Leaving RF97A for ...

pasta

Rookie
After 4 years playing with RF97A (red version first and last 3 years with all black version) it is time to say "goodbye' to my beloved set of RF97A :(

First, let me explain why I've decided to go this route:

After some back problems and consultation with my doctor and PT I dropped 25lbs of body weight. I play 3 times a week, solid 4.0, holding up with 4.5 players ... As I am getting older I am playing more doubles. Still play in local USTA 18 and over league and doing good but it is getting weird playing guys that are 1/2 and getting close to 1/3 of my age ...

Strings are Natural gut/poly (last 3 years) at 55/52.

And then the last month or so I started developing all dreaded tennis elbow ... Went the usual RICE route but no improvement ... And then it dawned on me that I am much weaker with less mass (and more years), that 354g frame is way too heavy to swing around and the vibrations go straight through my bones !!!

I got rid of RF97A's and went shopping ... landed with Yonex VCore Pro 97 310, like it a lot so far, still to fiddle with strings and tension but ...

Going with full Xcel and dropping tension to 52lbs ?

Maybe go with gut mains/multi crosses at 52/50 (I have this set up on one of the racquets and so far so good, I am liking it). Maybe crosses up to 52lbs?

Looking for: #1 comfort, #2 power, #3 control, #4 durability

Thoughts and recommendations please !

Thank you all !
 

Big4

New User
I play with the Vcore pro 330, but one lighter racquet I would recommend is the blade 98 18x20. I used to play with the 2015 version and it was one of the few racquets I have played with that has a moderate mass but does not compromise on the stability and plow of a heavier racquet at all. As for the new blade, I've only tried the 16x19 version but not the 18x20, but I think it'd be worth a try. Also when I played with the blade I used ALU/Sensation at 52 lbs.
 

emhtennis

Semi-Pro
Tennisnerd.net has some really good posts on softer string setups for people who need extra arm friendly string beds. I would start there. Also worth thinking about dropping tension into mid to high 40s.

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fuzz nation

G.O.A.T.
I've tried out the RF 97 more than once and that racquet very much reminded me of my old ProStaff 6.1 Classics. I switched away from those frames when I was building my game more toward an all-court style and away from more of my pure serve and volley upbringing. The stiff and heavy 6.1 Classics were plenty solid, but not easy for me to control around the baseline. Experiments with softer alternatives seemed to give me a significant bump in control and the Volkl C10 gave me the biggest boost in my game, so I took up with it. Lots of the same upside as the 6.1 Classic, but substantially better control along with fantastic arm-friendliness strung with full beds of synthetic gut as tight as 60-61 lbs.

I've recently dusted off my 6.1 Classics and they feel like silly caveman clubs to me now. While my C10's weigh around 12.5 oz., they're lighter and more manageable than my old Wilsons, they outperform the 6.1 Classics in every department I can think of, and my arm loves them. That 12.5 oz. weight includes some lead tape added to their handles for a little extra head-light balance. I'm no gym rat and these frames still impress me in terms of how easy they are to live with when my tennis schedule gets busy.

I offer this perspective just in case your search reveals that your personal normal with racquets resides more in the neighborhood of the weight and balance of the RF 97, etc. instead of a relative middleweight option. I've tried to get along with lighter frames in recent years and I've injured myself using them... more than once.

Since you're doing some investigations though, I can't knock Yonex. I've been impressed with more than one or two of their offerings, but Volkl has become my tennis bag's permanent resident. There are some other "10-Series" Volkls with a little less beef than the C10. I'd expect these to maybe work as a somewhat softer and lighter alternative to the RF 97. I picked up a pair of the V-Sense 10 325g's - not bad - and the V-Sense 10 Tour is an interesting middleweight with a narrow beam. Both have 98" hoops. If the VS 10 Tour is slightly underweight to feel solid for you, I'd bet that it could easily be tweaked with a little lead tape.

In terms of caring for your arm and avoiding tennis elbow, I strongly encourage you to stay away from poly strings or any other stiff stuff. I know that the hybrid of natural gut mains and poly crosses can be rather soft, I just don't trust any poly string to help with protecting a susceptible elbow. Even a softer frame (like my C10) will become substantially more harsh on the arm when strung with even a partial poly layout.
 

