Sole searching 2020
My top tennis shoe picks for 2020 (Men's)
I once went to the local tennis pro shop, eager to see what new shoes I could buy to replace my worn out ones. I’ve done my research, and know what type of shoes I like and what fits me. But I still went ahead and innocently asked the salesperson what’s the best shoe he would recommend. He nonchalantly quipped:
“What’s your budget?”
I smiled. He has probably been asked this question thousands of times, and would just like to “cut to the chase” so to speak. It’s a fair question. Well, a fair FIRST question. Most tennis shoes, particularly from popular brands such as Nike, Adidas, Asics, New Balance etc, are well-built, of high quality and would have the following attributes (usually not in equal measure):
For the average tennis player, you really can’t go wrong with any of the above branded shoes. The fast differentiator according to my smart salesperson would be your budget. The other key considerations would be the priority you place on the above shoe attributes – is Durability most important to you? Or is it Comfort? Or both? Most shoes then to lean towards 1 or 2 key attributes (or as stated in their marketing material) but will still provide you with an overall blend of all the above characteristics.
Its worth noting here that, based on my own personal experience, certain brands have a reputation in the market that characterises their offerings:
Nike : comfortable and stylish, pricier than most but not as durable.
Adidas : Very durable, stable, good support, heavier-built but not as comfortable.
Asics : Good all-rounder, durable, comfortable, stable, and not as pricey.
Other brands such as New Balance, KSwiss, Babolat, Lotto, Wilson, Fila and Yonex are of high quality as well. If you have the chance, do try as many brands as you can to see which pair seems most comfortable to you. The thing is, you will only really know when you wear and play with the shoe on the court.
Personally, durability and comfort are my key considerations however the shoe has to be visually pleasing to me as well! I wish I was able to personally play-test all the shoes from the leading brands but until that day arrives, here are my top picks:
1. Nike Air Zoom Vapor Cage 4
The Vapor Cage 4 is engineered and designed for Rafa. The limited edition cosmetic (top shoe) has been inspired by the asteroid officially named after Rafa in 2008.
The reviews out there is that it’s very durable, supportive and comfortable. A larger toe box apparently makes it more welcoming for players with slightly wider feet. I love the look of these Nikes and if you want some pop in the style department, get these and show them off on the court!
2. Nike Tech Challenge
To celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Air Tech Challenge 2, Nike takes styling inspiration from the Tech Challenge lineage (remember the Andre Agassi days?) and updates it to keep pace with the modern game. According to reviews, the Max Air heel cushioning gets you around the court in comfort while an “integrated crash pad promotes a smooth heel-to-toe transition”. For nostalgic fans of the Agassi neon-bright days, it should be a fun pair to play around in.
3. Asics Gel Resolution 8
I currently use the Asics Gel resolution 7 and absolutely love the shoe, for its overall comfort, durability, stability and price. It’s a very popular shoe with tennis players. Don’t just take it from me – here’s what Gael Monfils had to say about his Gel Resolution 8s:
The Asics Court FF 2 (Novak Djokovic's choice) was designed for players wanting more speed and stability. Playtesters liked this shoe for its lightness, responsiveness and cushioning.
4. Adidas Stycon
Adidas leads the way in shoe technology with this one. The Adidas Stycon line of shoes are lace-less tennis shoes. Yes, lace-less. Surely its not going to provide enough stability for me, especially on lateral movements, I hear you say. Well, you wouldn’t know until you try, right? This shoe features a midfoot elastic lock-down which “maximizes stability and support to enhance lateral movements and keep players in control” Sound good? I think its great Adidias is pushing the envelope when it comes to tennis shoe design with this lace-less model. I think most tennis players will be sceptical of this and would go for the safer laced shoes, particularly those players who are watching their budget. However, for those willing to experiment and spend the money, I think this would be a great shoe to try, just for the technological research and tests that Adidas had to go through to actually introduce this to the market. I think the key to this shoe is finding your right shoe size with the right sock thickness.
5. Adidas SoleCourt
Compared to the Stycon, the Adidas Solecourt would be the safer bet for most tennis players that like to lace up their shoes.The BOOST technology is known for providing solid comfort, stability and responsiveness. Its pretty cool in the looks department as well!
6. New Balance Lav Fresh Foam B
With the introduction of the Lav, New Balance has created its top performance tennis shoe to date. Lav is the Serbian word for lion. It’s also the nickname Milos Raonic's grandfather gave to him, and which Milos named the shoe after, seeing that he co-designed the shoe with New Balance. Playtesters especially liked the cushioning and comfort of the Fresh Foam Lav.
7. KSwiss Aero Knit
KSwiss has always had the reputation of being one of the most durable tennis shoes ever made. With the Aero Knit, KSwiss is introducing lightness for speed, as well as cushioning and support. I like the look of these shoes and may be keen to slip these on to see how they feel.
Have fun at the pro shop trying out these shoes I have selected. As mentioned, you can't go wrong with any of the above, it just depends on what you like and well, your budget.