So you've decided it's time to step up your game, get the new racquet, the latest shoes, a new outfit or two and get back on the courts. You've already rung up a pretty hefty bill and you decide to save money by purchasing the cheapest tennis balls you can. Horrible, horrible idea. Cheap tennis balls, much like cheap cars and cheap suits don't cost much money for a reason. They are poorly made and they won't last long. If you want to play true, competitive tennis, your equipment needs to match your desire. The first thing to know about buying tennis balls is that if you don't buy pressurized balls, you're going to hurt your game. Balls that come in a bag or a box are used or defective, and their life expectancy is about the same as that of a Neanderthal compared to modern man. When you do buy balls in cans, realize that from the time you open the can, you release the air, and the balls slowly start to diminish in their bounce life. Most manufacturers have championship level balls and recreational balls, which are for exactly what their names imply. Use your championship level balls when you're playing an opponent or competing in a tournament. If you're just out hitting against a wall or loading up a ball machine, the recreational balls are the way to go. You can still practice your shots without having to worry about the specific landing points. Also read your labels to see if you're buying extra duty, regular duty or high-altitude balls. The most common purchases are extra duty, which are built for play on nearly every surface, but specifically hard, outdoor courts. If you have the luxury of playing inside or on a clay court, then regular duty balls are for you. If you live in high altitudes, normally above 4,000 feet, then there are balls specifically designed for the environment. If you want to see the effect of using normal sporting equipment in high altitude, we suggest you check out the home run numbers for the Colorado Rockies.