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With star vegan athletes like Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams being very successful (on a fully plant-based diet), and documentaries like the Game Changers making such thrilling impact, it’s not surprising to see more and more people searching for cruelty-free equipment.
If you’re into competitive and want to have an edge over your opponent in the tennis court, you want vegan tennis shoes that enable you to get around the court effortlessly.
In this article, we’ll go over the coolest tennis shoes and give you some insight into how and why they will give a winning edge when taking on your opponent.
Before you buy tennis shoes, you have to take into account their weight, the type of material they’re made from (they must be fully synthetic), the traction they give you for sudden shifts in direction, and the type of shoe that best suits your style of play, also based on the type of court.
As you know, different types of courts demand dissimilar types of grip. Using grass-court shoes on clay doesn’t allow you to play your best game, so you need to take into account the courts you usually play in and select shoes for that situation.
We review some of the best vegan tennis shoes in the market, and we provide you with 8 tennis shoes that will revolutionize your play on the court.
8 Best Vegan Tennis Shoes
ASICS Men’s Court FF 2 Tennis Shoes
The ASICS Court FF 2 shoes were first used by the plant-powered player Novak Djokovic.
It builds on the success of the original FF by maintaining some of the original elements, like the Mono-sock construction and ultra-responsive FlyteFoam cushioning.
Two elements that blend comfort and stability with flexibility for optimal responsiveness on the court.
However, the ASICS team did redesign the upper and subbed it with a more supportive blend of mesh and TPU materials which enhanced the durable and flexible nature of the shoe. They also updated the outsole with motorcycle-inspired soles that are rounder, and provide you with more control when you’re sliding due to the tremendous traction they have.
The most likable aspect of this shoe (according to reviewers) includes many things from support, traction, fast feel, comfort, cosmetics, fit and even the durable mesh that makes it a great medium-long term investment.
This said, some users suggest that the laces are too thin, so they have a tendency to come undone, which can be fixed by swapping them with thicker laces.
ASICS Women’s Gel-Game 7 Tennis Shoes
Women usually rally a lot more than men, so they need that extra mobility that allows them to cover the court more quickly, and they need protection to endure longer but less aggressive sets.
The Gel-Game 7 was designed to cater to that type of play, but it also can be used recreationally because it is ultimately a lightweight, supportive and breathable shoe.
In fact, it can also be used outside the court as long as you choose a more neutral color.
The upper is built with synthetic materials that are lightweight and breathable, and the insole is injected with GEL cushioning to reduce shock and maintain the comfort when playing on hard courts, which will happen regularly if you’re a hard-working beginner.
It is also equipped with Trusstic System technology, a system that adds stability through the midfoot and helps control the twists in sliding movements. In addition, it comes with a removable insole which allows for the use of an orthotic insole.
Overall, this is a great recreational (and for the less physical people) shoe, and it’s set at an appealing price point while maintains some high-quality characteristics. Keep in mind that it may feel very snug at first (like, really), but it gets roomy over time.
Adidas Men’s Adizero Ubersonic 3 Tennis Shoes
If you’re ultra-competitive and give everything for every set, the Adizero Ubersonic 3 are a good match because they were designed to sustain a fast game of back and forth, allowing you to quickly cover the court without risking an injury.
On top of that, they have a super grippy outsole that lets you stop and turn in seconds while maintaining your balance and stability.
The shoe has a PU-midsole and glove-like bootie construction (called SPRINTFRAME), which not only offers a comfortable fit but also enough flexibility so that the shoe feels light and speedy.
You can also expect excellent traction from the ADIWEAR 6 outsole which is well suited for aggressive players with a habit of sliding into shots. Plus, the soft EVA midsole takes away a lot of the fatigue caused by the shock, by neatly protecting your feet.
This is a high-performing shoe, and while it withstands aggressive, and intense back-and-forth plays, you might find that it lacks in terms of durability, at least according to some reviews.
ASICS Women’s Gel-Nimbus 22 (D) Tennis Shoes
The Gel-Nimbus 22 are actually running shoes (like most tennis shoes), but they transition very well into tennis due to the technology that supports hardcore movements, allowing flexible players to run amok in the court.
