Yonex EZONE 98
In-depth Review & Playtest + Video
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The Yonex EZONE series of tennis racquets have become a crowd favorite, which arguably reached a peak with the 2015 release of the EZONE DR 98 – one of the most popular models in recent years.
However, in 2020, Yonex takes another pass at the EZONE family with a refreshing update that remains true to the line yet incorporates a handful of refinements to appeal to long-time enthusiasts and first-time users.
In this guide, I’ll dive deep to provide a thorough analysis of the racquet, including its history, specs, and tech, while also putting the racquet through the paces in a playtest to share its pros and cons and help you determine if it’s a good fit for your game.
In 2022, the Yonex EZONE 98 remains my pick for one of the best tennis racquets on the market. Check out my guide for a full review of all my favorite, including how to approach buying a racquet.
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Video Review & Playtest for the Yonex EZONE 98
As a companion to this article, I’ve recorded an in-depth review and playtest for the Yonex EZONE 98. It’s perfect if you’re looking for a visual walkthrough of the and if you’d like to see the racquet in action as part of my playtest to evaluate the frame.
For your reference, here are timestamps for various sections of the video, which you can jump to if specific parts interest you.
0:23 – Intro
0:35 – Specs
0:59 – Length, Head Size, String Pattern
1:11 – Weight & Swingweight
1:34 – Balance
1:45 – Stiffness
1:51 – Beam Width
2:11 – Technology
2:35 – Isometric Head Design
2:47 – Linear Tech Grommets
3:05 – Shockless Grommets
3:14 – M40X Carbon Fiber
3:26 – Oval Pressed Shaft (OPS)
3:38 – Vibration Dampening Mesh (VDM)
3:50 – Design & Aesthetics
4:32 – Strings & Tension
5:19 – Playtest & Review
5:37 – Playtest Notes
5:44 – Groundstrokes
6:43 – Volleys
7:19 – Serves
7:47 – Returns
8:15 – Summary
9:02 – EZONE 98 vs. EZONE 98 DR
In this article, I dive more in-depth and cover some topics you won’t find in the video, so keep reading to learn more about the racquet.
About the Yonex EZONE Series
For years, Japanese company Yonex has been a staple in the racquet market, but they’ve often taken a backseat to other dominant players in the space like Wilson, Babolat, and Head.
However, in recent years, their popularity has soared, with racquets like the EZONE paving the way with broader appeal and strong endorsements from players like Stan Wawrinka, Naomi Osaka, Nick Kyrgios, and Angelique Kerber, to name a few.
The Yonex EZONE originally made its debut in August of 2010, and since then, there have been six generations, which include:
- 2010 – Yonez EZONE*
- 2012 – Yonex EZONE Xi
- 2014 – Yonex EZONE Ai
- 2015 – Yonex EZONE DR**
- 2017 – Yonex EZONE**
- 2020 – Yonex EZONE
*In 2012, Yonex introduced the first EZONE 98.
**Both these years offered a blue version of the racquet, i.e., the Yonex EZONE DR Blue and the Yonez EZONE 98 Blue, while the latest version for 2020 is only available in blue.
In 2015, the Yonex EZONE DR further cemented this line of racquets as a dominant force as one of the most popular releases, and it remains a measuring stick for comparing new models in this series.
Known for its all-around performance, moderate power, and spin-friendly characteristics, it’s an excellent frame that’s well-suited for a broad range of intermediate to advanced players.
Comparing Yonex Performance Racquets
Yonex offers four different series of tennis racquets, including the EZONE, VCORE Pro, VCORE, and ASTREL. Let’s take a quick look at what you can expect from each and how the EZONE fits into the lineup.
The VCORE PRO family of racquets from Yonex is the heaviest of the bunch, which seeks to deliver maximum control and stability.
The racquets feature characteristics that skew toward strong intermediate to advanced players, but they have a lighter option for those drawn to this line but aren’t ready to take on the extra weight.
The VCORE line is the younger sibling to the VCORE PRO series, which is lighter for added maneuverability and faster swings to enhance topspin.
The VCORE family also offers a thicker variable-width beam for a bit of added power without being too overbearing. Within the line, players have a handful of options, including different weights and head sizes and an extended length version.
