Professionals go to great lengths to make sure they gain a competitive edge over their opponents. This is particularly true in the highly competitive world of tennis. Everything matters and gear is of critical importance, but 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 tennis balls.
- 1 Pressurized vs Pressureless balls
- 2 Professional pressurized tennis balls
- 3 Intermediate pressurized tennis balls
- 4 Beginner pressurized tennis balls
- 5 Practice pressurized tennis 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. The short life expectancy is due to 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.
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 who are on a budget. It is also worth mentioning 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 them, based on quality. The list of pro-level tennis balls below is comprehensive. It is not, however, intended to rank manufacturers, as almost all of them have certain qualities and (few) shortcomings.
Dunlop Tennis Balls
Dunlop 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
- Pro Tour
Dunlop Grand Prix is the most popular one in the United States. They deliver a great gaming experience and are long-lasting. Not all players love them since they are a bit harder than many of their counterparts.
The Dunlop Fort line is a worthy alternative, and they are prevalent both within and outside the United States and used in main events. Just as the name suggests, Dunlop Roland Garros is the balls tennis professionals use when they play in the French Open. They are equally good on all clay surfaces.
- MaxGlo felt, which is 14% brighter than regular cloth, allows the player to see the ball earlier, lending more time for shot preparation.
- Hard Court felt
- USTA Approved
- ITF Approved
Slazenger Tennis Balls
These balls are very similar to those made by Dunlop, which is hardly a surprise since Dunlop owns Slazenger. They are long-lasting balls that are ideally suited for clay, but they don’t sell that well in the U.S., where Taraflex courts are more common. Slazenger pro-level balls are also an excellent choice for those who play on grass, with the best proof being that Wimbledon uses those labeled UltraViz.
The cat logo is easy to recognize, but, Slazenger balls come in different packaging. The most popular ones being the Slazenger Championship Hyrdocore Balls, Slazenger Championship Hi-Vis and Slazenger Open Tennis Balls. The former is water-resistant, the second is highly visible and suitable for all surfaces, while the latter is 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 Head acquired the company. These are the bestselling balls in the U.S. and the cover a broad spectrum that, of course, includes professionals.
The leading quality of Pro Penn Marathon is the fact that these are long-lasting balls that don’t lose their properties. Even when used at high altitudes, on soft or hard courts, they are still durable. Penn uses the LongPlay felt and Encore technology, that is supposed to preserve the bounce and mitigate the effect of deterioration.
Professionals widely regard Penn ATP balls 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 U.S. and they are equally popular abroad.
- World Tour Extra Duty Tennis Ball Case
- Duty tennis balls for use on hard courts
- Natural rubber construction offers consistent feel and reduced shock
- Controlled fiber release offers consistency
- Case= 24 cans
Head Balls don’t require a special section, as these are simple rebranded Penn Tennis Balls.
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 is better for clay courts. Wilson tennis balls are also used at the Australian Open, and while some consider being second to Penn balls, they tend to last longer.
Prince Tennis Balls
Tennis professionals who play almost exclusively on hard surfaces are not too keen on these balls since they wear out quickly. 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 an excellent 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 a step in the right direction. It feels 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 ball described above, but it is incredibly durable, so despite the high price, offer a great return on investment.
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. These balls do not age gracefully. Instead, they tend to die out without warning, which can be infuriating at the pro level.
Intermediate pressurized tennis balls
Regular tennis players who have no reason to replace the tennis balls after or even during a match will be looking for less expensive products. Amateurs would be wise to check out these pressurized tennis balls to keep the costs low without cutting down on quality. They cover a broad spectrum and are an excellent 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 is that you don’t have to worry about the tradeoffs. They can’t lower the standards too much, because even if the tennis balls are not supposed to be used at the pro level, they still have their brand inscribed on it.
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 particular 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
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. 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.
- Pack of 2 cans (total of 6 balls)
- Extra-duty felt is ideal for hard court play
- Natural rubber offers a consistent feel and reduced shock
- Interlocked wool fiber for longer wear; deep elastic seams prevent cracking
- USA/ITF approved for competitive play; official ball of USTA League Tennis
Wilson lower-tier balls
Wilson tennis balls became popular for a good reason. After being introduced to the U.S. Open, and Australian Open these balls 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.
Wilson tennis balls are also a good choice for above-average players who are not entirely 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 a 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 which 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 is 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 prominent 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 quality 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 a top-quality either, and over a relatively short time, the bounces tend to be lopsided, and there are even differences between the balls coming from the same pack.
Wilson Starter Play Green Balls could be an attractive choice for beginners. These are explicitly 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 tennis balls that are usually the ones that failed to pass several tests. The good news is, there is a chance some of these are championship or pro balls that didn’t meet the high standards but are still on par with intermediate tennis balls. Wilson Team, Penn Practice Coach, Dunlop Academy Practice and Gamma Practice are the ones easy to find online. The trick is that they don’t sell these by set, so you will have to purchase an entire case.
- Ideal for practice or teaching, Penn Coach Teaching Tennis Balls are an economical alternative to regulation tennis balls.
- penn tennis balls
- practice ball
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