Best Tennis Balls for 2021

Have you ever tossed your ball, smashed it with a perfect serve, watched it fly over the net, and give a half-hearted bounce up before rolling away? Whether you’re a beginning tennis player, have been working on your game every weekend, or are a seasoned pro, you know that the type of ball you use makes a difference. 

Tennis balls are designed for optimal performance in the sport. They are made out of rubber, are filled with pressurized air to give them a good bounce, and are then covered in felt. But that’s only half the story. What kind of felt does it use? How much pressure does the ball have left? And, did you know that the surface you’re playing on can make a difference?

While the International Tennis Federation determines the type of tennis balls used in regulated competitions, you can choose from a vast selection of different balls for fun, sports, and practice. There are tennis balls geared for a range of expertise, various court surfaces, and specific uses. 

We rounded up the best tennis balls of 2021 to help you choose which one is the right fit for you. Because if you expect it to bounce, it should!

Lets get into it.

  1. Wilson US Open Tennis Balls
  2. Penn Championship Tennis Balls
  3. Slazenger Wimbledon Official Tennis Balls
  4. Dunlop Championship Tennis Balls
  5. Wilson Prime All Court Tennis Balls
  6. Tecnifibre X-One Tennis Balls
  7. KEVENZ Standard Pressure Training Ball
  8. Tourna Pressureless Tennis Ball

8 Best Tennis Balls: Our Top Picks

Not all tennis balls are created equal! There is a lot of thought and science that goes into manufacturing and testing the balls, from the size, weight, air pressure, and felt. 

Below, we’ve rounded up the top 8 tennis balls that will help you on the court.

Wilson US Open Balls (Regular, Extra Duty, and High Altitude)

Wilson is one of the most popular manufacturers of tennis balls and is the official ball for the US Open and Australian Open Grand Slam Championships. Their pressurized US Open balls come in Regular, Extra Duty, and High Altitude versions. The Extra Duty version has a thicker felt, looser weave, and higher nylon to wool ratio than the Regular Duty balls. 

  • The Regular Duty balls are ideal for soft, clay, and indoor surfaces. 
  • The Extra Duty balls are ideal for hard courts. 
  • The High Altitude balls are best in areas above 3,000 feet in elevation.

These premium balls give a powerful serve when they are new. As with most pressurized balls, the bounce and spin ability slowly decline with use. They have a high-quality Tex-Tech felt covering made of woven wool which makes them very durable. 

Features:

  • Type: soft
  • Felt: High-quality Tex-Tech
  • Weight: light
  • Bounce: moderate

Pros:

  • Great reputation! The US Open’s choice ball
  • It gives a consistent bounce on hard and indoor surfaces
  • Durable and high-quality felt
  • It comes in versions for all court surfaces

Cons: 

  • Bounce is not optimal on soft courts

Penn Championship Tennis Balls

These balls from Penn are America’s most popular and best-selling tennis balls. The high-quality pressurized ball has a durable felt covering that will withstand hard surface court play. You can also use it on clay and gray surfaces. These balls have reliable performance, a superb reputation, and are reasonably priced.

Features:

  • Type: soft
  • Felt: High-quality premium woven
  • Weight: light
  • Bounce: high

Pros:

  • Natural rubber helps reduce shocks
  • High-quality interlocking wool fiber felt 
  • Durable for hard surface courts
  • Excellent bounce

Cons:

  • Low-quality packaging will result in the balls losing their pressure before use

Slazenger Wimbledon Official Tennis Balls

These tennis balls from Slazenger have an exceptional bounce and solid play. They are strong and are reliable, although the felt isn’t as durable as the Wilson US Open or Penn Championship balls. These balls have an exclusive Ultra Vis dye coloring that makes them more visible on the court.

Slazenger uses an exclusive technology to repel water off their tennis balls, making them an excellent choice for rainy conditions and grass surfaces. 

Features:

  • Type: soft
  • Felt: good
  • Weight: heavy
  • Bounce: moderate

Pros:

  • Official Wimbledon Ball
  • Good bounce
  • Very visible on the court
  • Repels water with its hydro guard technology coating

Cons:

  • Felt is not as high quality as others
  • It can be pricier than other brands

Dunlop Championship Tennis Ball 

These balls from Dunlop perform well for both intermediate-level and professional-level players. They give faster serves, and the seams provide a good bounce and spin. These balls are great for play on all courts, and the unique Durafelt covering holds up well on hard surface courts.

