From fine-tuning successful lines to adding new models, footwear manufacturers are providing players with plenty of options.
By James Martin
princetennis.com • 800-283-6647
Last year, Prince put out an innovative shoe line called the M Series, whereby each model had a particular emphasis. The MC delivered extra cushioning; the MV focused on ventilation; and the MS was all about stability. This season, Prince is fine-tuning the M Series. For starters, the line will feature a redesigned Precision tube in the midsole — instead of being oval in shape, they will now be round. Prince says this will help to better distribute weight and cushion the blow.
Another change: The MV will have significantly more ventilation than last year’s model which, Prince concedes, wasn’t dramatically different from the MC. The new MV will have extra mesh in the upper to enhance breathability, plus a protective screen over the mesh to keep clay particles from getting stuck in the tiny holes and dirtying up the shoe.
Prince will have a training shoe, called the T-Series, as well as continue with its lightweight QT, or Quicktrac, footwear and the NFS (Natural Foot Shape) which, while not the prettiest of shoes, is a big hit at the highest levels of the game for its anatomically snug fit. And for bargain hunters, Prince will introduce the S Series, an entry-level shoe that’ll be priced as low as $39.
kswiss.com • 800-291-8103
K-Swiss is going low-tech this spring — and proud of it. Instead of using a whiz-bang gizmo (what, no computer in the midsole to clock your speed?), the company is introducing the Ultra-Natural Tennis shoe. It has an anatomically designed midsole and outsole with large surface area and an external heel counter to help facilitate your foot’s movement. Available for men and women, the Ultra-Natural Tennis also includes an Aosta II rubber outsole and toe-drag protection, plus a k-EVA 45 midsole compound for cushioning.
New to the K-Swiss 7.0 System premium line is the Stabilor SLS. As its name suggests, this model delivers the most lateral stability of any K-Swiss tennis shoe, thanks to a skeletal support cage and midfoot shank. There’s also a durable rubber outsole and plenty of toe-drag protection for hardcore hard-court players. And for those who want more breathability, K-Swiss will offer the Stabilor SLS Mesh.
K-Swiss Ultra-Natural and Stabilor SLS
nike.com • 503-671-6453
You can bet that the Nike Air Max Breathe Cage II will be a popular choice this spring, because it’ll be the footwear of choice for Rafael Nadal and James Blake. Designed for advanced players who put their shoes through their paces, the Cage II has a flexible yet sturdy support cage in the upper along with mesh for breathability. Low to the ground Zoom Air in the forefoot provides a soft ride while enhancing stability on sharp turns, while a thicker Air-Sole unit in the heel really cushions the blow. Footnote: The Cage comes with a six-month outsole guarantee.
The pro player endorsements don’t stop with Nadal and Blake. Federer will be wearing the Nike Air Zoom Vapor 5, which is designed to be light yet sturdy. Serena Williams will trust her feet to the stability and durability-oriented Nike Air Max Smash. And if you doubted that Lindsay Davenport was going to make a bonafide return to the tour, Nike has a shoe all ready for her — the Air Max Breathe Cage II women’s version.
Nike Cage II, Vapor 5, and AirMax Smash
adidas.com • 800-448-1796
If it ain’t broke, just tweak it. That’s the philosophy at Adidas, which is building on the success of the Barricade line with the men’s Barricade V. While the Barricade II remains the most popular iteration among serious players (especially those who tend to populate gear message boards — you know who you are) the Barricade V may prove to be a smashing success, too, as Adidas is trying to keep the weight down (an issue with some other Barricade versions) with lighter support features.
Adidas Barricade V
wilsonsports.com • 773-714-6400
Remember these numbers: 9, 8 and 3. That’s how many new men’s models, women’s models, and junior models, respectively, Wilson is introducing in 2008. Just like with its racquets, Wilson is pursuing a strength-in-numbers campaign that will provide players with multiple options in fit, comfort, stability, and durability. Some highlights:
- The men’s Open II. Price at $130, it’s Wilson’s premier shoe with maximum cushioning and stability — and a snazzy look to boot.
- The men’s and women’s Tour II, which has breathable mesh quarters and a mesh tongue, and comes with a six-month outsole guarantee.
- And, for clay-court specialists, there’s the men’s and women’s Trance II, which has a low-profile outsole with herringbone design to give you the right amount of grip, yet still allow you to slide.
Wilson Open II
Wilson Trance II
Wilson Men’s Tour II
Wilson Women’s Tour II
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