Finding a great tennis ball might not seem like the most complicated thing in the world, but there are a lot of options out there to consider. Not only are there numerous brands, but playing surface, altitude, and more can change what a person is exactly looking for.
Playing on clay courts? A person needs the right balls for the surface. What are the best tennis balls for clay courts? Before we go into the review, these are the best tennis balls for clay courts.
- Pro Penn Marathon Regular Duty
- Penn ATP World Tour Regular Duty
- Wilson U.S Open Regular Duty
- Babolat French Open Regular Duty
- Dunlop ATP Regular Duty
We have considered everything from durability, playability to overall popularity. A lot of people develop their own favorites, and although there are some subtle differences between these 5, they will play roughly the same way. These are the 5 best tennis balls for clay courts.
1. Pro Penn Marathon Regular Duty
Pro Penn Marathon regular duty tennis balls are a great choice for any person who likes to play on clay courts. The company has been around for decades, and anyone from recreational players to professionals loves the feel and durability. It can withstand the wear and tear of clay courts, while staying visibly bright with its Optik Felt. An affordable option, people love these balls and buy them in cases.
This is the best overall clay court tennis ball out right now. It isn’t anything too fancy, but it gets the job done and lasts a very long time. The regular-duty felt is one of the best options on the market right now, and it stays looking close to brand new for a long time.
Another added benefit of this tennis ball is that it uses Optiks Felt technology. This helps players see the ball when visibility is low. It also keeps it looking bright when the ball has been used for about an hour or two. Most players who are at the recreational level are not going to buy brand new balls all that often, so having to add visibility late in the ball is life is going to be great.
As one of the most available tennis balls on the market, it has grown in popularity quite a bit as well. That also makes them very affordable, and usually, some extra savings can be found if they are purchased in cases of 24 instead of individually.
- Great durability
- Optik Technology helps with visibility
- Affordable and readily available
- Consistent bounce
- Fluffs up after extended play
- Can become heavy in humid conditions
2. Penn ATP World Tour Regular Duty
This is another great option from Penn, and some players even prefer these over the ones above. As one might expect, they play roughly the same exact way, but there are some subtle differences.
Penn once again uses the Optik Felt Technology for a brighter ball during play, as well as all the different technologies to make it one of the most long-lasting balls on the market.
The difference is that the ball loses just a little bit of bounce slightly before the Pro Penn Marathon regular duty tennis balls. Some people look at this as pretty anecdotal evidence at best, but it is something to keep in mind when comparing the two.
In most cases, the Penn ATP World Tour tennis balls are also a little bit more expensive. Considering that they share almost the exact same characteristics as the other option, most people look at the Marathon balls being a little bit more bang for their buck.
Out of the can, these balls do have a bit more pop to them. Just don’t expect to see that advantage after about 10 minutes of play. They don’t go dead right away, but they are just reduced to a more normal level of speed and power.
- Great durability
- Official ball of the ATP World Tour Finals
- Great life out of the can
- Keep a consistent bounce
- A little more expensive
- Ball doesn’t last as long as other Penn option
3. Wilson U.S Open Regular Duty
The US Open is played on hard courts, but that doesn’t mean that Wilson doesn’t put out a quality clay court option for people to use. Even though it has a U.S. Open label on the ball, these regular-duty options are great for clay-court players.
Wilson uses what is known as Tex tech felt, which is their technology to add a little more durability and flexibility to their felt. It is something that works a little bit better on hard court, but it has been tailored for clay courts on this ball.
This is another ball that feels great out of the can, but some players are frustrated with how quickly they lose bounce on clay courts. It is a lower bouncing ball according to many players in the first place, but they start to slow down after collecting some dirt, sweat, moisture, and more.
Visibility is also a bit of a concern, because these balls turn darker than other options on the market. If it is already sort of hard to see the ball at a local tennis club, this might not be the best option to turn to.
Despite some of the small negatives, a lot of people love this ball on hard courts, and it plays very similarly on clay courts with regular duty felt. This is a very popular ball that can be purchased online or in stores pretty easily. Just look for the correct ones made for clay courts.
- Great speed and control out of the can
- Used In US Open
- Fluffs up too quickly
- Hard to see after extended use
4. Babolat French Open Regular Duty
The most important clay court tennis tournament in the entire world happens every year in Paris at the French Open. The official ball for the last few years has been manufactured by Babolat, and although it is somewhat difficult to find in certain parts of the world, they have gained a bit of a cult following.
These balls do a great job of performing well and staying fresh during play. They are very impressive keeping their bounces even after hours of play. They might not look all that great after a lot of use, but they still perform at a high level. it might be the liveliest ball on the market after an hour of use.
If there is a negative, it is, of course, the fact that they get dirty pretty quickly. The company would probably benefit from having some brighter felt used to really stand out. It isn’t a huge deal since most people are not going to be playing for hours and hours, but it is something to consider if the lighting isn’t the best.
Another negative working against casual players is that they are one of the more expensive tennis ball options on the market. A lot of that has to do with the fact that it is a French company, and sometimes it is difficult to find them in certain parts of the world. The United States, in particular, makes the ball pretty expensive when compared to the other options on this list.
