RF97 Autograph (2016) - arm pain, alternatives?

First post; joined TT so I could ask this question. Thanks in advance for all replies.

I recently broke my Yonex Ezone DR 98 (lime version from a couple of years ago), decided to demo a bunch of different racquets, and found that, much to my surprise, I played the best tennis of my life with the RF97A (2016). I'm a high 4.0 but instantly played like a solid 4.5 (in doubles), esp. re: flat 1st serve, volleys, and backhand slice. While I could tell I would need time to dial in baseline shots due to the much higher swingweight, the RF97A was much more manageable than I was expecting from the backcourt.

I hit a lot more off-center balls than I'd like, especially at net, and the RF97A seems to mitigate that flaw like no other racquet I've ever played with.

BUT - as I feared, tennis elbow and shoulder pain immediately flared up, as it always does with me with stiffer, heavier racquets. So, do I accept my fate and go back to my Yonex (or a similarly flexible, light frame), or is there an alternative universe in which I can play with a heavier racquet, either the RF97A or something else? The brand-new PS97 Countervail could be an option, as it's a little lighter and a little less stiff than the RF97A 2016, but I'm not sure my local shop is going to place that one amongst its demos, or, if so, when. Would a more arm-friendly string than the hybrid demo setup help? I know playing less and lifting more would definitely help, but that's more of a long-term project, and I need to decide on a new frame in the next week or two.

-HH
 

Ramon

Legend
You didn't mention the strings in your hybrid RF97A setup. That's very important. If there was poly in that hybrid, there's a good chance that your arm will be fine if you replace it with a full synthetic multifilament.
 
You didn't mention the strings in your hybrid RF97A setup. That's very important. If there was poly in that hybrid, there's a good chance that your arm will be fine if you replace it with a full synthetic multifilament.
Yep, I didn't include b/c I didn't know. But I called them just now and it's this: Babolat RPM Blast (mains); Head synthetic gut (cross). So yes, the poly mains could be a large part of my problem - in my own racquets I always use either gut or multi.
 

4-string

Professional
Really nothing compares to the RF97A ime, but personally I’m very happy with my Prince Phantom Pro 93 P. Softer, and in my opinion, much better feel. Not quite the stability and plow that the RF has, but still very good.

YMMV.
 

CopolyX

Hall of Fame
True, you certainly can opt to string setup that is more arm friendly.
But it sound the RF97A's added static weight, swing weight, stiffness and smaller sweet spot has effected your form.
I would suggest have someone video you, so easy now with smart phones.
I would do both the RFA97A and if your can hold of the DR 98, vid ..watch and do a comparison.
 

mugener

Rookie
I have the same problem. I used to have tennis and golfers elbow and played with ultra 100 previous version and undergo physio, the pain went away. Last week bought an RFA, string twitch champs choice at 51. After my first hit (with the irritating ping noise), my wrist and shoulder start to hurt. Don’t know how to deal with it.
 
True, you certainly can opt to string setup that is more arm friendly.
But it sound the RF97A's added static weight, swing weight, stiffness and smaller sweet spot has effected your form.
I would suggest have someone video you, so easy now with smart phones.
I would do both the RFA97A and if your can hold of the DR 98, vid ..watch and do a comparison.
Good idea. I imagine there are a lot of purveyors of this service online (i.e., experts who can ID stroke flaws, which I'm not sure I can). Any recommendations?
 
Really nothing compares to the RF97A ime, but personally I’m very happy with my Prince Phantom Pro 93 P. Softer, and in my opinion, much better feel. Not quite the stability and plow that the RF has, but still very good.

YMMV.
Thanks - that's super helpful as I have an old Prince as my backup but haven't thought to demo any new ones. Phantom Pro 93P looks like my kind of racquet. Out of curiosity, have you tried other Princes, e.g., any of the Textremes or other Phantoms?
 

4-string

Professional
Thanks - that's super helpful as I have an old Prince as my backup but haven't thought to demo any new ones. Phantom Pro 93P looks like my kind of racquet. Out of curiosity, have you tried other Princes, e.g., any of the Textremes or other Phantoms?
Sorry, I haven’t. The last Prince I tried was the pre-textreme Warrior.
 

