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The ball you choose to play with will have a serious impact on how enjoyable your tennis experience is. While all of the gear you use and wear will impact your game, few items can make or break a tennis match quite like the type of ball you are using.
High-quality tennis balls will have just the right amount of bounce and respond properly when they make contact with the ground and your racket’s strings.
On the other hand, low-quality tennis balls will bounce too high or not high enough and often have uneven surfaces and break easily.
The good news is there are plenty of high-quality tennis balls to choose from.
While all of this choice is a great thing for tennis enthusiasts, because there are so many types, brands, and styles out there, choosing the correct balls for your needs can be somewhat of an overwhelming decision.
This guide will tell you everything you need to know about tennis balls. We will explain the difference between different tennis balls and explain why certain types are better suited for serious play than others.
From there, we will list some of the best options on the market today. Using our guide, you will be able to find the perfect tennis balls for your needs.
Stop letting poor-quality balls negatively impact your performance and ruin your fun!
Our Top Picks...
We get into quite a bit of detail about the best tennis balls, court surface use, skills level, and whether they’re pressurized or pressureless.
These two balls rose to the top of the pack due to durability, feel, cost and usability on multiple court surfaces.
The Best Tennis Balls
1. Penn – World Tour Extra Duty
Penn is one of the more recognizable brands in the tennis world. Penn’s World Tour line of tennis balls is designed for high performance, which is why they are widely used in high-level tournaments around the world.
The extra duty balls are suitable for all types of court surfaces, but they perform exceedingly well on hard surfaces.
They use Penn’s unique ‘LongPlay’ exterior felt, which allows them to withstand heavy use on hard surfaces.
Unlike cheaper tennis balls, Penn’s World Tour extra duty balls will not wear out quickly, even when used on rough, outdoor court surfaces.
The durable felt comes in Penn’s familiar Smart Optik shade of yellow, which is 19% more visible than a standard tennis ball, which helps you avoid losing the balls when your shots go astray. It also helps with visibility when you are playing in low-light conditions.
Penn’s premium quality balls are among the most advanced in the world, which is why they are used in four out of five of the largest tennis tournaments in North America.
If you are looking for a high-quality ball you can use on outdoor courts and hard surfaces, look no further than the Penn World Tour extra duty balls.
2. Wilson – US Open Regular Duty
Given that it is the official ball for a professional player at the US Open Tennis Championships, it is no surprise that Wilson’s flagship ball is one of the highest quality options on the market.
While the Wilson US Open is also available in an extra duty option and a high-altitude version ideal for surfaces that sit above 3,000 feet, we found that the regular duty option is the perfect choice for those that play on an indoor court.
It also offers ideal performance on soft courts, such as clay and grass, which explains why it is such a popular option for tournament play.
Wilson equips all versions of the US Open tennis balls with their exclusive Tex Tech woven felt, which gives the ball outstanding performance and long-lasting durability.
While we would not recommend using these balls for practicing, especially if you are playing outdoors, they are a great option for matches and serious training.
If you choose Wilson’s US Open balls, you are paying for consistency and flawless performance.
Keep in mind that these are somewhat expensive compared to lower quality tennis balls. If you are on a budget, it might be a good idea to save them just for match play.
3. DUNLOP – ATP Premium Regular Duty
DUNLOP recently replaced Penn as the official ball supplier for the ATP World Tour, which is a testament to the quality of its tennis balls.
To meet the demands of this top-tier professional tour, DUNLOP developed their ATP Premium tennis balls, which are now available for retail.
The ball has a slightly softer surface than similarly priced tournament balls, like Wilson’s US Open ball, which means that it offers excellent control, and it is fairly easy to hit with spin.
The exterior features DUNLOP’s unique HD Pro Cloth blend, which gives the ball its uniquely soft exterior. It also helps protect the ball from wear and tear.
These are still a regular duty ball, so you should avoid using it exclusively on hard surfaces.
The felt is also dyed a bright yellow color, which ensures good visibility in all light conditions.
DUNLOP also gave the ATP Premium its patented HD Pro core, making sure each ball reacts consistently. This core helps maintain the ball’s bounciness, but it will wear over time.
It’s worth keeping at least a full can of balls in your bag if you plan on playing for any significant period of time.
The DUNLOP ATP is used at some of the most prestigious tournaments in the world, but it is still reasonably priced because DUNLOP wanted to ensure that they offered the highest quality balls to players of all skill levels.
Whether you are a recreational player or compete in tournaments, the DUNLOP ATP is an excellent option.
4. Slazenger – The Wimbledon Tennis Ball
Slazenger is one of the oldest sporting brands in the world and during their long history, they have built a reputation for offering high-quality sporting goods at affordable prices.
They currently hold the title for the longest sporting sponsorship in world history thanks to their association with the prestigious Wimbledon Tennis Championship. Since 1902, they have provided tennis balls for the tournament.
The Wimbledon is Slazenger’s highest-quality tennis ball. As you would expect, it offers outstanding performance and durability.
