Maybe for the beginners in the sport, all tennis balls look the same. However, just like the best tennis racquets, there are actually a lot of variations in tennis balls. The International Tennis Federation has approved more than 200 brands of tennis balls. Add this to the fact that these brands produce tennis balls that have distinct variations in order to fit a certain degree of expertise in the sport and the preferences of the players.
So it is just normal for beginners to feel daunted when choosing the right tennis ball. There are plenty of factors to be considered. Does the color matter? How can you distinguish the differences in the tennis balls? Do you need to consider your level of expertise in the sport?
How about the court surface? These factors will come into play when you are already becoming a pro in the sport. However, you would have to start with the types of tennis ball first in order to progress in the sport.
Top Tennis Balls of 2020
After deciding on what type of tennis ball that will fit your needs, you will still have to study other factors in order to pick the best tennis ball for you.
It would be a great head start if you can have some ideas about different popular tennis balls in the market today. Here are the top tennis balls for each category.
Best Professional and Tournament Tennis Balls
1. Wilson US Open Extra Duty Tennis Ball
Wilson US Open Extra Duty Tennis Ball is one of the toughest balls in the world today. There is a reason why it is the only official ball used for the US Open. The brand began to get its reputation when it held the distinction of being the only official ball for the US Open way back in 1979.
It is made to last even though it’s a pressurized ball. It is usually used on a hard court surface or abrasive courts. But if you’re looking for balls that can be used indoors or on clay courts, you might consider the Wilson US Open Regular Duty Tennis Ball.
Anyway, back to the US Open Extra Duty Tennis balls, its felt is made of premium-quality woven felt that makes the ball thicker. It is well known for its durability and consistency—a very responsive ball with a nice bounce that will surely help your game. And by the way, if you have an active dog like a Labrador or a Golden Retriever, they can play with it too!
2. Dunlop Grand Prix Hard Court Ball
This particular tennis ball brand is famous for its secret rubber core formula. The core is made up of 14 ingredients, which makes it very durable. The bounce of the ball cannot easily be worn out. Its felt is woven to give a certain special feel for the users. The MaxGlo Technology makes the ball 14% brighter than normal tennis balls, allowing the player to better spot and react to the ball.
3. Penn Pro Marathon Extra-Duty Tennis Balls
Next, we have these extra-duty balls by Penn, which are going to be excellent if you prefer to play on hard tennis courts.
Penn boasts its LongPlay felt, which makes these balls the company’s long-lasting tennis balls. This pack should serve for a long time no matter how aggressive of a player you are, especially given that you are getting 72 balls!
Pro Marathon extra-duty tennis balls also feature Penn’s Smart Optik technology, which is designed to improve the ball’s visibility.
4. Wilson RF Legacy All-Court Tennis Balls
Next on our review is this Roger Federer Legacy all-court tennis balls by Wilson. If you are a fan of professional tennis and particularly Roger Federer, then you will probably like this pack.
Wilson claims that these tennis balls’ speed and control have been tested and approved by Roger Federer, and if you think that he is a spectacular tennis player, then you can expect no less spectacular performance from these balls.
What you may also like about these tennis balls is that they are made for use on all court surfaces. Its felt probably won’t be as durable as specialized heavy-duty felts, but it should deliver a long lifespan even for serious players.
This 4-pack is a bit pricey, but if you are an advanced player, making a hole in your budget may be worth it.
5. Penn ATP Regular-Duty Tennis Balls
Durability certainly is important, but what point in it if you will be playing on a soft-surface tennis court? Well, Penn ATP regular-duty balls are an excellent alternative to the Pro Marathon extra-duty balls we’ve just reviewed.
These balls pretty much have the same features as the Pro Marathon tennis balls except for the felt. The felt is also made with the LongPlay technology, but it is designed for use on soft courts. They are durable, but they are going to die very quickly on hard courts.
The Smart Optik technology is again here, by the way, so if you want to increase your performance, these tennis balls may help.