The Yonex VCORE 98 is one of the most popular in the lineup.
The VCORE and EZONE lines have many similarities. However, what I’ve found distinguishes the two is topspin, power, and feel.
Although I’d give the edge in topspin and power to the VCORE, the EZONE offers plenty of both, but spin isn’t as pronounced, and it’s a bit less lively. As a result, the EZONE demands a bit more from a player to generate pace.
With regards to feel, I find the EZONE to offer a slightly more muted or control-oriented response and a more connected feel with the ball.
The ASTREL line of tennis racquets is the lightest from Yonex and provides excellent maneuverability. Their larger head sizes and thicker beams also help deliver effortless power, which works well for beginners and intermediate players.
Yonex EZONE 98 Specs & Technologies
The Yonex EZONE 98’s specs and performance characteristics fall into a category that many refer to as a modern player’s racquet, which seeks to balance power and control with moderate comfort.
Although useful for comparing different racquets, it’s important to note that specs don’t translate to feel, so if possible, I’d encourage you to try or demo a racquet before making your final buying decision.
|Head Size||98 in² / 632.26 cm²|
|Length||27 in / 68.58c m|
|Strung Weight||11.3 oz / 320 g|
|Unstrung Weight||10.8 oz / 305 g|
|Strung Balance||6 pts HL / 33.4 cm|
|Unstrung Balance||9 pts HL / 31.5 cm|
|Beam Width||23 mm / 24 mm / 19 mm|
|Composition||M40X / HM Graphite|
|String Pattern||16 Mains / 19 Crosses|
|String Tension||45-60 pounds / 20.41-27.22 kg|
Like the prior generation, the EZONE 98 comes in your standard length of 27 inches with a slightly smaller, more control-oriented head size of 98 square inches and a 16×19 string pattern.
The racquet’s unstrung weight falls at a maneuverable 10.8 ounces or 305 grams. Yonex typically has excellent quality control, and the racquet I reviewed weighs in at 10.69 ounces or 303 grams for a slight yet respectable variation.
You can add 18 or so grams for the strung weight, which will depend on the gauge of the thickness of the strings you decide to use.
You’ll also find EZONE 98’s swingweight comes in at 317, and the frame offers a 9 pt HL balance at 31.5 cm unstrung, which drops to 6 pts HL at 32.4 cm with strings installed.
As for its stiffness, or measure of the racquet’s flex, the EZONE 98 has a relatively arm-friendly RA rating of 64.
Last but not least, the racquet has a variable width beam that’s 19mm at the throat, 24mm at three and nine o’clock on the racquet’s head, and 23mm at the top of the head.
Yonex EZONE 98 Technologies
The latest generation of the EZONE 98 offers a few familiar technologies while introducing a handful of noteworthy new features. Let’s take a look at each and the intention behind the tech.
Isometric Head Design
For starters, the racquet features the brand’s distinct Isometric or square-shaped head design, which according to Yonex, helps increase the size of the sweet spot by 7% compared to your standard round frame design.
Linear Tech Grommet System
Next up, the racquet now offers a Linear Tech grommet system, which pairs nicely with the Isometric head shape by drilling many of the grommets straight through the frame instead of on an angle to improve power and comfort.
For reference, this is the same concept that Wilson uses, but they brand it as Parallel Drilling.
This generation of the racquet also integrates Shockless Grommets at the head’s sides and bottom, intended to reduce shock and improve feel.
In the racquet’s throat, you’ll find the frame now integrates a new-age carbon fiber called M40X, which exists to strike a balance between stability and flex for controllable power.
Oval Pressed Shaft (OPS)
Along with M40X in the throat, the frame maintains its oval pressed shaft, which rounds the corners of this section of the frame for optimal flex and increases dwell time to improve control and enhance spin.
Vibration Dampening Mesh (VDM)
Finally, the 2020 version of the EZONE 98 also features an updated dampening mesh that wraps the graphite in the handle to reduce vibration and improve comfort and feel.
Yonex EZONE Models
The EZONE series of tennis racquets are the most extensive line from Yonex with an impressive 15 racquets in total, which caters to kids and adults and all levels from beginner to advanced.
