In today’s market, tennis balls are available to suit an enormous range of budgets and ability levels. One of the most popular balls out there is the Dunlop Fort All Court ball. For those of you living in England, like us, you will undoubtedly have seen them on the shelves of physical retailers at some for bargain clearance prices too good to pass up!
Tennis clubs across the world seem to be physically heaving with these balls. They’re often the staple diet of club doubles matches and almost every coach out there has at least tried them out for their training sessions.
Dunlop aren’t flashy like Ferrari, but they are relatively affordable and popular across a wide range of sports as well as tennis. Instead, they’re Ford, but Ford cars offer solid value for money and are reliable.
How, then, did the Dunlop Fort (almost typed Dunlop Ford then – excuse the pun) measure up?
For today’s article, we’ll be putting the Dunlop Fort All Court through its paces and will be bringing you our usual, brutally honest verdict!
Power – 8/10
When new out the can, the Dunlop Fort ball packs a punch. We enjoyed great levels of pop off the stringbed during serves and groundstrokes in our warm up and early points in the match. As the points continued, the balls started to fluff and soften up, and consequently lost a lot of their power. After an hour, we decided to open a new can and the good initial playability returned.
We didn’t feel this ball offered quite the same zip as the Head Tour ball (formerly Head ATP) – the benchmark when it comes to tennis ball selection at all levels, but it still delivered a good level of power.
Control – 7/10
Control was one of the ball’s finest aspects, so we’ve given the Dunlop ball a 7/10. When the balls were fresh out of the can, we didn’t ever get the sensation of the ball flying on us. I think part of this was down to the fact that the ball felt slightly heavier than other balls out there, for some reason.
I’m not necessarily advocating that the ball weighs more than the Wilson US Open, for example, but it did have a slightly weightier overall feel; whether this be from the ball’s coating or rubber material, who knows!
The sense of heaviness, which naturally lends itself to control (think the 340g Wilson Pro Staff vs the 300g Babolat Pure Drive), continued throughout the playtest, even after the balls died and softened up.
Spin – 6/10
During the opening segment of the playtest, the Dunlop Fort All Court ball delivered adequate levels of spin, but nothing flashy. Although I was able to access some good flat power, I didn’t feel like the ball particularly provided access to much spin and my groundstrokes felt a little dull.
When the balls died after 20 – 30 minutes of hard hitting, the levels of spin went from “not bad”, to “terrible”. Kick serves that were previously going in, were now sailing long unless I focused extra hard on creating a finer contact with the ball.
We’ve already discussed the control aspect of the ball, but I feel this was negatively effectively by the difficulty in creating topspin after the balls started to die.
Comfort – 6/10
Levels of comfort and sensitivity were average at best, with these balls. In honestly, they’re not a great choice for those of you with joint pain and upper body injuries. We found them to be a little jarring in comparison to some of the other balls that we have reviewed, like the Slazenger Wimbledon ball, US Open ball and Head Tour ball.
We’ve tried the Dunlop balls out in the rain before, too and found they aren’t suitable at all for these kind of conditions, although no ball is really. This ball is particularly notorious, however, for absorbing water and becoming a “brick” to hit!
Durability – 4/10
No tennis ball is going to last forever! If one was created that ever could, the tennis ball companies would go out of business very quickly indeed, so you would never hear about it anyway! However, I can’t imagine a ball like that would be anywhere near suitable for the game of tennis anyway. Think pressureless balls, if any of you have ever experienced the joy of playing with one of those!
Anyway, I digress.
Although we don’t expect a tennis ball to last forever, we would expect at least one hit out of the ball for it to be worth our money.
Unfortunately, the Dunlop Fort All Court has poor durability, and for this reason, we don’t feel comfortable recommending it for matchplay situations.
During our two hours of testing, the ball resembled a dog ball very quickly indeed. By the end of our hitting session, however, the ball had fluffed up enough to resemble the fur of Pomeranian dog, whilst being soft to squeeze like sponge.
Sorry Dunlop – not exactly glowing remarks. But, when your retailers are asking for a pound (£) a ball from us, we would prefer not to be opening a new can every half an hour.
Conclusion – 5/10
Whilst still a decent ball new, out of the can, the Dunlop Fort All Court ball is good for a “one time” hit, in our opinion. Although, if weather conditions are adverse, you can expect them to turn into a dog ball in a matter of minutes.
Personally, we feel the Head Tour (formerly Head ATP) are the best balls out there, so we’d recommend spending a tiny bit more and reaping the durability and playability benefits of this superior ball.
One select group we have noticed, however, who tend to lean towards the Dunlop ball, are coaches. Generally speaking, tennis clubs supply tennis coaches and big tennis retailers supply the tennis clubs balls in bulk, cheaply. These retailers tend to deal in Dunlop balls, so this could explain the reason for this.
When balls are going to die quickly anyway, due to the relentless hours of coaching, on court, the Dunlop Fort ball may actually be a financially savvy choice for coaches worldwide.
Overall, for recreational and professional players, we’ve had to rate the Dunlop Fort All Court ball at a disappointing 5/10. A can of these just aren’t worth the money they are asking, when taking into account competing brands and their overall playbility.
Article by: Tom