6. Slazenger Wimbledon Official Tennis Balls
If you are ready to spend a fortune on high-performance tennis balls, then the official Wimbledon tennis balls by Slazenger may interest you. Made for the most prestigious tennis tournament in the world, these balls offer unparalleled performance and consistency.
Slazenger has designed these tennis balls to be easy to track on the court and, of course, durable. The most remarkable is Slazenger’s patented Hydroguard technology whose purpose is to repel up to 70% more water than standard balls. This feature is key to these balls’ consistency.
Slazenger has also employed the so-called Ultra Vis dye technology to create a ball that is visible to the players and is easy to track for the spectators.
In the end, the Slazenger Wimbledon tennis balls may allow you to feel like a pro, but be prepared to pay the money for it.
Best Intermediate Tennis Balls
1. Wilson Championship Extra Duty Tennis Ball
This tennis ball can be compared with the Wilson US Open Extra Duty Tennis Ball because they have the same features and certain differences. Their similarities are as follows:
They are used for the hard court surface and they are used by major tennis tournaments like the Australian Open and the Davis Cup and Fed Cup.
This ball is used by 45 tournaments worldwide. It has this premium woven felt that enforces supreme performance and consistency. What makes it different from Wilson US Open Extra Duty Tennis Ball is it’s usually used for recreation by normal costumers because of its unmatched durability. The nylon wool blend is the best part of this ball because it gives the users a different level of control.
2. Penn Championship Extra Duty Tennis Ball
The best thing about this tennis ball is its very long lifespan. As compared to most tennis balls in the market today, this one is on a different level when it comes to its durability.
This is mainly because of the natural rubber material in the ball. It makes it consistent with its bounce and speed, giving the users higher playability and reduced impact. The interlocking fibers in its felt add to the longevity of the ball. The elastic seams are woven deep to reduce cracking.
3. Wilson Prime All-Court Tennis Balls
Who said that everybody needs high-performance tennis balls? If you want a decent pack of tennis balls that will deliver solid tennis performance, then Wilson’s Prime all-court balls maybe those best tennis balls for you.
Wilson includes 72 balls with this pack for quite an attractive price. The pack itself isn’t cheap, but it’s cheap compared to most others that we overviewed.
Wilson Prime tennis balls are made for use on all court surfaces. The Duraweave felt is what is responsible for this capability, and while it most likely won’t live long if used on hard surfaces frequently, it should allow you to enjoy the play for quite some time.
One thing that you will probably dislike about these balls is the chemical smell upon first opening. It will go away, but it will be there to disturb your sense of smell.
4. Penn Championship High-Altitude Tennis Balls
If the tennis court you are going to play at is situated at an altitude of over 4,000 feet, then these high-altitude tennis balls by Penn are going to be a good option.
If you didn’t know, standard tennis balls do not perform well at high altitudes. If you play at high altitudes, then it is recommended that you purchase a special ball, and Penn Championship balls are one option.
Thanks to their inexpensiveness, these balls are likely going to be very good for beginners. Despite their low price, these balls have a few interesting things to offer.
Namely, these balls are designed to deliver consistent performance for as long as possible. These balls are designed to evenly release their fiber, while the natural rubber ensures a consistent feel along with the reduced shock. At the same time, the fibers are interlocked to make sure that they stay intact as long as possible.
Lastly, Penn also boasts that Penn Championship is the official ball of USTA Leagues, so they should deliver solid performance even for pros.
Best Practice and Beginner Tennis Balls
1. Tourna Mesh Carry Bag of 18 Tennis Balls
This one is usually used during practice sessions. It is also a good choice to use in tennis ball machines. It is a set of 18 pressureless balls that are very durable. As it was mentioned earlier, these types of tennis balls can never lose their bounce. Unlike common pressureless balls, however, this one has an added durable and natural felt, which adds to the overall longevity of the ball.