The EZONE 98 is the racquet I reviewed and one of their best-selling tennis racquets. With it’s 98 in² head, it falls under the control-oriented side of the lineup. Furthermore, it’s not the heaviest or the lightest in the series, making it an appealing option for a wide range of players.
EZONE 98 Tour
Players looking for a heavier version of the EZONE 98 for added stability will likely find what they’re looking for with the EZONE 98 Tour.
It’s 0.4 oz or 12 g heavier with a 4 pt HL balance, which is a two-point drop from the standard EZONE 98, so a bit of that extra weight makes its way toward the head of the racquet for added stability. Overall, the swingweight increases as a result from 317 to 330.
Beyond that, the EZONE Tour has a 2 pt drop in stiffness at 62 for a bit more comfort and control.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, players that find the EZONE 98 a bit too heavy may find the EZONE98L or lightweight version appealing.
It’s 0.7 oz or 19 g lighter and maintains the same stiffness at 64 and the same beam width. However, the balance shifts quite a bit from 6 pts HL for the EZONE 98 to 1 pt HL for the EZONE 98L.
This racquet is an excellent option for improving beginners through intermediate players looking for a lighter, more maneuverable option that swings fast to generate topspin.
Players looking for an extended length version of the EZONE 98 will find an excellent option with the EZONE 98+, which adds a half-inch to the racquet’s length for a bit more velocity behind your swings.
As a result of the extra length, the balance point shifts slightly from the standard model to 5 pts HL and the swingweight increases from 317 to 334. However, the stiffness and bream width remains the same.
Although the 98 in² version of the EZONE is a popular option, the first EZONE ever produced was a 100 in² back in 2010.
Continuing with that legacy, the EZONE 100 is an excellent option for players that aren’t ready to give up the added margin for error, spin, and extra pop that comes along with a slightly larger head size.
At 11.2 oz (318g), it’s only 0.1 oz or 2 grams lighter than the EZONE 98, but it has a 4pt HL balance, which results in a tad higher swingweight of 322. The racquet’s higher stiffness rating of 69 and its variable-width beam’s increased thickness results in a racquet that delivers more power.
At 10.6 oz (301g) strung, the EZONE 100L is a lightweight version of the standard EZONE 100. It has a 3 pt HL balance, a swingweight of 310, and a stiffness or RA rating of 68.
However, the beam width stays the same as the EZONE 100. Overall, this racquet is a worthy option for players interested in the EZONE 100 but aren’t ready to step up to its weight.
If you prefer extended-length racquets and you like the extra power and spin that comes with the larger 100 in² head size, then the EZONE 100+, which is a half-inch longer than the standard EZONE 100, might be right up your alley.
Compared to the EZONE 100, it’s 0.1 oz or 3 g lighter, has a reduced balance by 1 pt at 3 pts HL, and is also a touch stiffer by one point at 70. The beam width remains the same, but the extra length gives it 13 more points on the swingweight at 335 for even more power and spin.
Aside from the models we covered, Yonex also has the following racquets below that belong to the EZONE family.
- EZONE 100SL: 9.5 oz (270g) / 100 in² head
- EZONE 105: 9.7 oz (275g) / 105 in² head
- EZONE 108: 9 oz (255g) / 108 in² head
- EZONE Game: 9.5 oz (270g) / 98 in² head
- EZONE Ace: 9.2 oz (260g) / 102 in² head
- EZONE Feel: 8.8 oz (250g) / 102 in² head
- EZONE 25: 25 in / 8.5 oz / 102 in² head
- EZONE 26: 26 in / 8.8 oz / 102 in² head
As you can see, this is one of the most robust lines of tennis racquets on the market. It’s worth noting that every racquet from top to bottom is graphite, including the kid’s racquets at 25 and 26 inches.
Yonex EZONE 98 Design & Aesthetics
For the sixth-generation of the EZONE series, Yonex leaned in on the blue theme, so instead of black and blue from the previous model, you’ll find different shades of blue with a bit of shimmer if you look closely.
They also introduced a few super subtle orange details throughout the racquet’s head and maintained the logos’ silver highlight.
