This is the brand that launched low-to-the-ground performance technology in the fall of 1997 with its Air Oscillate shoe. This innovative sneaker, worn by Pete Sampras when he was dominating the tour, featured Zoom Air, an ultrathin cushioning air unit. But the Air Max Courtballistec 2.3 picks up Nike’s Air Max heritage of big airbags in the heel for maximum protection and comfort. Also of note: Despite using mesh in the upper, the Courtballistec 2.3 is the heaviest shoe in this group. And it’s a little hard to put on because the tongue is attached to the sock liner. But once you’re in, you can expect a smooth ride even on the hardest courts.