Mega Test: Tennis Balls

Let's face it, unlike tennis racquets and strings, most people take tennis balls for granted. There are 325 million tennis balls sold globally each year and 125 million sold in the US.  They must be all the same right? If they are all International Tennis Federation (ITF) approved, is there really a difference in performance, quality, durability, and value?  Or, are they made in the same factories, with same materials and process, and perform similar on court, regardless of price?

The Lab team at Tennisletics wanted answers. So, we set about a Mega Test evaluation of tennis balls (ideal for for hard courts) to help you make better buying decisions.

Criteria

We evaluated each can of tennis balls against four criteria: 1) performance (including uniformity, consistency), 2) quality (including appearance, feel), 3) durability, and 4) value, scoring 0 (lowest) - 5 (highest), which we then combined into an overall rating. Our field testers used their experience to evaluate the tennis balls through drills and matches on hard courts in Austin, Texas.

The balls were weighed on commercial scales. ITF Type 2 (Medium) approved balls must meet different criteria including weight 56.0-59.4 grams (1.975-2.095 ounces), and size 6.54-6.86 cm (2.57-2.70 inches).  There are also rebound tests and test for deformation.  The ball must be white or yellow. 

Lab Results

Babolat Gold All Court

Babolat Gold All Court

Made by: Babolat
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: None specified.
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable.
Weight: 57.Xg (57.0g, 57.0g, 58.0g)
MSRP: $4.25 per can (3)

The Babolat Gold All-Court tennis balls are mid-range tennis ball designed, as the name suggests, for all court surfaces.  All three balls in the can were within the ITF weight regulations.  On court, these balls performed well with good feel and durability throughout. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 4.0
Quality: 3.8
Durability: 3.8
Value: 3.9
Overall: 3.9

Buy on eBay

Babolat Gold Championship

Babolat Gold Championship

Made by: Babolat
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA, French Tennis Federation
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: None specified.
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable.
Weight: 57.Xg (57.0g, 57.0g, 58.0g)
MSRP: $2.49 per can (3), $59.95 per case

The Babolat Gold Championship tennis balls are affordable tennis balls with solid performance and decent durability.  The felt is not as soft as Babolat Gold All Court. Approved by ITF, USTA, and French Tennis Federation.

Performance: 3.9
Quality: 3.9
Durability: 3.9
Value: 4.4
Overall: 4.0

Buy on eBay

Diadem Premier Tennis Balls

Diadem Premier

Made by: Diadem Sorts, FL, USA
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: High density felt from Tex Tech
Recycling: TBD.
Weight: 57.83g (57.5g, 58.0g, 58.0g)
MSRP: $3.95 per can (3), $89.99 per case

Like many other manufacturers in this list, the Diadem Premier tennis balls use felt from Tex Tech.  We found the felt to not be as soft as other 'premium' balls and so the feel and comfort was lower.  The overall on court performance was decent and durability similar to other tennis balls at this price point. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 3.9
Quality: 3.8
Durability: 3.8
Value: 3.8
Overall: 3.8

Buy on Diadem Sports

Dunlop ATP Extra Duty

Dunlop ATP Extra Duty

Made by: Dunlop (Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd)
Manufactured: Philippines
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA.  Used ball at Mutua Madrid Open, Internationali BNL D'Italia, NextGen ATP Finals, Nitto ATP Finals.
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: HD Pro Cloth and HD Pro Core.
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable.
Weight: 57.Xg (57.0g, 57.0g, 58.0g)
MSRP: $3.99 per can (3)

The Dunlop ATP Extra Duty tennis balls are the official balls for the ATP tours. These balls performed well with good feel and durability on the court. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 4.0
Quality: 4.0
Durability: 4.0
Value: 4.1
Overall: 4.0

Buy on eBay

Dunlop ATP Championship Extra Duty

Dunlop ATP Championship

Made by: Dunlop (Sumitomo Rubber Industries, Ltd)
Manufactured: Philippines
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA.  Used ball at Mutua Madrid Open, Internationali BNL D'Italia, NextGen ATP Finals, Nitto ATP Finals.
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: Max Core and Durafelt HD Cloth.
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable.
Weight: 57.Xg (57.0g, 57.0g, 58.0g)
MSRP: $3.49 per can (3), $60.00 per case

The Dunlop ATP Championship Extra Duty tennis balls are officially endorsed by the ATP Tour but designed for club and recreational players.  for the ATP tours. These balls had a solid performance and decent durability on the court. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 3.9
Quality: 3.9
Durability: 3.9
Value: 3.9
Overall: 3.9

Buy on eBay

ProPenn Marathon Tennis Balls

ProPenn Marathon Extra Duty Felt

Made by: Head Sport GmbH
Manufactured: China
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: High Tenacity Longplay® Felt, Encore Technology (22% Longer lasting Core), High ReflectanceSmart Optik® Felt
Recycling: 80% recycled materials (40% post-consumer materials). Can is 100% recyclable
Weight: 56.83g average (57.5g, 56.5g, 56.5g)
MSRP: $3.99 per can (3).

