Diary of a Demo: Thoughts and Comparisons

I'm new to the forums, but I've really appreciated all the detailed thoughts that people share about racquets, strings, etc. It's my favorite part of the forums. This week I'm demoing racquets, and I thought I'd post my results. May they help future researchers the way so many folks here have helped me. Forgive me if I'm wrong to start a new thread, and feel free to chastise me appropriately.

My tennis background: Played at a strong high school in Colorado, then DIII college. I was a pretty solid all-court player, but (like so many) I rely most on my serve and my forehand. Although singles always had my heart, I ended up something of a doubles specialist, especially in high school. College burnt me out pretty hard (in more ways that one), and I didn't pick up a racquet for several years. I recently moved to California, and the beautiful weather combined with my girlfriend's wish to learn got me back on the courts. It feels good to be hitting again, but my old racquets are pretty shot. I played with the APD Cortex back in the day (leaded up at times), but this being a new era of my tennis life, I thought I'd take the opportunity to find a new racquet that I love.

Hence the demos. Here's what's up for comparison: Wilson Blade v7 18x20, Wilson Pro Staff v13, Wilson RF97A, Yonex Pro 97HD, Yonex Pro 97 330. I also gave into the hype and snagged a lightly used Blade Pro (18x20), which will be arriving for comparison this weekend. Today was my first chance to hit with the other 5, and the initial results are in:

Wilson Blade v7 18x20: I understand why people like this, but it's not for me. Nice stability for the weight, but the balance made it feel less maneuverable than I would like. It also had a little more power than I like — despite the predictable string pattern, I found it hard to tame my strokes. This was especially evident when I was on defense, where I struggled to come up with the balls I needed on the run. I'd probably want a control-oriented poly if this were my racquet, but it didn't feel great in my hands.

Wilson Pro Staff v13: A very different hit from the Blade. Very headlight, and an open string pattern. That's a lot of fun in some ways — tons of maneuverability, easy access to spin, and felt like I could swing for days. But the obvious con was the lack of stability. Hitting hard, I felt like I had to work to get this guy through the stroke cleanly. For me, it would need a decent amount of lead to play the way I like. I think it would be a pretty fun racquet at that point. Feel and control felt pretty decent despite the string pattern. That said, I'm not sure I want to dive into heavy customization, and I can't confirm my suspicions with a demo.

Yonex Pro 97HD: I like this racquet a lot. Felt great to swing out, with lots of control and good reward for full swings. I found the string pattern pretty accessible for an 18x20, and I had no trouble generating spin. The feel is a bit more muted than the Blade, and there's a little less power. I liked both of those things, and I felt I had better control and a better sense of my strokes. It also felt more maneuverable to me, and it played nicely at net. Slices were sweet. The sweet spot felt a little different than I'm used to (probably because of the isometric shape?) but not in a bad way. Given time to adjust, I could see myself getting along well with this racquet. I would maybe add a touch of lead and fiddle with the balance, but it was great fun in stock form.

Yonex Pro 97 330: Similar to the HD in some ways, but very different in others. Contrary to reports I had read, I found this guy harder to swing than the RF97. The payoff is there: loads of stability, a heavy ball, plenty of control. But the hoop felt a little flexier than I would like, especially for the weight, and I didn't feel all that connected to my strokes. My confidence went down as a result, and I wouldn't look forward to playing a full match with this racquet. It didn't feel clumsy, exactly, but it definitely didn't feel like an extension of my arm. The weight, string pattern, and control made me feel like I should like it, but I came away feeling like I hadn't bonded with this one. Although I generally like a heavy racquet, I think I might get along better with the 310 in this case.

Wilson RF97: Saved the best for last, because this is the clear winner for me. What an absolute blast of a frame. Yes, it's heavy, but I found it easier to swing than the Yonex 330. It's reasonably head light, which gave me all the maneuverability I wanted. I felt like I could generate spin when I needed, and felt confident crushing the ball for winners. My hitting partner and I played some groundstroke games to start and finish, but we played a match in the middle, and this racquet was an easy choice for match play. The rumors are true: it's a beast on serves, and it destroys volleys. I was worried about swinging it for a full match, but after a couple hours of solid play, I felt like I could still hit out. I was also worried about touch and control, but I liked the feel more than I expected. It's probably a little less intuitive than the 97HD, but not by much...and the payoff is big enough that I didn't mind. Coming from the APD, the touch is a definite improvement :)

As things stand, for me this will likely be a playoff between the RF97 and the yet-to-arrive Blade Pro. Many here seem to love the BP, and I'm really interested to see how it compares to the other Wilsons.

I'm hoping to get out more this weekend, and I'll post if any of my impressions change. Several of these demos came from TW — huge thanks to their team, because the demo program is awesome. With what limited knowledge I have, I'm happy to answer any comparison or spec questions. Hope everyone's having a good week.
 

pyrokid

Hall of Fame
Most of my old juniors hitting partners who used APDs seem to be on to strikes now. I tried one recently and I really like it.
 
Most of my old juniors hitting partners who used APDs seem to be on to strikes now. I tried one recently and I really like it.
Are you a Federer fan? If so, case closed.

Otherwise, demo the Pure Strike Tour also before you decide.
Two votes for the Strike! It's next on my demo wishlist. For better and often worse, I am a Federer fan...huge respect for all of the big 3, though.
 

pyrokid

Hall of Fame
I think I actually liked the 18x20 strike more, even though I've always been a spinny 16x19 guy. Both are worth a demo, it seems most who have tried both prefer 18m even if they usually go 16m.
 

socallefty

Legend
I think I actually liked the 18x20 strike more, even though I've always been a spinny 16x19 guy. Both are worth a demo, it seems most who have tried both prefer 18m even if they usually go 16m.
I tried all three (16, 18, Tour) and switched to the Tour. This was in spite of the fact that I used to play with a 18x20 previously.
 

socallefty

Legend
Two votes for the Strike! It's next on my demo wishlist. For better and often worse, I am a Federer fan...huge respect for all of the big 3, though.
Waste of your time demoing other racquets as all Federer fans want to buy the RF97 at least once. However, once they find over time that it is too stiff with a small sweet spot and the high static weight makes it hard to serve effectively at the end of long matches, they usually start playing matches with other racquets they own. But, it takes them 6-12 months before they admit that the RF97 match-winning % at the rec level is lower than it used to be with other racquets.

At least your demos will let you know what racquet you should buy a year after you buy the RF97;)
 
Waste of your time demoing other racquets as all Federer fans want to buy the RF97 at least once. However, once they find over time that it is too stiff with a small sweet spot and the high static weight makes it hard to serve effectively at the end of long matches, they usually start playing matches with other racquets they own. But, it takes them 6-12 months before they admit that the RF97 match-winning % at the rec level is lower than it used to be with other racquets.

At least your demos will let you know what racquet you should buy a year after you buy the RF97;)
Well at least you've given me a glimpse of my future :) I came in expecting the RF97 to be too heavy for me, but I felt surprisingly solid playing a full match with it. Time will tell...

I think I actually liked the 18x20 strike more, even though I've always been a spinny 16x19 guy. Both are worth a demo, it seems most who have tried both prefer 18m even if they usually go 16m.
I'm intrigued by the 18x20 and the Tour. Hope to demo both, if I can.
 

Crashbaby

Semi-Pro
On the blade pro: in standard form it has a blade like balance that you may not like. Before giving up on it, adding some tail makes a massive difference to its playability. A leather grip transformed the racquet for me.
 