At the same time, it also offers exceptional support, starting with the comfortability of the heel fit that stretches to the forefoot.
There’s no slippage, so you don’t need to crank down on the laces, and the heel-cushion allows you to feel light and responsive to more easily go for sudden, explosive movements.
So, if you want to feel bouncy and mobile, the heel technology in the Nimbus 22 has you covered.
On top of that, the shock absorption in the heel, and the soft midsole make it so your joints are protected from the impact, helping you prevent injuries on the court.
Nimbus 22 is an improvement of the Nimbus 21, and besides the amazing heel technology, you also get a new breathable upper mesh that eliminates hot spots, and a thicker instep for a snug fit that doesn’t constrict your movement.
This is a great beginner-intermediate shoe that has acquired a wonderful rep among hardcore ASICS users, and that is quite apparent on Amazon. The least likable aspect among users is the price, but that fades away rather quickly when you realize how good the shoe is.
ASICS Men’s Gel-Resolution 7 Tennis Shoe
Men and women have different pressure points and the Gel-Resolution 7 takes that into account, by having a gender-specific cushion technology.
With the Gel-Resolution 7, Asics introduces a new PU upper material that is designed to provide support, stability, and a seamless fit. The synthetic upper flexes and moves with you, while your foot remains securely locked in.
What you might note is that it takes more time to break-in, so it might not feel immediately comfortable, but it’ll adapt to your feet over time. Furthermore, the shoes can run a bit warm but it’s not enough to affect your performance.
The cushioning is top-notch, and it effectively protects you from hard landings on hard courts, but it still gives you enough sensitivity to actually feel the court beneath you.
Some users who have put a lot of hours on the shoe consider it to be quite durable, and that is made possible with the resistant flexion fit upper and the guard toe protector that enhances the outsole’s durability against abrasion.
Nike Women’s Air Zoom Vapor X Tennis Shoes
The Nike Air Zoom Vapor X has a sophisticated look, but the infused Zoom Vapor Air technology makes it more than just that— it’s actually the perfect training partner for women tackling the hard court for a quick workout.
The top feature is the Air Zoom unit inserted in the heel which provides a low-profile, responsive cushioning that absorbs the shock and distributes it evenly across the foot. As a result, it minimizes the impact and prevents pain or injury, but it still allows for some sensitivity.
There are diverging opinions when it comes to the modern lacing design, with some suggesting the laces didn’t quite hold their feet in place, and others feeling more locked in than ever.
In addition, the innovative rubber sole was similarly divisive, with some users adoring the sole during the aggressive, explosive movements, and others not liking the feel of the sole.
But other than that, the shoe is super lightweight, has superb in-step comfort, it looks very sophisticated and it’s definitely a wonderful choice for short, intense sets.
Nike Men’s Air Zoom Vapor X HC Tennis Shoes
With this Air Zoom Vapor X, Nike intended to improve Roger Federer’s signature shoes, by improving their durability without sacrificing any of the instant responsiveness needed in professional competition.
You still get the Dynamic Fit system that helps you feel properly locked in and comfortable, with the ventilation system being improved from the previous model. However, like women’s shoes, this one is also quite divisive, and it might not feel the same for everyone.
This being said, the field-tested Air Zoom midsole, and the high-performance, low-to-the-ground feel allows you to move lightly and aggressively around the court, while still maintaining the flex and stability those during sharp, sliding movements.
Nike planned to improve durability by adjusting some of the materials in the outsole, but it seems, according to users, that it led to a loss in traction, without making a significant improvement to the durability of the shoes.
So, even though they perform as the Air Zoom Vapors’ should, there are diverging opinions, even though someone like Federer actually uses these vegan tennis shoes.
Nike Women’s Zoom Cage 3 Tennis Shoes
The Cages feature a bootie construction for a slip-in, sock-like experience that can accommodate different foot widths and fit preferences. In addition, some of the users suggest that the insole feels very plush, and the shoe actually feels very stable during aggressive movements.
While they’re supportive, they aren’t as comfortable as the Air Zoom Vapors. In fact, one of the complaints is related to the stiff feel of the uppers, and the shallow toe box that makes it torturous for people with toes. So, in hindsight, they’re actually better for narrow feet.