The ProPenn Marathon Extra Duty Felt tennis balls are a good quality ball, etc.  One of the three balls fell below the ITF weight regulations. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 4
Quality: 3.9
Durability: 4.2
Value: 4.1
Overall: 4.1

Buy on eBay

Penn Championship Extra-Duty Felt

Penn Championship Extra-Duty Felt

Made by: Head Sport GmbH
Manufactured: China
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: None specified
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable
Weight: 56.2g average (56.5g, 56.5g, 55.5g)
MSRP: $3.49 per can (3)

The Penn Championship Extra-Duty Felt tennis balls are a cost-effective ball that is the official ball of USTA League Tennis.  All three balls weighed 56.2g. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 3.8
Quality: 3.8
Durability: 3.6
Value: 3.8
Overall: 3.7

Buy on eBay

Penn Tour Tennis Balls

Penn Tour

Made by: Head Sport GmbH
Manufactured: China
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: High Tenacity Longplay® Felt, Encore Technology (22% Longer lasting Core), High ReflectanceSmart Optik® Felt
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable
Weight: 56.17g average (56.5g, 56.5g, 55.5g)
MSRP: $3.99 per can (3)

The Penn Tour are premium tennis balls that are used in major hard court tournaments. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 4.0
Quality: 4.1
Durability: 4.0
Value: 4.1
Overall: 4.1

Buy on eBay

RS All Court Black Edition

RS All Court Black Edition

Made by: RS Sports AB, Sweden
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020). Official ball for Stockholm Open and Memphis Open
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: TBD
Recycling: TBD
Weight: 57.13g average (57.5g, 57.5g, 57.0g, 56.5g)
MSRP: $TBD per can (4)

The RS All Court Black Edition tennis balls were developed by 2-time Grand Slam winner, Robin Soderling.  They have great feel and solid durability. Approved by ITF.

Performance: 4.0
Quality: 3.9
Durability: 4.0
Value: 3.9
Overall: 3.9

Buy on eBay

Tecnifibre Court Tennis Balls

Tecnifibre Court

Made by: Tecnifibre S.A
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA, French Tennis Federation
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: Premium quality felt by TexTech
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable
Weight: 57.3g average (57.0g, 57.0g, 58.0g)
MSRP: $3.49 per can (3), $79.95 per case.

The Tecnifibre Court tennis balls use Grand Touring Formula Rubber and 50% natural felt.  They are durable with solid performance. Approved by ITF, USTA, and French Tennis Federation.

Performance: 3.9
Quality: 4.0
Durability: 4.0
Value: 4.1
Overall: 4.0

Buy on eBay

Tecnifibre Champion Tennis Balls

Tecnifibre Champion

Made by: Tecnifibre S.A
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA, French Tennis Federation
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: Enduro Core and Premium Needle Felt
Recycling: Can is 100% recyclable
Weight: 57.0g average (56.0g, 57.0g, 57.5g)
MSRP: $2.99 per can (3), $69.95 per case.

Tecnifibre Court tennis balls are good value with traditional, durable performance. Approved by ITF, USTA, and French Tennis Federation.

Performance: 3.9
Quality: 4.0
Durability: 3.9
Value: 4.1
Overall: 4.0

Buy on eBay

Wilson Ultra USPTA Tennis Balls

Wilson Ultra USPTA All Court

Made by:  Wilson Sporting Goods, Co.
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020), USTA, USPTA
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: None specified
Recycling: Can is recyclable
Weight: 56.5g (59.0g, 56.5g, 58.0g)
MSRP: $3.99 per can (3).

The Wilson Ultra USPTA tennis balls are designed for teaching pros with emphasis on durability on all-court surfaces. The felt is slightly thicker than the Championship ball, although the ball weight is similar. Approved by ITF, USTA, and USPTA.

Performance: 3.9
Quality: 3.9
Durability: 4.2
Value: 4.0
Overall: 4.1

Buy on eBay

Wilson Championship Extra Duty

Wilson Championship Extra-Duty

Made by:  Wilson Sporting Goods, Co.
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF Type 2 (2020), USTA
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: Felt from Tex Tech Industries
Recycling: Can is recyclable.
Weight: 58.17g (58.0g, 58.0g, 58.5g)
MSRP: $3.49 per can (3), $69.99 per case (72).