Features:

  • Type: hard
  • Felt: good
  • Weight: light
  • Bounce: high

Pros:

  • Excellent all-around tennis ball
  • Provides a faster serve
  • Durable and long-lasting felt

Cons:

  • Poor-quality packaging may lead to the balls losing pressure before use. Make sure the containers are sealed. 

Wilson Prime All Court Tennis Balls

These tennis balls, also from Wilson, are a versatile option for all court surfaces. They are durable and covered with Wilson’s unique Duraweave felt. We recommend this ball for professional athletes and beginners alike. 

Features:

  • Type: soft
  • Felt: good
  • Weight: heavy
  • Bounce: high

Pros:

  • Excellent all-around tennis ball
  • Durable and long-lasting felt

Cons:

  • Quality could be inconsistent from can to can

Tecnifibre X-One Tennis Balls

These tennis balls are strong, can withstand hard hits, and have a 72% real felt covering. They give players reliable control and maintain a consistent speed.

Features:

  • Type: soft
  • Felt: good
  • Weight: light
  • Bounce: high

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Consistent bounce

Cons:

  • More expensive than other comparable tennis balls
  • Not widely available

KEVENZ Standard Pressure Training Balls

This tennis ball is a great option for beginners. Its neon color gives the player an easier target, and it is suitable for any type of court. It’s definitely a budget-friendly option to get started with. 

Features:

  • Type: soft
  • Felt: good
  • Weight: medium
  • Bounce: high

Pros:

  • Durable
  • Can handle aggressive play

Cons:

  • Visible raised seam
  • Constructed with two separate pieces rather than one

Tourna Pressureless Tennis Ball

These balls from Tourna won’t lose their bounce. On the contrary, they become a little bouncier after you play with them. They are suitable for use on any court surface and have a long-lasting felt covering. They are slightly heavier than pressurized balls, so you may need to adjust your swing if you are used to lighter balls.

Features:

  • Type: soft
  • Felt: good
  • Weight: heavy
  • Bounce: high

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Great for beginners
  • Very durable
  • It won’t lose its bounce
  • Work well in a ball machine

Cons:

  • It does not play as well as pressurized balls, and we do not recommend them for serious players.
  • Heavier than pressurized balls

How to Choose the Best Tennis Ball

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved over 200 types of tennis balls! Are you confused? Do you wonder what the different colors mean? Why are there different sizes? Does anything affect the speed? 

We’ll take you through the different types of tennis balls to help you determine which is the best option for you.

Skill Level

Choose a tennis ball based on your skill level. An amateur player may find it easier to learn with a different ball than an experienced athlete. 

Beginners and Kids

If you’re new to the game or are introducing kids to the sport, look for transition balls. These balls are larger than standard tennis balls and specifically designed to move slower. They are great for learning and training. 

There are three general categories of beginner balls that were introduced in 2011 as part of the ITF’s Play and Stay campaign to encourage more people worldwide to get involved in the sport. Their unique colors identify these beginner balls:

  • Stage 3 / Red – These tennis balls are ideal for younger children aged 5-8. They have about 75% less bounce than standard balls to make it easier for novices to hit. These balls will help players develop proper skills, work on their coordination, and increase their confidence on the court. They come in standard construction or foam. It would be best if you used these on a small 36-foot court. 
  • Stage 2 / Orange – These balls are a little more advanced than the red ones but still move slower than standard tennis balls. They bounce about 50% less than standard tennis balls. They are geared for children ages 8-10 and are designed to be played on a 60-foot court.
  • Stage 1 / Green – These balls are meant for older children, ages 10 and up, and can be played on a full-size 78-foot court. They are just one step down from a standard tennis ball but have a 25% reduced bounce so they can help players practice and hone their skills.

Practice Tennis Balls

Practice balls, also known as coach balls, are standard size balls but lower quality than those that players would use in a USTA (United States Tennis Association) game. They are very durable, have a long lifespan, and are cheaper than the higher-quality balls. 

These tennis balls are mainly used for practice and are great for ball machines.

Championship Tennis Balls

Championship balls are ideally suited for practice games. They are of lower quality and pressure than professional balls but are durable and will maintain their bounce. 

Professional Tennis Balls

Professional balls are the highest level of tennis balls. They are the types of balls used in the USTA. They are made from high-quality felt and have a high-pressure level.

Court Surface

The type of court surface that you play on can affect the bounce of your tennis ball. You should buy the right ball for the surface on which you will play. If you use a ball that is the wrong type for the court surface you’re playing on, your game will be affected.

