All of our playtesters really enjoyed hitting with the EZONE DR 98 from the baseline, where they found a found a nice compromise between power and control. Chris was on the playtest of the previous version (Ai 98) and found an impressive improvement with this DR 98. He said, "I felt even more connected to the ball, which is high praise since the Ai version felt great. However, I felt like this racquet just played even better, and I found myself working the ball around the court with ease. There were times when this racquet felt like a wand in my hand. I was rolling cross court topspin angles and attacking down the line with ease. I could really find my targets with this racquet. I liked how I could get opponents on the run and control the baseline. While it didn't offer the 'get out of jail' power of the Babolat Pure Drive Plus that I've been hitting recently, it did offer enough power for attacking play. I liked how I could move the ball around with little effort while getting solid pace. It gave me enough spin to increase control, but nothing exceptional."
Another big fan of the previous Ai 98, Andy felt this update did everything the previous version did, and then some! He raved, "I found there to be a nearly perfect blend of modern power and forgiveness with traditional control and feel that translated extremely well into my baseline game. I felt totally confident taking big cuts off both sides, and the ball would go right where I wanted. This updated version had noticeably better stability and a more solid feel compared to the previous Ai version, but other than that they performed pretty similarly. The responsive feel also had me totally connected to the ball as it left my strings."
Marco's groundstrokes were finding their targets quite consistently during this playtest. He offered, "I found a nice blend of control and power. There was plenty of power when I needed it, but at the same time this racquet had a pleasant, plush feel on contact that really helped me feel the ball well. The EZONE DR 98 was comfortable to maneuver and produced a good amount of heft, which helped my shots penetrate through the court."
Finding the groove meant finding the right string set up for Michelle. She said, "I found easy power and plush pocketing when hitting from the baseline. I still haven't fallen in love with the Isometric shape that Yonex uses, but this was an easy racquet to hit with and the 98 square inch frame felt forgiving and solid. I enjoyed it the most on my backhand side, where I was precise and consistent. I had a tendency to overhit on my forehand side, and the DR 98 wasn't as predictable as my Wilson Pro Staff RF97 Autograph. I think I could doctor it up with some weight and make it work better for me. There was good plow through, and I felt the racquet was maneuverable and explosive. I found the DR 98 to be a bit string sensitive, and I preferred a deader poly in this racquet to maintain some controllable power."
The glowing reviews of the EZONE DR 98 continued as our playtesters approached the net, where the maneuverability and ultra responsive feel left our team in total control of their volleys. Andy was working some magic with his net game. He said, "The improved stability and more solid feel made the DR 98 even more enjoyable to volley with than the previous version. I already loved the responsive feel and great precision, but this racquet holds up to big hitters even better than before. The DR 98 felt like a magic wand around the net, and I felt I could do virtually anything I wanted with the ball. It was easy to punch a tough volley back deep off my shoelaces as well as drop a volley short with precision and finesse. The maneuverability was there to get the racquet in place quickly during fast net exchanges."
Michelle was also feeling very confident around the net with the EZONE DR 98. She explained, "I loved this racquet at the net, whether I was volleying with touch or attacking swinging volleys and overheads. I felt connected to the ball so I was confident hitting volleys. I could do no wrong, and it was a great racquet for doubles play."
There were no complaints from Marco, who said, "This racquet was comfortable up at net, and it was very forgiving when I went from sticking drive volleys to hitting soft touch volleys. The frame gave a better response on touch volleys, and I could really get the racquet into place quickly and feel the ball nicely up at net."
Chris found the EZONE DR 98 "inspiring" up at net. He said, "This was a very easy racquet to volley with because it felt comfortable and solid. I liked how easy it was to get this racquet into position. The feel off the stringbed was great, and I felt very connected to my shots. My touch volleys were on fire. I don't think I've ever been as inspired to hit so many drop volleys as I was during this test!"
For the most part, our playtesters were successful utilizing the all-around playability of the EZONE DR 98 when serving. Michelle's full arsenal of serves were working well. She offered, "I enjoyed ramping up the power with this racquet and really picking my targets when serving. There was great access to spin and slice, and my flatter first serves into the body were pretty effective."
Andy felt completely comfortable hitting all his serves, and he liked this version a little more than the Ai 98. He said, "The slightly crisper response added a bit of pop to my serve to go along with the exceptional precision the previous version already had. The blend of power, control and maneuverability had me feeling completely confident going for all of my serves. This racquet isn't the biggest spin monster out there, but there's still plenty of spin potential and precision to hit effective serves. I felt like I could just reach up high and place my serves wherever I wanted, and with authority."
Echoing the positive sentiments was Marco, who shared, "I could access power easily and had no trouble getting flat and spin serves away. The distribution of weight in this frame made it comfortable to snap up for kicks serves, too. I had no issues with this racquet when serving."