2. Gamma Sports Bucket of Pressureless Tennis Balls
It is a set of pressureless tennis balls that are usually used during normal practice and training. It is also very durable, like most pressureless balls. However, this one can adapt to any court surface. Whether soft or hard, this versatile tennis ball can still perform well, making it ideal for longer practice sessions. It can withstand great impacts on hard court surface but can still perform well on soft surfaces with its consistent bounce.
3. KEVENZ Standard-Pressure Tennis Balls
Finally, we have this 12-pack by KEVENZ. Exceptionally cost-efficient, this tennis ball pack is great for beginners, as well as maybe for experienced tennis players looking for a practice ball.
Made from natural rubber and featuring a polyester felt, these tennis balls boast solid performance and durability on all court surfaces. This ball features elastic seams that are crack-resistant.
The felt is also colored in a vivid neon green color, which should allow for great visibility on the court.With that said, these tennis balls have a relatively weak bounce. This is going to be a problem for more skilled players, but if you are a newbie, this will actually make this ball easier to play with
How To Choose A Tennis Ball
Now that we have a list of the best tennis balls, let’s have a look at the things that you should care about the most in tennis balls.
Types of Tennis Balls
The International Tennis Federation specifies the following tennis ball types allowed for competition:
- Type 1/Fast
- Type 2/Medium
- Type 3/Slow
Most commonly used in competition are medium-speed or Type 2 tennis balls. Prior to recent regulation changes, only medium-speed balls were allowed for competition, but now, you can use fast and slow tennis balls as well.
The purpose of fast and slow tennis balls is to change the speed of matches played on different court surfaces. Fast tennis balls are used on slow clay tennis courts to speed up the game, while slow balls are used on fast courts to slow it down.
Slow balls are also often used by beginners and recreational players since they are bigger than other ball types. Not only that, the International Tennis Federation allows using these balls above 4,000 feet courts.
With that being said, there also are high-altitude balls specifically designed for use in play above 4,000 feet. Their purpose is to compensate for the pressure changes found the higher up you go – regular balls get very bouncy at high altitudes.
Pressurized vs. Pressureless Balls
One of the most important factor to consider when choosing the right tennis ball is its type. You have to ask the seller or look for the technical details about the tennis ball: is it pressurized or pressureless?
Pressureless balls are usually used by beginners for practice and recreational games. The bounce of this type of tennis ball is achieved because of its rubber structure but not from the air inside. Therefore, these balls can never lose their bounciness and can actually gain more bounce when it is used over time as the felt gradually wears off.
Pressureless balls have lower internal pressure (no greater than 7 kPa/1 psi) and are less bouncy than pressurized balls. The International Tennis Federation allows medium pressureless balls to be used at altitudes higher than 4,000 feet. However, such a ball needs to be acclimatized for at least 60 days at the site of play.
These balls are also perfect for your tennis ball machine. The longevity of the pressureless balls is an advantage for some. However, some players are not a fan of its heaviness and find it harder to play with this type of ball.
Pressurized balls, on the other hand, are more common in the market. Mostly, they come with a can of three. These are the ones used during tournaments or big tennis leagues. It is used by intermediate to professional tennis players. Unlike pressureless balls, this type uses the air inside the ball to achieve greater spin, speed, and bounce.
Pressurized tennis balls are stiffer and have a higher bounce than pressureless balls, which makes them quicker. On the other hand, pressurized balls tend to live shorter than pressureless ones since they lose their pressure over time.
High-altitude balls are always pressurized, but they are only used at altitudes over 4,000 feet, as mentioned above. Pressurized high-altitude balls and pressurized medium balls aren’t the same – high-altitude balls are going to have a lower bounce at a given altitude.
What’s your purpose?
Many sports use a variety of accessories and equipment. It is very important for athletes to know all about the technicalities in the equipment being used in the sport because it can make or break their game.
It is true that skills, intelligence, and strength are the most important factors in winning the game.
