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When buying tennis equipment, people put a great deal of attention in choosing the right racket, proper tennis shoes, and the right clothing. But one piece of equipment, people tend to overlook – are the best tennis balls they should be using.
Tennis balls are specifically designed for the sport of tennis and are made using a uniform rubber compound. They are covered by a fibrous felt, which modifies the aerodynamic properties of the ball. And just as any beginner thinks that all tennis balls are the same, the professional player knows they’re not.
Tennis balls come in a variety of different types, colors, and sizes, all meant for a different kind of use. Some are better for practice, whether with a partner or a ball machine, and some are better for recreational or professional play.
So, choosing the best tennis balls that are right for your skill level can help you to significantly improve your game and hone your skills further. In this article, we’ll explain what are the best tennis balls for each skill level, so that you can purchase a set accordingly.
Also, we’ll include a detailed Buyer’s Guide to help you better understand what different types of tennis balls are, and what are they used for.
Best Tennis Balls for Kids and Juniors:
Tennis balls made for kids and junior players (sometimes even for adult beginners) are specifically designed tennis balls, that offer less bounce and speed. The reason behind this is simple – kids don’t have the strength or the speed of an adult player.
For those very reasons, tennis balls for kids and junior players are bigger, usually 3-4 inches in diameter. Coupled with a unique color scheme, this increase in diameter allows kids to track the ball’s trajectory and anticipate its direction easily. Due to the low compression, tennis balls that are designed for kids and young players are usually reasonably slower, sometimes even up to 75%.
Dunlop Stage One Green Dot
When it comes to the beginner and junior type balls, the Dunlop Stage One is a tennis ball meant for developing skills of adult beginners, or older children. According to the manufacturer, these balls are designed as a transition ball from practice ones, to a standard tier tennis ball.
They’re made from a more durable material capable of withstanding the punishment of a practicing junior player. They’re also designed for play on a full-size court and bounce 25% slower than a regular tennis ball. The slower speed allows more preparation time for the next shot and helps in the development of skill and consistency.
The Dunlop Stage One Green Dot is a low compression ball, usually coming in a pack of three. It’s a generic, but still good, tennis ball meant for younger players.
Penn Quick Start 36
Quick Start 36 balls are 4-inch foam balls, for players who are ten and under and are just starting the game. Due to their oversized diameter and red-and-yellow color scheme, their trajectory is straightforward to track and anticipate. This will help with developing skills in the youngest of tennis players.
These foam tennis balls move more slowly, so they are easier to track for young players who are just beginning to learn the game. They also don’t travel as far, which means less time spent chasing balls and more time spent making contact! In fact, they are so soft and light than you can even play with them in the house – just don’t tell Mom!
These top-of-the-line practice balls are made from high-density foam, offering durability and a consistent bounce, rebounding to an appropriate height for young players. Penn Quick Start 36 has been approved by the USPTA Teaching Pro Organization, for use in tennis practice.
The Penn’s Quick Start 36 Foam balls come in a 12-pack, or a case of 144 for better pricing. And though they are made from high-quality foam, you can expect them to wear out sooner than standard practice-tier tennis balls.
Wilson US Open Starter Balls
Wilson US Open Starter Balls, are a stage 3 beginner-level balls, designed for players that are eight years old, or younger. The manufacturer designed the balls to be slightly larger than standard, so they’re 3 inches in diameter. They’re also covered with a newly developed felt, which is red and yellow, making it easy for kids to track them.Wilson Starter balls are designed to be low-compression and 75% slower than regular tennis balls. These features make these balls perfect for those who just recently picked up the racket. They’re good quality, affordable, and USTA approved.
Best Tennis Balls for Beginners:
Beginner-level tennis balls are made with a particular tier in mind. However, due to the manufacturing process, some of them turn out to be of lesser quality than others. These balls don’t meet the industry’s standard requirements for a particular tier, usually due to some minor imperfection, like misapplied felt, or a misaligned seam. So, they end up as beginner-level tennis balls.
