Growing up, I called all athletic shoes “tennis shoes”. Matter of fact, I even wore the same pair of “tennis shoes” for everything – running, walking, hiking, etc. I had no idea there was such a big difference between “tennis shoes” and tennis shoes.
In tennis, players are moving constantly from side-to-side as well as forward and backward, and therefore require shoes with a blunter toe for added stability, and enough support for four-way directional movement. It’s also important to purchase shoes with enough support for your foot type – high arches, low arches, etc. Not wearing the right shoe could lead to injury.
Tennis shoes also have extra tough soles which are designed not only to handle the wear and tear of constant quick direction changes, but also to not scuff up the court surfaces.
I know right? You really DO need tennis, tennis shoes!
As a noob, you might not want to splurge on a new pair of tennies at first. If you own a pair of cross trainers, wear those instead of running shoes, as they offer better support. And be sure and check the regulations at the court where you’ll be playing, since many don’t allow **dark-soled shoes that could scuff the court.
Once you’ve decided to give tennis a shot, it’s definitely worth it to buy a pair of tennis-specific shoes. Just know that the most expensive shoe isn’t always the best shoe. I highly recommend Tennis Express, which also gives special discounts on all shoes/apparel for tennis teams :-)
** Some tennis-specific shoes do have dark soles, but they don’t leave marks on the court.