The “Best” Tennis Ball?

Like choosing what type of food to have for dinner, what beer brand to drink, or what kind of wine you like … most players have a favorite tennis ball they prefer to play with.

A Reader’s Question …

USPTA Elite Professional, Alan Anastos writes, “Which is the preferred ball of choice? Which ball is usually brought to the courts by your tennis friends? For me, it’s typically Penn or Wilson.”

“Do you and your friends exclusively use extra duty on hardcourt and regular (all court) duty on clay?”

“Fun fact: The men and women use different balls at the US Open. The men use extra duty balls and the women use regular duty Wilson US Open balls. Wait what? Regular duty is for clay, right? The US Open is hardcourt. So why does Wilson even brand a ball as such? Cha-ching! The reason the women use the regular duty variety is because they play faster than the extra duty balls, which have more felt.”

For Me …

Dunlop – Years ago, I used to swear by Dunlop 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 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 $3.00 a can) through Holabird Sports in Maryland.

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

How about YOU, what is your ball of choice?

Another Life Saved?

Jerry Ratledge writes: On the medical front, all the “heart surprises” chronicled in your blog inspired me to ask my family physician to order a battery of tests. The important coronary calcium score came back at 748, indicating a high risk of a heart attack within the next three to five years if left untreated. I’ve been referred to a cardiologist for further diagnosis and treatment. Many thanks, George, for increasing our cardiac awareness.

Experts say if you take good care of your body, it can last a lifetime!

And i go this morning for Covid shot #1 and then at noon to have the fluid from my left lung sac drained … and should be able to breath again!

Know someone who should read this?  Send them a link and if you are not on my “new posting alert email list” and want to be (I promise, no other uses of your email address!), just drop me a note at GeorgeWachtel@gmail.com

My Book: if you’d like to get a copy of “Senior Tennis”, just click on the link on the upper right of this web page to go to Amazon.com, look at the list of places under “My Book” on the bar above, or ask me what clubs are carrying it!

16 thoughts on “The “Best” Tennis Ball?

  1. George,
    At the pro level I’m sure men and women can tell the difference in balls. I have never
    been able to tell the difference in extra-duty and regular duty and I would challenge
    any senior to tell me one from the other without looking at the can. With that said
    all my tennis is on soft courts so I only buy regular duty as recommended. I do notice
    a different feel when one opens a can of Pro-Penn’s. Tennis is just such a great sport
    and the Penn or Wilson ball is very reasonably priced we can all always use a new can
    for every match. Life is good and so glad you are on the mend!

    Phil, and a can of balls at either $2.50 or $3.00 compared to the cost of a round of Naples golf?!? thanks, george

  2. That’s a keeper Jerry Ratledge quote…”Experts say if you take good care of your body, it can last a lifetime.” Right up there with the Steven Wright joke…”I plan to live forever. So far so good.” Thanks for the laugh this morning George.

  3. Excellent information on tennis balls George – I went to the Holabird website to look for the Penn balls you mention – a quote there “Penn Tour Regular Duty tennis balls are a replacement to Penn ATP Regular Duty balls, featuring a new name and updated packaging.”
    I find that the Wilson regular duty balls bounce a little higher when you do the “drop test” and have more feel, easier on the elbow than the Dunlop. Stopped using the “red top” Penn regular duty as lightest, easiest on the elbow but just do not hold up through a whole match. Looking forward to trying the Penn higher end regular duty ball, did not know it existed.
    Again, thank you George for your information facilitation for we senior tennis players.

  4. Wilson Titanium All Court balls are the best I’ve ever played with. Lively and long lasting. Many of the guys I play with have become converts. Only place I’ve found them is Walmart where they sell for $1.92 a can.

    Woz, interesting… never heard of or played with them. thanks, george

  5. remember the old Tretorn (if im spelling it correctly) balls? they did not
    come in a can. they were like hitting rocks.
    i also remember buying balls where the rubber lines were different colors.
    and my final comment is: can you believe the cost of tennis balls has
    changed very little from 40+ years ago? it continually amazes me.

    Joe, i also hit with those “rocks”! That price is very low. thanks, george

  6. I guess I’ll weigh in on the Calcium score question. I had mine tested about five years ago and it was north of 2800. No, that’s not a typo. Twenty eight hundred. I looked at the scan myself and the calcium deposits show up like an extra bone across my heart. I’ve done a stress test which I passed with flying colors and my heartbeat is around 50. No diabetes or other health issues.
    After following your case and others, I consulted with my cardiologist and he advised against surgery, just said to stick with the statins and keep a healthy diet.
    Of course, I’ll continue to do research, get a second opinion and follow your brave example. Thanks for letting us follow your journey!

    Mike, Evert’s number was 3,155! I too passed the nuclear stress test + a couple of others. It wasn’t till they did the cath that they actually saw the extent of the blockages. that being said, there are at least two other guys in our online community in your same situation with the same advice of statins and watch it. so it is your choice. george

  7. They came in cardboard boxes, either 4 or 6 to a box. Grew up in Sweden playing with them. On wet clay they would grow to the size of a fluffy grape fruit…Dunlop Maxply wood racket, heavy and wet Tretorns on a wet clay court…you had to have an arm like Ken Rosewall to make it to the baseline!