USPTARF97

Hall of Fame
Been playing with the RF97 since 2014. ( 57/54-58/55 gut/poly). Tried some lighter frames like PS97 and Wilson 6.1 18x20. (2017 Re-issue) Well, ended up weighing the PS97 to the point it was close to the RF97 but the Wilson 6.1 95 18x20 strung at lower tension with full poly 45-47lbs is a fairly seamless switch from the RF97. Good comfort, much more control, strings last a lot longer. 3 out of the 4 you are looking for except power. RF97 is gonna have more power.
Have hit some with the Blades but after playing with such a head light frame as the RF97 it is a difficult to switch to a Blade with out adding a good bit of weight to the handle. Just my experience.
 
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pasta

Rookie
Thank you all for your suggestions, I will try demoing some of the racquets recommended here ...

I noticed quite a bit of suggestions are 18x20 racquets. Curious why is it so ? Is 18x20 string pattern more "arm friendly" when strung with multi and/or natural gut at lower tension ?

I have to admit I did try and about a year ago played with HEAD GrapheneTouch Speed Pro with HEAD Velocity at 52lbs and disliked the whole thing ... It ended up in my friends bag and he is loving it, keeps restringing it with the same Velocity/tension. Felt too "boardy" - it even sounded like I am hitting it with the padel bat. Will give it another try though.

So far, I plan on demoing Blade (both 16x19 and 18x20) and Volkl (if available at the local shop).

Is Natural Gut/Multi hybrid anything worth trying (like the power of gut but not the cost of full bed gut) ? Or just cut the chase and go with full set of multi ?
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
I used RF97A for nearly two years; my favorite string setups were full poly, and close second, gut/poly. Wonderful frame, never had issues with its weight, nor elbow/wrist pain, very comfortable and effective.

About a month ago, after extensive testing, I switched to Pure Strike Tour, and I am not looking back even for a second. Nearly as comfortable, more agile, more control, slight drop in power. I am now able to hit some shots I was not able with the RF97A, and my volleys are improving, not to mention that my serves have also ever so slightly been more effective.

I would highly recommend putting it in your test list.
 

USPTARF97

Hall of Fame
Thank you all for your suggestions, I will try demoing some of the racquets recommended here ...

I noticed quite a bit of suggestions are 18x20 racquets. Curious why is it so ? Is 18x20 string pattern more "arm friendly" when strung with multi and/or natural gut at lower tension ?

I have to admit I did try and about a year ago played with HEAD GrapheneTouch Speed Pro with HEAD Velocity at 52lbs and disliked the whole thing ... It ended up in my friends bag and he is loving it, keeps restringing it with the same Velocity/tension. Felt too "boardy" - it even sounded like I am hitting it with the padel bat. Will give it another try though.

So far, I plan on demoing Blade (both 16x19 and 18x20) and Volkl (if available at the local shop).

Is Natural Gut/Multi hybrid anything worth trying (like the power of gut but not the cost of full bed gut) ? Or just cut the chase and go with full set of multi ?
18x20 provides more control and durability. Multi or Gut would surely be easier on the arm than full poly but 18x20’s are not known for being easy on the arm. Normally people string them 4-6lbs looser than they would a 16x19.
 
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braxeyez

New User
Don´t change the RF - try a soft poly/syn gut hybrid.

After switching to Dunlop Black Widow mains 50/ Volkl synthetic gut crosses 52 I can play for hours...
 

zipplock

Hall of Fame
After 4 years playing with RF97A (red version first and last 3 years with all black version) it is time to say "goodbye' to my beloved set of RF97A :(

First, let me explain why I've decided to go this route:

After some back problems and consultation with my doctor and PT I dropped 25lbs of body weight. I play 3 times a week, solid 4.0, holding up with 4.5 players ... As I am getting older I am playing more doubles. Still play in local USTA 18 and over league and doing good but it is getting weird playing guys that are 1/2 and getting close to 1/3 of my age ...

Strings are Natural gut/poly (last 3 years) at 55/52.

And then the last month or so I started developing all dreaded tennis elbow ... Went the usual RICE route but no improvement ... And then it dawned on me that I am much weaker with less mass (and more years), that 354g frame is way too heavy to swing around and the vibrations go straight through my bones !!!

I got rid of RF97A's and went shopping ... landed with Yonex VCore Pro 97 310, like it a lot so far, still to fiddle with strings and tension but ...

Going with full Xcel and dropping tension to 52lbs ?