I’m not the biggest fan of the transformer esque geometric shapes, but it doesn’t look bad, and it’s a clean low-key design that works for me.
For a dramatically different design, you might check out Naomi Osaka’s Limited Edition white and gold version, which was released not too long ago on September 17, 2020.
Players Endorsing the Yonex EZONE Series
Over the years, the Yonex EZONE series popularity has received endorsements from a wide range of players.
When Yonex first launched the racquet in 2010, Ana Ivanovic helped bring added popularity to the line. These days, Nick Kyrgios and Naomi Osaka are the most prominent names using the line. Let’s take a look at some of the other players using this line of racquets as well.
As you review the list, keep in mind that many of these players use older models of the racquet, and virtually all have theirs customized.
|Men (ATP)||Women (WTA)|
|Alexander Bublik||Ana Ivanovic|
|Alex Bolt||Anastasija Sevastova|
|Casper Ruud||Ayumi Morita|
|Lloyd Harris||Belina Bencic|
|Marton Fucsovics||Elena Baltacha|
|Nick Kyrgios||Kaja Juvan|
|Paul Jubb||Magdalena Rybarikova|
|Viktor Troicki||Maria Kirilenko|
Please note that players do change racquets periodically, so while I’ve done my best to showcase players using the EZONE series at the time of publishing, these may change over time.
If you spot a player who’s no longer using the racquet or a new player has begun to use it, feel free to drop a comment at the bottom of this guide and let me know. I’d be happy to update it for accuracy.
Yonex EZONE 98 Strings & Tension
The recommended tension range for the Yonex EZONE 98 is 45 – 60 pounds (20.41 – 27.22 kg). For my playtest, I strung with 1.25 mm Poly Tour Pro at 52 lbs or 23.6 kg.
I’m a big fan of polyester tennis strings for their lower power and spin-friendly characteristics, and Poly Tour Pro is a typical pair with the EZONE 98. In part, because it’s a recommend string from Yonex, but mainly because Nick Kyrios endorses it.
Poly Tour Pro is a low powered tennis string that offers excellent control, durability, and solid tension maintenance for a poly, so it’s a reasonable starting point to get a feel for the racquet.
Yonex EZONE 98 Review & Playtest Notes
A racquet’s specs can help point you in the right direction, and the technology integrated into the frame is interesting to explore. However, the latter, in particular, is usually heavily laden with marketing.
As a result, the only real way to get a sense of a racquet’s performance is to experience it first hand, so I’ve put the racquet to the test to share my thoughts and experience with the racquet as a point of reference.
|Main Strings||Yonex PolyTour Pro (1.25 mm)|
|Cross Strings||Yonex PolyTour Pro (1.25 mm)|
|Mains Tension||52 lbs / 23.59 kg|
|Crosses Tension||52 lbs / 23.59 kg|
|Grip Size||#3 – 4 3/8|
|Overgrip||Yonex Super Grap|
|Weight||165 lbs / 74.84 kg|
|Height||6’0″ / 1.83m|
Below you’ll find my ratings for the Yonex EZONE 98 across a wide range of criteria, along with my playtest notes to help better understand why I felt the racquet deserved a particular rating.
On groundstrokes, the EZONE 98 is a fun frame to hit with, which swings easily for generating higher levels of racquet head speed, and translates to great topspin.
It won’t provide the highest level of spin, but I think it finds a middle ground that’s well suited for players with traditional grips that like to hit flat and through the ball while also appealing to those with modern grips who play with a lot of topspin.
One of my favorite parts about the racquet on groundstrokes is its power to control ratio. Its 98 square inch head and mid-range RA rating combined with a stiffer poly offer excellent control, but when you need the extra pace, the racquet responds incredibly well.
As for feel, the frame rides a fine line between moderate comfort and useful feedback that can translate to a more connected feel, so it’s not surprising many players report opposing thoughts on this front.
I wouldn’t expect most players to experience arm issues, but string selection and tension will undoubtedly play a role, so it warrants thoughtful consideration.
Up at the net, I found the EZONE 98 to be precise without giving up too much of that lively response to redirect pace for a penetrating volley.
