With so many variations of tennis balls available on the market, how can you tell which is the best ball to choose? It’s easy – use the ball the pros use. We will break down the list of tennis balls that are most often used in the Grand Slam Tournament and some other leagues that the United States Tennis Association organizes.
The opinion of most professional tennis players on the tennis balls they use is that Slazenger, Wilson, Penn, and Dunlop are the best balls to use. Professional players are always looking for good durability in a ball, and balls should have consistency in how they bounce and can be played.
Which Tennis Balls Are Used In The Grand Slam Tour?
The Grand Slam Tour consists of four tournaments, and these tournaments are recognized as the world’s four most important tennis tournaments. The tournaments are an annual professional tennis institution, so it goes without saying that the balls used in each of the four tournaments will differ based on the country where the Grand Slam Tournament is being played.
The four Grand Slam tournaments, and the balls they use, are:
- The US Open, which uses specially-designed Wilson US Open tennis balls
- Wimbledon, in the UK, which uses Slazenger tennis balls
- The French Open, which uses special Wilson Roland Garros tennis balls
- The Australian Open, which uses Dunlop tennis balls
Which Tennis Balls Do They Use At The US Open Tournament?
They are currently playing with Wilson tennis balls in the US Open, and these Wilson balls have been in use at the US Open since 1978. It has already become so much of a standard that Wilson designed a particular “US Open” version of their tennis balls.
The Wilson US Open tennis ball has all of the characteristics that all professional players are looking for in a tennis ball: unparalleled consistency, performance, and durability. Wilson has been in the market since 1914 when tennis was still in its infancy, and Wilson brand tennis balls have become something like a gold standard in tennis ball quality.
Which Tennis Balls Do They Use At Wimbledon?
Slazenger is the tennis ball brand that’s played with at Wimbledon. The partnership between Wimbledon and Slazenger can be traced back to 1902, and it is one of the longest-running partnerships that can be found in sport, dating back almost to the origins of the game of tennis.
Which Tennis Balls Do They Use At The Australian Open?
At the Australian Open Grand Slam, the official ball chosen to play with is Dunlop. The Dunlop ball that’s been selected for the Australian Open has an HD Core, which means it has a stronger core than other tennis ball brands. The ball has both characteristics that all professional players are looking for in a ball: durability and predictable consistency in every match.
Dunlop tennis balls also have HD PRO Cloth which is toted to be the ultimate high-performance felt cloth and is technologically explicitly engineered for professional players participating in world tournaments.
The Australian Open signed a five-year deal with Dunlop and started using the Dunlop balls in January 2019. Before this agreement, the Australian Open also used Wilson tennis balls.
Which Tennis Balls Do They Use At The French Open?
The French Open is currently using Wilson Roland Garros tennis balls. They first used these Wilson balls at the 2020 French Open. The tournament previously used Babolat balls but signed a five-year partnership to use Wilson balls from November 2019.
With the Wilson Roland Garros tennis ball, you can be sure to have the high performance, durability, and consistency in bounce that any player is looking for in a tennis ball.
Tennis Balls Rules And Regulations
It makes sense that professional tennis players will want to practice with the same quality of tennis balls that they will be playing in tournaments. This means that especially Wilson, Slazenger, and Dunlop tennis balls must conform to the very high standards set by tennis’ regulating authorities.
The Grand Slam tournaments are regulated and overseen by the International Tennis Federation (ITF). All tennis balls that are used in any of the Grand Slam Tournaments must be tested and approved by the ITF. Some of the other leagues are overseen and organized by The United States Tennis Association (USTA), but the basic regulations regarding balls are the same for both.
ITF Approved Balls
The way the ITF approves balls will come down to a few factors, but mainly they will look for a ball that will be consistent in the way that it bounces and plays. Durability is the second crucial factor. Here is how they approve a ball to ensure that it will provide the consistency:
The tests conducted by the ITF include the following to ensure that the tennis ball’s properties are unchanged during tournaments:
- Acclimatization – Before any tests are performed on the ball, it will be allowed to acclimatize in a climate-controlled laboratory for at least 24 hours. Tests have shown that tennis balls will react in different ways in different locations since humidity and temperatures can affect a ball’s properties.
When the ball is exposed to high humidity, it can increase the ball’s mass since the moisture content of the felt will increase. High temperatures, in turn, can affect the rubber of the ball, which will increase the ball’s size and bounce.
- Pre-compression. This means that balls are pre-compressed to remove any set that could occur in a ball during packaging and re-opening of the package to do the testing. The pre-compression machine will compress each ball by one inch three times and from three different directions.
- The mass of the ball. ITF-approved tennis balls mass must weigh between 56.0 and 59.4 grams.
- The size of the ball. This test may appear as if it is an easy task to accomplish, but it has to be a very accurate and repeatable measurement.
The size of the ball is always determined using two ring gauges. One ring gauge is larger than the other. The tennis ball must pass through the larger ring under its own weight but not through the smaller ring. The ball is rotated on the ring gauges to check its quality and ensure a stable center.
The mass and diameter are the oldest specifications in the rules of tennis. These rules have been used in tennis since 1880.
- Checking for any deformation on the ball. This test is done using an automated deformation testing machine.
- The rebound of the ball. The ball is dropped vertically from a height of 100 inches or 254 cm, and the resulting rebound of the ball is measured to check for proper height and consistent results.