However, the knowledge of a player about the accessories or equipment used in their particular sport could also mean dominance or failure.
One of the best examples of that is the sport of tennis. Aside from choosing the right racquet, either if you are a beginner or intermediate player, one of the most essential parts of tennis is choosing the right tennis ball.
Buying tennis balls is all about your purpose. Are you gonna use it for practice, for your tennis ball machine or for casual games with your friends or family? Are you a professional player that’s looking for the best tennis balls to improve more?
Practice tennis balls like the Tourna is a great choice, they are cheap and somewhat durable. Beginners can choose Wilson Tribute/ Dunlop Progress/ Penn Tribute/ Wilson Starter. While intermediate to pro players can go for Wilson US Open Extra Duty or a Penn Championship balls.
Regular or Extra-Duty Balls?
Tennis balls can also be regular- or extra-duty.
I will make this one really simple. A regular tennis ball is suitable for clay courts and indoors while extra-duty is great for hard courts.
Regular-duty balls are designed for softer clay courts, due to which they are sometimes called soft-court balls. These balls have a less durable cover which picks up less clay and is slower.
Extra-duty balls have a thicker and more durable felt that is designed to withstand the rougher surface of grass and hard courts. While these balls are durable, they aren’t used on clay surfaces – they have an abrasion-resistant fuzzy surface which readily picks up dirt and is difficult to clean.
Tennis Balls for Kids and Juniors
There also are separate regulations for tennis balls designed for competition use by children aged 10 and younger.
Stage 3 Foam (Red)
Stage 3 Standard (Red)
Stage 2 Standard (Orange)
Stage 1 Standard (Green)
Red & yellow, or yellow with a red dot
Orange & yellow, or yellow with an orange dot
Yellow with a green dot
Kids’ tennis balls are larger, slower, and less bouncy than adults’ balls. If you have a kid aged 11 or younger, then it may be a better idea to have them play with smaller balls to match their junior tennis racquet.
Generally speaking, tennis balls are affordable but over time the amount can add up and you may end up spending more if you choose the wrong balls. Whether a starter/practice ball or a professional ball, I prefer to buy them in bulk, and I advise that you should do it too. It is much cheaper in the long run.
If you’re a fan of a certain brand then go for it. But, I suggest that you also consider or test other brands so you have a knowledge about how different balls work.
Tennis ball numbers
Tennis balls usually have number markings on them, usually from 1 to 4. A common misconception is that the number indicates the bounciness of the ball. In reality, however, the numbers serve one purpose – to allow for ball identification.
This is especially important if you are playing at a site where tennis courts are placed near each other. Tennis balls often bounce or roll onto a neighboring court, and since the ball coloring seems to be generally the same, it may be difficult for you to identify your ball. With a number, it’s easier to do so.
Are pressureless tennis balls good?
Depends on your needs. If you’ve used pressurized balls before and think that they’ve been too bouncy for you, then you may want to try pressureless balls.
We also think that pressureless balls are better for beginners since they are less bouncy and more predictable.
How long do pressurized tennis balls last?
There are no specific timelines, but once you open the can that ensures pressurized storage conditions, pressurized balls will slowly lose their internal pressure.
A few weeks may pass until a significant loss of bounce becomes noticeable. Recreational players probably won’t notice this though. If you are a more experienced player, you may need to replace pressurized balls rather quickly.
Not that pressurized balls that have lost their pressure are unusable, but they no longer offer the same feel. More skilled players may use aged balls for practice or warm-up, but no more than that.
Can tennis ball cans be recycled?
Most tennis ball cans have a metal rim that is very difficult to remove. This rim makes some cans non-recyclable with other plastics. If you want a recyclable tennis ball can, then look for a can with no metal parts.
How often do you change tennis balls?
As often as you need. This is going to be different for every player. Generally, you should get new tennis balls if you feel that your tennis balls are impairing your performance. This may happen after up to 7-9 games.