The Wilson Championship Extra Duty tennis balls deliver traditional performance with a durable felt for hard courts. Approved by ITF and USTA.

Performance: 3.9
Quality: 3.9
Durability: 3.9
Value: 4.0
Overall: 4.0

Buy on eBay

Wilson US Open XD

Wilson US Open XD

Made by:  Wilson Sporting Goods, Co.
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF Approved (Type 2 2020), USTA, US Open, Federazione Italiana Tennis (FIT), French Tennis Federation, Tennis Canada, Swedish Tennis Association (Svenska Tennisförbundet).
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: Felt from Tex Tech Industries.
Recycling: Can is recyclable.
Weight: 58.17g (58.0g, 58.0g, 58.5g)
MSRP: $4.99 per can (3), $89.99 per case (72).

Designed for the US Open, the Wilson US Open XD tennis balls has a premium woven felt from Tex Tech Industries that delivers strong performance on abrasive hard courts. Approved by ITF, USTA, US Open, Italian Tennis federation), French Tennis Federation, Tennis Canada, Swedish Tennis Association.

Performance: 4.1
Quality: 4.1
Durability: 4.1
Value: 3.9
Overall: 4.1

Buy on eBay

Wilson Triniti Tennis Balls

Wilson Triniti

Made by:  Wilson Sporting Goods, Co.
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 2020), and USTA.

Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: Engage Core, STR Felt 
Recycling: 100% sustainable packaging

Weight: 57.8g (57.0g, 58.0g, 58.5g)
MSRP: $5.49 per can (3), $99.99 per case (72)

Wilson Sporting Goods recently launched Triniti as a performance tennis ball designed with fully sustainable packaging.  There's no 'pop' sound as you open the recyclable packaging. The ball itself uses an 'Engage Core' with a plastomer material that is meant to last 4 times longer than the standard core. The STR felt feels slightly softer in the hand.  5% of Triniti tennis ball profits support worldwide sustainability efforts. Approved by ITF, and USTA.

Performance: 4.1
Quality: 4.3
Durability: 4.2
Value: 4.0
Overall: 4.2

Buy on eBay

Yonex Tour Tennis Balls

Yonex Tour

Made by:  Yonex Co, Ltd
Manufactured: Thailand
Approved: ITF (Type 2 - 2020)
Pressurized: Yes
Technologies: None specified
Recycling: Can is recyclable
Weight: 57.83g average (58.5g, 57.5g, 57.5g)
MSRP: $TBD per can (3), $89.99 per case (72)

The Yonex Tour tennis balls are tour-grade tennis ball with woven felt for longer wear on all surfaces.  The are high visibility yellow tennis balls made from wool, Nylon, polyester, and rubber. Yonex claim they are water resistant although we didn't get to verify. Approved by ITF.

Performance: 4.1
Quality: 4.1
Durability: 4.0
Value: 4.0
Overall: 4.1

Buy on eBay

Overall Thoughts

Having taken the time to undertake a detailed assessment of these tennis balls, a few things stand out:

  • Performance. All of these ITF Type 2 approved tennis balls have had to meet the same strict performance criteria which has ensured there are no 'duds'. 
  • Quality. There is variation with quality and feel at contact with the ball.  The higher quality felt balls were more comfortable and felt better on shots. 
  • Durability. The was also some minor differences in durability.  But frankly, by design, pressurized tennis balls have a 'finite' life and will go dead with use and when subject to weather conditions.
  • Value. The cheapest can of balls is $2.49 (Babolat Gold Championship) and the most expensive is twice the price at $5.49 (Wilson Triniti).

Three Categories

We decided to select balls under three categories:

Budget

The best three budget tennis balls to buy as a can are Babolat Gold Championship (at $2.49/can), Tecnifibre Court ($2.99/can), and Tecnifibre Champion ($3.49/can).  You can currently buy Dunlop balls at great value online. 

Workhorse

The best three workhorse tennis balls (all at $3.99/can) are Penn Tour XD, Wilson Ultra USPTA, and ProPenn Marathon XD.

Premium

The top three premium tennis balls on the market are Wilson US Open Extra Duty ($4.99/can), Yonex Tour (Only cases currently available), and a special mention for the new Wilson Triniti ($5.49/can).  We plan to do an in-depth review of Triniti in the near future.  

If you think we have missed any balls that should be listed or reckon we've got it wrong, then leave a comment or email us at hello@tennisletics.com.


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