In tennis, no adage rings truer than, "you can't hit what you can't reach." The speed of the modern game at the highest levels is only getting faster. To help athletes take advantage of this on-court reality, Nike Tennis designers focused on creating a shoe that delivers explosive speed while also providing cushioning and protective support.
"I love the Nike Lunar Ballistec because it's so light. It gives you quickness in the feet so you can be explosive when changing direction without worrying about losing control," said Victoria Azarenka. "We play on all kinds of hard surfaces so to have that type of comfort and protection is a game changer."
The typical tennis shoe weighs around 16 ounces. The Nike Lunar Ballistec in a men's size 10 weighs just 13 ounces with the introduction of Nike Lunarlon, a proprietary Nike technology that provides extra cushioning while keeping the shoe lightweight and responsive. That weight reduction translates into pure speed to the ball for tennis athletes.
"Our primary objective was to design a revolutionary Nike Tennis shoe that makes players faster to the ball," said Michael Hui, Senior Designer of Tennis Footwear at Nike. "It wasn't about making a shoe lighter at all costs. We wanted to add to the superb durability, support and cushioning that existed in our tennis footwear to create a shoe that would improve our athlete's ability to compete and win."
Nike Tennis continuously focuses on delivering lighter, faster and better products for tennis athletes. That journey has trade-offs and challenges—especially with regard to footwear. A light shoe needs to be durable enough to last five sets on hot, hard courts or slide with finesse and control on clay. But a shoe with the right protection and support elements needs to be faster than its predecessors. It's a constant balancing act that provides an inspiring challenge to the Nike Tennis design team who focused on innovation in three key areas: the upper, midsole and outsole:
Borrowing in style and material from popular Nike Football and Nike Basketball designs, the synthetic leather and mesh upper on the Nike Lunar Ballistec reduces weight while providing a supportive fit for the player. Dynamic Nike Flywire technology wraps the mid foot and arch for an adaptive and glove-like fit that is customizable using the lacing system of the shoe.
The Lunarlon midsole of the Nike Lunar Ballistec is full-length and was crafted especially for tennis footwear. The material features a soft, yet resilient, foam core encased within a proprietary foam carrier for ultra-plush cushioning, springy response and real support. A TPU mid foot shank delivers great stability during the kinds of quick directional changes and sprints seen during play.
Extensive foot pressure and performance data was utilized to create the unique outsole of the Nike Lunar Ballistec. The outsole provides extreme levels of durability and traction where it is most required, while material has been removed where it's not needed to make it as light as possible. This outsole puts the player closer to the ground for better support and control when sliding into a shots. Outrigger technology on the lateral side of the shoe enhances launch for quick sprints across the court and flex grooves deliver better articulation and flexibility to allow the foot to move more naturally.
The new Nike Lunar Ballistec for men and women launches globally on Nike.com and at select retailers worldwide beginning Jan. 2, 2014.