McLovin

Legend
Let me throw a lesser known frame into the mix: Tecnifibre T40 315

A friend of mine has had an extensive demo period (READ: the last 8 months) with the following frames:
  • VCORE Pro 310
  • Prince Textreme 100 16x18
  • Ezone 2020 98
  • Prestige MP
  • Prestige Pro
  • Pro Staff v13
  • TF40 315
Today he ordered two matched TF40s from TW. They give him the control he needs as he’s a 5.0 with long, powerful strokes, who can overhit at times, but without the loss of the heavy ball he normally hits.

I haven’t hit with them personally (due to COVID, no sharing of racquets), so I cannot speak to their feel, but it’s the best he’s hit since smashing his Strike 18x20s into little pieces 3 years ago...
 

JGads

Legend
On the blade pro: in standard form it has a blade like balance that you may not like. Before giving up on it, adding some tail makes a massive difference to its playability. A leather grip transformed the racquet for me.
This. Gotta tailweight this frame. Then it purrs.
 
On the blade pro: in standard form it has a blade like balance that you may not like. Before giving up on it, adding some tail makes a massive difference to its playability. A leather grip transformed the racquet for me.
This. Gotta tailweight this frame. Then it purrs.
Good to know. I did see that in the specs - I'm not necessarily opposed to head-heavier racquets, but the Blade and I didn't get along. I have some Blu-tack lined up for the BP :)
Let me throw a lesser known frame into the mix: Tecnifibre T40 315

A friend of mine has had an extensive demo period (READ: the last 8 months) with the following frames:
  • VCORE Pro 310
  • Prince Textreme 100 16x18
  • Ezone 2020 98
  • Prestige MP
  • Prestige Pro
  • Pro Staff v13
  • TF40 315
Today he ordered two matched TF40s from TW. They give him the control he needs as he’s a 5.0 with long, powerful strokes, who can overhit at times, but without the loss of the heavy ball he normally hits.

I haven’t hit with them personally (due to COVID, no sharing of racquets), so I cannot speak to their feel, but it’s the best he’s hit since smashing his Strike 18x20s into little pieces 3 years ago...
That's high praise. The TF40 and the Prince TT 100 are both on my list of potentials, and I'm jealous of the 8-month demo period...RIP Strikes
 

boualvng

New User
I demoed almost all the similar rackets as Boulder did. I was trying to replace my 12.6oz Pro Staff Classic. Thought the RF97 would be the no brainer but I really didn't like it much at all. Felt way too head heavy and not maneuverable enough. I ended up loving the PS97 V13 and just had to add a little weight. I'm amazed how stable and plush it is for being so light even against big hitters.
 
Brief update: hit twice more over the weekend, and mostly confirmed my initial impressions. The Pro Staff and Blade grew on me a bit, but the Blade is still too powerful for my taste, and the PS suffers by comparison to the RF97. I did feel my shoulder after a full day serving with the RF97, so I'm a little apprehensive about long-term use. I still like the 97HD. Sadly, the Blade Pro's arrival was delayed until today, and I won't get to hit with it until later this week. Sending the rest of the demos back today, and hoping to get another round at the end of the week! Thanks to the posters above, it will hopefully include a Pure Strike Tour and TF40 315 :)
 

Bronc10is

Semi-Pro
Brief update: hit twice more over the weekend, and mostly confirmed my initial impressions. The Pro Staff and Blade grew on me a bit, but the Blade is still too powerful for my taste, and the PS suffers by comparison to the RF97. I did feel my shoulder after a full day serving with the RF97, so I'm a little apprehensive about long-term use. I still like the 97HD. Sadly, the Blade Pro's arrival was delayed until today, and I won't get to hit with it until later this week. Sending the rest of the demos back today, and hoping to get another round at the end of the week! Thanks to the posters above, it will hopefully include a Pure Strike Tour and TF40 315 :)
in pretty similar situation, played low end d-1 tennis and ended up much more successful in doubles and now getting back into swing of things after years of stepping away. I used to hit with the Pure Storm Tour and Pure Storm Team before switching to Head Prestige line at the end of college career. I demo’ed a couple of rackets and love the Head Speed Pro, it’s worth a tryout.
 

AA7

Hall of Fame
Brief update: hit twice more over the weekend, and mostly confirmed my initial impressions. The Pro Staff and Blade grew on me a bit, but the Blade is still too powerful for my taste, and the PS suffers by comparison to the RF97. I did feel my shoulder after a full day serving with the RF97, so I'm a little apprehensive about long-term use. I still like the 97HD. Sadly, the Blade Pro's arrival was delayed until today, and I won't get to hit with it until later this week. Sending the rest of the demos back today, and hoping to get another round at the end of the week! Thanks to the posters above, it will hopefully include a Pure Strike Tour and TF40 315 :)
which BP are you getting? 16 or 18m?
 
which BP are you getting? 16 or 18m?
I got the 18x20. Waffled back and forth for quite a while, but it sounds like the 16x19 is pretty darn open.
in pretty similar situation, played low end d-1 tennis and ended up much more successful in doubles and now getting back into swing of things after years of stepping away. I used to hit with the Pure Storm Tour and Pure Storm Team before switching to Head Prestige line at the end of college career. I demo’ed a couple of rackets and love the Head Speed Pro, it’s worth a tryout.
Dang. The Speed Pro wasn't on my radar, but it looks really nice. Might see if I can try one.
 

AMGF

Hall of Fame
OP just make sure to make some measurements of the Wilson frames you like if you go with them as the one you order might be completely different. Wilson has one of the worst quality control of any brand. If you choose Wilson it’s worth to pay the extra fee to TW to get you matched frames.

If you go with the Blade Pro, you’re out of luck. It probably is the worst frame in terms of quality control I have seen ever. Go to the Blade Pro thread for horror stories of frames so far apart they could be different models entirely. The worst is you can’t ask for matched frames from Wilson and TW doesn’t sell them. It’s time Wilson steps it’s game up.
 
OP just make sure to make some measurements of the Wilson frames you like if you go with them as the one you order might be completely different. Wilson has one of the worst quality control of any brand. If you choose Wilson it’s worth to pay the extra fee to TW to get you matched frames.

If you go with the Blade Pro, you’re out of luck. It probably is the worst frame in terms of quality control I have seen ever. Go to the Blade Pro thread for horror stories of frames so far apart they could be different models entirely. The worst is you can’t ask for matched frames from Wilson and TW doesn’t sell them. It’s time Wilson steps it’s game up.
I gave that thread a read, and the spec discrepancies are...disappointing, to say the least. A part of me is hoping that I don't love the BP, so that I don't have to play the lottery. I took your advice and recorded balance and weights for the frames that I liked. Sadly, I don't think I have a reliable way to measure swingweight.

Side note: I've enjoyed reading your input elsewhere in the forums. One of your posts inspired me to add the Ezone 98+ to my next round of demos. So thanks!
 

AMGF

Hall of Fame
I gave that thread a read, and the spec discrepancies are...disappointing, to say the least. A part of me is hoping that I don't love the BP, so that I don't have to play the lottery. I took your advice and recorded balance and weights for the frames that I liked. Sadly, I don't think I have a reliable way to measure swingweight.

Side note: I've enjoyed reading your input elsewhere in the forums. One of your posts inspired me to add the Ezone 98+ to my next round of demos. So thanks!
You can measure swingweight yourself it's pretty easy and takes a few minutes. You need to be very thorough as a small error can make a big difference: http://twu.tennis-warehouse.com/learning_center/swingweight_calc.php

Thanks for the kind words. I try to help others the best I can. :)
 
Finally getting out to hit with the Blade Pro tomorrow. Also have two more demos to try: Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Pro, and Babolat Pure Strike Tour. I'm excited to try them out, but this time I took measurements beforehand, and the Prestige Pro is way under spec. The balance point is what I'd expect, but strung weight is 326 grams, which seems at least 5-7 grams light for a 315-gram unstrung weight. Does Head have QC issues, too?
 

