The last generation of Vcore Pros probably won't be remembered for much more than the end of a once very successful line—with one exception. The Vcore Pro 100 flew under the radar at general release, but slowly developed a solid following over the next year and a half.
I'll admit I also brushed over the 100, turning my head toward the flashy 97s. But when I tried it out, I was mightily impressed. This time I made no mistake and after my playtest with the 97, I moved straight to the brand-new Percept 100.
Like it was with the 97, the specs on the 100 are nearly identical to what they were on the previous frame. The racket weighs 300 grams, has a 100 square inch head size, a 16x19 string pattern, and a constant 23-millimetre beam. The swing weight is slightly lower, coming in at 317 strung, and that drop in swing weight is made possible by Stiff Racket Face Design!
SRFD does exactly what you would expect; it stiffens up the frame's hoop and keeps the throat nice and flexible, which means that Yonex could lower that swing weight without losing stability. If you read our review of the Percept 97, you're familiar with what I just said, but unlike the 97, the Percept 100's overall stiffness has actually gone up substantially. Yonex raised it from 63 RA on the previous Vcore Pro 100 to 66 on the Percept, and they also replaced Vibration Dampening Mesh with their brand new Servofilter.
As you can imagine, with a stiffer layup and a new dampening tech, the Percept's feel is very different from its predecessor's.
Comfort and Feel
I want to put this out there before moving on, but I didn't get along very well with the Percept 100. I playtest a lot of rackets and generally do a good job of switching from one to the next, but sometimes, I don't mesh with a frame, and that's what happened here. With that said, I think I do a good job of separating my personal experience from objective performance characteristics, but keep that in mind and maybe take some of these things with a pinch of salt.
I was surprised that I struggled so much with the Percept 100, considering how much I liked the old Vcore Pro 100 and the Percept 97. My biggest challenge was with the frame's overall feel; I felt pretty disconnected from the ball and couldn't consistently find the sweet spot. Don't get me wrong, the feel isn't bad; it was actually quite good when I did find the sweet spot—it just didn't work for me.
When you do make proper contact, the feel difference coming from the Vcore Pro 100 is quite noticeable. It's much stiffer with a more crisp response and more pop on contact, which generally makes for better feedback. Unfortunately, the racket is a little jarring and borderline uncomfortable when you make contact outside the sweet spot. At the end of some of my sessions, I was beginning to feel the frame's vibrations in my elbow, and that's probably due to the combination of a new dampening tech and an overall stiffer flex.
Servofilter isn't as effective at dampening vibrations as Vibration Dampening Mesh. That's partially good because it helps amplify feel, but it also means the racket will be less comfortable. Go for a more arm-friendly string setup to avoid discomfort; perhaps a hybrid poly and multi or a polyester at a lower tension could do the trick.
One of the main reasons the Percept 100 will be such an attractive racket for so many people is because it's a primarily control-oriented racket with a highly competitive amount of power and spin. That's also why I think it will be more popular than the 97.
It's not that the 97 is bad for spin; it's actually quite impressive for something with such a small head size, but the 100 punches in a whole different weight class. Whereas the 97 is a no-go for big-spin players, the 100 will absolutely not hold you back if that's your style of play. There is more space between the strings for string movement, and especially with the introduction of Silicone Oil Infused Grommets, significantly more snapback than there was on the previous Vcore Pro 100.
As I said, at its core, it is still a control racket; I want to make that abundantly clear, but it becomes even better if you play with modern amounts of spin. The 97 gives you confidence because of how consistent and solid it feels; that may not be as true on the 100, but you can play with as much confidence if you add spin to your shots.
Control and Stability
I was a bit sneaky with it, but I basically just said that the Percept 100 isn't as consistent as the 97, but before anyone starts to think the racket is bad for control, let me explain. It is by no means "bad for control"; it's simply not as controlled as something with a smaller head size, which shouldn't be too surprising. What you gain in spin, you lose in control — that's a pretty typical tradeoff when picking a tennis racket.
The slightly lower static and swing weight specs also take away from some of its control. 300 grams and a 317 swing weight is a little low for something with such a thin beam, even with that fancy new SRFD tech in the layup. Of course, it is still playable in stock form, but I found it played much better with some weight in the handle and about 3 grams of lead in the hoop. Give that customization a shot; it gave the frame a more consistent launch and a much more solid feel on impact.
Power is a similar story to spin; it's exceptional for a racket with such an impressive control profile and significantly more powerful than the Vcore Pro 100 it replaces. The sturdier hoop and overall stiffer flex give the frame huge power-generating potential beyond anything you would expect from a racket like this and, once again, in a different league to the 97. Putaway groundstrokes and volleys, returns, and especially serves; the racket has a bigger arsenal of point-ending shots than many other rackets in this category.
It's not just a question of top-end power either; you'll also get easier access to depth on any type of shot. That makes it a slightly more user-friendly frame so it will be more accessible to intermediates and players with a more compact and modern stroke.
Who is it for?
As I've alluded to a few times during this review, the Percept 100 falls firmly into a category of rackets made for players primarily looking for control, but also willing to sacrifice the least amount of those modern elements of power and spin to get it. It's a style of racket that is becoming increasingly popular because it provides such well-rounded playability. For those of you who play with a Head Speed MP or Gravity MP and want to try Yonex's take on the design, the Percept is exactly the racket you should be looking at! It's most similar to the Speed and probably worth a comparison in the future.
Time will tell if the Percept increases in popularity, but one thing is certain: Yonex's control line is in good hands!
If you would like to demo the 100, visit us in-store or check it out online.