Tennis shoes used to be synonymous with understated elegance.
Sporting authorities dictated branding and colour laws that meant that clay and grass court silhouettes stayed timeless due to their enforced simplicity. Then everything went crazy. As a result, contemporary designs have never quite grabbed our attention like they could have done, but that's not to say that we don't love technical tennis creations. The 1980's ushered in some of our favourite tennis shoes that broke that mould - McEnroe with the Air Trainer 1 and the Agassi-endorsed neon pop of the Air Tech Challenge, and the contribution from Mr. Tinker Hatfield was crucial. So what does a Tinker Hatfield tennis shoe look like in 2012? With Roger Federer as the signature athlete, the stakes are high, and whereas Rafael Nadal's Court Ballistec 4.3 uses Max Air and Lunarlon, Federer's opted for a slightly lighter mix of Zoom Air with a Lunarlon rear, but it's the subtle applications added for performance purposes that make the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour look very nice indeed.
Looking like the sibling of the current wave of Nike Running releases, the lace loop system inside and external jagged panels solve the dilemma of applying resilience and stability via a Dynamic Fit that moulds around the foot and secures the forefoot without the need for a Velcro strap à la the AT1. Like any good Nike technology, the byproduct is something aesthetically pleasing. It means layered accent colours, and the thermoplastic polyurethane cup-like frame above the sole unit offers extra side support to stop the foot rolling, plus more scope for killer makeups. The minimal tennis shoe is back again. We've handled a pair and can testify to the featherweight feel. How well they hold up during hours of play is something we're keen to investigate, but we're inclined to think that Tinker done did it again. These, shorts and a white tee is a potentially strong look for the warmer months ahead. The Zoom Vapor 9 Tour drops very soon and should be arriving in the Crooked Tongues store too. Some progressive performance from a man who knows and an athlete with very specific demands.