The Ball Matters

What is the best tennis ball to play with? The world is full of opinions on this topic… so here are mine.

Dunlap – Years ago, I used to swear by Dunlap Grand Prix balls. I loved the sound the made when you struck them solidly; and they lasted longer for practice balls than anything I ever found.

But I also found them hard on the arm. Seems like the thing that made them sound good and last longer also made them cause more vibration through the arm. My local Florida tennis pro used to use them as his teaching ball; but switched due to arm problems (which then went away).

Wilson – Many tournaments use these balls; but I find them livelier than I like; and they seem to fly a little off my racquet.

Penn – You can usually find “regular” Penn balls on sale somewhere for $2.00 to $2.50 a can; and they are good balls to play with.

But I have found that the slightly-more-expensive Penn ATP ball is just a little better made, has a reasonable bounce, and lasts just a little bit longer than the cheaper ball. They are tough to find in the stores; so I normally buy them online by the case (at about $2.50 a can) through Holabird Sports in Maryland.

So I guess for me, the Penn slogan is true, “The Ball Matters.”

6 thoughts on “The Ball Matters

  1. George – I switched to the Penn Professional Balls this season (same as Penn ATP?). Not only is the feel more consistent than regular Penns but the color is a brighter yellow making it easier to see the ball. They cost $3/can at some Naples shops although at some places you have to buy a case of 24 to get that price.

  2. you should do a “taste test”. open a can of penn and a can of wilson. play a match with all 6 balls and see if you find yourself favoring one over the other. IMO, not much difference. there is a distinct difference in penn ATP ball though, it has more nap (is that the right spelling ?), IMO, a much better ball.

    Joe – i actually have done that when practicing; and my partner throws some of his balls into the mix. geo

  3. Except for Slazengers (see below), my favorite tennis balls are Wilson US Open balls (Extra Duty if I am playing on hard courts, which is usually where I live; Regular for clay or grass). I kind of agree with you, George, that Wilson balls are a bit more lively than Penns, but I actually like that lively feeling. (Probably for the same reason, it is why I like my racquests strung a little on the loose side. I don’t like the hardness of strings that are too tight, and I am usually quite accurate with my placement anyway so I don’t suffer from the “spray” effect of loose strings too much…. but I digress.)

    I have played with the Penn ATP balls and find them a close second to the Wilson US Open balls, but I agree with you that they are hard to find in retail stores. Still I prefer the US Open balls because, ball for ball, I find the ATP balls a bit harder feeling.

    On the reverse site, I really don’t like Prince balls at all. I cannot describe it, but they just feel weird to me. I am also not very fond of Dunlops. I agree that they seem to transmit too much vibration to your arm. I haven’t had arm problems from using them, mind you, but that may be primarily because I avoid them whenever I can so I haven’t had the experience of constantly hitting with them.

    Some time back, I used to play a lot with a friend originally from Kent, UK, who would bring Slazenger balls out whenever it was his turn to bring balls to our doubles group. (He has since moved from the greater NJ/ Pennsylvania area to Boston so I don’t see him anymore.) I used to LOVE those Slazengers. Maybe there truly was something about the balls, or maybe it was just a weird psychosomatic thing, but whenever we played with the Slazengers, it did not matter who my doubles partner was… I always won!!! Indeed, the balls used to pop effortlessly off my strings and seemed to have little laser devices in them as they consistently found their way right into the corners or just on the lines for all of my shots. My little short angle volleys always went right where my touch aimed them, and my hard overheads and serves also seemed to have just an edge more “bite” and pop than they did with any other balls. But, alas, I have not been able to find a retail establishment anywhere near me that sells Slazengers. If I have found them in the States at all, it has usually been in some specialty pro shop someplace. I would probably play with Slazengers all the time if I could find a reliable and regular source to buy them.

    Marty – coincidentally, one of the players in our dubs match this morning read the blog and BROUGHT SLAZENGERS for us to play with today! They played fine. tks, geo

  4. Avoid Dunlop at all costs. I don’t know what it is, but there’s a boulder-like quality inside those suckers that has hurt my arm, shoulder, et al. I refuse to hit with those balls.

    Joel – me too! geo

  5. Like Marty, I really like the Slazengers. Here in SoCal, they are available at Dick’s Sporting Goods. I also like Wilson Titanium balls.

  6. If you haven’t tried the Pro Penn + Professional ball(only available in pro shops, according to Penn) you’re doing yourself a disservice, in my opinion. This is the ball Bob Mazzola mentioned. It is more optically yellow(19% brighter), has a better quality felt(25% longer wear), has an improved core(33% longer lasting) and has a very lively feel.

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