JOSHL

Hall of Fame
Finally getting out to hit with the Blade Pro tomorrow. Also have two more demos to try: Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Pro, and Babolat Pure Strike Tour. I'm excited to try them out, but this time I took measurements beforehand, and the Prestige Pro is way under spec. The balance point is what I'd expect, but strung weight is 326 grams, which seems at least 5-7 grams light for a 315-gram unstrung weight. Does Head have QC issues, too?
They all do with the exception of yonex.
 
Update with a few more impressions:

Wilson Blade Pro 18x20: The Blade Pro thread is full of good information on this racquet, so I won't belabor it except to say that I agree with most of what's been written there. Feels like a stiff hoop with a flexy throat, which is very fun to hit with. Does not lack for power. It definitely likes a full stroke, but I didn't find it too unforgiving. I'm glad I went with the 18x20, because I had no trouble generating spin, and I don't think I would want any more power. I wanted to play it stock first, and it wasn't bad, but I'm going to take the advice of posters above and add some weight. Also planning to string a little tighter than usual to rein in the power a hair. I'm going to reserve final judgment for a bit, but I can see why people like this one.

Babolat Pure Strike Tour: I liked this racquet more than I expected. Packs a big punch, and it's a nice blend of power and control, especially from the baseline. Very fun to swing, easy access to spin. This is definitely a different vibe from the APDs and Pure Drives that I once used, and I like this better. I had somewhat steered away from Babolat in my search, but this one impressed me. My only complaint echoes part of the TW review: the feel wasn't amazing. Not terrible, either, but I didn't feel super confident going for finesse shots. Pretty fun to blast away from the baseline, though. Nice on serves, too.

Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Pro: I haven't been all that excited about trying Head racquets, and I don't know why. Maybe an old rival hit with Head, and it lodged in my subconscious. But I enjoyed this racquet a lot — great feel and nice control from the smaller head size, although I found it forgiving for a 95. Also has plenty of stiffness and power, and it reminded me a bit of the RF97. The full-head grommets are very cool. All the same, the PP didn't really stand out for me. I wouldn't be mad if it were my racquet, but I also didn't feel like it clicked for my game, especially when I was on the attack. I found myself wishing that I got a demo closer to the specs, because I think I would have liked it even more if it were heavier.

I thought these were all good racquets. I don't know if any of them will unseat the RF97 as a frontrunner, but the BP and the Pure Strike Tour might have a shot.
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
Update with a few more impressions:

Wilson Blade Pro 18x20: The Blade Pro thread is full of good information on this racquet, so I won't belabor it except to say that I agree with most of what's been written there. Feels like a stiff hoop with a flexy throat, which is very fun to hit with. Does not lack for power. It definitely likes a full stroke, but I didn't find it too unforgiving. I'm glad I went with the 18x20, because I had no trouble generating spin, and I don't think I would want any more power. I wanted to play it stock first, and it wasn't bad, but I'm going to take the advice of posters above and add some weight. Also planning to string a little tighter than usual to rein in the power a hair. I'm going to reserve final judgment for a bit, but I can see why people like this one.

Babolat Pure Strike Tour: I liked this racquet more than I expected. Packs a big punch, and it's a nice blend of power and control, especially from the baseline. Very fun to swing, easy access to spin. This is definitely a different vibe from the APDs and Pure Drives that I once used, and I like this better. I had somewhat steered away from Babolat in my search, but this one impressed me. My only complaint echoes part of the TW review: the feel wasn't amazing. Not terrible, either, but I didn't feel super confident going for finesse shots. Pretty fun to blast away from the baseline, though. Nice on serves, too.

Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Pro: I haven't been all that excited about trying Head racquets, and I don't know why. Maybe an old rival hit with Head, and it lodged in my subconscious. But I enjoyed this racquet a lot — great feel and nice control from the smaller head size, although I found it forgiving for a 95. Also has plenty of stiffness and power, and it reminded me a bit of the RF97. The full-head grommets are very cool. All the same, the PP didn't really stand out for me. I wouldn't be mad if it were my racquet, but I also didn't feel like it clicked for my game, especially when I was on the attack. I found myself wishing that I got a demo closer to the specs, because I think I would have liked it even more if it were heavier.

I thought these were all good racquets. I don't know if any of them will unseat the RF97 as a frontrunner, but the BP and the Pure Strike Tour might have a shot.
Real nice frames. I think the YYEZone98+ will be up your alley as well.
 

socallefty

Legend
I thought these were all good racquets. I don't know if any of them will unseat the RF97 as a frontrunner, but the BP and the Pure Strike Tour might have a shot.
Racquets can feel quite different depending on the string and tension. I string with a gut/poly hybrid at 48/45 lbs and so, have no issues with the feel of the PST. I can see how some might think it is muted if they play with a poly full bed that is more dead in feel.
 
Real nice frames. I think the YYEZone98+ will be up your alley as well.
That one's arriving next week :)
Racquets can feel quite different depending on the string and tension. I string with a gut/poly hybrid at 48/45 lbs and so, have no issues with the feel of the PST. I can see how some might think it is muted if they play with a poly full bed that is more dead in feel.
I hear that. Sadly I have no control over the demo strings, but that's why the PST is staying on the shortlist for now. Wish I could always string with gut/poly :)
 

socallefty

Legend
That one's arriving next week :)

I hear that. Sadly I have no control over the demo strings, but that's why the PST is staying on the shortlist for now. Wish I could always string with gut/poly :)
As a guy in his twenties, you should be motivated to be successful enough to someday enjoy all the finer things in life. Gut/poly hybrids are definitely one of them;)
 

PKorda

Semi-Pro
That one's arriving next week :)

I hear that. Sadly I have no control over the demo strings, but that's why the PST is staying on the shortlist for now. Wish I could always string with gut/poly :)
For this reason I gave up demo'ing racquets. Unless I can hit with a friends racquet that has decent strings at a similar tension to what I use I realized it was mostly a waste of time.
 

Torque

New User
I demoed these: Yonex VC HD 97; TF40 305; Blade 18x20; Dunlop CX200T; and BAbolot PS gen3 and will compare to my Wilson6.1 (2017 18x20; 12.3 oz, 7HL) I used the stock balances for all.
It is probably best to re-balance to what you like; I should’ve but didn’t. I really liked the PSgen3, and the TF305. But as stated the balances weren’t right so I wasn’t dialed in fully.
I hit and played with the Blade about 4 hrs. This racquet was an afterthought for the demo order ( I didn't expect to like it.) The Blade played (for me) like a power racquet. Serves and groundies were hard; slices were smooth and controlled. Volleys were very good. I bought 2 and have been playing a couple weeks seeing if I needed to change the balance. I added the weight to the handle and now am about 12oz and balanced at about 7HL. It now plays like my 6.1 but I have more power. Strings and proper balance are major factors for picking the right racquet.
 