Some of these balls perform as good as higher tier ones, but due to their imperfections, they’re sold as generic and affordable. So affordable, that they’re usually sold in packs of 12, 18, all the way up to 144 balls per pack. This makes them cost-efficient, not just for tennis play, but for ball-machine practice, as well.
Tourna Pressureless Balls
you’re looking for tennis balls for a tennis ball machine or an individual practice, the Tourna Pressureless is the right solution, offering 18 balls in a mesh bag. In case you feel like 18 tennis shots aren’t enough, Tourna offers these in bigger packs. One of the best features of these balls is that they’re pressureless, meaning that they don’t lose their bounce over time. However, due to the same reason, they offer less bounce, to begin with, compared to pressurized balls. The lower bounce means a slower game, which is perfect for beginner players who are practicing their hand-eye coordination.
So, if you’re just getting started, Tourna pressureless tennis balls are among the best tennis balls for beginners, as they represent a useful training tool. So good, that even recreational players use them.
Gamma Pressureless Tennis Balls
Gamma Bucket-O-Balls 48 is a case containing 48 pressureless tennis balls, which are an excellent choice for ball machines or individual practice. These pressureless tennis balls feature a durable rubber core, and a heavy-duty felt, which will last you through hours and hours of training.
Gamma Pressureless Tennis Balls are pretty famous among tennis coaches, since they are highly durable, and thus suitable for tennis lessons and practice. Another great feature about this product is its versatility – pressureless tennis balls can be used on all court types.
Gamma Pressureless Balls come with the two-tone color scheme, with yellow/green, yellow/blue, yellow/orange, and yellow/green available, making them easier to track. And since they’re pressureless, they’ll slow the game down for beginners, which will help them develop hand-eye coordination.
Overall, these are some of the best tennis balls for learning and practicing tennis, appreciated by many coaches and players.
KEVENZ Standard Pressure Tennis Balls
Regardless of its name, this is a pressureless tennis ball that provides consistent performance and durability, making it perfect for practice. It’s made of natural rubber, though somewhat thicker, and a non-woven polyester felt fabric, providing more wear-resistance.
The thick eco-friendly rubber, polyester felt, and crack-resistant elastic seams offer more than a reliable performance and exceptional durability on all court surfaces. The felt is neon green in color, which provides more visual definition, and easier tracking of the ball.
Still, these are pressureless tennis balls, and they offer less bounce than pressurized ones, which makes them more suitable for beginners, and ball machine use.
Best Tennis Balls for Intermediate Players:
Intermediate-level tennis balls are aimed at recreational players or more experienced players who don’t play at the professional level. Their durability, longevity, consistency, and affordability places them directly between beginner-level and professional balls.If you’re a regular tennis player, playing once or twice a week, these products provide the right balance between performance and price. They’re durable enough not to change them every match but affordable enough not to break the bank.
Wilson Championship Regular and Extra Duty
Designed as a middle-end tennis ball, Wilson’s Championship regular duty tennis ball offers excellent performance for tennis players with a bit more experience. They are manufactured in a way that optimizes the play on indoor and clay courts.
This US Open official tennis ball features exclusive, and more dense Dura-Weave felt for increased durability and performance so that you can expect quite good longevity from this tennis ball. Besides Regular Duty, Wilson also offers Extra Duty Championship ball, which is ideal for more extended play on hard court surfaces.
Overall, these tournament level balls are among the top tennis balls in the world, offering exceptional performance for intermediate players. It’s the right value product if you’re looking for affordable middle-performing tennis balls.
Dunlop Sports Championship Tennis Balls
Dunlop Championship All-Court tennis balls are suitable for serious, but also recreational tennis players, thanks to the reliable performance. They are great for players looking to advance to professional play since they’re approved by the International Tennis Federation(ITF).
These balls are designed for use on a variety of court types, both indoor and outdoor, offering ultimate performance and durability. These features are the result of combining a unique rubber core with the fine-grade woven felt. The felt is slightly lighter, which enables you to see the ball earlier and prepare the next shot in time.
If you prefer hard-surface courts, you should opt for a hard-court version of the tennis ball, instead of the all-court version. It features a hard-court Dura-felt, which increases longevity on hard surfaces, without diminishing playability and speed.