  8. The SSGP tournament @ GT Bray Park used the Diadem Premier ball; which I hadn’t heard of before so I ordered a case from Holabird Sports in Maryland. The ball played true and even in the cooler January weather; it held up to tournament level play.

    Mark, a new choice! thanks, george

  9. George, a few comments:

    (1) Your health. Good to hear your breathing gets better when they remove the lung fluid. But you haven’t said why you are getting this (or maybe I missed that) and how long you will have to keep getting this done. I hope not much longer.

    (2) Tennis balls. I too have found the Dunlop balls a bit heavy and taxing on my arm. As a result, they are not my favorites. As for Penn vs. Wilson, I am not going to say I have a huge preference, but I generally like the liveliness of Wilsons a bit better than Penns. I also agree that the ATP Penn balls are a step up from the regulars, just as the Wilson US Opens are better than regular Wilsons (which are kind of hard to find these days anyway). But lately, I have been finding I really like Babolet balls — especially for clay or Har Tru surfaces. They are not so easy to find, but I find they seem to feel better than either Penn or Wilson balls — and the balls hold their pressure and the fuzz seems to last longer as well. And finally, for grass, there are Schlesingers, which are my all time favorites on that surface. But they are so light and lively that I could not picture trying to play them on any other surface.

    Marty, the problem is they do not know “the why” on the fluid. thanks, george

  10. Here in the Southwest, where there are abundant hard courts, I prefer to use the Penn
    Championship Extra Duty balls. The felt is denser and can take a gritty, abrasive court surface. You get a good quality ball at a reasonable price. So, I always purchase them by the case. I’ll also use the Wilson US Open tennis balls. The best
    part about this tennis ball is the consistent performance and durability. After their first use, they will continue to hold pressure longer than other balls, which makes them well suited for teaching lessons and practice.
    As for playing on clay or indoor courts, I will use the regular duty balls which have a softer felt, but do not last as long on hard courts. I’m
    anxious to try the brand new Wilson Triniti tennis ball. The ball is considered an “all
    performance” ball that can be used on any court surface. The can is made of recyclable paper. It may be slightly more expensive than other balls, but definitely worth a try.

  11. Maybe the difference in tennis ball is that they vary between 56 & 58 graims in weight depending on which ball you use . I use to do some customizing of tennis racquets and a few graims is a lot on racquet. I have a gram scale and have weighted the varies balls of different vendors. The US OPEN tennis ball is probably the best ball , but its expensive for most play. Everyone who has played competitive tennis has called tournament site to find out what kind of ball they are using and practiced with it before tournament to get the feel if was not their normal ball. Just saying….

    Paul, the weight thing is interesting. thanks, george

  12. I have also been buying Penn ATP balls from Holabird Sports. The last time I bought the Penn “Tour regular premium balls” which are about $80 for a 24 can case. Very durable and 19% brighter yellow for us older eyes. You get a good three sets out of these plus a practice then off to the pro’s ball machine.
    Also, I have been reading with much interest George’s posts about the calcium tests and have one scheduled. I’m over 70, never overweight, never a smoker, no high cholesterol, no heart issues (except A-Fib), play tennis 4 times a week, exercise every day, which sounds eerily a lot like of the other guys who have been saved by this test. I will post again when I have the results. The test costs $55 so not much to lose but much to gain. Thanks George.

    Jim, i am really thrilled with the Senior Tennis Community we all have created as a place to share information … some trivial (like what kind of tennis ball to use) and others truly potentially life saving. Yes, pls keep us informed. thanks, george

  13. We can’t wait to see the thinner, lighter (faster??!!) George back on the courts!….and I like the red top Penns. Have had vaccine shots one and two….very thankful.

  14. George,

    I have found a prevalence to Babolet balls in recent weeks. Unfortunately, our clay courts here in Coral Springs are horrible and the balls are down after about 1-2 sets at the most. I get spoiled when I go back to Ohio and play on Steve Contardi’s courts at Harpers!

    Sorry to hear you are still getting the fluid on the lungs. I am sure it is frustrating and the fact that there is no known reason can be too! Hang in there – prayers that it will improve soon.

    Larry, thanks. george

  15. George,Thank you for what you do for “the sport of a lifetime”.
    Here’s some interesting things about tennis balls that not everyone knows.
    The February 2021 issue of RSI magazine told about a company that recycles tennis balls. (Recycleballs.org). They discovered that Americans discard 125 million tennis balls each year. . They collect them and recycle them into tennis court surface.
    In the March 2021 issue they show the new Wilson Eco Overcap can that reduces plastic by 50 percent. They also show the Wilson Trinity ball which comes in cardboard boxes and last a very long time.

    Arnold, great concept! thanks for sharing. george

  16. I have a question for the group. This is for those of you who wear glasses on the court and have bifocal “progressive lenses” which I do (sunglasses normally). Do you wear the progressive lenses playing tennis or do you have a pair with “single vision” lenses for tennis? I ask because it seems that I see the ball very well from across the court but when it gets into volleying range it does not seem like I am seeing it nearly as well. Of course it could be that I am not following the ball to contact which has been discussed here before! In any event, opinions on wearing progressive bifocal lenses for tennis would be appreciated. Thanks

    Jim, i wear progressive lense inserts under my wrap around sunglasses and don’t seem to any problems (other than skill). Also, you may want to repost this question at the early stages of my next post to get more views/opinions. thanks, george

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