If there's one thing that sets Nike apart from its competitors, it's the ability to leverage technologies across the company's various sports categories when creating a new shoe. That's certainly the case with the all new NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly, which borrows elements from track and field, American football and global football footwear to create an entirely new breed of tennis shoe. The development of the Air Zoom Ultrafly began three years ago, when the NikeCourt design team learned that the brand's tennis athletes regularly wore track spikes when running sprints, leading them to wonder how they could transfer that sort of lightweight, formfitting footwear onto the court. According to Michael Hui, Nike Senior Designer of Tennis Footwear, the goal was nothing short of building a "rocket ship" for feet.
Naturally, the unprecedented melding of a tennis shoe and track spike would result in a disruptive design. The NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly showcases an eye-catching silhouette that's both lightweight and low to the ground, featuring a Pebax propulsion plate for spring and support during quick cuts; hexagonal Nike Zoom Air units for responsive cushioning; and a Flyknit ankle cuff for locked-in stability. Finally, a unique asymmetrical construction, seen most readily in the lacing, allows athletes to cut diagonally across the court.
Continue reading for athlete insights about the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly through an interview with Canadian tennis pro Genie Bouchard, and expect the shoe to hit select Nike retailers and online beginning March 9.
Release Date: 3/9/16 (Wednesday)
What appeals to you about the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly?
It looks less like a traditional tennis shoe and more like a soccer cleat, which is incredibly cool. It’s like nothing we’ve seen in tennis before, so to me, it’s changing the game of tennis footwear.
Why is speed so important in tennis and how does this shoe help your quickness on the court?
Speed is very important. If you can’t even get to the ball, you can’t hit it. So you definitely need speed and every little bit helps. The fact that this shoe is so light helps me get to the ball quicker.
This is the first time Flyknit has been in a performance tennis shoe. What does the Flyknit collar do for you?
I love the extra sense of support I get with it around my ankle. I just feel super confident when I’m moving in it. It’s just great support having it there.
This shoe provides a tighter fit than traditional tennis shoes. Why is that important?
The shoe wraps around your foot in a different way than just tying up a standard tennis shoe. I feel quicker in it because I know there are no extra parts to the shoe. It’s really just what I need and nothing else.
What do you like most about the aesthetics of the NikeCourt Air Zoom Ultrafly?
I love the look. I love the Flyknit collar. It’s so different and it’s just going to stand out in tennis so much. I think it could be an iconic piece for tennis, which makes it really exciting.