The Best Tennis Shoes Available
Kitting yourself out in the best tennis shoes can be difficult. Though it’s a sport of singular bodies, there are lots of factors to consider. Picking out your gear is similar to the sport in that way. In singles matches, each person is their own team but they have hundreds of considerations going through their mind.
It just so happens that this is especially true when picking your kicks. So, we put together our list of the best tennis shoes available right now.
Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5
Since we’re talking about all of the new tech in the industry, this feels like a good way to kick off our list. The best shoes for tennis often find a way to help a shoe feel more natural. The Zoom Vapor does a fantastic job of achieving that. The upper is in a Flyknit construction while also sporting a dynamic fit system.
Though this is a bit of a standard feature, Nike tennis shoes benefit from this setup directly. The combination of the brand’s elite woven upper and customizable fit make this one of the best shoes for playing tennis at any level. The Federer association also helps!
There’s no way we could put this list together without the inclusion of adidas tennis shoes. Some of the best men tennis shoes come to us courtesy of the Three Stripes. After all, as we mention above, this brand holds an important place in the game’s history. The Barricade 2018 is a great example of their more modern work.
The upper comes with a Geofit design, offering flexibility and support. Underfoot, we see full-length ADIPRENE+ lighten the impact on your joints. Finally, the insole is removable so you can swap it out with your own custom orthotic, if necessary.
New Balance MC806
If you’re looking for something in a higher pricing category, the MC806 will do the trick. This model comes with a wealth of features that make it an elite option for hard courts. The entire mantra here is all about stability and supporting your every quick step.
The outsole comes with NB’s NDURANCE tech and sports quite the rugged profile. The midsole features a similar sophistication, coming with a combination of EVA foam and C-CAP technology. For those of us who frequent the tennis courts during the hotter months, the 806’s inner lining is in a LIGHTNING DRY construction to battle sweat.
New Balance tennis shoes are rife with the latest and greatest in features, and the MC806 is no exception since they are, in fact, good tennis shoes. Word of advice: you might want to try these on as they normally run a bit small.
ASICS GEL-Resolution 7
The ASICS design philosophy is interesting in just about any shoe they release. When it comes to their best tennis shoes, that quality translates to science and customization. The GEL-Resolution 7 comes in both a Men’s and Women’s version.
Each represents research that shows women and men often have different pressure points on their feet. The Men’s version (pictured above) sports an AHAR outsole that is as durable as any model out there. FlexionFit on the upper makes this another example of customizable fit and support.
The low-riding heel counter is another intriguing design note, offering up stability without being too imposing. And, of course, all of this sits on the brand’s legendary GEL cushioning throughout the midsole. ASICS tennis shoes seem to come with elite options as standard features!
Yonex Power Cushion Eclipsion
All of the best tennis shoes you’re likely to see have a variety of elite tech features. Even some of the more standard options come with design details that seem fit for a pro. Yet, many of us often miss on the little things.
One such small detail is that of the shoe’s shape and fit. As great as it is to have the latest and greatest in the material on your uppers, there’s more to it. What often happens is a shoe’s shape will give way to the stress of the athlete wearing them.
The Yonex Power Cushion Eclipsion fixes that thanks to a Double Russell Mesh on its upper coming together with polyurethane leather. It is one of the most comfortable tennis shoes there is. Throw on some durable extra overlays and you’ve got yourself a beast of a shoe!
Babolat Jet All Court
The Babolat Jet All Court shoes are a special addition to this for a few reasons. First and foremost, the performance features are hard to ignore. The OrthoLite insole is plush and maintains its shape.
On the outside, the upper features a Kevlar Fiber build along with high-tenacity polyamide fiber overlays. It’s also a shockingly lightweight shoe for all of its above-average functional aspects.
Babolat is also 2018’s official sponsor of the recent Wimbledon Grand Slam. The Jet All Court comes in a crisp iteration to commemorate the event, even showing off the official Wimbledon logo on its heel.
Wilson Kaos 2.0 SFT
Here’s one that balances a reasonable budget with solid performance. Even the most casual tennis fan will recognize the name Wilson from the tennis rackets that some of the world’s best use. It seems only natural that they also make some of the best tennis shoes available.
The Kaos 2.0 SFT comes in a fairly standard mesh upper. On top of that, we see a pattern of wire that resembles a spider web. It may also conjure images of Nike’s Flywire technology.
Though similar, the purpose of this setup is to help support the outer edge of the shoe that suffers the most impact when changing directions.
Nike Air Zoom UltraFly
Another gem from the folks over at Nike. The Air Zoom UltraFly is an intriguing experiment. The traditional shape of tennis shoes involves a low profile and proximity to the court. Here, we see that same ethos but with an extra twist. Nike throws on a “SockLite” ankle collar to really emphasize the shoe’s fit.
Beyond that, the additional 1-to-1 feel helps to support you when making those sharp lateral moves from end to end. To top things off, we also get a nice helping of Zoom cushioning for those leaping shots.
adidas Ubersonic Clay 2.0
Part of Raphael Nadal’s dominance at events such as the Madrid Open is his mastery of clay surfaces. Though an unspeakable amount of talent and skill have more to do with it, having the right shoe certainly doesn’t hurt his efforts.
Sure, you’re not quite Rafa. But, you can avoid looking silly on clay surfaces thanks to the adidas UberSonic Clay 2.0. Highlights of this model include tight-pattern outsoles and a toe cap with Adituff to prevent brutal abrasion from all that sliding around.
Wilson Rush Pro 2.5
Though lacking the webbing of the Kaos model, make no mistake: the age-old brand makes some of the best tennis shoes you’ll find.
The Rush Pro 2.5 boasts a wealth of stability features to help keep you on your feet. Duralast rubber on the outsole provides some world-beating traction.