Babolat Championship Tennis Balls
These ITF-approved balls are among the best intermediate tennis balls on the market. There is only a slight gap in quality between these and professional-level tennis balls, so you can expect them to provide excellent performance and reliability.
These high performing, yet affordable, pressurized balls are made for players who need extra durable tennis balls. The felt on this tennis ball is high-quality, extremely visible, and suitable for any surface. The inner pressure of this ball makes it extremely popular among club players, and the right combination of quality and durability assures ideal playing characteristics. You’ll surely be impressed by their high-quality and durability.
The manufacturer sells these championship balls in different-sized cases, ranging from a pack of three, up to a case of 72 balls. Overall, this is one of the best tennis balls for intermediate-level players.
Best Professional Tennis Balls:
Victory is not an abstract concept; it’s a result of an excellent strategy, and detailed planning. Professional players know that they need every advantage they can get. To make sure they get a competitive edge, pro players go to great lengths, as they know that even the smallest detail can weigh to their advantage.
Professional-level balls provide a competitive edge; they usually last longer and are more resistant to wears while operating better at different altitudes. They tend to offer maximum durability and excellent consistency throughout the match.
Wilson US Open Tennis Balls
Wilson has been the official tennis ball and an automatic favorite for the US Open since 1978. It features an Extra Duty court for harder courts and Regular Duty for indoor and clay courts.
The Regular Duty tennis balls offer incredibly balanced performance, making them suitable for both professionals and intermediate players. Though not as tough as the Extra Duty balls, the Regular Duty line features the same long-lasting TexTech felt.
The Extra Duty line is an excellent choice for those playing on harder courts since they have a slightly more durable felt. These tennis balls perform somewhat better than the Regular Duty ones, probably due to the difference in material composition. However, they tend to be livelier due to pressurization. According to some, these balls perform better if the can is opened the day before.
Both of these product lines, the Regular and Extra Duty, represent excellent value for the money invested. They are USTA, and ITF approved for use in Championship and League matches.
Dunlop Grand Prix Hard Court Ball
Dunlop is a big name in the tennis equipment industry. The brand offers different types of tennis balls, across all tiers, although some people claim their pressurized balls are harder than those of the competition.
The Grand Prix line of products is specially designed for hard courts, offering more durability, enhanced performance, and resistance to abrasion. The rubber core features 14 different ingredients, which make this ball a top performer, while a specially designed felt contributes significantly to the longevity of the ball.
The felt is MaxGlo, which is 14% brighter than other balls, for better tracking. The Grand Prix is a heavyweight tennis ball, so it’s not exactly well-suited for beginners and intermediate players. Still, it’s one of the most popular pro-level ball lines, offering the best in terms of playability.
Penn Pro Marathon
Penn’s Pro Marathon (with both regular and extra duty felt) is a famous brand among intermediate and professional level players. The Pro Marathon Extra Duty is Penn’s top tier tennis ball, designed to last on all court types, and it can even be used at high altitudes.
This is achieved with LongPlay felt and Encore technology that guarantees the durability and longevity of these tennis balls. Thanks to the Encore technology, the ball core lasts more than 20% longer than their other balls, making them the longest-lasting tennis balls on the market.
These features make the Pro Marathon the perfect tennis balls for players who enjoy long and intense matches and practice sessions. If you’re looking for a long-lasting professional tennis ball, the Pro Marathon is one of the best tennis balls in that category.
Buyer’s Guide to Choosing Tennis Balls:
When purchasing the best tennis ball, it’s worth knowing what you’re looking for, to better satisfy your playing needs. That way, you can choose a ball-type without breaking your budget, or choosing the wrong type of ball.
Among the first things you should know is that tennis balls come in a pack of three, or more, depending on the tier. Practice-level balls are cheaper and usually come in larger packages, like mesh bags, or boxes, while most pro-level balls come in a vacuum-sealed pack of three.
Before you buy tennis balls for your next weekend practice or individual tennis lesson, you should familiarize yourself with the different types and their advantages and drawbacks so you can choose the best tennis balls for you.
