Asics ascent in the tennis shoe market has been nothing short of incredible. They look poised to take another massive leap forward with the introduction of the new Asics Gel Court FF. This model seems to incorporate the best aspects of the existing Resolution and Speed lines while also introducing completely new technologies. The unisex model (women should order 1.5 sizes down) utilizes Gel cushioning in the heel and forefoot but introduces FlyteFoam into the midsole. This material is 55% lighter than traditional EVA midsoles and is composed of organic super fibers that return more energy with each step and retain their cushioning longer. The FF also uses a Mono-Sock design for a foot hugging, stable feel. Although it packs a steep price point, I had to hit the court with them to see how they played.
Out of the box, the FF required no break in time. The Mono-Sock bootie construction made them a little tight to get on but as long as I loosened the laces up, I didn’t have to use the shoe horn I’ve seen some people complain about. The upper was soft and flexible right from the start. The length of the shoe was quite long and I could have easily gone down a half size and been fine. The width was medium and the toe box was a little snug, but the shoe was not as narrow as the Asics Speed series. The upper was also flexible enough to shape around my foot easily, so players with a little bit wider foot should still be OK. Once in the shoe, the fit was absolutely incredible. I have many of the other bootie style shoes that have come out and they all do an admirable job holding your foot but the FF was simply on another level. Even with the additional length, my foot was absolutely locked into the shoe and felt incredibly stable. The FlyteFoam midsole and Gel cushioning combined for a feel that, while not pillow soft, felt incredibly sturdy and supportive. This shoe managed to combine a relatively low to the ground feel with a high degree of support and lateral stability.
The Gel Court FF had excellent breathability. The upper was comprised of mesh, allowing the shoe to breathe easy and vent plenty of heat during hot, summer hard court sessions. Personally, I think Asics has gone overboard with their usage of thick, heat trapping rubber on the Resolution and Speed shoes recently so I was ecstatic to see this shoe have more mesh and lighter, airier feel overall.
The only words I had to describe the on court performance were GAME CHANGING. This was absolutely the best tennis shoe I have worn in years. No matter how aggressively I was moving on court, the shoe supported my foot at every turn. The shoe shaped to my foot so perfectly that I barely even knew it was there. Fans of hard core stability shoes like the Barricade or Resolution may feel a little vulnerable at first but after awhile the FF rewarded my trust in it every time. Traction was another outstanding attribute of this shoe. The AHAR Plus outsole gripped the court well while still also allowing me to change direction quickly with no fuss. The shoe has some extra material at the toe and medial side to protect from dragging. It was more than enough for how I move but aggressive hard court sliders and toe draggers may wish there was a little thicker material in those spots to offer protection. The outsole wore well and it took me weeks of heavy play to notice some balding. The only drawback from a durability perspective was that the shoe is so expensive, I wish it came with a 6 month outsole guarantee. Most lightweight shoes don’t, but this model bridges the gap between being light weight and supportive that it would be nice to have a guarantee protecting your investment.
The tennis shoe market has just radically changed again with the introduction of this latest model from Asics. It is the best bridge between stability and lightweight focused shoes that I have seen yet. FlyteFoam and Gel cushioning provide a stable, incredibly supportive ride and the Mono-Sock design makes the shoe melt away when you’re on court. While the price point creates a steep barrier of entry, the Asics Gel Court FF represents one of the best possible shoe choices on the market for anyone who takes their tennis footwear seriously.
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.