Some people don’t mind the added expense and want to play with a ball that is officially partnered with the French Open. This is a brand that really seems to specialize in making a ball specifically for the clay courts. Players at the pro level have had some positive things to say about how the ball bounces at the tournament, so why not use them locally as well?
- The official tennis ball of the French Open
- Lively longer than any other clay court ball
- Unique option
- Looks dirty and beat up after extended play
5. Dunlop ATP Regular Duty
The official ball of the Australian Open has a relatively new line of tennis balls out for people who are regularly playing on clay courts. These regular duty tennis balls have great reviews so far, and a lot of it comes down to the technology used by the company.
Dunlop has lost a little bit of popularity over the years, but they are still a very popular company for some people who like to play tennis at a high level. It is a ball that performs very well off of the ground, and it serves well also.
Some people feel that a Dunlop ball feels a little smaller and lighter during play, but that has to do with its tight felt and unique playability. Some people really like this feeling, while others think the ball seems a little too small at times.
With this unique type of felt, the ball is a little more accurate and moves at a slightly quicker pace. This is good for a lot of players, because they don’t want to struggle with a ball that doesn’t perform quite at the highest level. Others feel as though it cheapens the way the ball moves in the air.
These balls do last a long time, so there is certainly a lot of value to be found. Just don’t be someone who tries these once or twice and then completely writes them off. It takes a little bit of getting used to them to really see all the benefits.
- Great durability
- Excellent power
- Control is improved compared to previous models
- Plays differently than other popular options
- Feels too small/light to some players
Why You Need Special Balls For Clay Courts
Tennis balls when they are brand new look relatively the same. It might seem like buying a specific type of ball for clay courts might not be necessary. After all, how much of a difference can one surface makeover the other?
While hard court balls can be used on clay courts and vice versa, it is always recommended to go with a clay court ball when possible. That is because the special balls are built with higher wool content and also a shorter nap with the felt.
Clay court balls are also known as regular duty balls, and it helps that they are not going to fluff up nearly as much. It allows the ball to play faster and move quicker in the air, even when it starts to get caked up a little bit with clay. If the ball is fluffing up, it is going to collect more clay and more moisture, slowing the ball down and aging it very quickly.
Most of the top companies make balls for different surfaces. The packaging might have subtle differences listed, so make sure to pay extra attention, or to ask an expert before making a purchase. It is a common mistake that a lot of people make when they quickly grab a can of balls, but it will be noticeable fairly quickly when the balls are hit a few times.
All of the five tennis balls listed above are options for players who take tennis fairly seriously. These balls perform at a high level, and professionals use the same ones during practice and matches.
To save a little bit of money, there are some cheaper options from the major manufacturers out there. These balls are not going to last nearly as long, and most players who are above a certain level are not going to really be that satisfied with the overall play.
Despite that, beginners won’t notice too much of a difference. They also make some good practice balls as well. What are the best options?
Penn Championship Regular Duty
This might be the most common can of tennis balls found in stores. Not only do most tennis companies carry this ball, but even general stores will have cans of these available.
They are very cheap, and the natural rubber core is good enough for a lot of players. The ball stays pretty consistent off of groundstrokes and serves, but it does lose life after about an hour of heavy-hitting.
Wilson Championship Regular Duty
This is a slightly reduced version of their better models, and durability is the biggest difference. The ball plays well in the beginning, but it just does not last as long. It has pretty much the same technology, except for the fact that the core of the ball can’t take the same amount of wear and tear as the other balls designed for truly competitive play.
Dunlop ATP Championship Regular Duty
Noticing a theme in names here? This is a ball that has sold very well for years, but it might have the shortest lifespan of the three balls listed in this category. Only beginners should really use this ball for anything more than practice, as it just really doesn’t provide as much bang for the buck as the other options available. It is also a little bit tougher to find in stores and online, so that’s a frustrating experience as well.
Final Thoughts On Clay Court Balls
Anyone who plays on clay courts consistently already understands that there is a huge difference between the different types of options out there. No one wants to be in a situation where they are using a tennis ball that is built for hard courts, and is unable to handle the different surfaces.
Finding clay court tennis balls at a general store might be somewhat difficult, since most casual courts are hard courts. Most of the time, people need to shop either online or in stores to get a clay court tennis ball that will perform at a high level.
The good thing about tennis balls is that even the most expensive options are still pretty affordable. That means a person can sample different types of tennis balls and see exactly what fits their game the best. Most people are going to gravitate towards one ball over the other for a certain reason. It might be as simple as just having a great match with a particular ball, and it becomes a good luck charm.
Keep in mind that a new can of balls should never be opened until they are ready to be used. As soon as they are opened, they start to lose playability right away. Keep them as lively as possible in the can, and try to store them at room temperature to help with longevity as well.
As always, remember to always double-check the label before making a purchase. Even if the packaging does not explicitly say designed for clay court tennis, regular duty tennis balls are always for softer courts. The extra-duty tennis balls are made specifically for hard courts.
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