Types of tennis balls:
Pressurized Tennis Balls –
Pressurized tennis balls are the most common tennis balls used in matches. They are about 2.57 inches in diameter, weighing about 2 ounces, with a hollow rubber core filled with pressurized gas. The internal pressure is somewhere between 10 and 12 PSI.
New pressurized balls have good bounce and resiliency when you first remove them from the container. Since the gas tends to diffuse through the ball’s rubber walls, they are usually packed in vacuum-sealed cans. This way, the balls keep the internal pressure as much as possible, before the can is opened. Once you open the package, the ball starts to lose gas. Over time, as they lose internal pressure, the balls will soften and lose their bounce.
Depending on your style of play and your skill level, these balls may go dead after a single match. So, if you’re playing tennis several times a week, these can come off as expensive.
Pressureless tennis balls –
These are the same size and look as pressurized balls, but as the name implies, they’re made with no internally compressed gas. The secret in their bounce lies in their core, which is made of harder and thicker rubber, compared to the standard ball. It’s the hardness and thickness of its core that gives a non-pressurized ball its bounce.
Pressureless balls are some of the best tennis balls for practice since they retain their bounce over time. However, they’re not used in competitive play because they require more force when hitting them, which increases the chances of injury. With time, these balls lose some of their felt, and become lighter and bouncier, as the rubber inside softens.
Pressurized vs. Pressureless Tennis Balls:
Pressurized balls tend to be bouncier when they’re fresh out of the canister. They are also more spin responsive because they are lighter than pressureless tennis balls, which allows you to generate more spin. And since they have less mass, they travel faster and require less force when hitting them. That’s what makes them perfect for competition play.
Pressureless balls, on the other hand, may not be as bouncy at first, but they become bouncier with time. However, with the increase in bounce, the spin response decreases. This makes them virtually unusable in practice against another player since they will provide you with an incorrect spin characteristic.
However, when it comes to rebound or a tennis ball machine practice, the pressureless balls are the right choice, since they won’t lose their bounce. To beginners, pressurized tennis balls aren’t cost-effective. That being said, if you’re planning on entering a professional match, you should specifically practice with pressurized balls.
Different tennis balls have their individual durability and lifespan, which mostly depends on several factors. Pressurized balls are known for their shorter life cycles, which can last for up to two weeks. The material used in the making of the ball, like reinforced rubber coating and more durable felt, can contribute significantly to better durability. Keep in mind that you get what you pay for, and higher-quality tennis balls tend to last longer.
High Altitude –
It always pays to know where you’re playing and what are the conditions of the court. Playing at high altitudes can additionally pressurize tennis balls, increasing their bounce and speed. This can cause problems for all types of players. Playing tennis above 4000 feet is considered “high altitude “, and requires more specialized high-altitude tennis balls.
These tennis balls are designed to minimize the issues high altitude might create, and promote a more natural feel when hitting.
Regular Duty or Extra Duty –
This depends on the type of court you play on. Regular Duty balls are made for clay and indoor courts since they have thinner felt that lessens the amount of clay absorbed. Extra Duty balls feature an extra-duty felt, which can withstand the more demanding hard-court surfaces.
Tiers and levels:
Manufacturers of tennis balls classify their products in different tiers. They go from the expensive, high-performing Tier One, down to cheaper and less reliable lower tiers.
For beginners and kids:
These tennis balls are suitable for absolute beginners, and kids, because they’re designed for slower play. They are generic tennis balls, with a low-quality felt. Most of them are larger, to better suit children, enhancing their motor skills, like hand-eye coordination.
And while these pressureless tennis balls feature rubber materials and low-quality felt, some manufacturers opted to make their product using foam. These are meant for the youngest of players, as those balls feature meager speed and reduced bounce.
Tennis balls meant for children are segmented into three different subcategories, which include Stage 3, Stage 2, and Stage 1.
Stage 3 (Red) –
These beginner balls are designed for kids, typically ten years old or younger. They are slower, allowing children to develop skills, proper movement, and hand-eye coordination, usually on a 36-foot court.
