Photo courtesy of NikeCourt

Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the latest Nick Kyrgios headline heard around the world.

First things first, let’s address the injured English elephant in the room.

It’s likely that you’ve read about Andy Murray’s stunning announcement in quite a number of places over the past few days. It was our intention to write about the man today in this space as well but after discussing it with our editor in chief, we’ve decided to hold off on our “Goodbye Andy” column for when the man will have actually retired. Which, to be fair, could happen as early as next Monday. Meh 🙁 🙁

That said, let’s get back to our regularly scheduled programming…

With a new year come new results and new beginnings, and apparently Nick Kyrgios has taken this mantra to heart to start 2019.

Because we don’t know if you’ve heard, but before the entire tennis world shed a tear or three at the Murray press conference of this past week, the talk of the 2019 Australian Open was tennis’s new basketball shoe.

Or wait, should that read “basketball’s new tennis shoe?” Either way, there’s a new shoe, courtesy of NikeCourt, presented to you by tennis star Kyrgios and basketball star Kyrie Irving. And what do you know, we have pictures and it’s absolutely great.

Now, we kind of mischaracterized things in the above paragraph, because the shoe is apparently very much a basketball shoe, not a tennis one, but it just so happens that the tennis player Kyrgios helped Irving design it, this marvel that is the NikeCourt Vapor X ‘Kyrie V’.

Still, this is an important and pretty big deal for tennis all the same.

For one thing, it’s an incredibly big moment for the Australian Kyrgios and the significance of which wasn’t lost on the man. “Yeah, it’s arguably the biggest moment of my career,” he told Complex. “I’m going to go out in front of my home crowd wearing the tennis shoes that share the name with my favorite basketball player. Representing Kyrie and myself at the same time, in front of such a big stage, is pretty crazy.”

Oh because he sure will. It’s not so much that this week at the Australian Open Kyrgios will be wearing and playing in the actual new Irving shoes as much as it is that they’ve created a tennis equivalent of the shoe, and that’s what Kyrgios will be wearing and playing in.

He’s never hidden that he absolutely loves basketball, like LOVES it even more than he likes tennis, so designing a new shoe with your favourite basketball player has to rank pretty high up on Kyrgios’s bucket list, right?

What a load of fun indeed.

If we examine things on a more macro level now, this is a good thing for the sport of tennis altogether because with this shoe, tennis finally goes mainstream in a way that it typically isn’t. Tennis is a great sport, of course and we’ll even go so far as to say the best one, but by and large it’s a relatively minor player—at least here in the North American television market.

Compare the tv ratings the unbelievable US Open women’s final managed last year to, like, anything from baseball or college football and it’s clear that American sports television has levels and that tennis isn’t at the top. Same goes for web media as well, where our sport remains a relative bit player. Tennis, in the collective mind of Americans, isn’t sexy one bit, no. But now a new basketball turned tennis shoe gets our wonderful sport of tennis a first entry in a world that’s typically foreign to it.

Because that’s the lesson here: the sport of tennis got a headline in a publication like Complex, which is a big freaking deal. And it didn’t get this headline because it was regarding Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova or another handful of tennis players turned global icons.

No, the headline only referred to Kyrgios as an unnamed tennis star. Which is the point: he’s a pretty great, at times excellent player and for some strange reason he made it on Complex darnit for reasons that had little to do with his results or level of play.

That ought to be a good thing.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here