JOSHL

Hall of Fame
Here’s a list of demos I’ve tried recently-
Pure strike v3 98 16x19
Pure Strike v3 100
360+ Extreme MP
2021 Pure Drive
Textreme Tour 290-Iga stick
Radical 360 MP
Ezone 100
Vcore 100
360+ Speed MP
360+ Prestige Mid
Pure Aero VS

Stand outs for me are-Speed MP, Extreme MP, VCore 100 and the 98 strike. I am extending my test with the Speed and VCore and will try and get the Extreme MP once my local shop gets it back in stock. Also may be on the look out for an ezone 98+ As I used the DR98+ for a while and really liked it.
 

jered

Rookie
Great breakdown. Thanks for that.

I’ve played with the RF for the past couple years and I love the way it hits, the weight and demands of the racquet have helped discipline me to develop my technique. However, as others have said, as much as I love how it hits, the realities of rec play mean I do need a more maneuverable and slightly more forgiving racquet to keep the improvement going.

Leaning towards the new PS97. Does it feel as sublime as the RF? No. Do I win more points because it’s faster to prepare and get in place? Yep.

I think you’ll be really happy with the RF but agree with others that you may eventually need something else to really elevate your game.

For reference, I’m fairly athletic (can swing the RF for hours no problem) and I’m a heavy topspin hitter who provides my own power (too much :p)
 
Here’s a list of demos I’ve tried recently-
Pure strike v3 98 16x19
Pure Strike v3 100
360+ Extreme MP
2021 Pure Drive
Textreme Tour 290-Iga stick
Radical 360 MP
Ezone 100
Vcore 100
360+ Speed MP
360+ Prestige Mid
Pure Aero VS

Stand outs for me are-Speed MP, Extreme MP, VCore 100 and the 98 strike. I am extending my test with the Speed and VCore and will try and get the Extreme MP once my local shop gets it back in stock. Also may be on the look out for an ezone 98+ As I used the DR98+ for a while and really liked it.
That's a cool list. The Speed MP was on my radar, and people seem to really like the Vcore 100. I have a Vcore 95 coming in my next batch.
I’ve played with the RF for the past couple years and I love the way it hits, the weight and demands of the racquet have helped discipline me to develop my technique. However, as others have said, as much as I love how it hits, the realities of rec play mean I do need a more maneuverable and slightly more forgiving racquet to keep the improvement going.
A couple other people have said this, but in my admittedly short demo, I didn't find that the RF97 lacked maneuverability or forgiveness. Purely subjective I guess, and it's possible that I demoed one that was a little under spec. My main worry is whether my body could hold up swinging it week after week...but I'm glad you found a good alternative! I also thought the PS97 was a nice racquet.
 
Spent some quality time with the Blade Pro today. Strung it tighter, and added some weight at the tail to bring balance back to about 6 points HL. I liked it more this way. Felt like I had phenomenal control, although I think I'd want to use a string with better feel than the Hyper-G I put in it. It doesn't play poorly or lack stability, but I find myself with an odd desire to add more weight at both ends. I have no rational justification, aside from a hunch that stringing tight and bumping up weight would feel good. Could be barking up the wrong tree.

Anyway, I have a few more demos coming in this week: Yonex Vcore 95, Yonex Ezone 98+, and Tecnifibre TF40 315. Will update with impressions. Hope everyone had a good weekend.
 
Who's up for round 3? In some ways, this was the best bunch yet.

Yonex Ezone 98+: The first frame to put a smile on my face the way the RF97 did. It's just so darn fun. I'm not sure I had ever hit with an extended-length racquet, and the timing did take some getting used to, especially on my backhand. But the payoff is huge — such easy pace from everywhere. The extra pop on the serve alone was enough to convince me. I agree with the folks who love this racquet: it has a nice feel and more control than I expected. Maneuverability at net isn't fantastic, but also not as bad as I expected (and easy to choke up). I don't think I'll buy it this time around, because some masochistic part of me still gravitates to racquets that do less of the work for me. If and when that changes, this will be at the top of my shopping list.

Yonex Vcore 95: I decided to demo this on a bit of a whim, but I came away loving it. Very forgiving for a 95, and very stable for how quick and maneuverable it is. I love the 16x20 pattern — why isn't that more of a thing? For me, this was a great combination of control and stability, in a very swingable frame. Power wasn't super easy to come by in stock form, but I get the feeling it would take weight well. This probably nudges ahead of the 97HD as my favorite Yonex contender.

Tecnifibre TF40 315: I'm not going to buy this racquet, but I liked it a lot. Phenomenal control, especially from the baseline. It's a hefty frame, but it rewards a full swing with pace and precision. It didn't feel super flexy, but I liked the feel. The failing here is on my part — I'm just not used to a string pattern this dense, and I struggled to dial in strokes like my kick serve. Given time, I'm sure I would adjust, but I'm more comfortable with a slightly more open string bed. If tight 18x20s are your thing, this seems like a really good frame.

That puts me up to 11 racquets so far. It's been a fun tour around the current industry. I'm going to do one more round of demos next week, then call it. Current frontrunners: RF97, Vcore 95, Pure Strike Tour.
 

JOSHL

Hall of Fame
Who's up for round 3? In some ways, this was the best bunch yet.

Yonex Ezone 98+: The first frame to put a smile on my face the way the RF97 did. It's just so darn fun. I'm not sure I had ever hit with an extended-length racquet, and the timing did take some getting used to, especially on my backhand. But the payoff is huge — such easy pace from everywhere. The extra pop on the serve alone was enough to convince me. I agree with the folks who love this racquet: it has a nice feel and more control than I expected. Maneuverability at net isn't fantastic, but also not as bad as I expected (and easy to choke up). I don't think I'll buy it this time around, because some masochistic part of me still gravitates to racquets that do less of the work for me. If and when that changes, this will be at the top of my shopping list.

Yonex Vcore 95: I decided to demo this on a bit of a whim, but I came away loving it. Very forgiving for a 95, and very stable for how quick and maneuverable it is. I love the 16x20 pattern — why isn't that more of a thing? For me, this was a great combination of control and stability, in a very swingable frame. Power wasn't super easy to come by in stock form, but I get the feeling it would take weight well. This probably nudges ahead of the 97HD as my favorite Yonex contender.

Tecnifibre TF40 315: I'm not going to buy this racquet, but I liked it a lot. Phenomenal control, especially from the baseline. It's a hefty frame, but it rewards a full swing with pace and precision. It didn't feel super flexy, but I liked the feel. The failing here is on my part — I'm just not used to a string pattern this dense, and I struggled to dial in strokes like my kick serve. Given time, I'm sure I would adjust, but I'm more comfortable with a slightly more open string bed. If tight 18x20s are your thing, this seems like a really good frame.

That puts me up to 11 racquets so far. It's been a fun tour around the current industry. I'm going to do one more round of demos next week, then call it. Current frontrunners: RF97, Vcore 95, Pure Strike Tour.
What’s on tap for the next round? I have the ezone 98+, PA+, Clash 100 tour and Extreme tour inbound.
 
What’s on tap for the next round? I have the ezone 98+, PA+, Clash 100 tour and Extreme tour inbound.
I wanted to demo the PA+, curious how it compares to the 98+. Extreme tour looks fun, too. Final round for me is: Prince Textreme Tour 100 310, Prince Phantom 100p, and Head Gravity Pro.
 
Final updates and conclusions ahead. Starting with this week's demos:

Prince Textreme Tour 100 (310): A tweener, but a good one. Compared to the other two racquets in this demo bundle, playing with the TT 100 was downright relaxing. I found it nice to swing, and it does a decent amount of work for you without losing too much control. I loved serving with this racquet. I'd be interested in the 18x20 on the 100p, but I didn't mind the 16x18 here. I'm not looking for this much power, but I wouldn't be mad about playing with this. My girlfriend now plays with the 290/Iga, which I also think is a very fun racquet.

