Tennis Balls During Covid-19

This seems like a strange topic to read about, but please take a few minutes.  There are likely to be restrictions on who can touch which tennis balls.  If a coach picks up and feeds a ball, the players cannot pick them up (everyone is so sad about that, I know).  If a player serves a ball, a coach can't pick it up.  All-in-all, our use of carts will be limited, which means that players are going to have to provide a lot of the balls they use this summer.

Here is how it is supposed to work when two players play:

  1. Player A gets out a can of three balls and puts a unique mark on them.  (Todd claims Capital T for the summer.)  Those balls can only be touched by Player A.  If they are on Player B's side, player B can kick them or use a racquet/shoe pickup then hit them back to Player A to hold and feed.

  2. It doesn't have to be done, but most players are having Player B get out 3 balls, marked in a way that is different from Player A's.  Same deal where Player A doesn't touch those.

For people who use new balls, that means twice as many are getting opened, which can get a little expensive.  A bunch of things to consider are below:

  • If both players are bringing balls, it is best if they have a similar bounce.  One player with a new can of Pro Penn (best bounce) and one with month-old used balls will have a bad session because you never know what to expect from the bounce.

  • New balls bounce higher, play faster and go farther when you hit them, making it harder to play well.  All competitive tennis is played with new balls, so being used to them is valuable when competition is near.  However, we won't be competing for a long time, so this is probably not critical right now.  I think using new balls makes players better, but it's also a bit less fun.

  • Used balls bounce better in the summer heat than in the cold winter.  Most people will probably be using used balls.  They are also easier to keep in play, making points last longer.  My advice:

    • Keep them somewhere warm, like your garage​

    • Don't use them forever.  There are new, used and dead.  Practicing with totally dead balls really slows the game down and doesn't make for great practice.

For people who want to follow the "New Ball" methods:

  • If you and your partner are both wanting to use good balls but save a little money (and the environment), I highly recommend Wilson Trinity balls.  They are an expensive ball, but not much more than other premium balls.  These will probably play like a new ball for about 4-5 hours of play.  Buying a bunch for a hopper or box full of balls for serving or drills, these will stay pretty good for a very long time.  So, I definitely recommend them for that.

  • The X balls we use during the season are NOT a good ball for summer.  When they get hot, they bounce way, way, way too high.

  • Otherwise, I'd just recommend regular Penn balls you can get at Costco.  They are usually $40 for 20 cans, but sometimes drop to $30.

Used ball recommendations:

  • I don't know what the exact difference is, but a higher quality new ball tends to last longer before becoming completely dead.  So, you might get 6-8 decent uses out of a ProPenn versus 3-4 out of a Costco Penn.  They cost twice as much, so you can really go either way.

  • This Tennis Ball Saver from Amazon is $16.  I just ordered one.  I haven't used one in almost 30 years, but I do recall that it kept balls bouncing better for longer.  You might get an extra session or two out of each can.  Feel free to wait and I'll test it soon.

  • Again, hotter storage is better.

Where to buy balls:

  • Not Online.  They jack the price up about $20/case to ship them.

  • Dicks for regular balls, but only if you watch the prices.  I've seen them charge $5 for a can that is $2 at Costco.  

  • Players Racquet shop for premium balls (I really think Pro Penn are the best)

  • Costco for regular balls (They sell Penn, which I think is the best lower-cost ball).  They can be hard to find sometimes because they constantly move in the store, and sometimes aren't there.

If tennis balls aren't in your budget, talk to the coaches.  We play enough and with enough people to supply a few players with once-used balls.

Premium Balls (about $3.50/can if you buy a case, $4/can solo).  Pro Penn (preferred), Wilson US Open, Dunlop Australian Open, Babolat Gold.

Regular Balls (about $2/can).  Penn Championship, Wilson Championship (I hate these, but I may be weird).  I'm sure there are others.  But watch the prices.  Target sells 1 can for $2.29 online, but 4 cans for $16????

@2017 by Sherwood Tennis