- The durability of the ball. First, the ball’s durability is tested using an air cannon that shoots the ball onto a rigid surface. The impact speed is 40 miles per second, and each ball is subjected to twenty of these tests. Then the outer surface of the ball is tested for potential wear. This is done by placing two balls at a time in an abrasion box for two minutes.
All tests regarding the balls’ rebound, mass, size, deformation, and durability must be done in accordance with the regulations stipulated by the ITF. However, if a brand fails in any of these tests, then that ball will not obtain approval. Any manufacturer that was unable to receive approval can re-apply, and the new ball sample will go through the same tests for approval or disapproval.
Even though the Grand Slam tournaments, and the professional tennis players that play them, recommend either Slazenger, Wilson, or Dunlop, any other ITF-approved balls (like Penn, for example) will perform well for any tennis player.
The History Of The Yellow Ball
Balls used to be white or black in tennis’ early days. The ball’s color would depend on the background or the court’s color. The ITF introduced the yellow ball in 1972 because research showed that yellow balls were easier to see and observe by television viewers. Wimbledon, however, only started using the yellow ball in 1986. They were still using a white ball before this.
The Best Tennis Balls Used By Pro Players
The following list of tennis balls is by far not the most comprehensive list out there, but these are the tennis balls that the professional players choose to use most often:
Wilson US Open
The Wilson US Open tennis ball is available in three different variations: Regular Duty, Extra Duty, and High Altitude. Each variant is designed with a specific use in mind, but every Wilson US Open tennis ball will be reliable in its consistency and durability.
The Wilson US Open tennis ball is approved for competitive play by both the ITF and USTA. This is also the tennis ball that is used in the US Open every year.
The features of the three variations are:
- Regular Duty: This ball will offer the performance that is required on soft clay or indoor courts.
- Extra Duty: This ball is designed to offer performance on hard, more abrasive courts.
- High Altitude: This ball will offer the performance required to play on surfaces that are above 3,000 ft. high due to the change in air pressure at higher altitudes.
Slazenger Wimbledon Tennis Ball
The All England Club has been using the Slazenger tennis ball since 1902, and Slazenger has created the world’s ultimate tennis ball with the Wimbledon tennis ball. The Slazenger Wimbledon tennis ball’s features include the revolutionary Tour Core, Ultra Vis, and Hydro Guard.
- The Tour Core TM – This core is precisely engineered to offer the consistent performance that is required according to the ball regulations from the ITF and other World Tournaments. The woven cloth on this ball is manufactured from the finest wool that will offer the durability and responsiveness expected from any approved tennis ball.
- Ultra Vis – The Wimbledon tennis ball is engineered with Ultra Vis dye to create a ball that is highly visible to both the players and spectators, either at Wimbledon or watching on television.
- Hydro Guard TM – Slazenger’s unique Hydro Guard TM technology ensures that the tennis ball retains 70% less water than other tennis balls.
The Slazenger Wimbledon tennis ball’s advanced technology ensures that it is still one of the best balls to use professionally, in any tournament, or for casual playing. The ITF fully approves the Slazenger Wimbledon tennis ball.
Wilson Roland Garros Tennis Ball
Wilson is the official partner for Roland Garros tennis balls and the French Tennis Federation. The Roland Garros tennis ball is designed to offer professional players the best experience on clay courts. The ball is equipped with a rubber core that will guarantee any professional player the quality bounce that is required in every tournament.
The woven felt of the tennis ball ensures that the ball doesn’t retain too much moisture or even dirt. The Wilson Roland Garros tennis ball offers the consistency and durability that is required by the regulations as stated by the ITF for approved tennis balls.
Dunlop Australian Open Tennis Ball
In 1923, Dunlop offered a tennis ball for the first time in its history. It was the beginning of a great legacy. With their modern processes, Dunlop can design a tennis ball that is chemical-inflamed and vulcanized so that they can offer a tennis ball to the market that has far more excellent durability and consistency.
The Dunlop Australian Open tennis ball is the official ball for the Australian Open, and this tennis ball is approved according to ITF regulations regarding tennis balls. It offers a high-performance HD Core and HD Pro Cloth technology that makes the ball easier to play on all tennis court surfaces.
- HD Core: This ensures that the tennis ball is robust to the core. It offers more durability and provides the player with a ball with consistent characteristics.
- HD Pro Cloth: The high-performance felt used on this tennis ball ensures that it is visible to every professional player and spectator throughout each tournament.
Penn Tour Tennis Ball
This ball is America’s top-selling tennis ball. It is used in four out of the five largest tournaments in North America: the Hall of Fame Open, Cincinnati Open, Miami Open, Indian Wells, and the US Open. The only of these tournaments that don’t use the Penn Tour tennis ball is the US Open, which uses the Wilson US Open tennis ball, as we’ve already mentioned.
The Penn Tour tennis balls are engineered with Penn’s Longplay felt, which gives the tennis ball the advantage of extended wear. The ball also features Penn’s Smart Optik technology, which treats the felt of the ball with high visibility felt treatment that gives the tennis ball 19% more visibility to ensure that the professional players and the spectators can see the ball much more easily.
The Penn Tour tennis ball offers its players some of the best core and felt technology to provide players with the balance and consistency that a professional player expects from a good tennis ball. The Penn Tour tennis balls are also approved by both the USTA and ITF.
As we can see, not all balls are engineered equally. All professional players look for a ball with two main features for the tournaments they play professionally. The ball must be durable in its core, and the felt material must be of the highest quality available. These main features ensure that the tennis ball will bounce and play exactly as the pros expect from their tennis balls.