This model also comes with a special edition of EVA in its midsole called R-DST+. Wilson compresses the standard foam, which helps amplify its energy return and cushioning properties. In an ode to old school fitting tactics, a plush padded tongue helps you get snug before lacing these up.
The best tennis shoes on the market tend to be those that either have great brand recognition or specialize in addressing a specific need. For legendary tennis brand Prince, it happens to be more of the latter than the former. The Prince T22 doesn’t look like a very imposing model, but it packs quite the punch.
The toe-cap area is perhaps the highlight here. Not only is it roomy and supportive, it also comes with plenty of outer overlays in suede. This shoe’s “Shock Eraser” cushion system also gets points for a great name!
K-Swiss Bigshot Light 2.5
It is always going to be near impossible to make a list of the best tennis shoes available without including a K-Swiss option. The brand’s reputation among tennis aficionados comes with a whole lot of history. The Bigshot Light 2.5 will be a hit with fans of all levels. Its construction is rather straightforward.
A plantar support chassis helps to maintain a protective connection to the ground while some improved cushioning adds solid energy return. It’s also worth noting that this shoe is incredibly light for its performance profile.
K-Swiss Vendy II
An ode to the older days of tennis shoes. This model comes in a fresh All-White colorway. It’s a reminder of a time when the White sneaker was pretty much all players could wear on the court. This is more of a standard option for those who don’t play a ton.
As such, it’s worth noting that the insole in this shoe isn’t the best for regular use, particularly for those with high arches. But, like many tennis shoes out there, you can swap this insole out with your own. Highlights include an outsole with multidirectional flex grooves to assist in all your darting movements.
Under Armour Micro G Assert 6
Now, this one might be a bit out of place. Our Under Armour addition to the best tennis shoes available is…a running shoe? Interestingly enough, it’s quite common to see beginners opt for their running pair to play tennis in. This can usually cause some problems with respect to traction and cushion.
But, in the case of the Assert 6, we have ourselves an exception to the rule. This shoe’s midsole comes with a full-length layer of the brand’s signature Micro G cushion. On top of this world-beating impact protection is a lightweight and dynamic upper. Though meant for longer runs, this shoe is hard to beat on the tennis courts.
New Balance MC1006v1
Most of this list involves stretchy and flexible uppers. This is an obvious aspect of shoes that specialize in this sort of sport. And yet, the New Balance MC1006v1 is a direct contrast to this rule that we’re ok with.
The mesh and synthetic here is a bit rigid, but the pros severely outweigh the cons. The midsole comes with REVlite foam, bringing an elite comfort profile. Even that tough upper, though lacking in flexibility, boasts impressive durability.
History of Tennis Shoes
As always, some background is in order. The history of tennis shoes mirrors that of other sports-specific kicks in a few ways. The most obvious connection is that tennis sneakers evolve through a focus on elite performance.
Designers from Nike and adidas to smaller names spend decades perfecting superstar players’ footwear on all surfaces. And yet, tennis shoes also have a unique quality of their background. For one, players don’t actually spend a lot of time worrying about them in those earlier years.
This is in stark contrast to many other highly mobile sports but remains true. Some of the greats of the past – even before Stan Smith – find themselves not stressing over their shoe choice.
As this changes, the most pivotal point in tennis sneaker history happens to be between the 70s and 90s. The former witnesses a massive change that seems quite little today. In the late 60s, tennis is going through a special time for the sport. 1968 sees perhaps the most important moment in the sport’s history: The Open Era begins.
Collectively, the governing competitive bodies in tennis decide to allow professionals and amateurs to compete for Grand Slam titles. Aside from the implications for the sport itself, there is something more evident that comes to pass. Suddenly, tennis is a sport in which one can rise to stardom.
Bringing amateurs and pros together creates a large collective stage that draws in many fans all over the world. Usually, that signals the advent of big sponsorship dollars. As we trek into the early 1970s, the beginnings of this sponsorship boom take place.
Most agree that Stan Smith’s work with adidas is the most crucial when discussing tennis footwear. Those early days are when adidas releases the first of the sport’s shoe in leather. This concept originally debuts to some shock, awe, and even confusion.
The best tennis shoes at the time are combinations of rubber and canvas, and it makes sense. Rubber on the soles brings fantastic traction and grip properties. Canvas uppers are a staple of performance footwear even in basketball thanks to their stretch and lightweight properties. So, you can imagine that an all-leather shoe is quite surprising to players and fans alike.
From that, we move on to the 80s and 90s, when more brands try their luck. Nike faces their boldest move in 1986. John McEnroe is in desperate need of a new sneaker and the brand gets going on some initial designs. They struggle at first to impress the world’s most dynamic player at the time.
The design and performance team at Nike feel they’ve sent over the best tennis shoes as options. McEnroe remains unconvinced. Eventually, he spots a certain sneaker concept that catches his eye. McEnroe describes this blueprint in many interviews as a “throwaway” that Nike didn’t plan on showing him.
He absolutely falls for it and wears the prototype to tournaments against the advice of the Nike crew, including Tinker himself. Not only does McEnroe love the shoe, Nike decides to run with it – and that is how we get the legendary Air Trainer 1.
In the years to follow, we witness a rise of footwear innovations in the sport. The Stan Smiths and Air Trainer models are now style icons. You’re more likely to spot a pair of the former on a runway than on any tennis court.
Despite this, the sport’s footwear is in a wonderful state at the moment. The best tennis shoes on the planet compete every single day through the use of new technology and features. These days, terms like torsional support, protective toe-caps, and knit uppers are standard.
Fortunately, our list of the best tennis shoes available right now is here to help you make the right choice.
Though this isn’t a bad place to get started, it’s worth remembering that the best way to know what shoe suits you best is simply to try on as – and play in – as many as possible!