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A tennis court is most commonly made of rigid materials such as asphalt or concrete, and covered with acrylic material to seal the surface and mark the playing lines.
The acrylic material also offers some cushioning. These courts are referred to as hard courts.
These courts tend to play medium-fast to fast because there is little energy consumption by the court, like in grass courts.
The ball tends to bounce high and players are able to apply many types of spin during play. This is why it’s important to find the best tennis balls for concrete.
Of the Grand slam tournaments, the US Open and Australian Open currently use hard courts and it is the predominant surface type used on the professional tour.
Maintenance of concrete courts
There are many hard court maintenance methods commonly used to keep these courts in top condition.
Some of these methods include brushing, pressure washing with a cleaning solution and applying chemical treatments to prevent the growth of moss and algae.
Anti-slip paint is also applied to hard courts to give better playing qualities to enhance player safety and performance.
Sand in the acrylic layer
Flat balls are favored on hard courts because of the extremely fast play style.
Speed of rebound after tennis balls bounce on hard courts is determined by how much sand is in the synthetic/acrylic layer placed on top of the asphalt foundation.
More sand will result in a slower bounce due to more friction.
How much does a concrete tennis court cost?
Concrete (resurfaced concrete called hard courts) tends to be more expensive than the other types of courts (clay and grass and carpet).
One of the advantages of a concrete tennis court is that the concrete is such a durable material that the court will last much longer and be very easy to maintain.
Professional tennis court preferences
Grass courts must be painstakingly prepared and tennis play involves a low bounce and unstable footing.
While softer clay courts are preferred in European tennis circuits, most professional matches in America take place on concrete.
Clay is much harder to maintain. It is easy to damage and can crack or become brittle if it’s allowed to dry out.
Without constant maintenance, clay leads to unpredictable bounces and difficult footwork.
Concrete courts provide a durable highly stable surface for fast action, high bounces and reliable ball control – perfect for skilled players.
This helps to provide more exciting competition on both the professional and recreational level.
Hard courts are considered middle ground
Hard courts are usually considered the middle ground between clay and grass.
A concrete hard court is a fast surface but also with a flat, uniform surface making it more predictable without the surprises of a grass or clay court.
According to the ITF (International Tennis Federation) it’s a good surface for a broader range of playing styles.
The hard court can be made slower by adding sand to the paint in the top layer that has sand mixed in.
In the 1990’s, tennis fans began to complain that the faster surfaces didn’t allow for long, suspenseful rallies, as points usually consisted of a hard serve followed by a rush to the net, called a serve-and-volley game.
Fans said that the faster surfaces (concrete hard courts) afforded a more boring tennis-viewing experience.
Slower surfaces see the players staying back at the baseline, for long drawn-out points.
The US Open has added more sand to their courts in an effort to slow down play.
Now that we know a little about concrete as a court surface, let’s find the most appropriate tennis balls for this surface.
Before the US Open in 2015, ESPN posted a video showing how much work went into making the 100,000 Wilson US Open tennis balls for the tournament.
The amount of material, machinery, and work required took the world by surprise.
The US Open requires two different types of tennis balls, the extra duty for the men and the regular duty for the women.
The size, pressure and design are the same but the difference of felt creates a large difference in speed and action.
The men’s serves are hit at an average of 115 miles per hour. If the men were using the women’s tennis balls, they may hit it closer to 175 miles per hour!
Regular duty balls vs extra duty balls
Balls are similar in size and weight and must bounce between 53 and 58 inches when dropped from a height of 100 inches.
The difference in regular duty and extra duty balls lies in the felt.
The felt of the extra duty ball has a high nylon content combined with wool, a looser weave and is slightly thicker than the regular duty ball. The regular duty ball has higher wool content in the felt.
Regular duty balls are designed for play on clay as well as indoor courts.
However, as we mentioned, regular duty balls are used in the US Open for the women players on a hard court concrete surface.
For the purposes of the recreational player, it’s fair to say that the regular duty ball is for clay and the extra duty is for hard court (concrete).
Because of a tighter weave and less fluff, regular duty balls don’t pick up as much clay material on a clay court. This keeps the ball from becoming much heavier over the course of a match.
Over the course of a match, the regular duty ball fluffs very little. This makes the ball play faster and move quicker due to less air friction.
Additional fluff causes the ball to sit on the strings longer, which creates the sensation that the ball is heavier.
The conclusion: Unless you are a professional female player playing in the US Open, the extra duty ball is the ball to use on a concrete court.
Best tennis balls for concrete
There are a number of tennis ball options that could potentially work well for use on a concrete surface, but the following options are optimal.
It’s important to always consult an industry professional before using any new product with your game.
US Open 3 Ball Can – Extra Duty
Unparalleled consistency and performance make Wilson the gold standard in tennis. For the past 40 years, every point scored at the US Open has been scored with a Wilson US Open tennis ball.
As we mentioned before, the US Open male players are given the extra duty Wilson US Open tennis balls. Andy Roddick was thrown a women’s ball during one of the US Open matches by mistake.
He admits to be tempted to serve it knowing the lighter weight of the ball would increase his serve speed dramatically. However, in the end he stayed honest and served with the men’s ball!
View at Amazon to learn more about how this ball might work for your game.
- Crafted with premium woven felt
- Great durability and consistent bounce
- Wilson lasts longer than other balls so you get an even ball bounce throughout your match.
- This ball is available in extra duty, regular duty and high altitude variations.
- USTA and ITF approved for competitive recreational play
Penn Championship Extra Duty Tennis Balls (Pack of 12 Cans) (36 Balls)
You may be interested to hear that Penn Championship XD balls are considered to be ideal for hard courts (concrete) but also advertise themselves for use on all surfaces!
The Penn Championship XD balls are the official ball of the USTA (United States Tennis Association) league. They are some of the easiest balls to play with.
The excellent quality balls are extra heavy duty with a wool fiber meaning they can be used on any surface.
The XD balls are famous for their controlled fiber release, which delivers a consistent spin and speed during serve and volleys.
Penn Championship balls are constructed from natural rubber which reduces the shock of the ball as it hits the court’s surface.
View at Amazon for more information on how this ball might work with your game.
- Deep elastic seams for reduced cracking
- Natural rubber for consistent feel and reduced shock
- Interlocked wool fiber for longer wear
Featured image credit: DepositPhotos.com @fotoandalucia