Prince Phantom 100p: I added this one to get a taste of some thin-beam/flexy goodness, and I found it...addictive. I absolutely loved the feel of this racquet. Especially when hitting out, I felt connected to shots in a way that I never did with my old Babolats. On this one, though, the 16x18 felt like it didn't suit the personality. It's very spin friendly and has a decent amount of pop, but I actually found myself wishing for a tighter pattern. This is another demo that came in several grams under spec, and I may have liked it more with a bit of weight. Even so, I found this tempting enough that I might look deeper into the Phantom line in the future.

BONUS: Wilson nCode 6.1 95: Because this forum is one giant enabler, I bought a used 16x18 6.1 and played it along with these demos. I thought it would fit with the 16x18 theme, and I wanted to see what all the n6.1 hype was about. I do enjoy the weight and balance, but again, this string bed was a bit lively for my taste. Maybe I'd get used to it, but it didn't feel as predictable as I'd hoped. It sounds like this is the most plush of the 6.1 95 heritage, but it was still plenty stiff and plenty powerful. Maybe I'll track down an 18x20 one day?

Head Graphene 360+ Gravity Pro: The come-from-behind winner of this round. I wasn't sure about this frame at first, but it grew on me a lot. Forgiveness and plow are the first two words that come to mind, but I also liked the control. This is an 18x20 that I liked a lot, and I felt it was fairly spin-friendly. It has maybe a bit more power than I'd like, but it feels like it could be tamed with string choice. I would probably add a little bit of tail weight, too, but with a leather grip I think this racquet would be a good fit for me.

I would like to publicly acknowledge that I'm being contradictory here. Part of this demo season has been learning my current preferences, and some of my favorites (Gravity Pro, Phantom 100p, Vcore 95) are low-RA, relatively thin, and low-powered. In the same breath I raved about the RF97, which is none of those things. That's been an interesting part of the process — although I have learned more about what I want, I can't always explain my preferences by specs alone. The RF97 is powerful, but I also felt like I got more control and feel than I did with sticks like the Ezone 98+ or TT 310. The Prestige Pro and Vcore Pro 330 are both heavy control sticks, but they didn't feel as good in my hands. I love hitting with my girlfriend's TT 290, even though it's way lighter than my usual preferences. Go figure.

One thing I have learned is that I can't go too head-heavy. For me personally, fast-paced net play is much easier with a balance greater than 5 points head light. I'm happy bashing from the baseline with head-heavier racquets, but in rec play, I've found that my net game is a big asset. Combined with my enduring love of doubles, I am looking for a racquet that I can rely on at net as much as the baseline.

Another takeaway: I could keep demoing forever. I'm not going to, but I still have a list of racquets I'd like to hit one day. These include: Yonex Ezone 98 Tour, Wilson Ultra Pro, Angell TC97/95, and Tecnifibre's TFight line. Some (Angell and Ultra Pro) are impossible to demo, and I'm not sure I'm up for having a rotation of racquets to buy. But boy am I tempted...the slope to holism is slippery indeed. If I have some spare cash in the future, who knows what will happen.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, demoing has been a chance to assess what I'm looking for in tennis. Part of what I've enjoyed about coming back to tennis is that it's for me now. There's less pressure. I still love competing, and I want to be the best I can be, but these days I feel more free to have fun with it. That has become oddly important in the racquet selection process, because I spend less time analyzing what the best possible frame for my game is, and more time thinking about what I enjoy hitting with. I fundamentally think that the player has more to do with success than the racquet, and even of the ones I've demoed, I could be very happy with four or five. My general impression is that there are a lot of good frames on the market, and that's cool.

So where does that leave us? ...I'll probably still buy the RF97, because right now I have the most fun with it. I also feel like I can play well with it, and I have some youth (and joints) left to spend. That may change in the future. If and when it does, I'd probably be looking at a showdown between the Vcore 95, Ezone 98+, Gravity Pro, and Babolat PST (maybe a Phantom would sneak in there). I come away with a lot of respect for Yonex and their manufacturing, and I'll be following the release of the 2021 Vcores with interest. This demo season may be over, but I look forward to much more tennis over the rest of my life, and I'm sure my racquet journey isn't finished. That's part of the fun, right?

So there you have it. A demo journey, from start to finish. Let the string search begin...
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
I wanted to demo the PA+, curious how it compares to the 98+. Extreme tour looks fun, too. Final round for me is: Prince Textreme Tour 100 310, Prince Phantom 100p, and Head Gravity Pro.
I have a PA+ coming and ill play it side by side with the 98+. The PA+ is one of those frames where if you are a spin hitter, you get an instant advantage since it doesnt really swing like an XL frame in terms of sluggishness. I’ve always found the XL APD and PA to be my favorite Babolats, followed closely by the Pure Drive. The PD is just a rather stiff frame, but the new one plays fantastic, just a bit clunky.
 

Vicious49

Hall of Fame
I would like to publicly acknowledge that I'm being contradictory here. Part of this demo season has been learning my current preferences, and some of my favorites (Gravity Pro, Phantom 100p, Vcore 95) are low-RA, relatively thin, and low-powered. In the same breath I raved about the RF97, which is none of those things. That's been an interesting part of the process — although I have learned more about what I want, I can't always explain my preferences by specs alone. The RF97 is powerful, but I also felt like I got more control and feel than I did with sticks like the Ezone 98+ or TT 310. The Prestige Pro and Vcore Pro 330 are both heavy control sticks, but they didn't feel as good in my hands. I love hitting with my girlfriend's TT 290, even though it's way lighter than my usual preferences. Go figure.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, demoing has been a chance to assess what I'm looking for in tennis. Part of what I've enjoyed about coming back to tennis is that it's for me now. There's less pressure. I still love competing, and I want to be the best I can be, but these days I feel more free to have fun with it. That has become oddly important in the racquet selection process, because I spend less time analyzing what the best possible frame for my game is, and more time thinking about what I enjoy hitting with. I fundamentally think that the player has more to do with success than the racquet, and even of the ones I've demoed, I could be very happy with four or five. My general impression is that there are a lot of good frames on the market, and that's cool.
There’s so much of me in both of these paragraphs. I played with the RF97 for about 4 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it does force you to improve mechanics but in some ways it’s a bit of a crutch as well. At least It was for me with my backhand. The sheer mass of the racquet would help me drive balls back with my OHBH which Ive since realized led me to some bad habits. Regardless,I eventually wanted something a bit lighter but similar (Or so I thought). After demoing a bunch of racquets I came to the same realization you did - I enjoyed thin beamed, low powered, low RA frames that gave me a feel which I can’t quite describe. I also learned I’m more of an 18x20 person which I never would have expected.

Its tough for folks to understand that you want to be competitive and improve but at the same time you’re playing for the fun and enjoyment of it. You’ve stated it much more eloquently than I ever could. There are racquets that could provide me more forgiveness, etc but I like the control and feel I get from my current lineup.

I eventually ended up with a bunch of Ultra Tours. This is the best racquet for me. If you are an L2 or L4, they can still be found brand new heavily discounted. I’d strongly recommend you try one out as your tastes sound similar to mine.
I also picked up the UP 16m. That is close to the UT with a little bit more pop, but I think I still prefer the UT.
I did eventually give in and order a Head Gravity Pro a few nights ago as it was similar to what I already liked in the UT but with a bit more power and forgiveness. it doesn’t have quite the same feel but it should be useful on those days when I’m off just a bit as the UT does require you to be on your game.

ive had the Yonex Vcore 95 in the back of my mind recently as that’s one that I didn’t get to demo. I’ve heard some interesting things about it and would love to check it out. I may end up doing a blind buy at some point if I get impatient enough.
 