At 6pts head-light when strung, it’s highly maneuverable, but I did find that it translated to a bit of instability at times.
On the plus side, the lack of stability was offset to a small degree by the frame’s sizeable sweet spot, which I found to be somewhat forgiving when striking the ball off-center.
Overall, the racquet is a solid performer at net, which works well as is, but is also well-suited for a small bit of weight customization to improve stability.
On serve, I found the EZONE 98 to deliver a solid all-around performance. It swings fast and packs plenty of power when needed, but it’s not overbearing, so you can still pick your spots and serve with accuracy.
I would have loved a bit more action on my kick serve, but it’s plenty sufficient and on par with what I’d expect for the head size and string pattern.
All in all, I felt right at home serving with this racquet. Its response was predictable, which helped enhance confidence in my approach.
Finally, on returns, I found the EZONE 98 to handle exceptionally well. Once again, its head-light balance makes it a breeze to maneuver, and I enjoyed the frame’s precision, especially when combined with an abbreviated stroke.
For its weight, I felt it offered respectable stability on returns where there’s a bit of momentum behind the racquet. However, there’s a downside here for players facing bigger serves. Of course, players can address that with some minor customization.
Summary & Takeaways
The best way I can sum up the Yonex EZONE 98 is well-balanced – it didn’t wow me in any particular area, but that’s arguably what makes it unique.
Often, you’ll find racquets leaning heavily in one direction to offer maximum spin, power, or comfort, which means you’ll typically give up something in another area.
However, the EZONE 98 delivers a steady performance across the board, so it’s a racquet that will adapt well to a wide range of player styles and works great for all-court play.
Ultimately, I think this racquet is perfectly well-suited for intermediate players. I’d expect more advanced players to gravitate toward the Tour model, but if you don’t mind customizing your racquet, then this frame is a perfect canvas for dialing in your ideal spec.
Yonex EZONE 98 vs. EZONE 98 DR
For many, the DR generation of the EZONE was a favorite, and it remains a measuring stick for comparing new models, so let’s do a quick comparison.
As you can see, there’s a bit of variation. The new frame is a tad lighter by 6 grams, but it maintains a 6pt HL strung balance, translating to a 7pt decrease in swingweight.
It also gets a slight tweak to the beam thickness around the throat and has a bit of added stiffness by 2 points.
They’re not too far off on paper, but I find the latest generation to swing a bit easier and offer a slightly more lively response, which translates to a small bump in power and overall a bit less stability.
With that said, I expect most players who were fans of the DR to gravitate to the Tour model, but it does feel different, so as always, I’d encourage you to demo it first.
Why I Love It
- Controllable power
As a quick refresher, here’s the string setup I used for my playest:
- String: Yonex PolyTour Pro
- Gauge: 1.25 mm (17 gauge)
- Tension: 52 lbs (23.6 kg)
Considering Yonex recommends this string as a pair with the EZONE 98, it’s not surprising that it worked well, and I’m a big fan.
Overall, a poly would be my preferred type of string with this racquet because its lower power allows me to take larger cuts at the ball and better manage the pace. Also, because the racquet is 98 in², it helps to have a string that enhances spin, and poly does precisely that.
I found the string to maintain its tension well for a poly and its durability was above average for its gauge. Here are a few other polyester strings I’d recommend for use with this racquet:
Another route worth exploring with the Yonex EZONE 98 is a hybrid string setup for a bit of added comfort and some extra power. Combining a poly with a multifilament tennis string would be an excellent option.
The Yonex EZONE 98 is an incredibly well-rounded tennis racquet that is very well suited for intermediate tennis players. However, it will adapt well to a wide range of player styles and abilities, and I expect it to remain among the most popular tennis racquets for that reason.
Strong intermediates and advanced players will undoubtedly want a bit more weight for added stability, which can be achieved by customizing this racquet or moving up to the EZONE 98 Tour.
Finding the perfect racquet takes time, so it pays to do your research and, if possible, demo a racquet before you make a purchase.
To that end, I hope my review and playtest of the Yonex EZONE 98 helps give you a better sense of what to expect from this racquet.
If you have questions about anything I covered in my review, please don’t hesitate to drop a comment below. I’d be happy to help out!
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