far from overpowering, the frame’s tight response and forgiving sweet spot are evident even when paired with a low-powered string like Poly Tour Spin.

One of the racquet’s highlight features is topspin, and it performs well in this area, but with a 98 in² head, you’re going to get a bit more of a balanced performance. With that in mind, I’d encourage players coming to this racquet for its spin to explore the VCORE 100 as an alternative.

As for feel, I thought the weight and balance were ideal. It kept the racquet swinging fast while remaining relatively stable through contact. Furthermore, with a mid-range stiffness, the racquet plays with moderate comfort, which will be influenced heavily by your string selection.

Volleys

Yonex VCORE 98 Volleys

At the net, I was pleasantly surprised by the VCORE 98. Its 6pt head light balance makes it easy to maneuver, and I found its weight, head size, and overall lively response to pair well and remain stable against extra pace.

One of the downsides with a low-powered string like Poly Tour Spin is that you typically have to work a bit harder for pace at net, which can give your opponent more time to reply. However, I thought VCORE 98 handled well paired with this string delivering plenty of pop, and I’m confident it would improve as I dialed in my preferred setup.

As for touch volleys, I found the racquet handled reasonably well and required minimal adjustment to find a rhythm.

Serves

Yonex VCORE 98 Serves

On serves, the VCORE 98 is an adequate performer. It’s accurate, offers generous power for its head size, and allows for plenty of variety, so I think it will work well for many players in this department.

Not surprisingly, I found serving to be the racquet’s least forgiving area of performance, which, coupled with a poly, is where I’d expect players to encounter issues if they struggle with arm discomfort.

Returns

Yonex VCORE 98 Returns

Hitting returns, I thought the VCORE 98 offered reliable performance. It’s quick on the backswing to set your position and stable enough on contact to manage bigger serves.

Throughout my playtest, I felt I could deliver controlled and well-placed replies aided by the frame’s added spin-potential, which helps instill confidence to step into the court.

Overall, I think this is one area where smaller, more control-oriented head sizes tend to work well, and the VCORE 98 is no exception.

Summary & Takeaways

Yonex VCORE 98 Summary & Key Takeaways

Overall, I think the VCORE 98 is an excellent update to an already popular frame, which I expect will impress the prior generation’s users and, for many, will be a worthy upgrade.

It’s well-suited for aggressive intermediate to advanced baseliners that appreciate the extra spin and power potential a frame can deliver but who are just as comfortable transitioning to the net when the opportunity arises.

If you’re a beginner or comfort is high on your list, I’d encourage you to look elsewhere as there are more ideal frames for both groups.

Yonex VCORE 98 vs. EZONE 98

The VCORE 98 and EZONE 98 are two popular models from Yonex, both of which are excellent frames, which cater to slightly different audiences.

For starters, let’s do a quick spec comparison.

Strung SpecsVCORE 98EZONE 98
Length27in / 69cm27in / 69cm
Head Size98 in² / 632 cm²98 in² / 632 cm²
String Pattern16×1916×19
Balance6pts HL6pts HL
Weight11.4oz / 323g11.3oz / 320g
Swingweight325317
Beam22.5mm / 23mm / 21mm23mm / 24mm / 19mm
Stiffness6664

As you can see, they’re pretty similar racquets on paper with minimal variation in weight, swingweight, stiffness, and beamwidth.

However, on the court, there are a few distinct differences between their performance. First, I find the VCORE 98 to offer a bit of added power, spin, and stability. Not by a large margin, but easily discernible.

Beyond that, I’d give the EZONE the edge in pretty much every other area. I prefer its feel, more comfortable response, and find it offers a bit more precision and control. For me, that translates to a more well-rounded performance, which I find easier to recommend.

To be clear, that’s not to say the VCORE 98 is a poor racquet by any stretch. I’m impressed with the update that I think it outshines the previous generation, but I find the EZONE 98 is better suited for my game.

Why I Love It

  • Spin
  • Controllable power
  • Stability

Tradeoffs

  • Comfort
  • Feel

Strings

Overall, I thought my string selection worked well for the playtest. As a quick reminder, here’s what I used for my setup:

  • String: Yonex Poly Tour Spin G
  • Gauge: 1.25 mm (17 gauge)
  • Tension: 52 lbs (23.6 kg)

Yonex Poly Tour Spin G is a solid string. It’s reasonably durable, ultra low powered, and provides plenty of access to spin, which translates to exceptional control.

As a result, I rarely found myself overhitting, but despite the VCORE 98’s higher-end power for its class, I did feel like I had to work extra hard for pace – especially on serve.

Furthermore, it’s not the most gentle string. Although you can get away with a stiffer string on some frames, I found the VCORE 98 to play too stiff and with less comfort than I would prefer.

On my second round of stringing, I did bump down the tension to 50 lbs and found somewhat better performance and comfort, but I’m confident I can find a string that plays better for this frame.

With that in mind, I’d still opt for a poly as the racquet is well-suited for this type of string. However, I’d lean toward one that offers a bit of extra power or comfort. Here are a few that come to mind:

I’m also a proponent of hybrid stringing, which can offer players an excellent balance between string characteristics. I look forward to testing out a poly and multifilament combination to gauge performance.

For more options, be sure to check out my guide on the best tennis strings.

Bottom Line

The Yonex VCORE 98 delivers reliable all-court performance geared toward intermediate to advanced tennis players and one of my picks for the best racquets in 2021. I was impressed with its topspin and power for a 98 in² frame, it performs well up at the net, and I didn’t find it to present any significant or glaring pitfalls.

It’s not the most comfortable frame, and at times I did find it to lack a bit of feel, but worth a demo if you like the idea of a frame with a smaller head size but don’t want to give up too much spin or pace.

Wrapping Up

Updates to racquets like the 2021 or sixth-generation VCORE 98 don’t always pan out as intended. However, I think Yonex hits this one on the head with a refreshing update that continues to zero in on topspin and power as its defining characteristics.

Recognizing it can be tricky to find a new racquet, I hope this review helps inform your thought process as a jumping-off. Of course, as always, I’d encourage players to demo a racquet before buying if possible.

If you have any questions regarding the VCORE 98, please don’t hesitate to ask. You can drop a comment below to get in touch.

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