The NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC, while noticeably labeled as a tennis shoe, is definitely more than a one trick pony. How so you ask? We’re here to find out.
The Nike Air Zoom Zero HC is Available for $130 at NikeStore
Traction on the NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC was superb. The refined rubber outsole grabbed and gripped the ground through every movement thrown at it. Whether it be on the basketball court, tennis, handball, racquetball, and/or volleyball (yes, this shoe should work for many sports) you’ll be covered.
The heel-to-toe transition didn’t have any problems either due to midsole shaping and the aggressive triangular gridded pattern underfoot that allowed me to stop on a dime. This is definitely one of the best aspects of the shoe, but it isn’t the only one.
This is the first time we’ve seen a curved in Zoom Air unit, let alone one that runs full-length. The top-loaded Zoom Air unit is felt directly under the heel and slowly transitions down at the midfoot to make the forefoot area bottom-loaded. By doing this, the wearer should get enough cushioning and be able to turn the pressure of each step into energy for the next movement.
My experience in the NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC was fantastic. There was ample feedback without loss of impact protection on landing — it’s just awesome. As a big man who plays an inside-outside game, I really appreciate the ingenuity and thought process that provided such a joyous experience in a multi-sport shoe. Now, let’s see if Nike will transition this technology into actual basketball shoes?
A single-piece mesh upper backed with a neoprene bootie-like sleeve gave the shoe a real nice and different feel. There was some fusing and rubberized materials along the toecap around the medial side to provide durability, especially for those that juke heavily and/or drag their toes.
The rest of the shoe is made up of a soft yet durable midsole that holds the comfortable and responsive curved Zoom Air unit. Beneath that is a very durable and aggressive patterned. The NikeCourt Air Zoom Zero HC features a combination of things that work well in unison — and that’s all we can ask for.
The fit of the Air Zoom Zero HC excels. While putting on the shoe was quite a struggle at first (lack of heel pull tab), once you’re in you’re set. I went true to size and even with a slightly wider-foot, the shoe fits well with a minor break-in period. Loosening the two front area laces a tad helped ease the break-in, especially for those who don’t like materials pressing down into their foot.
The feel of the foot being propelled forward due to the curved Zoom takes some adjustment, but once your feet are contoured into the shoe it’s fantastic. There is a fused strand along the top of the mesh material (above where the neoprene tongue meets) which I’m not fond of because of some pinching, but that’s probably due to the shape of my feet. I definitely wouldn’t consider half a size down because it fits well. The Air Zoom Zero HC definitely gives me a Nike Hyperchase-like feel in terms of how the foot fits the shoe — and that’s definitely not a bad thing.
The support comes directly from the great lockdown the shoe provides, along with the curved full-length Zoom Air cushioning. No matter what sport (basketball, racquetball, handball, volleyball, and tennis) or what movements you throw at it, the Air Zoom Zero HC held its own and then some. The solid rubber traction utilized on this shoe is what I wish all other Nike models would take queues from.
The notion that specific shoes are made exclusively for specific sports is always around. However, the Air Zoom Zero HC, while made for tennis, was definitely made for so much more.
From the build and thought process to the design and materials, this shoe hit on nearly every aspect necessary for me to perform at my highest level — without wavering in confidence, regardless of the sport I played in it. The curved Zoom is something that Nike can build on in future models because it is a game changer in terms of cushioning and responsiveness (as long as it’s done right).
To be honest, the Air Zoom Zero HC was one of my favorite shoes to play in; the shoe was fun, and it gives you a sense of direction the Swoosh is headed. It might be adding a lot of future expectation, but if this is just the beginning of what a performance tennis (or multi-sport) shoe can be then I’m all in.
Perhaps Nike’s basketball and tennis divisions can link up, and somehow, some way, throw their ideas together to create the ultimate performance shoe, regardless of the sport. I don’t see why not, but only time will tell. If it does, I’ll definitely be ready to test that shoe. In the meantime, NikeCourt Zoom Zero HC 2, where you at?