Shopping for tennis balls may seem fairly straight forward, but you probably have more options than you might expect. We'll translate the tennis lingo for you so you can be sure you know exactly what you're buying.
In general, each brand of ball makers produces three classes of balls, professional level, championship level, and recreational level. Professional level tennis balls are the highest quality ball of that specific manufacturer, and indeed are often the same balls used in professional tournaments. When you buy a professional level ball, you can expect to get the performance and durability that that brand has to offer. Championship level tennis balls are the next step down, but are certainly sufficient for most league match play and will leave most customers more than satisfied. Recreational balls are typically intended as practice balls for loading up the hopper or ball machine and are not allowed for match pay in many leagues.
Extra Duty/Regular Duty/High Altitude
Almost all professional and championship level tennis balls are available in extra duty, regular duty and high altitude variations. This may sound complicated, but extra duty is just tennis lingo for ‘hard court balls', while regular duty balls are for clay or indoor courts. High altitude is fairly self-explanatory, as these balls are better suited to the thin air of high altitude courts.
You might have guessed from watching pro tennis matches where new cans are opened every nine games that the life-span of a tennis ball is fairly short. Indeed, you would be correct. Most experts say that once opened, a can of balls left at room temperature will become unplayable in two weeks or less. That's without even hitting them. Wilson 's Double Core balls have a synthetic rubber coating on the inside of their typically rubber core, which helps prevent air from escaping. That wouldn't do much good if the felt wore down at a normal pace, so Wilson fitted the ball with an extra-durable felt layer. Wilson claims that the Double Core balls maintain their bounce twice as long as conventional balls, but feels the same on impact as a typical Wilson ball.
In the ongoing war against tennis elbow, Dunlop has recently taken the battle to the ball, developing its Dunlop Abzorber tennis balls, which Dunlop claims reduces the impact to the arm by 15%. Needless to say, tennis elbow sufferers should give this ball serious consideration.