Maybe go with gut mains/multi crosses at 52/50 (I have this set up on one of the racquets and so far so good, I am liking it). Maybe crosses up to 52lbs?

Looking for: #1 comfort, #2 power, #3 control, #4 durability

Thoughts and recommendations please !

Thank you all !
I have my VCP 97 310 strung with full poly at 45#, and love it. Oh, added leather grip, no other weight adjustments.
 

FedMex

Rookie
I am close to 50 and playing 1-2x a week vs 3-5 at my peak and am trying to make the switch from BLX PS 90 and RFA 97 (all black) to a lighter player's frame. I say trying because I actually think my forehand has improved in the last 2 years to a new level of consistency, control and accessible power so playing with the 90 has never been more satisfying. Last year, I used the RFA 97 against 4.5 and up players and the 90 with NTRP 4.0 and below players. I like the Wilson Ultra Tour 97 for playing 3.5 / weak 4.0's but not above that as you get pushed around. I like the 310g VCore Tour with 3in of 1/4 in lead in the hoop at 10 to 11 and 1 to 2 o'clock for 4.0 and 4.5 players. This is where I question if I'm better off versus the ProStaff's given I'm not playing tournaments and more than 90 min at a time. Tried the Dunlop CX 200 Tour and I like it too but believe the prior options are better. Have not tried the Phantom 93P but believe the small head size would be the issue for dynamic defensive shots.
 

Sardines

Professional
After 4 years playing with RF97A (red version first and last 3 years with all black version) it is time to say "goodbye' to my beloved set of RF97A :(
I played with 360/70+g rackets for years, and from 2014-17 with the RF97. I still play competitively but I had a realization that the quality of particularly 2nd serves were going south deep into the 3rd set, especially in the heat and in strenuous matches (which unfortunately, is happening a lot more often the last few years!). I knew I needed to get an easier stick to 'help' with the serve, as I did switching from the PS90 when I felt I wasn't winning as much.
If comfort and power are your top priorities, going to a bigger frame like a 98 or 100, is probably a good option. You get extra stability and power, and more forgiveness with the bigger sweet spot. So is going to an extended racquet, which will give you the added power, with minimal downsides on maneuverability at net.

These are the less stiff racquets before I tried with before I stuck with the SV98+.
27"
Dunlop CV3.0T - Not very powerful, but good power with comfort. thick beamed. Needs 3-9 weights for higher twist weight.
Prince TT100 - Very soft and needed mods, but nice feel and forgiving, with good bite.
Babolat Pure Aero VS Tour - stiff, deadish but powerful enough.

27.5"
VC98+ - Powerful but quite high launch angle string bed. A bit 'massy' to swing and does not have much feel.
Dunlop CX200+ - Powerful, comfortable but the stringbed is a bit inconsistent for me.

Here is the thread about my transition:

 
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Aus_Hacker

New User
... After some back problems and consultation with my doctor and PT I dropped 25lbs of body weight....

And then the last month or so I started developing all dreaded tennis elbow ... 354g frame is way too heavy to swing around and the vibrations go straight through my bones !!!
...
Looking for: #1 comfort, #2 power, #3 control, #4 durability...
I noticed there have been some recommendations on frames, but your earlier comment on the Head Graphene Touch Speed with a full bed of multi (Velocity) makes me think you might have a similar issue to me, which is being sensitive to the frame’s playability for a TE sufferer.

I’ve ended up with the Prince Phantom Pro 100 for comfort. Surprisingly the Prince Textreme Tour 100P (2015) was supposed to have a low RA of 62, but I found it harsh on my arms. Guess it depends on the individual as to what is comfortable.

The PPP100 might be too low powered for you if you are used to an RF97. I hear the Wilson Clash series has similar power to modern frames, but a low RA in the mid 50s. The other alternative might be the new Donnay HexaCore series; I have a HexaCore Formula 100 Soft (more like a PD frame with super low RA), but they have some other models that might be more suited to your playing style.

I guess the important thing is to demo a few different ones and give yourself enough time to work out if you want to switch from your Yonex or not. String setups can make a huge difference to a frame’s feel, but as you’ve probably seen from the many threads here that can turn out to be a very deep rabbit hole. I’m a fair way down it for my PPP100 because of my TE [emoji23]

Good luck


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I used RF97A for nearly two years; my favorite string setups were full poly, and close second, gut/poly. Wonderful frame, never had issues with its weight, nor elbow/wrist pain, very comfortable and effective.