  • Clay surfaces – Clay tennis courts are usually made from crushed stone or brick. They provide a softer surface and are the most popular choice for tennis courts in South America and Europe. They cause the ball to have a slower and higher bounce and react better to spins. The ball will also leave a mark on the surface, allowing judges to determine if a play was out of bounds.
  • Grass courts – Grass courts are usually reserved for professional players, not beginners. They allow the ball to bounce fast and high, much more than on a clay court. If you play on a grass court, keep in mind that the ball’s bounce ability will be significantly affected when the grass is wet. 
  • Hard courts – Hard courts are usually made from asphalt or concrete and topped with acrylic. Balls typically have a high bounce as hard courts do not slow the ball down. They also don’t influence the ball’s spin, or trajectory and players can more easily control the direction. They are the most neutral surface in terms of a surface’s effect on the ball, although hard courts can be tough on the players’ knees.
  • Carpet courts – Carpet courts are usually made from rubber or nylon and found indoors. They provide a very fast play, similar to a grass court, but give a low bounce. 

The ITF regulates the type of balls that players should use on each court surface.

  • Use Type 1 balls for slow court surfaces such as clay.
  • Use Type 2 balls for moderately-paced surfaces such as carpet.
  • Use Type 3 balls for fast-paced surfaces such as grass and hard courts.

Felt Quality: Regular Duty, and Extra Duty and Grass

The felt covering the tennis balls are made differently for different surfaces, as they wear down differently. You will want to choose balls that are right for the court where you play.

  • Regular duty tennis balls are made of softer felt and are suitable for indoor and clay courts. They will not hold up well on outdoor courts, which are more abrasive.
  • Extra duty tennis balls’ felt is woven with wool, making them thicker and denser. They are the ideal choice for outdoor courts with hard floors. If you use them on soft surfaces, the felt can fluff up, causing the ball to lose its bounce and speed.
  • Grass court balls are similar to regular duty balls, but their felt is resistant to grass strains.

Playing at High Altitude 

If you are playing at an altitude over 4,000 feet above sea level, choose a ball explicitly designed for high altitudes. Since the tennis balls are pressurized with air, they will be affected by the attitude. 

Use a ball that is labeled for high altitude when you are playing under those conditions.

Durability

Tennis balls come in different levels of quality. You want to ensure that your balls maintain their bounce for the game’s duration and the felt does not tear. 

Although pressurized balls will naturally lose their bounce as the players use them, some balls lose their pressure quicker than others.

Pressurized vs. Pressureless Tennis Balls

Pressurized balls are filled with a pressurized gas which gives the balls their distinct bounce and speed. The standard yellow tennis balls, and the ones used for professional games, are pressurized. 

The drawback is that they have a very short lifespan. As soon as you open the can that they come in, the air pressure starts decreasing. In professional games, players only use the pressurized balls for one match each.

Pressureless balls do not use internal air pressure for their bounce but get them from their specialized rubber material. They are more durable and do not lose their bounce over time. In fact, as the felt outer layer wears out, their bounce actually increases! Most beginner balls are pressureless, but experienced players find these balls harder and heavier to use.

Numbers on Tennis Balls

Tennis players will notice that the balls have numbers on them. What do these labels signify? Contrary to what some people believe, they do not indicate the balls’ ideal type of surface. The numbers are actually not mandated and are there for the practical purpose of identifying your ball when it rolls off your court!

A container of tennis balls typically contains three balls. All of the balls in the container will have the same number and brand name. You should check the label on your ball before starting a game. If your ball bounces off your court and onto another court, you will be able to identify your ball by the brand and number. 

Why is it so important for tennis players to use their own ball? Because pressurized balls lose their bounce quickly, many serious players use a new ball for each game they play. They want to be sure the ball they’re using is their new one with a high bounce and not another player’s old one that rolled onto their court.

ITF Approved Balls

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) regulates the balls that can be used in professional games and competitions and generates a list of approved tennis balls each year. Tennis balls must meet specific requirements to meet the ITF’s standards. The IIF has a controlled facility where they test the balls to ensure they meet their standards. They check balls for proper weight, size, durability, rebound ability, and performance. 

There are hundreds of balls on ITF’s approved list in all categories, from stages 1, 2, and 3 to type 1, 2, 3, and high altitude. ITF indicates the balls’ manufacturer, the country that produces them, the type, and whether the ball is pressurized. 

