By Scoop Malinowski I would guesstimate my friend Mike has called me easily about twenty times after losing to the same old 69 year old warhorse. Maybe twenty five times. The story was the same every time… “We split sets then he won the tiebreaker…” Mike is 51 and as fit as any human being over the age of 35. He won’t eat a french fry, a piece of cheese, no soda or sweets or white flour, heck he won’t even eat pasta. Of course, he’s ripped like Rambo and is fast around the court. We haven’t played in over a decade but I remember his game, slice backhand, big forehand, but only decent at net. His nemesis Christian has played his whole life and does everything well. He even plays two singles matches on hard courts – in the same day – against 4.5 level players. Mike could not solve the Christian puzzle. Until this week. He called me on Thursday night, saying how well he was playing with his new adidas Barricade blue Djokovic model shoes. He was ecstatic about these shoes and how they felt, his feet were no longer sliding inside like the felt in the Asics he used previously. I was somewhat skeptical. The last match with Christian was another heartbreaker. Split sets, Mike up 5-0 in the deathbreaker but then he lost 10-7 once again to his master. But the tone of Mike’s voice was different this time, he was so excited and confident – with his new adidas shoes, boasting of beating up on several tough players in the last week. So they would play again on Thursday. It was Christian’s 70th birthday. The phone call came at seven last night. I answered, “You finally got him!” Somehow I knew. “Yep! First set 63, second set 6-4.” I asked, how could the shoes have made you play better?!? “I felt I could hit the angles a little bit more acute and get him wider and then finish the point with the next shot.” Somehow a pair of shoes can make a tennis player actually play better. Unsurprisingly, Christian had a hard time accepting losing to a player for the first time after beating him at least forty times. “He threw his racquet and almost broke it. I never saw him do that before.” After the match, Christian was not exactly generous with his praises. “He didn’t give me any credit. He said, I haven’t been playing well all week, I was a little tired, my volleys were off, my forehand was off…” “Hey, what about the way I played??!? Maybe I played better which through your game off,” replied Mike. Still, no credit was offered or bestowed. In other words, Christian felt Mike got lucky and was overdue. But Mike isn’t buying the subtle discrediting of his epic victory. He ordered a second pair of blue Djokovic Barricades from Tenniswarehouse.com for $99 (Holabird sold out the blue ones). Hey Mike, why not the white or the black, why the blue? “I want to stay consistent.” So there you have it. A new tennis shoe can change your tennis career. Okay, now I’m going to order my new pair of the adidas Djokovic Barricades, but the white model, not the blue. I’ll leave those for Mike.