The power and spin the racquet offered didn't blow Chris away compared to some others that he's been hitting recently, but ultimately he found success utilizing the racquet's precision. He explained, "I served pretty well with this racquet after a short adjustment. Early on I was finding the net a little too much. Once I got things dialed in my serves were finding their targets, but I was still missing some pace and spin. I hit a much bigger serve with both the Pure Drive Plus and my Wilson Six.One 95S. Still, my control proved to be solid toward the end of the test, and I had good results mixing up my serves."
It was no surprise that our testers continued to enjoy the EZONE DR 98 when they were returning serve. The blend of attributes worked almost perfectly for Andy's aggressive return game. He raved, "The control, maneuverability and forgiveness were all there to make this racquet a dream to return serves with. I was getting this racquet around my body quickly and easily when I had to catch up to hard hit first serves. It's also forgiving enough to instill the confidence to take big, aggressive cuts on second serve returns. A little more mass in the hoop would improve the performance for chipping back returns deep in the court, but all in all, this is one of my favorite racquets to return serve with."
Chris was also able to access his signature variety while returning serves. He shared, "I really enjoyed returning with this racquet. I felt confident enough to go after the ball and stay on my front foot. My drive returns were consistently finding their targets, and I had excellent control and feel when placing the ball."
Michelle was returning effectively as long as she didn't get too carried away going for bigger shots. She explained, "I managed to get a little carried away when returning softer second serves. Because this racquet felt so good when I was attacking balls I just really wanted to go after the ball, and it wasn't always a good idea -- I found myself overhitting and being too aggressive. However, the DR 98 was pretty stable, and it held up well when I was returning big first serves. I could easily block or carve returns out effectively."
Marco found it easy to defend against big serves with the EZONE DR 98, although he struggled with the stability at times. He critiqued, "I had a little trouble with the stability of this racquet when I was returning. I found off-center returns to be a bit of a challenge to control, but it was nice to get adequate power on returns even when I was at full stretch and off balance."
Chris- "I loved the control, feel, comfort and forgiving response. This racquet felt fast, yet solid. At times it felt magical on both groundstrokes and volleys."
Andy- "A near perfect blend of modern power and forgiveness with traditional precision and feel. Improved stability and a more solid feel than the previous version."
Michelle- "I loved the feel of this racquet on contact -- it is solid, yet plush, and it just offered a great hitting experience. I could drill all day with this racquet. I also really enjoyed it a lot up at net."
Marco- "I found easy access to power and control. The EZONE DR 98 has a good-sized sweetspot and comfortable feel."
Chris- "A tad underpowered compared to the racquets I've been using lately. However, I could fix that by stringing it at a lower tension and possibly increasing the tip weight."
Andy- "None. The EZONE DR 98 is one of the best racquets I've ever playtested at TW."
Michelle- "I was looking for a tad more control in this racquet, but that could be due more to the string setups we used. A deader poly strung a bit higher would have resolved my issue, I think."
Marco- "Nothing that stands out, but it was slightly unstable on certain shots."
Chris- "Everything I could do with the previous version carried over here, but the feel was just better. I felt very connected to the ball. The EZONE DR 98 offers more power than a traditional control-oriented racquet such as the Wilson Pro Staff 95, while offering more control than a modern player's racquet like the Babolat Pure Aero."
Andy- "The DR 98 performs very similarly to the Ai 98 from every area of the court, and they are both great all-around racquets. However, I did find the DR 98 to have a slightly crisper feel than the Ai 98, and a bit more power and stability. It's one of my favorite modern player's racquets on the market along with the Wilson Blade 98 and Babolat Pure Control Tour."
Michelle- "Yonex made an already great racquet even better with this update. The EZONE DR 98 is more stable than the previous version, and I enjoyed the feel even more."
Marco- "I definitely felt the similarities to the Pure Drive with the way this racquet generates power and control from any position on the court. Also, the maneuverability of both racquets was desirable. I also felt as though the comfort and generous sweetspot fell in line with my Wilson Blade 98."
|Length||27 in||69 cm|
|Head Size||98 sq in||632 sq cm|
|Weight||11.5 oz||326 gm|
|Balance Point||12.7 in 32 cm||6pts Head Light|
|Composition||HM Graphite, Nonmetric DR, Quake Shut Gel|
|String Pattern||16 Mains / 19 Crosses|
|Babolat RDC Ratings|
|Flex Rating||62||Range: 0-100|
|Swing Weight||324||Range: 200-400|
(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)
Chris: 4.5 all-court player currently using the Wilson Six.One 95 S. Chris uses a semi-western forehand grip, has a fast swing style and hits a one-handed backhand.
Andy: Open level all court player with a semi-western forehand grip and a two-handed backhand. Andy currently using a Yonex EZONE Ai 98.
Michelle: Open level baseline player with a semi-western forehand and a two handed backhand. She currently plays with the Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 Autograph.
Marco: Open level lefty aggressive baseliner with a semi-western forehand and a one-handed backhand. He currently plays with a Wilson Blade 98 16x19.