The Best Tennis Balls

Professionals go to great lengths to make sure they gain a competitive edge over their opponents and this is particularly true in the highly competitive world of tennis. Everything matters and gear is of critical importance, but in order to make an educated decision, you need to know your options. When it comes to tennis balls, the brand matters of course, but a distinction needs to be made between the types of balls.

Pressurized vs Pressureless balls

In the United States, pressurized balls are the norm but there are plenty of vendors selling pressureless balls online, so clarifications are in order. Pressurized balls are stiffer and tend to bounce more, but their life expectancy is shorter, and the decay process starts as soon as they are removed from the pressurized cans. Those who seek quality above anything else and can afford to replace the tennis balls often, will enjoy a better experience if they choose pressurized balls.

By comparison, non-pressurized balls which are commonly referred to as pressureless, last longer and the gaming experience stays more or less the same. The depreciation curve is not that steep, so they are preferred by casual players and those who don’t have a lot of money to spend on replacing balls. It is also worth mentioning the fact that pressureless balls are mostly used in Europe, while US-based players prefer the pressurized version.

Professional pressurized tennis balls

Now that the differences between pressurized and pressureless balls are crystal clear, it is time to rank the former, based on quality. The list of pro level tennis balls below is comprehensive, but it is not intended to rank manufacturers, as almost all of them have certain qualifies and (few) shortcomings.

Dunlop Tennis Balls

This tennis ball manufacturer has been around for quite a while and has been routinely providing pro level balls, for grand slam tournaments. The balls come in different packages and the lines include Fort Clay Court, Fort Elite, Fort Max TP, Club All Court, Fort Tournament,Fort Roland Garros Clay Court, Club Championship, Pro Series, Pro Team and Pro Tour to name but a few.

Dunlop Grand Prix Hard Court 12 Cans: Dunlop Tennis Balls

Dunlop Grand Prix
are the most popular ones in the United States, as they deliver a great gaming experience and are long lasting. Not all players love them though, due to the fact that they are a bit harder than many of their counterparts.

The Dunlop Fort line is a worthy alternative and they are very popular both within borders and outside the United States, being used in main events. Just as the name suggests, Dunlop Roland Garros are the ones tennis professionals use when they play in the French Open, but they are equally good on all clay surfaces

Slazenger Tennis Balls

These balls are very similar to those made by Dunlop, which is hardly a surprise, since Slazenger is owned by Dunlop. They are long lasting balls that are perfectly suited for clay, but they don’t sell that well in the US, where taraflex courts are more common. Slazenger pro level balls are also a great choice for those who play on grass, with the best proof being that those labeled UltraViz are used at Wimbledon.

The cat logo is easy to recognize, but recently, Slazenger balls come in diverse packaging, with the most popular ones being the Slazenger Championship Hyrdocore Balls, Slazenger Championship Hi Vis and Slazenger Open Tennis Balls. The former are water resistant, the second are highly visible and good for all surfaces, while the latter are very responsive and equally suitable for professionals and amateurs.

Penn Tennis Balls

For decades, Penn has been synonymous with top quality tennis balls and very little has changed since the company was acquired by Head. These are the bestselling balls in the US and the cover a broad spectrum that of course, includes professionals. 

Pro Penn Marathon Regular Duty 24 Cans: Penn Tennis Balls

The main quality of Pro Penn Marathon is the fact that these are long-lasting balls that don’t lose their properties even when they are used at high altitudes, on soft or hard courts. Penn uses the LongPlay felt and Encore technology, that are supposed to preserve the bounce and mitigate the effect of deterioration.

Penn ATP Regular Duty 12 Cans: Penn Tennis Balls

Penn ATP
balls are widely regarded by professionals as the best pressurized tennis balls money can buy and they are the balls of choice for hard hitters. These balls generate remarkable speeds and they are also easy to observe, thanks to the Smart Optik felt. It comes as no surprise that they are used in 3 big tournaments in the US and they are equally popular abroad.

Head Balls don’t require a special section, as these are simple rebranded Penn Tennis Balls.

Wilson Tennis Balls

Wilson US Open Regular Duty 12 Cans: Wilson Tennis BallsWilson US Open Extra Duty 12 Cans: Wilson Tennis Balls

The U.S. Open embraced Wilson tennis balls almost four decades ago and they were given no reasons to look elsewhere for alternatives. These balls come in 2 flavors, with the Extra Duty being the ones used on hard courts while the Regular Duty are better for clay courts. Wilson tennis balls are also used at the Australian Open and while some consider to be second to Penn balls, they tend to last longer.

Prince Tennis Balls

Prince Tour Regular 6 Cans: Prince Tennis Balls

Tennis professionals who play almost exclusively on hard surfaces are not too keen on these balls, due to the fact that they wear out easily. The felt is not durable enough and before you know it, they need to be replaced, sometimes even during a single match. By comparison, they are a great choice for clay and Prince Tennis Balls are routinely used in lower-tier competitions.

Babolat Tennis Balls

Babolat made giant leaps forward and it is one of the most reliable companies when it comes to tennis gear and accessories. In terms of tennis balls quality, they have a gap to close, but their flagship product Babolat Team is clearly a step in the right direction. It feel a bit heavy at first, but once you get used to it, you will be reluctant to use something else. Babolat VS is the second best product and even heavier than the aforesaid ball, but it is extremely durable, so despite the big price, offer a great return on investment.

