While the "tennis shoe" is often used as a description for any athletic shoe, real tennies are made with court-specific features. Although distinct, the models below start with herringbone soles (closely spaced rubber ridges) to help you stop, start and move laterally on hard-court surfaces; flat, circular ball-of-the-foot pads for quick pivoting; and the classic white coloring long associated with the game.
Light on your feet
Fila X-Speed: Lightweight speed demon.
Likes: Beautiful looks. Just 14.5 ounces; feels quick. Ideal for rabbits who like to run and dive all over the court. Forefoot mesh panels keep feet cool.
Dislikes: Not as supportive as others, especially over long matches.
Price: $75. www.fila.com; (800) 787-3452.
Prince Viper III Mid: Super stability and great value.
Likes: Firm ankle support. Only leather shoe of the test group. Squared-off toe box comfortable for medium to wide feet. A long plastic shank under the shoe bed is said to reduce fatigue of pronators. Heavy rubber toe cap to prevent foot-drag wear on serves. Lots of shoe for the money.
Dislikes: Heavy at 18.5 ounces.
Price: $89. www.princetennis.com; (800) 283-6647.
An all-around ace
K-Swiss Ultrascendor: Good all-around features and value.
Likes: Light at 15 ounces. Roomy. Fine fit and stability.
Price: $95. www.kswiss.com; (800) 938-8000.
For those tiebreakers
Adidas Barricade III: Five-setter's delight.
Likes: Solid and supportive for long matches. Foot feels locked as if in a ski boot thanks to rigid plastic midfoot beam. Great lateral stability. Heavy rubber toe cap to prevent foot-drag wear.
Dislikes: Heavy at 18 ounces. Expensive.
Price: $120. www.adidas.com; (800) 289-2724.
-- Roy M. Wallack