Outlook 2007 -- Getting Serious
Footwear manufacturers are designing tennis shoes to meet the needs of hard-core players.
By James Martin
If there’s one disappointing thing in tennis shoes today, it’s that all too often they’re made first for style, second for substance — footwear, in other words, that will appeal to weekend hackers. This season, however, manufacturers have gotten serious with a bumper crop of kicks designed for serious players. You’ll find shoes here that meet all the needs of hard-core court rats, from durability and stability to a low-to-the-ground ride.
Toe-draggers who burn through rubber faster than Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights will appreciate K-Swiss’ latest model, the Reinforcer, which has a replaceable forefoot outsole. When you wear it out, simply unfasten the outsole lugs with a tool provided by K-Swiss, snap on some new rubber, and screw it into place. The K-Swiss Reinforcer will be available for men and women.
The Swoosh will spring forward with the Air Zoom Vapor IV for men and the Air Zoom Mystify II for women. Both shoes, which are being marketed for advanced players, are light and feature Nike’s new Heat Block technology in the midsole to help keep court surface heat from reaching your feet. Players who spend a lot of time on hard courts will appreciate this.
Here’s a blast from the past: Reebok is bringing back the Pump with the men’s and women’s Pump Triple Break, which provides an adjustable fit and snug support. The shoe also emphasizes cushioning with DMX Mega to reduce the stress of heel impact. Expect Nicole Vaidisova to be styling in the Pump Triple Break this spring.
Wilson has two new shoes out this spring, the Wildcard II and the Challenge II. Advanced players will dig the Wildcard II, a cool-looking, lightweight shoe with a low-to-the-ground ride for maximum stability. The Challenge II, on the other hand, is a little heavier (for more support) and features a classic design.
Elite tennis players also have plenty to like from Adidas this season. The a3 Accelerator for men is designed to deliver a low-profile ride for support on quick stops and starts. The women’s ClimaCool Divine, meanwhile, is super light, (a mere 10 ounces for a size 7) with an emphasis on breathability — and a touch of style, too, thanks to Swarovski jeweled eyelets.
Prince continues its M Series shoes in three models: the MC4 (for maximum cushioning), MS4 (for maximum stability), and the MV4 (for maximum ventilation). The idea is that consumers can pick the shoe that best fits their unique needs. The different attributes of the M Series models are from the variances in density and placement of Prince’s “precision tubes” in the heel and forefoot.
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