Throughout the season, professional tennis players have to adapt to different balls as they go from event to event. This adaptation occurs because the different surfaces each have unique qualities for which no one ball is suited. In the case of the hard court, the ball must be able to handle the beating taken from the surface while not playing too fast or bouncing too high. In fact, the durability of the ball is so important on the hard court surface that extra duty balls are the best option for all players.
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Hard Court Qualities
The majority of professional events and recreational matches take place on the hard court surface. Despite its name, the hard court is not the hardest tennis surface -- clay courts hold that title. But hard courts are still much harder than grass, shortening the lifespan of tennis balls. The hard court is also the middle ground between grass and clay in terms of speed and bounce. Due to its qualities, hard court surfaces are best for all-around players and an all-around ball that can handle the rough surface while maintaining its bounce and speed.
Wilson Professional Balls
Each of the three main tennis ball manufacturers -- Wilson, Penn and Dunlop -- classify tennis balls into one of three classes; professional, championship and recreational. The professional tennis balls are the highest quality. The Wilson professional ball is the best option for hard court matches based on its use as the ball of choice for the U.S. Open and the Australian Open, the two majors played on the hard court. Second, the Wilson professional ball is a firm ball that doesn't bounce too high or play too fast, desirable qualities for the hard court.
Extra Duty Balls
Another distinction of tennis balls is extra duty compared to regular-duty tennis balls. The extra-duty tennis balls are designed for the hard court, with added durability to increase the lifespan of balls. The difference that makes extra-duty balls better for the hard court is in the felt. The thicker felt of extra-duty balls would pick up dirt on clay courts, making the ball heavier every time they hit the ground. On the hard court, extra-duty balls provide additional durability with no downside.
Although extra-duty tennis balls have more durability, they are not heavy-duty. The common misconception that extra-duty balls are heavier then regular-duty balls deters some people from using them. Extra-duty balls only appear as though they weigh more, according to Jason Collins, the Global Business Director of Tennis Balls for Wilson. The extra-duty balls have a thicker felt, causing them to stick on the racket's strings longer and appearing to be heavier. However, if the extra-duty and regular-duty balls were dropped from the same height, they would bounce up to the same height because they weigh the same amount.