Stage 2 (Orange) –
Great for 60-foot courts, Orange balls are more advanced than Stage 3. These tennis balls are usually 25-50% slower than a standard tennis ball.
Stage 1 (Green) –
Green tennis balls are considered as transitional balls, the last step before a tournament tennis ball. These are slightly slower than standard balls and help beginners use proper technique while playing on a full-size court.
Recreational Level (Tier Three)
Recreational Level balls are low-quality and pretty affordable tennis balls. Every renowned manufacturer makes these and sells them in almost all tennis stores. Though not exactly bad, they wouldn’t survive even a few rounds in a professional tennis match. Tier Three balls are usually pressureless, made of rubber, and lined with polyester felt fabric.
However, for casual and recreational players, these balls offer a perfect mix of cost and durability. When it comes to recreational-level products, there aren’t many differences between significant brands. You can expect them to be cheap and relatively durable for recreational play.
Intermediate Level (Tier Two)
Intermediate level balls, otherwise known as Championship balls, represent the right balance of price and quality. They’re more durable and consistent than generic, beginner-level tennis balls, and are usually made from better materials. Most of the championship tennis balls are pressurized, which means that they’re lighter, and bouncier than beginner-level balls. However, just because they’re pressurized, their lifespan is shorter.
Tier Two tennis balls are perfect for experienced, but casual players, who like to play once or twice a week. They provide better feel and more quality than Tier Three, yet are more cost-efficient than Tier One tennis balls. You can find Championship-level tennis balls in almost any convenience store, usually at a reasonable price.
Professional Level (Tier One):
To a beginner, all balls look the same. However, professional-level tennis balls are proof that not all balls are created equal. Professional players, those at the highest levels of the sport, know that the right ball can significantly affect their chances of winning. Among the elite athletes, victory often lies in the smallest of margins, and that’s why the Tier One balls are made with great attention to details.
Thanks to superior and extremely durable materials, these balls offer top performance and incredible durability. They provide a variety of features to successfully satisfy different court requirements, like the ability to withstand a high-altitude play.The felt is also of higher quality, making the ball less prone to fraying while lowering the air drag coefficient.
However, all professional tennis balls are pressurized. Due to the nature of professional play, most pro balls only last about a set or two, despite their durability. For pro play, these balls offer top performance for a reasonable price.
Tennis ball Numbers:
Since 1972 most tennis balls produced are fluorescent yellow, also known as “optic yellow.” That means that the tennis ball is usable in any major competition, by players who are older than 19 years old. Tennis balls have a color-coding, optic yellow for adults, and red, orange, and green for kids and beginners. However, tennis balls also have numbers on them, usually printed next to the brand’s name.
It’s a common misconception among tennis players that the printed number represents the bounciness or the speed of the ball. The truth is that all tennis balls made by one manufacturer have the same physical properties, despite the number printed on them. Those numbers have no coding value, or meaning, other than identification.
When playing, you might misdirect a tennis ball to the neighboring court, where the players use the same brand of tennis balls. The numbers are there to help you with identifying your tennis ball. Just say the number, and the people at the neighboring court will be able to return you the right tennis ball. For that reason, you should always ask what ball-number nearby courts are using, and choose a different one.
It’s unreasonable for beginners to buy top tier tennis balls. Those pressurized balls will lose their bounce in about two weeks, making them unusable for further practice. On top of that, professional-level balls aren’t precisely cost-efficient to be used in tennis practice, unless you’re moving to professional play. Beginner players should stick to pressureless tennis balls, as they provide the right amount of bounce and durability, while still being cost-efficient.
Recreational players tend to play more aggressively than beginners, so they should use pressurized ball for better performance. The recommended tier is intermediate since those products offer useful features at a reasonable price. Professional-level products are among the very best tennis balls on the market. They’re made from superior materials, which enhance their durability, longevity, and playability.
Objectively speaking, professional-level tennis balls are the best tennis balls on the market. But individually, the best tennis balls are the ones that best suit your playing needs. Picking up the correct tennis ball for your skill level will significantly help you in developing your skills.