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On this page, we’re going to talk about the best tennis balls for whatever court type you’re going to be playing on. When it comes to tennis balls, it’s easy to assume that they’re all pretty much created equal. But did you know that the types of balls are actually as individual as the courts you play them on?
While it’s easy to tell the difference between the different court surfaces – the red and green dusty clay, the multicolored hard courts and the pristinely manicured lawns, the balls all seem to look pretty much the same.
So let us guide you surface by surface to find the best tennis balls and ensure you get a great game every time.
A Closer Look: 10 Best Tennis Balls
We’ve got the reviews of the best tennis balls in 4 different groups based on how you’re using them: Hard Courts, Clay Courts, Grass Courts, and Practice Tennis Balls.
Best Tennis Balls for Hard Courts
Hard courts are the world’s most popular and common type of tennis courts. This is for the simple reason that they are relatively cheap to construct, and require less ongoing maintenance than other types of courts. Chances are, unless you live in countries with a strong clay court tradition, this weekend you’ll find yourself slogging away on a hard court.
As it’s a rigid, unforgiving surface this can be hard on both the body and the balls (hence why so many pros resort to compression sleeves). You’re looking for something that is above all else durable. But it also needs to have a good bounce, be lively and accurate.
So what are the best tennis balls for hard courts? Let’s look at a few top picks.
Wilson, established in 1913, are one of the top names in professional and recreational tennis. No surprise then that they’ve got a pretty awesome ball for use on hard courts.
On hard courts, you’re looking for a ball that resilient, can take some pounding and won’t go soft on you. That’s exactly what Wilson US Open Extra Duty provides. As the official ball of the US Open since 1978, this is a quality product that you know can stand up to some serious hammer.
Interestingly, if you live at an altitude of over 3000ft, they’ve got a ball for that. Look out for the ‘High Altitude’ variant. They’re built using a high-quality non-woven Tex Tech felt for added durability. They have a true bounce and help your accuracy on-court.
Another longtime player in the tennis field, Dunlop have developed their own ‘extra duty’ balls that have a strong following among club and professional players alike.
Noted for their durability, they can at times fluff up. However, most players comment on their bounce and liveliness, especially on hard courts.
As all your tennis fans will know, the ATP in the name of these Penn tennis balls signifies that they are endorsed by the men’s tennis tour. This means that the world’s professional tennis association recognizes that these are high-quality balls for hard courts, and features them in a number of their tournaments. Penn might be the best tennis ball brand out there.
Whatever your level, these balls are designed to play best on concrete and asphalt courts – the most common court types. They are noted for their longevity, with recreational players indicating they last 4 sets or more.
Best Clay Court Tennis Balls
Moving on to another popular type of court, clay courts require a different type of ball again. Clay court tennis is slower, requires more topspin and changes constantly depending on weather conditions. As the surface is fluid and organic, it is different from one set to the next. The bounce can be unpredictable.
Therefore, you need a tennis ball that’s going to be less fluffy and have a closer weave. This will mean it gets less clogged with clay and doesn’t interfere with play.
The best tennis balls for clay courts are usually marketed as ‘regular duty’. This is because they don’t need to be as hardy as their hard court cousins.
Let’s check out the three best options currently on the market:
These balls bring together three of Penn’s proprietary tennis ball technologies:
- Encore – ensuring a high strength core, giving greater longevity
- LongPlay felt – a highly durable outer layer
- Smart Optik felt – 19% more visible than a standard tennis ball
All of these properties combine to make this one of the most popular clay court tennis balls on the market.
Users love their liveliness and consistency, particularly in clay court tennis, when a consistent bounce is a high priority. They are also widely used by USPTA Teaching Professionals.
Wilson combines a tightly packed woolen felt with a true, consistent ball that is ideal for clay court play. The felt does not fluff up and attract the particles of clay, means your strokes are not hindered by a clay logged ball. This keeps it lively and eminently playable.
Players comment on their durability and liveliness but also make an interesting observation – they play even better when the can is opened the day before. Right from the can they can be a bit frisky, so you may find this a good tip for a more controlled gameplay experience.
Hard courts can be pretty rough and tough, especially if the one you play on has a few seasons of wear and tear under its belt. The Dunlop Champ Hard Court XD tennis balls are some of the best for these type of conditions due to their extremely hard wearing felt.
Their proprietary ‘Durafelt’ technology means that the balls last longer with little drop in performance. Players love the fact that they don’t lose their felt and keep their liveliness for a long time. Watch out though – they’re a smidge heavier than your average ball, so you may have to beef up your strokes to compensate a little.
Best Grass Court Tennis Balls
A grass court these days is a rare sight. Sadly, due to the prohibitively high cost of maintenance, you’ll be fortunate to get chance to sample the delights of playing on one of tennis’ fastest surfaces.
But should you get the chance, here are the balls we think you should use:
If they’re good enough for Wimbledon, they’re good enough for us! In fact, there are many good reasons, other than tradition, why Wimbledon continue to use Slazenger balls year after year.
They come with ultra high-viz technology, making them ideal for play on dull days in the unpredictable British weather. Slazenger Championship Tennis Balls also have a proprietary water repellant coating – Hydroguard – which repels 70% more water than standard tennis balls.
Perfect for a living surface like grass, which can pick up a film of dew in the morning, or for wicking sweat away from palms. Their felt is not as hard-wearing as balls designed for clay and hard courts, but you will find that the bounce remains true and lively for a long time.
Best Tennis Balls for Practice
If you’re a serious amateur player or play tournaments, it’s great to use the same balls as the pros, with ATP and ITF endorsements. Actually, a lot of the time we’re just looking for a solid ball for a recreational game or for a practice session down the club and don’t want to splash out on one of these top-tier options.
Never fear. The big brands have got you covered with great balls that get the job done and are affordable. Most of them come in the pressurized cans you’re used to, but we’ve thrown in a surprise recommendation as well.
Here are three of the best:
As the name suggests, these are designed with teaching professionals and their students in mind. They’re still delivered in pressurized canisters, but they are an affordable option for when you’re looking for a solid ball that will take some long-term use.
They are great for use on indoor hard courts, where the surface tends to be in better condition and less hard on the felt than outdoor hard courts.
A great value option for training sessions and recreational matches, they are actually still sanctioned for ITF and USTA tournaments. The Champ XD balls benefit from Wilson’s ‘Duraweave’ technology, meaning that the felt will stand up to many hours of pounding on hard courts.
Coming in at around 50-60% of the cost of Wilson’s premium brands, they’re a great option when you want a solid ball, but don’t want to splash out on professional level equipment.
Here’s a curveball for you.
These guys get their bounce, not from air pressure inside the ball, but from the core. This means that they don’t need to be pressurized, and therefore last longer.
In fact, many people feel that these balls actually become bouncier the longer you play with them. So if you just want a solid practice ball and a great price, a bucket of Penn Pressureless could be the way to go for you. These are also a great choice for best pressureless tennis balls for ball machines.