Last edited:

JOSHL

Hall of Fame
Final updates and conclusions ahead. Starting with this week's demos:

Prince Textreme Tour 100 (310): A tweener, but a good one. Compared to the other two racquets in this demo bundle, playing with the TT 100 was downright relaxing. I found it nice to swing, and it does a decent amount of work for you without losing too much control. I loved serving with this racquet. I'd be interested in the 18x20 on the 100p, but I didn't mind the 16x18 here. I'm not looking for this much power, but I wouldn't be mad about playing with this. My girlfriend now plays with the 290/Iga, which I also think is a very fun racquet.

Prince Phantom 100p: I added this one to get a taste of some thin-beam/flexy goodness, and I found it...addictive. I absolutely loved the feel of this racquet. Especially when hitting out, I felt connected to shots in a way that I never did with my old Babolats. On this one, though, the 16x18 felt like it didn't suit the personality. It's very spin friendly and has a decent amount of pop, but I actually found myself wishing for a tighter pattern. This is another demo that came in several grams under spec, and I may have liked it more with a bit of weight. Even so, I found this tempting enough that I might look deeper into the Phantom line in the future.

BONUS: Wilson nCode 6.1 95: Because this forum is one giant enabler, I bought a used 16x18 6.1 and played it along with these demos. I thought it would fit with the 16x18 theme, and I wanted to see what all the n6.1 hype was about. I do enjoy the weight and balance, but again, this string bed was a bit lively for my taste. Maybe I'd get used to it, but it didn't feel as predictable as I'd hoped. It sounds like this is the most plush of the 6.1 95 heritage, but it was still plenty stiff and plenty powerful. Maybe I'll track down an 18x20 one day?

Head Graphene 360+ Gravity Pro: The come-from-behind winner of this round. I wasn't sure about this frame at first, but it grew on me a lot. Forgiveness and plow are the first two words that come to mind, but I also liked the control. This is an 18x20 that I liked a lot, and I felt it was fairly spin-friendly. It has maybe a bit more power than I'd like, but it feels like it could be tamed with string choice. I would probably add a little bit of tail weight, too, but with a leather grip I think this racquet would be a good fit for me.

I would like to publicly acknowledge that I'm being contradictory here. Part of this demo season has been learning my current preferences, and some of my favorites (Gravity Pro, Phantom 100p, Vcore 95) are low-RA, relatively thin, and low-powered. In the same breath I raved about the RF97, which is none of those things. That's been an interesting part of the process — although I have learned more about what I want, I can't always explain my preferences by specs alone. The RF97 is powerful, but I also felt like I got more control and feel than I did with sticks like the Ezone 98+ or TT 310. The Prestige Pro and Vcore Pro 330 are both heavy control sticks, but they didn't feel as good in my hands. I love hitting with my girlfriend's TT 290, even though it's way lighter than my usual preferences. Go figure.

One thing I have learned is that I can't go too head-heavy. For me personally, fast-paced net play is much easier with a balance greater than 5 points head light. I'm happy bashing from the baseline with head-heavier racquets, but in rec play, I've found that my net game is a big asset. Combined with my enduring love of doubles, I am looking for a racquet that I can rely on at net as much as the baseline.

Another takeaway: I could keep demoing forever. I'm not going to, but I still have a list of racquets I'd like to hit one day. These include: Yonex Ezone 98 Tour, Wilson Ultra Pro, Angell TC97/95, and Tecnifibre's TFight line. Some (Angell and Ultra Pro) are impossible to demo, and I'm not sure I'm up for having a rotation of racquets to buy. But boy am I tempted...the slope to holism is slippery indeed. If I have some spare cash in the future, who knows what will happen.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, demoing has been a chance to assess what I'm looking for in tennis. Part of what I've enjoyed about coming back to tennis is that it's for me now. There's less pressure. I still love competing, and I want to be the best I can be, but these days I feel more free to have fun with it. That has become oddly important in the racquet selection process, because I spend less time analyzing what the best possible frame for my game is, and more time thinking about what I enjoy hitting with. I fundamentally think that the player has more to do with success than the racquet, and even of the ones I've demoed, I could be very happy with four or five. My general impression is that there are a lot of good frames on the market, and that's cool.

So where does that leave us? ...I'll probably still buy the RF97, because right now I have the most fun with it. I also feel like I can play well with it, and I have some youth (and joints) left to spend. That may change in the future. If and when it does, I'd probably be looking at a showdown between the Vcore 95, Ezone 98+, Gravity Pro, and Babolat PST (maybe a Phantom would sneak in there). I come away with a lot of respect for Yonex and their manufacturing, and I'll be following the release of the 2021 Vcores with interest. This demo season may be over, but I look forward to much more tennis over the rest of my life, and I'm sure my racquet journey isn't finished. That's part of the fun, right?

So there you have it. A demo journey, from start to finish. Let the string search begin...
Great post! And I knew you’d like the GPro. Lol
 

socallefty

Legend
So where does that leave us? ...I'll probably still buy the RF97, because right now I have the most fun with it. I also feel like I can play well with it, and I have some youth (and joints) left to spend. That may change in the future. If and when it does, I'd probably be looking at a showdown between the Vcore 95, Ezone 98+, Gravity Pro, and Babolat PST.
Didn’t I tell you that Fed fans all feel compelled to buy a RF97 even if every other racquet they like has different specs? Glad you found the racquets you want to choose from once you’ve lost enough matches with the RF97:happydevil:. Glad the VCore 95 and Pure Strike Tour made your final list of other racquets you like - the first one is used by my coach (he is sponsored by Yonex) and the PST by me. Try HyperG Soft if you get a chance as it is currently my favorite poly cross to hybrid with gut. Enjoy your time on the courts!

Waste of your time demoing other racquets as all Federer fans want to buy the RF97 at least once. However, once they find over time that it is too stiff with a small sweet spot and the high static weight makes it hard to serve effectively at the end of long matches, they usually start playing matches with other racquets they own. But, it takes them 6-12 months before they admit that the RF97 match-winning % at the rec level is lower than it used to be with other racquets.

At least your demos will let you know what racquet you should buy a year after you buy the RF97;)
 
I have a PA+ coming and ill play it side by side with the 98+. The PA+ is one of those frames where if you are a spin hitter, you get an instant advantage since it doesnt really swing like an XL frame in terms of sluggishness. I’ve always found the XL APD and PA to be my favorite Babolats, followed closely by the Pure Drive. The PD is just a rather stiff frame, but the new one plays fantastic, just a bit clunky.
Looking forward to reading about it! Extended frames weren't really on my radar, but the 98+ opened my eyes. After hitting with an APD all those years, I probably owe the PA+ a demo one of these days.
There’s so much of me in both of these paragraphs. I played with the RF97 for about 4 years and thoroughly enjoyed it. I think it does force you to improve mechanics but in some ways it’s a bit of a crutch as well. At least It was for me with my backhand. The sheer mass of the racquet would help me drive balls back with my OHBH which Ive since realized led me to some bad habits. Regardless,I eventually wanted something a bit lighter but similar (Or so I thought). After demoing a bunch of racquets I came to the same realization you did - I enjoyed thin beamed, low powered, low RA frames that gave me a feel which I can’t quite describe. I also learned I’m more of an 18x20 person which I never would have expected.

