Yonex RQiS 1 Tour Review
To many tennis players, Australia is known for its vast and boundless Outback, its killer surf, and for tenacious ATP pro Lleyton Hewitt. While the vast and boundless Outback and killer surf are nice, they don't have a new racquet coming out. Lleyton Hewitt, on the other hand, does. It's not just any racquet, either. This new Yonex racquet features an all-new beam construction and headsize for Hewitt. So it can't just be good, it has to be great.
If you're a frequenter of the Talk Tennis Message Boards, you'll know that there are plenty of threads on pro player racquets and rumors of what the players actually use. "Are they still using an old racquet painted to look like a new racquet?" is a frequently asked question. Well, that is not the case here. There's no misleading paint job, no smoke and mirrors, Hewitt actually made the switch to the new Yonex RQiS 1 Tour.
We first laid eyes on the new Yonex racquet at the 2007 Cincinnati Masters Event in the Priority One stringing room. We immediately noticed some changes from Hewitt's previous setup. This was definitely not his old racquet with a makeover. Unlike his previous racquet, the RQiS 1 Tour features a tapered beam; going from a narrow throat to an unusually wide head for a player's spec racquet. Hewitt's new stick also features an increased headsize. Unlike his previous racquet, which featured a 90 sq. inch head, the new RQiS 1 Tour sports a more forgiving 95 sq. inch headsize.
Hewitt had obviously found some improved performance and made the switch, but would the RQiS 1 Tour tempt any of our playtesters? We couldn't help but wonder if the larger headsize would enable us to play more like the former world No. 1. We were also curious how the tapered beam would compare with Hewitt's previous constant beam racquet.
To help us answer these questions and more, we filled up our water bottles, lathered on some sunscreen and set out on a 3-week playtest in our own vast and expansive outback - the tennis courts of San Luis Obispo, CA. So, in the words of the man himself, "Come On!" and read on.
Hewitt is known for his tenacity at the baseline. He's a counter-puncher who never gives up on a point. We wanted to see for ourselves how we could handle shots from the baseline with this racquet. We found the RQiS 1 Tour was definitely constructed for the advanced player. Our playtest team was in agreement on two distinct attributes from the baseline: plenty of spin and low in power.
Jason was caught off guard with the way the racquet played. "I was surprised by how little power I could get from this racquet. I found myself having to take huge loopy strokes to keep the balls deep in the court. Another surprise was the noticeable flex in the throat, which was a sensation I had to get accustomed to. I thought the best part about this racquet was the amount of spin it can put on the ball. My topspin shots had some noticeable kick and slice shots, when I hit them well, skidded and stayed low." Finding plenty of spin on his groundstrokes was Chris. "The standout feature of this racquet for me off the ground was spin. I was getting the sensation of lots of flex from the shaft of racquet and good dwell time. The feeling from this stick was almost as if the ball remained in contact with the racquet for a fraction longer, and it was almost as if I were throwing the ball off the strings with lots of spin rather then the firmer, crisper feel I get from my Pure Drive Roddick. The flexy response of this stick really surprised me, as the thicker beam width in the head of the racquet had me expecting something similar to my regular stick. The soft, spin-friendly response had me moving the ball around the court with lots of control. I was getting lots of action on both slice and topspin shots, and I was able to bend passing shots around opponents down the line and get some nice angles when going cross court. The power level was a little low for me, and I'd be adding some weight and stringing low with this one to get some more pop - as I did to boost the power level of my old RDX 500 Mids. On the plus side, I could take big cuts at the ball and not worry about over-hitting."
Spencer also noticed the effects of the open string pattern on the ball. "A nice feeling racquet from the baseline. Plenty of spin production and pinpoint control. The weight felt good, and for a 95 sq. inch racquet it seemed to have a generous sweetspot. The power was good on groundies compared to other player's sticks at this headsize. A nice flex rating offers plenty of comfort as well. Though I usually play with a 98- to-100-square inch racquet, I felt I could play with this one without being penalized with mis-hits." Gaining an abundance of spin but having some issues with the amount of power was Ryan S. "One of the first things I noticed with this racquet as I started hitting groundstrokes was that the power level is very low. However, it was a fairly comfortable low power. Sometimes I feel like I have to overcome such low power, and it starts to wear me out quicker than normal. But not with this one. Spin was easy to come by, especially since this has a slightly larger head and sweetspot than Hewitt's previous racquets. Slice backhands were also really easy to control. Overall, from the baseline this was a solid racquet, but definitely very low powered."
Jackson's backhand was really working with this racquet. "My double-handed backhand was very stable, a really soft shot that didn't require a lot of effort to place down the line or create a hard angle cross court. The slice backhand was the money shot for me with this racquet. Keeping the ball low over the net was not a problem and the racquet put so much backspin action on the ball that it skidded very low to the ground after contact with the court - it felt like I was using a glowing red hot knife and slicing through room-temperature butter. My forehand was a little trickier. I didn't get the same stable feeling, and I had to put more effort into my stroke. I found a huge amount of topspin but not much power. The most difficult stroke for me to hit with this racquet was a slow, high floater, or any shot that I had to put my own pace on. I was forced to hit a very flat forehand with this shot; any topspin motion and I was finding the net. On the other side of things, when I kept my eye on the ball and executed my shot, the racquet paid me back in kind, and rewarded me for my effort. I hit one of the best running passing shots of my life with this racquet. That being said, I did have to concentrate on my stroke before concentrating on my placement."
