If you’ve been out of the game for a while, you’ve likely noticed that Nike has changed just about every tennis shoe in their lineup. Worry not! We’re here to help with our comprehensive list of the best men’s and women’s Nike shoes for tennis. We break down the current Nike tennis shoe families, and discuss the differences between each new Nike tennis shoe.
To start off, let’s differentiate between the two families. We’re getting to a point in tennis shoe technology where many of the lightweight shoes are pretty durable, and vice versa. Even so, these shoe families are designed for tennis players seeking a particular style of shoe.
The Vapor family consists of the Vapor NXT, Vapor Pro, and Vapor Lite. These shoes are designed from the ground-up to be your fast, lightweight, and more dynamic type of shoes.
The Zoom family, in contrast, is designed with a focus on support and firmer cushioning. The shoes in this family are the Zoom NXT, Zoom Pro, and Zoom Lite 3. With this in mind, we’ll now compare the specific shoes in each family by price-point.
We’ll start at the top with the Vapor NXT and Zoom NXT. The first thing our playtesters noticed about these shoes was their slightly wider toe boxes compared to past premium Nike shoes, such as the Vapor X. They’re both great all-around options, as well, given their premium price tags. As for their differences, the Vapor NXT features Nike’s React technology. It has a full-length sleeve construction, and is made for athletes who want to play their fastest. The Zoom NXT features Zoom Air technology. Its tongue and lacing system are modern, but have a more traditional feel. Whereas the Vapor NXT’s cushioning is more plush, the Zoom NXT’s cushioning is firmer. The Zoom NXT also delivers greater durability and support. It’s the shoe replacing the GP Turbo seen on the feet of stars like Naomi Osaka and Frances Tiafoe.
Next are two shoes in the $100 price range, being the Vapor Pro and Zoom Pro. The Vapor Pro is billed as a lighter and more supportive version of the Air Zoom Vapor X. It contains Zoom Air technology, and offers a glove-like fit with a close-to-the-court feel. Many tour pros opt to wear this shoe. The Zoom Pro also contains a Zoom Air unit, but leverages a full-length plate for a springboard effect. It’s designed to offer comfortable and supportive performance in a lightweight and breathable package.
Tennis players seeking more cost-effective performance can turn to the Vapor Lite and Zoom Lite 3. At this price-point, players can expect solid performance that focuses on the purpose of each shoe family. The Vapor Lite is designed for quick, dynamic movements and greater breathability. The Zoom Lite 3 has a classic look thanks to its leather and mesh upper, and is designed to be both comfortable and responsive.
You may be wondering where Rafa’s Vapor Cage 4 fits into this list. This shoe has stuck around thanks to its exceptional durability, support, and response. It has a half-length sleeve and leverages Zoom Air midsole technology. The models in production now come with Rafa’s signature bull logo on the tongue, and the word “Rafa” on the heel. It’s the only Nike tennis shoe that comes with a 6-month outsole warranty, but good luck wearing it down that far.
That wraps up our Nike tennis shoe guide, but don’t forget that you can check out any of Nike’s tennis shoes at TennisExpress.com. We hope this outline has helped narrow down which shoe is best for you. Subscribe to our blog and YouTube channel for more breakdowns such as this one, and we’ll see you then.