Its tough for folks to understand that you want to be competitive and improve but at the same time you’re playing for the fun and enjoyment of it. You’ve stated it much more eloquently than I ever could. There are racquets that could provide me more forgiveness, etc but I like the control and feel I get from my current lineup.

I eventually ended up with a bunch of Ultra Tours. This is the best racquet for me. If you are an L2 or L4, they can still be found brand new heavily discounted. I’d strongly recommend you try one out as your tastes sound similar to mine.
I also inked up the UP 16m. That is close to the UT with a little. It more pop, but I think I still prefer the UT.
I did eventually give in and order a Head Gravity Pro a few nights ago as it was similar to what I already liked in the UT but with a bit more power and forgiveness. it doesn’t have quite the same feel but it should be useful on those days when I’m off just a bit as the UT does require you to be on your game.

ive had the Yonex Vcore 95 in the back of my mind recently as that’s one that I didn’t get to demo. I’ve heard some interesting things about it and would love to check it out. I may end up doing a blind buy at some point if I get impatient enough.
Well shoot, now you have me hankering for an Ultra Tour. They do look pretty reasonably priced, so maybe I'll snag one. Sadly I'm an L3...

I would say the Vcore 95 is worth a demo. It's quick through the air, which makes it feel more whippy and "modern" in some ways, but it still has the control that I was looking for.
Great post! And I knew you’d like the GPro. Lol
Yep, you nailed that one. Hope you're enjoying that Extreme Tour!
Didn’t I tell you that Fed fans all feel compelled to buy a RF97 even if every other racquet they like has different specs? Glad you found the racquets you want to choose from once you’ve lost enough matches with the RF97:happydevil:. Glad the VCore 95 and Pure Strike Tour made your final list of other racquets you like - the first one is used by my coach (he is sponsored by Yonex) and the PST by me. Try HyperG Soft if you get a chance as it is currently my favorite poly cross to hybrid with gut. Enjoy your time on the courts!
You got it! Although I'm not sure how much I can realistically blame my Fed fanhood — I consider myself a fan of Rafa and Novak as well, and as I wrote, enjoyment was a bigger factor. You seem pretty convinced I'll lose with it...your PST vs my RF97, any day you like :) But you and your coach obviously both have great taste. Thanks for the tip about HyperG Soft — I do hope to explore the world of gut/poly hybrids in the months to come.
 

Cyclone

Semi-Pro
Final updates and conclusions ahead. Starting with this week's demos:

Prince Textreme Tour 100 (310): A tweener, but a good one. Compared to the other two racquets in this demo bundle, playing with the TT 100 was downright relaxing. I found it nice to swing, and it does a decent amount of work for you without losing too much control. I loved serving with this racquet. I'd be interested in the 18x20 on the 100p, but I didn't mind the 16x18 here. I'm not looking for this much power, but I wouldn't be mad about playing with this. My girlfriend now plays with the 290/Iga, which I also think is a very fun racquet.

Prince Phantom 100p: I added this one to get a taste of some thin-beam/flexy goodness, and I found it...addictive. I absolutely loved the feel of this racquet. Especially when hitting out, I felt connected to shots in a way that I never did with my old Babolats. On this one, though, the 16x18 felt like it didn't suit the personality. It's very spin friendly and has a decent amount of pop, but I actually found myself wishing for a tighter pattern. This is another demo that came in several grams under spec, and I may have liked it more with a bit of weight. Even so, I found this tempting enough that I might look deeper into the Phantom line in the future.

BONUS: Wilson nCode 6.1 95: Because this forum is one giant enabler, I bought a used 16x18 6.1 and played it along with these demos. I thought it would fit with the 16x18 theme, and I wanted to see what all the n6.1 hype was about. I do enjoy the weight and balance, but again, this string bed was a bit lively for my taste. Maybe I'd get used to it, but it didn't feel as predictable as I'd hoped. It sounds like this is the most plush of the 6.1 95 heritage, but it was still plenty stiff and plenty powerful. Maybe I'll track down an 18x20 one day?

Head Graphene 360+ Gravity Pro: The come-from-behind winner of this round. I wasn't sure about this frame at first, but it grew on me a lot. Forgiveness and plow are the first two words that come to mind, but I also liked the control. This is an 18x20 that I liked a lot, and I felt it was fairly spin-friendly. It has maybe a bit more power than I'd like, but it feels like it could be tamed with string choice. I would probably add a little bit of tail weight, too, but with a leather grip I think this racquet would be a good fit for me.

I would like to publicly acknowledge that I'm being contradictory here. Part of this demo season has been learning my current preferences, and some of my favorites (Gravity Pro, Phantom 100p, Vcore 95) are low-RA, relatively thin, and low-powered. In the same breath I raved about the RF97, which is none of those things. That's been an interesting part of the process — although I have learned more about what I want, I can't always explain my preferences by specs alone. The RF97 is powerful, but I also felt like I got more control and feel than I did with sticks like the Ezone 98+ or TT 310. The Prestige Pro and Vcore Pro 330 are both heavy control sticks, but they didn't feel as good in my hands. I love hitting with my girlfriend's TT 290, even though it's way lighter than my usual preferences. Go figure.

One thing I have learned is that I can't go too head-heavy. For me personally, fast-paced net play is much easier with a balance greater than 5 points head light. I'm happy bashing from the baseline with head-heavier racquets, but in rec play, I've found that my net game is a big asset. Combined with my enduring love of doubles, I am looking for a racquet that I can rely on at net as much as the baseline.

Another takeaway: I could keep demoing forever. I'm not going to, but I still have a list of racquets I'd like to hit one day. These include: Yonex Ezone 98 Tour, Wilson Ultra Pro, Angell TC97/95, and Tecnifibre's TFight line. Some (Angell and Ultra Pro) are impossible to demo, and I'm not sure I'm up for having a rotation of racquets to buy. But boy am I tempted...the slope to holism is slippery indeed. If I have some spare cash in the future, who knows what will happen.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, demoing has been a chance to assess what I'm looking for in tennis. Part of what I've enjoyed about coming back to tennis is that it's for me now. There's less pressure. I still love competing, and I want to be the best I can be, but these days I feel more free to have fun with it. That has become oddly important in the racquet selection process, because I spend less time analyzing what the best possible frame for my game is, and more time thinking about what I enjoy hitting with. I fundamentally think that the player has more to do with success than the racquet, and even of the ones I've demoed, I could be very happy with four or five. My general impression is that there are a lot of good frames on the market, and that's cool.

So where does that leave us? ...I'll probably still buy the RF97, because right now I have the most fun with it. I also feel like I can play well with it, and I have some youth (and joints) left to spend. That may change in the future. If and when it does, I'd probably be looking at a showdown between the Vcore 95, Ezone 98+, Gravity Pro, and Babolat PST (maybe a Phantom would sneak in there). I come away with a lot of respect for Yonex and their manufacturing, and I'll be following the release of the 2021 Vcores with interest. This demo season may be over, but I look forward to much more tennis over the rest of my life, and I'm sure my racquet journey isn't finished. That's part of the fun, right?

So there you have it. A demo journey, from start to finish. Let the string search begin...
I've really enjoyed reading your journey through the racket world! Thanks for sharing. It's so true too, now that we're getting a bit older tennis can become more of a fun hobby (what a concept!) and finding a frame that is FUN is so important. Go with what you like! And if you change your mind in the future, so be it. I'm playing with the Vcore 98 right now, but strung them up too tight for the cold weather and now have enjoyed hitting with my old Prince Ozone Pro Tours. There will always be tradeoffs between frames. If I could hybrid a Pure Aero for groundstrokes and volleys, Ezone 98 for serves, Graphene XT Prestige for slices, Ozone Pro Tour for dropshots and angled volleys, etc etc etc I'd be a very happy player :)

Also, I definitely second what some of the posters have been saying about paying for the TW Racket Matching service. I demo'd the Vcore 98 before buying and was lucky enough to measure its specs before returning it, and my demo was much lighter in both stock weight and swingweight. That let me ask TW to send me two frames with similar specs, and given Yonex's above-average quality control, I got them.
 

