Tennis has long been built on a foundation of conservative tradition. By and large, K-Swiss has built their following on streamlined, well-rounded shoes that perform without drawing attention to themselves. But you can officially mark 2014 as the year K-Swiss wanted to make some noise. The company has introduced the Ultra Express, a lightweight, running-inspired shoe with eye-catching aethetics and solid pricing. Plus, these bold tennis shoes are made for both men and women. Here is how I found the Ultra Express to stack up in on-court testing.
The Ultra Express matches its aggressive styling with a high level of on court performance. Once I decided to use the top eyelet, I felt locked down from my ankles to my forefoot, even with the shoe’s minimalist design. I found excellent lateral stability for quick cuts and aggressive moving. The extra flex provided by the seamless upper made it feel like the shoe moved with me, as opposed to the clunky feel some shoes can have. Aided by a SuperFoam midsole, they handled prolonged hard court poundings without thinning out noticeably. Toe draggers will receive extra protection from the Durawrap reinforcement at the toe guard area. The Aosta 7.0 sole grips the court very well without feeling too sticky to execute hard stops and shifts.
From a durability standpoint, the Ultra Express probably won’t break any records. I was already noticing some balding at the 14 hour mark. Despite that, the wear on the soles is not out of line with what I have come to expect in the lightweight shoe segment. There is simply a trade-off of durability for speed. Players familiar with the lifespan of speed-focused shoes will find durability that is on par with other offerings. Overall the shoe offers up an excellent package of comfort and stability with a light fast feel.
In the Ultra Express, your feet will be breathing fresh air at all times. This shoe is one of the most well ventilated shoes I’ve tried in recent memory. The seamless synthetic & mesh upper provides ample breathability in all areas of the shoe. The high level of breathability make it an ideal candidate for players in high heat and/or humid climates.
The shoe fits true to size and is comfortable out of the box with no break in required. With a running inspired seamless upper, there is plenty of flex to the shoe without becoming floppy. The forefoot and toe box area provide a snug fit without being too narrow. This provides for a secure fit in the front of the shoe. The shoe is not overly cushioned, but provides a solid level of comfort given its lightweight design. The ankle collar, while well padded, was a bit loose fitting. I solved the issue by utilizing the last eyelet of the lacing system. While this corrected the issue for me, it may cause problems for others. The last eyelet is placed so high on the shoe that it may dig into the ankle for some players. Once I had mine laced all the way up, the shoe had a secure and well-formed fit to my foot. I also appreciated the extra padding on the tongue, something that other light weight shoes often lack.
The Ultra Express represents an aggressive new design by K-Swiss. By taking what it has learned from running shoes and applying it to tennis, they have designed a very light and fast option that provides surprisingly high levels of support. Players seeking a match-ready model that will keep up with fast-paced action in style and comfort should be lacing up a pair of K-Swiss Ultra Express shoes.
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About the Reviewer: Matt Locke currently serves as the Junior Programs & Development Coordinator for USTA-Idaho and is an active USTA League and Tournament player.