Gamma Tennis Balls

Gamma Pro Tour Regular 6 Cans: Gamma Tennis Balls

Gamma Pro Tour Tennis Balls are the bestselling ones but even this line has its fair share of detractors, which are upset by the fact that they deteriorate at an alarming pace. To add insult to injury, these balls do not aging gracefully and instead, they tend to die out without warning, which can be infuriating at pro level.

Intermediate pressurized tennis balls

Regular tennis players who have no reason to replace the balls after or even during a match, will be looking for less expensive products. In order to keep the costs low without cutting down on quality, it would be wise to check out these pressurized tennis balls for amateurs. They cover a broad spectrum and are a good choice for all tennis players, regardless of skill and experience. Compared to those tennis balls that can be purchased unpackaged, these are vastly superior and they are worth every extra cent.

Dunlop lower tier balls

The best part about purchasing Dunlop balls or some produced by other top manufacturer for what that matters, is that you don’t have to worry about the tradeoffs. These companies simply can’t lower the standards too much, because even if the balls are not supposed to be used at pro level, they still have their brand inscribed on it.

Dunlop Championship Hard Court 12 Cans: Dunlop Tennis BallsDunlop Championship All Surface 12 Cans: Dunlop Tennis Balls

There are three notable options and they go by the name of Dunlop Championship, Dunlop Pro and Dunlop Abzorber. They are the budget version of flagship products, and share all their qualities, while creating a certain paradox in terms of durability. Even though they deteriorate slightly faster than pro balls, they are used longer, because non-professionals don’t feel the effects of wear and tear so acutely.

Penn lower tier balls

Penn Championship Regular Duty 24 Cans: Penn Tennis BallsPenn Titanium Heavy Duty 12 Cans: Penn Tennis Balls

The same considerations apply to these tennis balls and for the untrained eye, they can easily pass for professional balls. If sales would act as the ultimate indicator, then Penn Championship would be the best tennis balls, as they sell like hot cookies in the US. They are approved for all major tournaments and lower-tier competitions, but are also the balls of choice for many amateurs. Almost as popular among pros and aspiring players is the
Penn Titanium
ball, which is rugged, hence the perfect choice for hard surfaces. Its heavy duty felt comes at a price though, as playability suffers a bit.

Wilson lower tier balls

Wilson Championship Extra Duty 24 Cans: Wilson Tennis Balls

Wilson tennis balls didn’t become popular for no reason and since they were introduced to the US Open and Australian Open, they became widespread on both continents. Wilson Championship balls are resilient and pros like them because they guarantee excellent playability for more than a couple of sets.

This is also a good choice for above-average players who are not quite professional but cherish their velocity and spin. The other option would be to purchase Wilson Grand Slam balls which are very much alike, only cheaper and not ITF approved. If durability is all that you care about, then the price and decent quality of Wilson Titanium will surely appeal to you.

Prince lower tier balls

There is only one type of tennis ball that Prince manufacturers for amateurs and aspiring tennis players and it goes by the name of Prince Championship. Not surprising, its durability is not remarkable, but the expectations are also lower among non-professionals, so this ball is quite popular.

Gamma lower tier balls

The same applied to Gamma tennis balls who are frequently criticized by professionals, but embraced at amateur and intermediate level. On the flip side, deterioration is an inevitable process and the Gamma Championship are simply not built to last, or to age gracefully. Enjoy them while they last.

Beginner pressurized tennis balls

These are the least expensive balls tennis players can buy without purchasing utter rubbish and they can expect to get the best bang for their buck. All important manufacturers produce them and they are sold in virtually any store that has tennis gear. Since cutting down on costs is the main, if not only concern, casual player are unlikely to complain about balls that last reasonably long. The ones listed below are not only reasonably durable, but also good enough to be embraced by amateurs.

Penn Tribute, Wilson Tribute and Dunlop Progress are all great choices and while they are inferior to all other tennis balls manufactured by these companies, they are perfect for beginners. They bounce well and since recreational players don’t hit particularly hard, it will take a long time before they will be rendered unplayable. The felt is not top quality either and over a relatively short period of time the bounces tend to be lopsided and there are even differences between the balls coming from the same pack.

Wilson Starter Play Green Ball could be an interesting choice for beginners, because these balls were specifically aimed at beginners and amateurs who lack physical strength or skill to hit the ball hard. Just as the name suggests, these balls are the perfect fit for those taking their baby steps in tennis, as they are inexpensive and don’t deteriorate too quickly. There is nothing professional about them, but at this level there is no need for a top tier product.

Practice pressurized tennis balls

At the bottom of the food chain sit generic or practice balls that are usually the ones that failed to pass several tests. The good news is that there is a chance to be dealt some championship or even pro balls that didn’t meet the high standards, yet are still on par with intermediate tennis balls. Wilson Team, Penn Practice Coach, Dunlop Academy Practice, Gamma Practice are the ones easy to find online, but the trick is that they don’t sell by set, so you will have to purchase an entire case.

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