At the same time, the Zoom Cage tennis shoe is way more durable than the Air Zoom Vapors, which is an attractive quality for beginners looking to gain experience, and who are still not committing to aggressive gravity-defying movements.
They’re also pretty lightweight when you take into account the truly durable outsole and smaller, but more supportive elements of the shoe that should make it heavy.
Overall, a great beginner-friendly shoe for the relentless, hardworking player.
How to Choose Tennis Shoes
There are a few aspects you need to take into consideration before buying a tennis shoe. What I can tell you is that there’s not a single, perfect tennis shoe that has everything you’re looking for.
Do you want a durable shoe or a lightweight shoe? Do you want more support, or do you more flexibility? Do you want a super high-quality shoe, or are you willing to forfeit quality for a better-valued shoe? It’s important to keep in mind that shoes that ultimately excel in being lightweight… might not necessarily be durable, and vice versa.
Let me help you decide what type of shoe is best for you.
Durable vs Lightweight
A shoe’s durability is often intertwined with how much the shoe weighs, so it usually comes down to choosing a combination of both.
Obviously, durable means that a shoe lasts longer. I would say this is important for players that play tennis very often and move around the court in a very power-driven way (Nadal, for example), and don’t want to change shoes every six months.
However, in order to make a shoe more durable, brands typically have to add more materials to the shoe, which often increases the weight of the shoe.
There are certain materials and technology that can keep the shoe lightweight, but that only works up to a certain point. With the aggressive shift in directions and the overall physicality in tennis, we can clearly say that the sport is pretty tough on any shoe, especially the sole.
That is why designers often add a bit more thickness to the sole to increase its durability, but they may also use materials that are, by nature, denser, and heavier.
Lightweight shoes, on the other hand, are designed to help you move freely and more quickly around the court. But lightweight shoes often have a thinner sole, so you have a more graspable level of sensitivity that allows you to actually feel the ground as you move.
In hindsight, you generally have shoes that are less durable and protect you less against impact. A lightweight shoe is usually for people that are nimble on their feet, are in good shape, but also play in a more technical fashion.
And even though they’re not as durable as heavier shoes, their lifetime is directly related to the level and style of the player wearing them.
Flexibility & Performance VS Support & Stability
Choosing between flexibility and support is similar to choosing between durable and lightweight. When you prioritize one, you partially sacrifice the other.
Flexibility & Performance
A great flexible shoe molds and adapts to your foot and the movements you make on the court, even if that movement grazes the limitations of human movement. Flexible shoes are helpful because they allow you to move freely on the court.
Rafa Nadal would be someone that wears flexible shoes because of the effort and physical ability he has to perform certain movements on the verge of injury. That’s why he needs a shoe that can follow his gravity-defying movements, actually maximizing his performance.
The more flexible you are as a player, the more flexible your shoe should be.
Support & Stability
Supportive shoes offer more stability and protection for your feet and joints. Some players (such as Serena Williams) use shoes with a bit more ankle fabric for extra support. It can also be a shoe with more cushion in the sole and upper to absorb the impact and keep your foot stable with each movement you make.
A more supportive shoe helps you with preventing pain and injuries, but it might also limit you when it comes to mobility and flexibility. If you’ve had injuries in the past, or you really can’t afford to push your joints past a certain limit, a shoe with good support is essential.
If you’re getting started with tennis and you’re planning to play regularly, I recommend you prioritize support. Playing tennis on hard courts can be very hard on your joints, especially when you’re not physically prepared, so keep that in mind.
In case of injury, please visit a specialist and see what he recommends for you to play tennis.
Quality VS Value
Before you choose a shoe, you have to first decide how important the quality of the shoe is to you, especially if you’re concerned about your performance and well-being.
There are many shoes on the market that are below $80, but they typically don’t last as long as more expensive shoes when you consistently put them through the wringer. Also, they don’t usually combine the performance-based with the stability and durability-based elements, so you get a shoe that is less complete because it is limited in terms of materials and technology.
This being said, if you want to play tennis sporadically, then a better-value might be more important than the actual performance of the shoe.