You can always count on Yonex to go for it with new racket releases.
I'm not necessarily against companies keeping things similar from generation to generation, but it's nice to jazz it up sometimes, and Yonex is always down for that dance.
Yonex has changed it up big-time and taken its time to get it right. Back in August, I was stringing a few blacked-out Yonex frames at the Odlum Brown Van Open. They were obviously VCOREs (the line was up next on the chopping block), but I couldn't believe how different they looked compared to the V6.
The racket's shape has totally changed, most drastically in the hoop. Yonex has brought the widest part of the racket a little bit higher up — kind of like on the Head Boom. It's more squared off at 10' and 2' and narrower at 4' and 7'. Yonex has also changed the mold in the throat. It's more tapered aerodynamically, like on the Pure Aero line, although not nearly as much. The throat also looks less substantial than on the V6, almost as if it's made to flex a bit more. (Spoiler: it does.)
Yonex has also added some Silicone Oil Infused grommets at 6' and 12'; super exciting stuff.
The shape has changed, but the specs have remained largely the same. It's still a 98 square inch 16 x 19 that weighs 305 grams. The beam has gotten half a millimeter thicker in the hoop, bringing it to 23/23/21 mm.
I always thought VCOREs were decently spin-friendly but not quite up to scratch with the rest of the big-spin industry. That certainly isn't the case anymore, and it all starts with the stringbed. The grommets on the VCORE V7 might not be wide and squared-off like on the Pure Aero Rafa or Head Extreme, but whatever silicone oil thing Yonex is using does its job. There is loads of string movement on the V7, much more than on any previous VCORE. Thanks to the squared-off shape at the top, there is also plenty of space between the strings. You really dig into the ball and feel the snapback.
The new mold also helps make the VCORE more aerodynamic and spin-friendly. The throat makes the racket so much quicker through the air, and you get that added racket head speed on contact. The Babolat Pure Aero remains the best example of how a racket's shape can affect spin, but the VCORE V7 has aligned itself closer to that frame.
If you're going to call yourself a spin racket, spin generation needs to feel artificially easy. With the old VCOREs, they were spin-friendly thanks to the 16x19 string pattern but felt a lot like other rackets with similar specs. With the V7, you can feel the design working to help you effortlessly generate more RPMs and that makes it one of the most spin-friendly frames out there.
Control and Stability
When I hit with spin-branded rackets, I'm always worried I won't get enough control. Classic spin tech, like wider grommets, can make the stringbed wild and unpredictable. On the VCORE 98 V7, the launch angle is definitely high, but the response is always consistent. You will need to play with spin to control that launch, but the racket won't surprise you once you're dialed in.
Stability: that's not a characteristic I ever associated with the VCORE 98s, but my goodness has that changed. I was excited when I saw how different this racket looked compared to the previous version. The V6 was one of the least stable 98s I've used. It felt awkwardly jarring and fluttery inside the sweet spot, and I never really knew where I was hitting in the stringbed. Now, I'm almost sure that the awkward sensation was due to its shape because this racket is so much more solid.
You know when you're hitting well with the VCORE V7. The sweet spot is plush and well-defined, and you get that precise, stable, and rewarding response you should have with 98 square-inch rackets. The racket also feels quite a bit softer than the previous version, but that probably comes down to the fact that it flexes more consistently with the new throat design. You get a split second extra to guide your ball where you want it to go.
It's impressive for a racket to combine this amount of spin potential with so much stability and consistency; the two usually don't go hand in hand. It actually explains why so many professional players are gravitating toward the frame. Take Tommy Paul as an example. I mean he switched to a spin racket from one of the tightest 18x20s out there. I couldn't believe it; the two biggest qualities of an 18x20 are consistency and stability. Paul switching to the new VCORE is testament to the racket's performance in that regard.
Comfort and Feel
Comfort is another area where the VCORE V7 has significantly improved. Because it was unstable, the old VCORE could cause quite a few unfriendly vibrations. Now that the V7 flexes better, there is no discomfort.
The racket also features Yonex's Vibration Dampening Mesh. As much as this tech helps in dampening vibrations, it would be nice to feel more feedback on contact. This has been a theme with Yonex rackets over the past year; they've gotten thicker and more stable but also a bit more muted. The VCORE V7 probably has the best feel out of any racket in their lineup, but it could still be better.
For a 98-square-inch racket, the VCORE V7 is a rocket launcher. Because it's so solid and has such a high launch angle, you can get the ball to fly. Remember, it's not your classic mid-plus player's frame; this has a pretty thick beam and plenty of space between the strings, so it was always going to be naturally powerful.
The racket's power profile reminds me a lot of the Head Boom Pro. The extra space at the top makes both these rackets feel like they get a little more leverage over the ball to crush it deep.
I want to emphasize that you can control the racket's power but must play with spin. Good thing that it's one of the most spin-friendly rackets out there.
Who is it for?
The VCORE excels from the back of the court. It will compete with any frame if rallies turn into grindy spin-fests, but it can also help you turn the point in your favor with more directional and powerful shots.
It's also got the stability needed to be good at the net, albeit not the same surgical precision as some thinner frames. It also has the power and crushability to work well in the hands of a big server.
It's a modern all-court player's dream and should only be avoided if you play a flat game and plan to keep it that way.
I finally mesh with a VCORE, and I couldn't be happier. I always found the frame to look so cool, and I tried forcing myself to like the older versions even though they didn't work for my game. It's hard to pick out any flaw with this frame, it brilliantly combines the trilogy of power, spin and control, without really sacrificing any of each. It's going to be one of the most popular rackets of the year — big kudos to Yonex for taking a leap and giving us a really special stick. I'll throw my hat in the ring and say that this one smells like a classic. Come into our Oak Street store to try out a demo, or check out the VCORE V7 online.