In 2017, the competition among racket producers was intense, with many companies releasing truly excellent frames throughout the year. So, when it comes to selecting the best of the best, we are faced with a difficult task. In order to truly appreciate the difference between each racket, we had to look at the overall effectiveness, playability and performance of each frame, but even when doing this it still ended up being a close race.
To make things more difficult, unlike last year, there is only one category in our best-of list, meaning rackets with different target markets are up against each other. Of course, rackets that did not make the list are not necessarily bad. Along with each entry in the list I have a mini review explaining why I included it, but for the full picture I’d encourage you to read the full reviews we did on these rackets. Also, check out the other reviews of rackets that didn’t make the list, as there are still some excellent frames out there that we don’t mention here.
The way I approached this list was to imagine each racket in an everyday situation. I took into account what it would be like to use the racket in different conditions, against different opponents and at different stages of each match. I also took into account what is required from the player to get the most out of the racket. So, overall, versatility and performance were my two biggest considerations.
There are more powerful rackets, with more spin and even better feel, but Ezone 98 has an impressive mix of features that combine to deliver one of the most complete rackets out there. It has everything, from power to sensitivity, and you don’t have to work very hard to get the most out of this frame.
Overall, this racket outguns the DR 98 in almost every way, offering more power and better spin in a more forgiving package.
There are no real negatives, just a really solid racket that makes a good argument for being the very best Yonex has to offer.
The Pure Drive rackets are the best-selling frames in the world, and much of this popularity is down to ease of use and versatility.
The latest incarnation of this series has something for everyone, from players looking for significant power to those looking for stability and ease of use.
A major upgrade in this version is the improved control, which comes at a slight cost of overall power.
But make no mistake, this racket still has plenty of power, it’s just easier than ever to tame it and use it to your advantage.
Less rigid, more forgiving and better balanced than any iteration before it, the Pure Drive is a winner through and through.
Pro Kennex Ki10 305
Probably the biggest surprise of 2017, not because Kennex does not know how to make competitive rackets, but because the Ki 10 305 is a monster we were just not expecting.
Capable of generating heavy, consistent and rewarding shots, this frame is simply a joy to use. It’s very similar to the Ezone 98, which is its only real competition, sporting the same kind of hybrid profile.
In some ways it has more of a classic than a modern feel, especially during the impact phase, but in a good way.
Its tame look belies the fact that this racket can hang with the best of them, and is a triumph for Kennex in every sense of the word.
Pacific X Fast Pro
The X Fast Pro is a little-known but very effective and well-made frame.
Pacific was one of the first manufacturers to embrace medium stiffness on their 100-inch rackets, and the result is a consistent, powerful, solid shot.
It handles like a slightly heavier racket, given its longer length and advanced balance, but its many features combine to make it an extremely pleasant experience. Aesthetically eye-catching, you will make a real impression with this frame, especially once you let the shots fly.
It’s not the most forgiving frame in the world, and you’ll need to be able to generate some of your own power to get the most out of it, but if you are willing to put in a bit of extra work the X Fast Pro is formidable indeed.
Head Radical Graphene Touch MP
Two years ago, the Pro sailed high above the MP among top players, but with the Graphene Touch edition of this racket, the gap has grown considerably smaller.
With greater versatility, solidity during impact and consistency when returning, the MP is a wonderful option for those not comfortable with the Pro’s more demanding requirements.
The Pro is still the better racket if you have superb technique and are able to generate your own power, but its narrow target market makes it less attractive an option for intermediate players.
This edition of the MP is more sensitive, powerful and finally able to generate large amounts of topspin.
The racket also allows for some frills and imperfections from its user, and is more than willing to make up for those shortcomings.
Visually unique and striking all the right notes, the MP really impressed us in 2017.
The Pro Staff RF97 is an awesome racket, but it’s not exactly the most accessible frame on the market. You need to really know your stuff in order to use it properly, and most people simply don’t play at a level to do the racket justice.
To widen this legendary frame’s appeal, Wilson released the Pro Staff 97L Countervail, a more user-friendly version of the Swiss Maestro’s signature racket.
Thanks to the increased profile of 23 mm it generates power more easily than its pro cousin, and also boasts improved spin while still maintaining the RF97’s precise control.
Lighter and easier to handle, the 97L allows for a fast swing and caters to various styles of play.
One of the most attractive rackets out there, the 97L can compete one-on-one with its big brother with a little customization.
A fantastic addition to Wilson’s range.
Yonex Ezone 100
The Ezone 100 is the true competitor for the Pure Drive 2018 in terms of completeness, performance and character.
It is accommodating to different play styles while also improving on its predecessor in terms of power, spin and touch.
The frame offers a very large sweet spot, and impact is crisp, solid and consistently rewarding.
This is not a 300 gram copy of the Ezone 98, but a racket designed with different proportions that are simpler, but equally satisfying.
Compared to the 98, the 100 is much easier to use and will appeal to a much wider target market.
Yonex obviously wants this to be its “universal” racket and, in that regard, they have certainly succeeded.
Donnay Pro One 97 Pentacore (Black edition)
One of the very few pro-style rackets in this list, the Pro One 97 Pentacore Black Edition is everything you’d expect from a Donnay.
It’s got a soft feel to it that bites tremendously hard when you let it go, looks fantastic and is more reactive than the Pro One 97 Standard.
A technical frame that is well-rounded and offers superb control, it does require some power from the user to perform at its best.
It is not a frame that will sit well with newcomers to the sport, but as far as pro-style rackets go this is one of the easiest to handle.
It boasts a large sweet spot and can generate generous amounts of spin, and if you want to challenge yourself a little it will reward you for your efforts.