A Treatise on Tennis Balls

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A Treatise on Tennis Balls

When I started playing tennis I could not have cared less what tennis balls to use, in fact you probably could have thrown a yellow baseball (or pressureless balls which some have argued play like yellow baseballs) out there and I might not have noticed.  As I have gotten better I have noticed the difference in ball performance and what types to use for different functions.  I still don’t care as much as some people, I had an opponent in a USTA playoff match if we could use his Slazenger balls instead of the Penns the USTA was providing.  I said no just because I thought it was weird but I am really happy because that small edge could have made a big difference (although I think I beat him pretty soundly, and yes that is my own horn that I am tooting).  Here are some factors to consider when choosing tennis balls:

2 types of balls (Pressureless and Pressurized):

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Pressureless balls have a solid core and don’t rely on air pressure to keep a consistent bounce.  Their main advantage is that they last much longer than pressurized balls.  While pressurized balls keep their bounce for about 2 weeks, pressureless can last up to a year.  So why don’t we all just use pressureless balls?  They are heavier and much harder on your arm so many people rarely play with them.  Also, they are hard to put spin on so they play a little different.  However, Europe does use the pressureless ball more frequently so maybe we will start using them more in the near future (my guess is no, this will be similar to the metric system)  Pressureless balls are mainly used in tennis ball machines to prevent you from having to go get a new set of 250 balls (250 balls costs about $250) every 2 weeks (over a summer, 3 months, this would be $1080!).  Pressureless balls are more expensive than pressurized balls so the cost would be $250-500 for 250, but last from 1 -3 years.

Pressurized Balls .80 per ball Lasts 1-4 weeks “more lively” standard in US
Pressureless Balls $1 per ball 1-3 years “Deader”, less spin, more popular in Europe



The best tennis ball for tennis ball machines is the pressureless balls so that they last and you are not replacing them every 4 weeks.  They are just a little heavier feeling on the arm but once they get worn in a little it helps and they feel pretty close to pressurized balls.  I would recommend the Tretorn Micro X for the ball machine, they are a little more expensive but they last a long time and mimic the feel of pressurized balls pretty well.



Best Brand of Tennis Ball:

The best brand of tennis ball is … Ha, I don’t know, I can tell you my favorite but they are all required to be in very similar specs. They are all required by the ITF to have the ball dropped from a height of 100 inches onto a horizontal surface must bounce up somewhere between 53 and 58 inches.  Here is a list of (pressurized) offerings from the major ball companies:



Wilson Professional US Open Grass Court – Premium high-grade white felt. US Open High Altitude – All surfaces over 3,500 ft elevation. US Open – Regular Duty the Official ball of the US Open. US Open -Extra Duty the Official ball of the US Open.
Wilson Championship Wilson Championship – Extra Duty, longer lasting, more consistent. Wilson Hope – Donation made to BCRF with every purchase. Wilson Championship -Regular Duty, longer lasting, more consistent.
Wilson Recreational Wilson Practice -Extra Duy, practice tennis balls.
Penn Professional Penn ATP – Extra Duty, the #1 choice of ATP players. Penn ATP – Regular Duty, the #1 choice of ATP players. Pro Penn – The #1 choice of tennis coaches and teaching professionals.
Penn Championship Penn Championship – Pink, the best selling tennis ball in the U.S.
Dunlop Professional Dunlop Grand Prix – Hard Court, ultimate performance and durability. Dunlop Abzorber – All Court, reduces impact on arm by 15% Dunlop Grand Prix – Regular Duty, ultimate performance and durability.
Dunlop Championship Dunlop Championship – Hard Court, durafelt technology. Dunlop Championship – Regular Duty, durafelt technology. Dunlop Championship – All Court, durafelt technology.
Dunlop Recreational Dunlop Bucket O Balls 48 – Consistent and durable ball.
Prince Professional Prince Tour – Extra Duty, high quality, performance products.
Gamma Professional Gamma ProTour – Extra Duty – best playing ball on the market. Gamma Recreational Gamma First Set – Balls Pack of 60, soft training tennis balls designed for beginners.


Kids/Beginner balls:

The United State Tennis Association has introduced balls for beginners and kids that are easier to hit.  The Red ball is the largest and goes slowest and bounces the least high.  Here is a chart that explains how they bounce:

Photo credit: Tennisnuts.com and Tretorn


For kids the recommend ages go as follows:

Red Ball 25% of the standard ball speed and bounce Ages 4-8 for kids, or anyone new to the game
Orange Ball 50% of the standard ball speed and bounce Ages 8-10
Green Ball 75% of the standard ball speed and bounce Ages 10-12
Yellow Ball Standard ball 12 and up.  These are recommended ages and should be adjusted for skill level and enjoyment level


To begin your development there is only one ball machine that can utilize the ROG balls as far as I know and it is the Matchmate Quickstart (https://www.matchmatetennis.com/product/match-mate-quickstart/)


Thank you for reading my treatise on tennis balls and I said I would tell you my favorite ball and it is the Penn ATP professional ball regular duty (I like the regular on both clay and hard court, the extra duty version is fine, I just prefer the regular duty).

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