No Man's Land

Aug 23, 2006

Timeless Classic Wins Big in Tennis Arena

Now in its second year as the official clothing sponsor for the U.S. Open, Ralph Lauren Polo builds upon its already impressive portfolio to create an updated, yet timelessly functional line for tennis and America’s Grand Slam.

No Man’s Land elicited the help of some of its “regulars” to review these items. Readers took the clothes to the court and tested their flexibility, functionality, comfort level, and style. Overall, these clothes delivered in all areas, serving an ace with our reviewers. They are sure to be a “hit” with consumers as well.

Here are the details on a selection of items from Ralph Lauren Polo’s 2006 U.S. Open line.

US Open Ball Girl Rally Jacket (RLX Tennis)

Due to a string of 88 degree days, it has been difficult to put the Ball Girl Rally jacket to much outdoor use. However, as the U.S. Open signifies the end of summer, the Rally jacket will be perfect for the cooler fall weather.

With its slim athletic fit and stylish mockneck, the jacket is trendier than traditional workout gear. Slim means slim, so make sure to account for a smaller than usual fit when deciding on size. The soft stretch cotton jersey is both breathable and comfortable; perfect for the gym, the court, or even casual street wear. The return of Polo's "big pony" line is exciting; the oversized embroidered polo player on the left chest (4 inches), and the 11 inch screen-printed polo player on the back looks great.

The jacket may be a bit overpriced at $125, but it is an official limited-edition piece, which makes the price tag a bit less shocking. Overall, a great jacket, and perfect when paired with the Rally pants!

US Open Ball Girl Rally Pant (RLX Tennis)

In keeping with Polo's ability to make workout clothes trendy, the Polo Rally Pants are slim-fit with a bit of a flared hem, so as to not look ridiculous with tennis shoes. They have a little zipper pocket at the top, which is pretty much too small to hold anything except for maybe an ID, 1 key, or potentially an IPOD nano (even the uber tiny nano might be bit of a stretch). Regardless, the pants are super comfortable and super cute. At $98, they are more expensive than your average work out clothes, but the material is more breathable than the traditional cotton/lycra combination. They’ll make any girl wish she was playing in the U.S. Open alongside Andy Roddick/Roger Federer/Marat Safin. Even Roddick might be able to overlook the fact that it's not Lacoste.

U.S. Open Cap Sleeve Top

This top falls somewhere between a short-sleeved shirt, and a sleeveless shirt. A perfect medium, the capped sleeves make it look professional without inhibiting your playing ability. It is extremely comfortable, and lightweight. Made of 97% cotton and 3% elastane, the material blend keeps the shirt close to your body so it doesn't flap in the wind as you play. The test product was the traditional white with the navy and red stripes adding a nice flare to the shirt. The large polo print on the chest, as well as the official U.S. Open logo, make this a signature piece to last a long time. Overall, it is a fantastic shirt that is breathable, lightweight, professional, and comfortable. The only criticism is that the shirt does run a little small, so go up a size when ordering.

Official Men’s U.S. Open Custom Polo

This $90 signature piece is exactly what you think of when you hear “Polo.” Similar to what was done at Wimbledon this year, Polo has updated its namesake piece with an enlarged, threaded polo horse. Add to that, the red and blue striping detail on the collar, and the official 2006 U.S. Open logo patch on the right sleeve, and you have a near flawless pique polo shirt that is wearable both on court at the country club, or in the stands at the Open. Finally, the “tennis” tail adds a nice touch, making the garment flexible enough to wear either casually or tucked in.

Ballboy Uniform

As a ballperson, your clothes are the last thing you should have to worry about. The most important thing is to be ultra-comfortable while running, sweating, and manning the court. Polo’s US Open Ball Boy Polo ($90) and Court Short ($55) do just that – and look great at the same time.

U.S. Open Ball Boy Polo (RLX Tennis)

Made from polyester and elastane, this collared, short-sleeved polo moves as you move on the court. The fabric is soft against your skin, and the added stretch makes for zero restriction as players, or ballpeople move powerfully on the court. The polyester material soaks up all perspiration, leaving athletes feeling dry and ready for more. Add to that, breathable mesh located behind the neck, on the back of the arms, and on both sides of the torso, creating a cooling effect that helps lower body temperature and increase overall comfort.

The only negatives were sizing and fit. As has been the case in all these garments, Polo’s line runs very small (our tester normally wears a medium top and definitely needed a large), especially in the length, causing the shirt to ride up over the stomach on serves and high balls. In addition, the tight fit around the arms, while a signature of Polo’s, is abnormal for most tennis players (other than Nadal). Men especially, might be turned off by this design point.

U.S. Open Ball Boy Court Short (RLX Tennis)

Of all of the items reviewed, this short was the least impressive. Although at first view the short looks great with its red and blue styling, subtle double white stripe, understated polo logo, and official U.S. Open seal, it misses on fit, material, and functionality. Made from 100% polyester, the short is extremely light, but paper thin. This choice of material fails to deliver the sweat absorption of the matching Polo. A serious player, or ballboy for that matter, could go through several pair of these shorts during a session. In addition, the rigidity of the polyester makes the short flair to the sides, giving it an unflattering fit. Finally, the short’s pockets are far too shallow, making it difficult and uncomfortable to hold several tennis balls at once. The one positive design point is the double rear mesh vent near the waistband. This unique feature adds some needed breathing room to this short, a pseudo AC unit while you move.

Polo & Tennis: A Winning Combination

Whether making jackets, pants, athletic shirts, or the traditional polo, Ralph Lauren succeeds in its goal of uniting one of America’s greatest games – tennis – with one of America’s greatest brands – Polo. These clothes performed at or above the required level, while at the same time looking stylish and feeling comfortable. We can now add Polo to the list of well known tennis apparel brands.

Unfortunately, there is no escaping that these clothes are very expensive. As such, U.S. Open consumers (already paying high ticket prices) probably won’t be outfitting themselves from head to toe in the “big pony” just yet. But we’d be remiss if we didn’t say that it might be hard not to do so.

For these styles and the complete 2006 U.S. Open line, visit The Tennis Shop at Polo.com.

11 Comments:

  • Awesome! But where are your glamour shots?

    Also, I LOVE those pants. Very jealous that KB took them.

    By Blogger Kathryn, at 9:24 AM  

  • KB loved the pants. you'll have to ask her for more specifics since she tested them

    By Blogger Dan, at 9:26 AM  

  • My new hobby is constantly modeling the Rally Girl ensemble. Pretty sure that Sharapova’s got nothing on KB when it comes to tennis style.

    By Blogger KB, at 9:32 AM  

  • slash, kathryn, i legitimately love the pants and jacket. i seriously felt like i could win the US open.

    By Blogger KB, at 9:32 AM  

  • anyone know if this stuff is in all of polo's stores, or mostly online?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:50 AM  

  • do any of the pros wear this gear? or just the ballpeople/linespeople? i feel like i remember jankovic wearing polo.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:51 AM  

  • These clothes are awesome! So happy to be able to test them out. Good review NoML!

    By Anonymous Mecca, at 12:18 PM  

  • Put Fed in one of those polos...then see if Murray can beat him.

    By Anonymous Les, at 12:25 PM  

  • Les -- good point, but I don't think that Nike would allow that.

    By Blogger Dan, at 12:28 PM  

  • Excellent review! I will be visiting my nearest Polo store this afternoon to stock up!

    By Anonymous Lo, at 1:44 PM  

  • Loved the jacket and pant! I think that Polo completely understands that tennis fans want function AND style. Great job!

    By Anonymous mar, at 8:50 AM  

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