About a month ago, after extensive testing, I switched to Pure Strike Tour, and I am not looking back even for a second. Nearly as comfortable, more agile, more control, slight drop in power. I am now able to hit some shots I was not able with the RF97A, and my volleys are improving, not to mention that my serves have also ever so slightly been more effective.

I would highly recommend putting it in your test list.
May I ask your age and playing experience? Thank you, BHBH


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I used RF97A for nearly two years; my favorite string setups were full poly, and close second, gut/poly. Wonderful frame, never had issues with its weight, nor elbow/wrist pain, very comfortable and effective.

About a month ago, after extensive testing, I switched to Pure Strike Tour, and I am not looking back even for a second. Nearly as comfortable, more agile, more control, slight drop in power. I am now able to hit some shots I was not able with the RF97A, and my volleys are improving, not to mention that my serves have also ever so slightly been more effective.

I would highly recommend putting it in your test list.
Precisely BECAUSE the OP has reported TE, I would add a caveat here. I have had the chance to play with the Pure Strike and while it's certainly more comfortable than the PD/APD/PA range, there is still that something about the construction of Babolat racquets that feels not so solid. It wasn't sending outright shocks to my elbow the way the PD I once had used to but it still felt uncomfortable. I understand everybody doesn't go through this; after all, lots of people, including players twice my age or almost as much, play with the PD/APD. But if you already have a sensitive elbow for now, a Babolat may not be the most advisable choice.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
May I ask your age and playing experience? Thank you, BHBH


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
54 y-o, looking forward to 55+ leagues next year :)
I started tennis at age 9 at Roland Garros, played various sports at the time, played in one international tournament at age 14, then quit tennis at 16 for some reason. Came back into it in 2016 as a 3.0, now a low level 4.0 still trying to figure out the game, and enjoying the process of learning tennis all over again.
Almost exclusively now, I play USTA leagues, two or three local tournaments, about 80-90 matches in a year.
 
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pasta

Rookie
Thanks all for good advices and suggestions ...
I ended up with Yonex VCore 97 310 .

i tried few other racquets but Yonex just had a very nice feel and I also felt that with the right string set up there is enough room to customize it and dial it in ... all my VCore's are same weight (336g strung And with Wilson over grip) which shows good QC.
I did lose some power but I feel that my serve and volleys have more control ... not sure if it is racket or strings. Went with Babolat Touch gut mains 52lbs/Babolat Xcel crosses at 50lbs. Initial impression is that I can go further, maybe additional 3/4 lbs lower ...
Another was full bed of Xcel at 50lbs.
Kind of like this better than having gut in mains. Next to try is the full gut ...

i am bit younger than Ft.S and play 2/3 times a week (4-6hrs). 4.0, 4.5 on a good day ...
that rating is another subject all together ... where I play i am solid 4.0 but if I go to another club in suburbs I could easily play with 4.5 guys ... i play in 18 and over USTA, lately mostly doubles. I noticed that Yonex is actually better suited for doubles game because of that serve/volley revelation and my arms stay up in late second and third set while at the net ...
 
Thanks all for good advices and suggestions ...
I ended up with Yonex VCore 97 310 .

i tried few other racquets but Yonex just had a very nice feel and I also felt that with the right string set up there is enough room to customize it and dial it in ... all my VCore's are same weight (336g strung And with Wilson over grip) which shows good QC.
I did lose some power but I feel that my serve and volleys have more control ... not sure if it is racket or strings. Went with Babolat Touch gut mains 52lbs/Babolat Xcel crosses at 50lbs. Initial impression is that I can go further, maybe additional 3/4 lbs lower ...
Another was full bed of Xcel at 50lbs.
Kind of like this better than having gut in mains. Next to try is the full gut ...

i am bit younger than Ft.S and play 2/3 times a week (4-6hrs). 4.0, 4.5 on a good day ...
that rating is another subject all together ... where I play i am solid 4.0 but if I go to another club in suburbs I could easily play with 4.5 guys ... i play in 18 and over USTA, lately mostly doubles. I noticed that Yonex is actually better suited for doubles game because of that serve/volley revelation and my arms stay up in late second and third set while at the net ...
Near identical specs to my Tour G 310 except the string pattern. Completely agree on the feel. Nice, have a blast!
 
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