December 28th, 2012 by Sneaker News
There was a time that “tennis shoes” was a term perfectly synonymous with the word sneakers, and for some regions and older generations this is still the case. However, excluding classic retro and vintage styles, it’s been quite a while since new models actually designed for the game of tennis have been embraced as anything more than a shoe to wear while smacking a ball over a net with a racket.
In the early 90s, the Andre Agassi-fueled Nike Air Tech Challenge line shattered the expectations of what a tennis shoe could be and look like, both on and off the court, and has remained as the highwater mark of the genre for some time now. Even with current superstars like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on their roster, Nike had never really captured that crossover street-wearable magic on any of their signature models until earlier this year with the introduction of the Zoom Vapor Tour 9.
With Roger Federer’s career accomplishments now reaching mythical heights, Nike upped the ante for his shoe line by bringing in none other than Tinker Hatfield to design this year’s installment. As expected, the design legend brought his one of a kind approach to the shoe, eagerly embracing some new technology by using an iPad program to map out conceptual sketches and blueprints, eventually creating a beautiful new silhouette that’s as lightweight and breathable as a running shoe, but with all the support and traction needed for optimum performance on the tennis court.
In addition to its tennis capabilities, the shoe’s sleek tech look also caught on as a sleeper hit for the street as well. From the initial white/neon/red inline colorway to later offerings like the Wimbledon and “NYC” US Open editions and the Agassi ATC-inspired “Flame” version, there was plenty for sneaker appreciators to like about the Vapor Tour 9, which quietly solidified an enthusiastic cult following and re-established some long absent street cred for the Nike Tennis category.
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