What is a tennis ball? What is it made of? What color does it have to be? What’s the official size? All this information and more…
What Is A Tennis Ball?
A tennis ball is a ball designed for the sport of tennis, a racquet sport.
Tennis balls are fluorescent yellow at major sporting events, but in recreational play can be virtually any color.
Tennis balls are covered in a fibrous felt covering a rubber compound which modifies their aerodynamic properties, and each has a white curvilinear oval covering it.
Modern tennis balls must conform to certain criteria for size, weight, deformation, and bounce criteria to be approved for regulation play.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) defines the official diameter as 6.54–6.86 cm (2.57–2.70 inches). Balls must have masses in the range 56.0–59.4 g (1.98–2.10 ounces).
Tennis balls begin to lose their bounce as soon as the tennis ball can is opened. Modern regulation tennis balls are kept under pressure until they need to be used.
Balls intended for use at high altitudes have lower initial pressure, and inexpensive practice balls are made without any internal pressure at all.
A tennis ball can be tested for bounce by dropping it from a height of 254 cm (100 inches) onto concrete such as some tennis courts. A bounce between 135 and 147 cm (53-58 inches) is acceptable – if the game is taking place at sea-level and 20 degrees Celcius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) with a relative humidity of 60%.
High-altitude balls have different results when tested at sea-level.
Pre-1925, tennis balls were packed in wrapped paper and paperboard boxes, but then Wilson introduced cardboard tubes.
In 1926, the Pennsylvania Rubber Company released a hermetically sealed pressurized metal tube that held three balls with a churchkey to open the top.
Nearing the 1980s, plastic cans with a full-top pull-tab seal plastic lid that could fit three to four balls per can.
Pressureless balls (aka practice balls) often come in net bags or buckets since they don’t require a pressurized seal.
What Are The Different Types Of Tennis Balls?
With the different playing levels of tennis, there come certain types of balls that are suitable for the level of the game you’re playing in. Using the correct ball is very important and can help overall performance and improve your game.
There are three types of tennis balls:
- Professional Level
- Intermediate Level
- Beginner Level
Professional Level Tennis Balls
Once you reach the highest level of this sport, finding the right ball is essential and can greatly affect the outcome of the match. Victory at the top level often lies in the smallest margins and players need every advantage they can get on their opponent.
Professional level balls are designed to last longer and not as easily worn. They also operate better at different altitudes and offer peak consistency.
Penn ATP and Wilson Regular Duty are two types that are used at major tournaments.
Intermediate Level Tennis Balls
Intermediate level balls still offer great quality, but they’re marketed toward the regular player who is experienced but not exactly a professional. They can bring a great playing experience to the course, but they’re not the same as professional level balls.
They won’t last as long and aren’t durable, but will do the job if you’re an enthusiastic tennis player who likes to get out on the course a couple times each week.
Babolat Championship and Dunlop Absorber are two types of intermediate tennis balls you can get your hands on easily.
Beginner Level Tennis Balls
Beginner balls are perfect for any new player to the game. They are durable, often come in large packages (bigger than 3-4), and are cheaper than every other ball out there.
Beginner balls are designed specifically with beginners in mind, which means they bounce slower – making them easier to hit and practice with.
Using beginner balls are a great way to get a base level of skill quickly. Whether you’re brand new or it’s been a few years – beginner balls are the place to start.
Top 5 Tennis Balls For Teens & Adults
The Penn ATP balls have been through 100 years of testing and take the top of the leaderboard as America’s #1 selling ball.
The Penn Tennis Ball is created for all types of courts, both indoor and outdoor. It’s also the official ball of USTA Leagues, so you know you’re playing with a high-quality and consistent ball.
The Wilson Prime All-Court Tennis Balls offer traditional performance standards and feature a duraweave felt that is both USTA and IFT approved, which makes it excellent for performance and durability on all court surfaces.
The Dunlop Grand Prix Tennis Ball offers ultimate performance and durability because of a special mix of 14 ingredients that make up the secret rubber core. It’s also made with the finest woven felt to improve playability and feel.
It’s also 14% brighter than regular cloth, which allows the player to see the ball earlier and give more time for shot preparation.
The Wilson US Open Regular Duty Tennis Balls are the official ball of the US Open since 1978, and they’re made from exclusive felt from Tex Tech Industries for superior playability, consistency, and durability. The yellow, regular duty felt is made for clay or indoor court surfaces.
They also offer the Wilson US Open Extra Duty Tennis Balls for hard courts, and the Wilson US Open High-Altitude Tennis Ball for all court surfaces over 3,500 ft. elevation.
It’s rare, but you may find yourself on a grass court – they have a tennis ball for that too.
The Penn World Tour Regular Duty Tennis Balls are used in four out of five of the biggest tournaments in North America. They are also preferred on clay and indoor surfaces as they feature a tournament-grade felt and technical grade rubber core for a precise bounce.
This ball is both USTA and IFT approved.