Up at net, our playtest team appreciated how responsive and maneuverable the RQiS 1 Tour was. Loving the blend of characteristics at net was Jason. "At net, this racquet offered the best of both worlds; a soft feel, yet plenty of pop to put shots away. The great maneuverability was apparent on reaction volleys, where I was able to make decent contact with the ball and get it back in play." Finding more angle with his volleys than a geometry student with a protractor was Spencer. "The RQiS 1 Tour offered tremendous feel on angle and touch volleys. I enjoyed the maneuverability, while depth and punch were adequate."
Chris really enjoyed the way the racquet responded at the net. "I liked the feel of the racquet at net. I had lots of control both when punching the ball deep and when looking to angle volleys away. The racquet felt very maneuverable and quick in my hands, both when playing singles and doubles. As from the baseline, I was finding some good bite on the ball and enjoyed the soft and comfortable response." Ryan S also found favorable results with this racquet at net. "My volleys were firm and I had no problems or complaints with the results of this racquet at net. It pretty much responded how I thought a heavy, small headed player's racquet would respond. Good punch, but not terribly crisp. I thought the double taper throat design might have something to do with this."
Finding mobility to win out over stability was Jackson. "Volleys were solid for the most part. Unfortunately, it seemed that the flexibility of the racquet resulted in difficulties in volleying bombs back. I felt that anytime I had to really reach or dive for a hard volley the racquet would turn in my hand on impact - resulting in a ball in the net or an easy follow up put-away shot. Despite that, I found the racquet to be very maneuverable around the net, which allowed me to get out of jams with relative ease."
With serves, control was the name of the game for our playtest team. The RQiS 1 Tour lacked the power many of our testers were accustomed to, but placement was above par. Experiencing a bit more control than power was Jason. "The power that was lacking on my groundstrokes was also missing on my serves. There were no standout points that I noticed. This racquet was very ordinary on serves. My first serves lacked some zip, and my 2nd serves didn't really have much additional spin, either. Control was good, though. I could place shots well. " Spencer also felt the lack of power on his serves. "I must admit, I was disappointed with the power. Not to say that I was expecting a lot of power from this stick, but there was no 'jump' or 'spring' off the stringbed, even when going for the heater down the middle. The control and spin were decent when serving, but I felt I couldn't be as aggressive."
Chris enjoyed the spin-friendly response. "Spin was again the standout factor for me with this racquet. The power level was a little low and I was missing some zip when going down the T. My spin serves also felt a little light and weren't jumping through the court as much as usual. Control was good, but I really felt I had to work too hard with this stick to get service winners and force weaker returns." Still enjoying the response and comfort of this racquet was Ryan S. "Serves were a little tiring. Again, when swinging this racquet I had to add a little of my own pizzazz because the racquet wasn't going to help me out much. However, this racquet was still comfortable from the impact and shock standpoint. There was good spin and control. Pace was a little tougher to generate than spin, but was still good in my opinion."
Finding some difficulties with the serve was Jackson. "For the record amount of spin I was finding on my groundstrokes, I wasn't too impressed on the spin I was finding on my second serves. Flat serves sounded like bombs but I still felt I wasn't getting the type of power I usually get on my first serve. I also felt that serves were similar to groundstrokes in this area; I had to make sure my timing and wrist pronation were perfect in order to get that solid serve deep in the box."
Whether our playtest team was playing aggressively or defensively, the mobility and heft of the RQiS 1 Tour helped us find good depth on our returns. Jason had his best outcomes blocking back serves. "It was maneuverable enough for me to quickly adjust to different serves. Once again, the power I found on my grounstrokes was apparent on the returns. Blocking shots produced nice depth, and when the time was right I could take a rip at the ball and get fantastic spin and pace." Jackson appreciated the mobility of this stick. "It didn't offer a lot in terms of power on the offensive, but the weight and balance of the racquet enabled me to get prepared for my shot a second or two faster than normal. And again, it was difficult to keep the racquet stable in my hand when returning hard flat serves."
Chris and Spencer each found himself hitting returns well. Chris said, "The maneuverable feel and spin-friendly response worked well for me on returns. I was able to use the pace from the incoming serve and work the ball with control and spin." Spencer added, "I really enjoyed returning serve with this stick. As with groundstrokes, the control was spot-on. The combination of weight and balance made for nice mobility. I felt I could be more aggressive when returning, whether it be with a hard flat shot or a heavy topspin shot, or even a chopping slice."
Ryan S had a love/hate relationship with his return game. "Returning serve was a two-sided beast. The racquet has so much control and precision that I could take massive swipes at the ball and be OK. But the tradeoff? I had to take massive swings to get any power out of the dang thing. I could not use this racquet all the time due to the fact that this racquet makes me swing a little bigger than I'm comfortable with. However, there really is no better racquet I hit with from a control and comfort standpoint. I know a couple of my colleagues whom are a little more muscular probably loved this one when returning serve."
As a whole, our playtest team was pretty excited to get their hands on the new Hewitt racquet. After weeks of playtesting and hours logged on the court, we found a few surprising results. The power was definitely on the lower end of the spectrum, but we discovered excellent access to spin. The noticeable flex in the throat added a different dimension to the previous "Lleyton" racquet, the RDS 001 Mid, and was more similar to the RDX 500 Mid. The comfort level of this stick was excellent, and many of our testers enjoyed the buttery response. Maneuverability was quite impressive from all parts of the court, but especially at net. This is as much of a control-oriented racquet as we've come across. We feel this would be a great racquet for the advanced player (4.5+) that likes to really tee off on the ball with a long, fast swing. Players who like to be the one suppyling the power should take this one for a demo.
Review date: October 2007. If you found this review interesting or have further questions or comments please contact us.
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