The ball uses Slazenger’s patented The Tour Core, engineered to deliver consistent performance characteristics. It makes sense that the ball would need to perform well, as it is used by the best tennis players to ever play the game.
The ball also features a premium woven cloth exterior to withstand the high impacts of tournament play.
The tightly woven exterior also gives the ball an impressive level of durability, and it ensures it has flawless responsiveness, which is why players find they can control and spin the ball with ease.
The ball also features Slazenger’s exclusive Ultra Vis dye, which ensures the ball is highly visible.
Slazenger chose this color to ensure Wimbledon spectators would be able to follow the ball. The exterior also features the brand’s patented Hydro Guard technology, which repels up to 70% more water than a standard ball.
Whether you are preparing for an upcoming tournament or just want to experience the same quality the professionals use, Slazenger’s The Wimbledon ball is an excellent, high-performance option.
The Best Pressureless Tennis Balls
Pressureless tennis balls are ideal for beginners and work well as practice balls – especially in ball machines. They are cheap, available in bulk buckets and bags, and are usually very durable.
How to Choose the Best Tennis Ball
Now that you have seen our picks for some of the best tennis balls on the market, you might be wondering how you should choose the right one for your needs.
As with any piece of tennis equipment, the particular option you choose will depend on your skill level, budget, and where you plan on playing.
If you are just starting to play tennis, or your budget is limited, you may want to invest in a bulk order of pressureless tennis balls.
They are much less expensive and are usually available in high-volume bags and buckets, which is great for when you are just learning.
However, once you know you enjoy the sport and you plan on pursuing it, you should move towards a higher-quality ball.
Not only will the ball perform better, but it will also react better coming off your racket.
It is definitely important to choose a ball that is appropriate for your favored court surface.
If you plan on playing outdoors or on a hard courts, you should choose an extra duty ball.
On the other hand, if you play indoors or on a clay or grass surface, a regular duty ball will be better suited to those surfaces.
Different Types of Tennis Balls
As tennis ball manufacturers offer different types of balls for each type of court surface, skill level, and style of play, it is worth familiarizing yourself with the categories.
Not only will this help you choose the most appropriate tennis balls for your needs, but it will also help you know which you should avoid.
Extra duty balls are best for hard court surfaces. They are sometimes listed as XD balls and are offered by a wide variety of brands and manufacturers.
In general, extra-duty tennis balls are much more durable than other varieties. In most cases, this added durability is achieved by covering the ball in an extra layer of thick felt.
The extra felt protects the ball from wear and allows it to withstand the abuse from playing on hard and uneven surfaces.
Since extra duty balls are pressurized, they are less bouncy over time.
The best extra-duty tennis balls are designed to last for a significant period and can be used plenty of times before they are no longer practical for match play.
Regular duty balls are for use on softer surfaces, like grass or clay. As you would suspect, they are constructed with much less felt on the outer surface because they are to be used on surfaces that are easier on the ball.
Regular duty tennis balls are regularly used on indoor courts, as indoor surfaces tend to be less abrasive, which means the balls do not require as much felt.
While you can use regular balls on a hard court surface and outdoor courts, they will show signs of wear much quicker than extra duty balls.
Regular duty tennis balls are also pressurized, so they will lose some of their bounce the more you play with them.
You will sometimes see regular duty tennis balls listed as RD balls by manufacturers.
As the name suggests, all court balls are designed to be used on all types of playing surfaces. In that sense, they find somewhat of a middle ground between extra duty balls and regular duty balls.
All court balls are a popular choice among recreational players, as they perform well as regular duty balls, but are a little bit more durable, so they work just as well on outdoor surfaces as they do indoor surfaces.
You should think of all court tennis balls as a general ball that you can take to any court without having to worry that it will wear out and bounce incorrectly.
As you may have guessed, a pressureless ball is non-pressurized. It’s a beginner tennis ball and good for those playing recreationally or looking for a practice ball to use as a training tool.
Unlike the varieties listed above, a pressureless ball does not contain compressed air. Instead, they have a solid core, which means they retain their bounce over time and have a unique feel.
Since there is no concern that the ball will lose pressure over time, you can use it for much longer stretches.
While this sounds great, it is worth noting that pressureless balls are much harder than pressurized balls. They will not bounce as well and you hit with a greater amount of force, which can lead to muscle fatigue and strain.
Pressureless balls tend to be much cheaper than pressurized balls and often come in buckets or mesh bags, which is why they are good for recreational play or beginner tennis balls.
If you are looking for a cheap ball you can hit to work or your swing and serve, you might benefit from picking up a few pressureless balls.
Which Type Should You Choose?
The type of ball you choose will depend on where you plan on playing. Since the different types of tennis balls are for different surfaces, the decision is largely situational.
With that said, you should always choose a pressurized tennis ball if you are planning to play a serious match or you are training for competitive play.
The added weight and reduced bounce of a pressureless ball can throw your timing off if you practice with them too much.
Having the right type of tennis balls for the surface and location where you plan on playing will improve your overall playing experience.
Determine where you will be playing the majority of your tennis and choose accordingly.