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions on choosing the right tennis ball:

What are the most popular tennis ball manufacturers?

Some of the more well-known manufacturers of the most commonly used balls are Penn, Gamma, Wilson, Slazenger, and Dunlop.

Why are tennis balls covered in fuzz?

The fuzz is a layer of felt and serves a few purposes. Those purposes include: 

  • Protects the ball and increases its lifespan
  • Reduces the ball’s speed as it cuts through the air
  • It gives the ball a good bounce
  • Improves the balls’ spin

Why are tennis balls yellow?

Interestingly, tennis balls used to be black or white! The ITF started using yellow balls in 1972 because they were more visible on TV. 

Tennis balls now come in a variety of colors which serves to identify the type of ball it is:

  • Red – beginner balls for younger kids
  • Orange – beginner balls for kids under 10.
  • Green – beginner balls for older children.

You can still find white, black, and even two-toned balls if you want to brighten up your game.

Why do pressurized balls lose their bounce?

Pressurized balls are filled with gas which gives them their distinct bounce. The balls, though, are made out of rubber, which is a slightly porous material. That means that there are tiny holes through which the air can escape. Even though the holes are microscopic, the air is even smaller, and eventually, all of the air will leave the ball, and the balls will lose their bounce ability.

What kind of gas do they use in pressurized balls?

Manufacturers inject pressurized balls with a mix of air and nitrogen, which gives them their bounce.

Why are tennis balls sold in cans?

Actually, not all tennis balls are packaged in cans, only pressurized ones. Because the balls lose their pressure fairly quickly, they are packed in pressurized cans to help them keep their pressure. Once you open the can, the balls’ pressure will start to decline.

Pressureless balls do not need to be packaged in cans as they don’t need air pressure. You can commonly find them sold in bags or buckets, and because they are cheaper than pressurized balls, you may find them often sold in larger quantities. 

How long will pressurized balls last?

Pressurized balls will start to lose their pressure as soon as you open up the container and continuously lose pressure after taking out. 

Casual players will probably not notice the difference for a few games, but professional athletes might notice the difference in the ball’s bounce and may only use the ball for one or two games. They may still use the older balls for practice if the balls still have a good bounce, even if they’re not good enough for a match.

Why do the balls have a smell when they come out of the can?

The rubber and glue used on the felt may each have a smell. When the manufacturers seal in the pressurized container, the odors cannot dissipate, so you may smell them when you open the container. 

What can I do with old tennis balls?

Tennis balls are, unfortunately, not biodegradable. While the rubber will very slowly decompose, the felt does not. To keep them out of the landfills, here are some ways that you can reuse your old tennis balls:

  • Play fetch and become a dog’s best friend! If you don’t have a dog who can use your old balls, give them to your neighbors’ pet, or ask your local animal shelter if they could use them. Be sure to speak to your vet first, especially if you are concerned about your dog eating the ball, as punctured and deflated balls may pose a choking hazard.
  • Protect your floors from scratches by covering the bottom of furniture legs with a tennis ball. Cut an x in the ball and slip it over the furniture leg. The felt and rubber provide an excellent cushion. This a handy tip for the bottom of walkers as well.
  • Tennis balls are a terrific laundry room assistant! Throw one or two of them along with a load of laundry into the dryer. They will help fluff up the clothing and speed up the drying process.
  • Remove scuff marks from floors and walls by scrubbing them with the ball’s felt covering.
  • Clean your pool! Believe it or not, tennis balls can absorb oils and grease from the water. Throw a few balls into the pool after a swim and let them do the work for you. Just be sure to change the balls frequently as they will not work indefinitely.
  • Find a recycling program that takes tennis balls such as ReTour Tennis or  Tennis Ball Recycling which uses them to create tennis courts. That’s coming full circle!

Our Verdict

There is an enormous variety of tennis balls on the market. While it may seem overwhelming at first glance to choose the right one, you can narrow down the choices by identifying your needs. Do you need a ball for a beginner? Will you be playing on grass or a hard surface court? Do you want a ball with a high bounce?

If you’re buying tennis balls for different players, they may each need a different type of ball depending on their level. You’ll find that once you find the ball that’s right for your skill and playing conditions, you’ll feel the difference. You may need to try out a few different varieties to find the one that feels right to you. The correct ball will definitely enhance your game. Give it an Ace!

James Thompson

James Thompson

James Thompson has been playing Tennis at a semi professional level for more than 10 years and is passionate about helping others improve their game through his own experiences.