Sardines

Professional
First of all, cut the strings. If it's a demo, pay for new strings. If you used gut/syn before, but suddenly jumped in level with a stable, high swing weight racquet, but all suffer from arm issues, then you need to remove the variables. Easiest is to go to a lower tension or a softer string setup.
Once you determine strings aren't the issue, then you know it's the racquet.
Alternatively, you can get a DR98 or Ezone 98, and weigh it up to improve stability.
 

Big Bagel

Professional
Three suggestions here, try whichever you feel like.

1) Get some fresh strings in there. Poly goes dead quick and while some people are fine playing with it, it will contribute to arm issues.

2) Change the string setup. Either full synthetic/multi or switch the strings, putting a synthetic/multi/gut in the mains, and poly in the crosses. Consider stringing the poly at a lower tension as well.

3) Get a more arm-friendly racquet like you were asking about. The Yonex VCore Pro 97 will be pretty close to the RF. Other options would be something from the Prestige line from Head or the Snauwaert Grinta 98 Tour. Prince Phantom Pro 93P has great specs and feel, but you said you hit a lot off balls off-center so I would be very hesitant to lower the head size, especially all the way down to 93. Smaller the head size, the more precise you have to be. If you want a little more stability from any of these frames since none will quite match the RF, a little lead tape at 3 and 9 can do wonders.
 

CopolyX

Hall of Fame
Good idea. I imagine there are a lot of purveyors of this service online (i.e., experts who can ID stroke flaws, which I'm not sure I can). Any recommendations?
If you have an android phone, try HUDL...
It is free and does the trick.
Allows you to video and steps/slows the frames so your can examine your form..
 

JonnyAbs

Semi-Pro
Even with gut mains, my 2015 PS97's hurt my right shoulder and left wrist (Im a righty with 2HBH). Maybe countervail would mitigate your pain and could be worth a shot. You could always add weight
 
You could try an RF 97 Lite, and us softer, non-poly strings such as Technifibre Multifeel, maybe even Natural Gut if you can affort it. Correct what you can.
 

Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
Try a PS97CV with a little bit of weight added to the handle if you can. Even with a full bed of medium stiff Poly strings, you might be very pleasantly surprised ... as long as you can hit the ball cleanly!!!
 

DanS

Semi-Pro
My suggestions would be the Prince Phantom Pro 100P, Textreme Tour 100P, Wilson PS97CV, and the Ultra Tour. You will need to weight the Ultra Tour up a bit from stock, but it plays awesome once you do. I haven't played with one myself, however the Phantom 93P sounds like a more than worthy demo considering all the glowing reviews it gets!

As far as strings go, RPM Blast is really stiff, and goes dead really quickly. You have no idea how long that string job has been in that demo, so you're probably playing with a dead stiff poly which is horrible for your arm.
 

flanker2000fr

Professional
Obviously, as other have said, you first need to have fresh strings. Can't be good for your elbow to play with a dead poly, even in a hybrid set-up.

What you're looking for is a frame with a low stiffness rating (<65) and high enough mass that it will help with 1st serve / slice / volleys. But careful with a high static weight, as this will cause shoulder issues. The 340g of the RF97A makes it the heaviest on the market, so you should try something somewhat lighter. In any case, make sure to chose a frame that's fairly headlight.

Ones to try:

Yonex Vcore Pro 97 (330) : probably at the higher end of stiffness and static weight you should consider, but worth a try

Prince Phantom 93P: very low stiffness, still hefty at 330g, but is surprisingly stable and forgiving. More so than the DR 98

Prince Textreme 95: could be in the sweetspot of what you are looking for, being a tad lighter than the 93P at 320g

The Prince Textreme 100P is a great racquet, too, but might be too light if it's really stability at the net you're looking for.
 
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West Coast Ace

G.O.A.T.
Yonex Duel G 97 - it's basically their take on the RF97A - but not as stiff. And since they're discontinued they're incredibly cheap.

And as @Booger alluded to - softer strings. You're no pro. There are plenty of less harsh polys that will give you plenty of spin. I'm a fan of Tour Bite Soft.

Good luck.
 
I changed over from the RFA97 over to the DR98 with weigh modifications. Very happy with my move. I would also try the Vcore Pro 330 or Vcore Pro 310 (may have to add weight to the 310). The reason I went with the DR is I could hit a more consistent deeper ball. I had to put a little too much effort to be consistent with the Vcore to get the depth I wanted. I probably could have played with strings and tension to get desired results, but it feels like there’s just more margin with the DR98 for me.
 
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