Blakefan17

Rookie
Looking forward to reading about it! Extended frames weren't really on my radar, but the 98+ opened my eyes. After hitting with an APD all those years, I probably owe the PA+ a demo one of these days.

Well shoot, now you have me hankering for an Ultra Tour. They do look pretty reasonably priced, so maybe I'll snag one. Sadly I'm an L3...

I would say the Vcore 95 is worth a demo. It's quick through the air, which makes it feel more whippy and "modern" in some ways, but it still has the control that I was looking for.

Yep, you nailed that one. Hope you're enjoying that Extreme Tour!

You got it! Although I'm not sure how much I can realistically blame my Fed fanhood — I consider myself a fan of Rafa and Novak as well, and as I wrote, enjoyment was a bigger factor. You seem pretty convinced I'll lose with it...your PST vs my RF97, any day you like :) But you and your coach obviously both have great taste. Thanks for the tip about HyperG Soft — I do hope to explore the world of gut/poly hybrids in the months to come.
Great thread, dude.

I'd be doing Jolly and others a disservice if I didn't recommend the graphene 360 mid.
 
I've really enjoyed reading your journey through the racket world! Thanks for sharing. It's so true too, now that we're getting a bit older tennis can become more of a fun hobby (what a concept!) and finding a frame that is FUN is so important. Go with what you like! And if you change your mind in the future, so be it. I'm playing with the Vcore 98 right now, but strung them up too tight for the cold weather and now have enjoyed hitting with my old Prince Ozone Pro Tours. There will always be tradeoffs between frames. If I could hybrid a Pure Aero for groundstrokes and volleys, Ezone 98 for serves, Graphene XT Prestige for slices, Ozone Pro Tour for dropshots and angled volleys, etc etc etc I'd be a very happy player :)

Also, I definitely second what some of the posters have been saying about paying for the TW Racket Matching service. I demo'd the Vcore 98 before buying and was lucky enough to measure its specs before returning it, and my demo was much lighter in both stock weight and swingweight. That let me ask TW to send me two frames with similar specs, and given Yonex's above-average quality control, I got them.
I feel exactly the same about having fun with it, and about finding a frame. I feel like we all have some heavenly perfect racquet in our minds, and we're searching for the closest thing. I was just looking at the Vcore 98 the other day, actually. Looks like another good racquet. I fully plan on taking advantage of TW's matching service :)
Great thread, dude.

I'd be doing Jolly and others a disservice if I didn't recommend the graphene 360 mid.
This was also on my list! Bummed I didn't get to try it. I'm sure I'll find an excuse to demo one someday...
 
Wanted to post one last follow-up here for posterity. TL;DR...I did not buy the RF97.

After reaching the above conclusions, I hemmed. I hawed. I waffled. I lay awake at night. Was the RF97 too heavy after all? I did most of my demo hitting with players that didn't push me too hard. As so many kind contributors pointed out above, the RF97 is great when you have time...and not so great when you don't. My fears were confirmed when I hit with an opponent who could pick up the pace. I'd like to acknowledge my hubris as well as the wisdom of @jered and @socallefty, and I agree that the RF97 is a bear for sustained high-level play (for most of us mortals, anyway).

I could have gone straight to my second choice, the Yonex VC95. But that would have been too easy. What's the solution? Demo more, of course...

Quick overview of the results:
  • Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Mid: sweet racquet, a weird mix of classic feel and modern spin/power. Pretty forgiving for a mid, but still a mid, and I didn't feel like I got enough control.
  • Tecnifibre TFight RS 315: Possibly my least favorite demo of the entire process. Felt stiff, tinny, and disconnected. Not for me.
  • Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (310): I hoped this might be a spec sweet spot and more maneuverable than the 330, but it felt unstable and lacked control. Didn't feel super connected to the ball, for some reason.
  • Yonex Ezone Tour: Lots of fun. Love the plow, and I thought it had nice feel and control. But it's head-heavier than I prefer, and tailweighting it would put the specs too high for me. Still, tempting.
  • Dunlop CX 200 Tour: Very nearly made a bid for victory. I love the feel of this racquet, and it's incredibly rewarding on a well-struck ball. With a bit of weight, I think it would be a blast. What eventually turned me off was the Power Grid stringbed, which felt inconsistent on anything less than perfect contact.
During the process, I picked up a VC95 for relatively cheap, and played around with weight configurations. After finding more of my spec sweet spot...I'm gelling with it even more. It feels suited to the game I want to play. So after all that, the VC95 it is. I think I'll try out the new generation for a final showdown, but it will be one of the two. Having weighed demos that were wildly off-spec from most other brands, I'm also glad that I'll be able to buy racquets in confidence that they'll be close to the target.

Happy Holidays and Happy Hitting to all.
 
Last edited:
Wanted to post one last follow-up here for posterity. TL;DR...I did not buy the RF97.

After reaching the above conclusions, I hemmed. I hawed. I waffled. I lay awake at night. Was the RF97 too heavy after all? I did most of my demo hitting with players that didn't push me too hard. As so many kind contributors pointed out above, the RF97 is great when you have time...and not so great when you don't. My fears were confirmed when I hit with an opponent who could pick up the pace. I'd like to acknowledge my hubris as well as the wisdom of @jered and @socallefty, and I agree that the RF97 is a bear for sustained high-level play (for most of us mortals, anyway).

I could have gone straight to my second choice, the Yonex VC95. But that would have been too easy. What's the solution? Demo more, of course...

Quick overview of the results:
  • Head Graphene 360+ Prestige Mid: sweet racquet, a weird mix of classic feel and modern spin/power. Pretty forgiving for a mid, but still a mid, and I didn't feel like I got enough control.
  • Tecnifibre TFight RS 315: Possibly my least favorite demo of the entire process. Felt stiff, tinny, and disconnected. Not for me.
  • Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (310): I hoped this might be a spec sweet spot and more maneuverable than the 330, but it felt unstable and lacked control. Didn't feel super connected to the ball, for some reason.
  • Yonex Ezone Tour: Lots of fun. Love the plow, and I thought it had nice feel and control. But it's head-heavier than I prefer, and tailweighting it would put the specs too high for me. Still, tempting.
  • Dunlop CX 200 Tour: Very nearly made a bid for victory. I love the feel of this racquet, and it's incredibly rewarding on a well-struck ball. With a bit of weight, I think it would be a blast. What eventually turned me off was the Power Grid stringbed, which felt inconsistent on anything less than perfect contact.
During the process, I picked up a VC95 for relatively cheap, and played around with weight configurations. After finding more of my spec sweet spot...I'm gelling with it even more. It feels suited to the game I want to play. So after all that, the VC95 it is. I think I'll try out the new generation for a final showdown, but it will be one of the two. Having weighed demos that were wildly off-spec from most other brands, I'm also glad that I'll be able to buy racquets in confidence that they'll be close to the target.

Happy Holidays and Happy Hitting to all.
This was an awesome thread and thoroughly enjoyed reading it! I was wondering how did you play with the weight on the VC95 and what worked for you/didn't?
 
Top