When you’re playing an intense match, you’re going to sweat – it’s your body’s natural defense against overheating during physical activity.
However, for some players, sweat can become a significant distraction that makes it challenging to maintain a secure grip on their racquet, which subsequently has a negative impact performance.
Regularly replacing your racquet’s grip or installing a fresh overgrip throughout a match can help, but you’ll see better results with the addition of a towel to absorb sweat.
Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of being able to wipe sweat from your face to avoid sweat from running into your eyes and making it hard to see.
Despite their practicality, towels are an often overlooked piece of tennis gear that can help you stay comfortable and perform your best, so it pays to keep one (or a few) in your tennis bag at all times.
Tennis Towel Controversy
Somewhat surprisingly, towels have seen their fair share of controversy when it comes to the rules and etiquette surrounding the game.
On the pro tour, ball people are responsible for handling a player’s towel, and despite it being a dirty job, it’s remained part of the role. In recent years, many spectators have become disillusioned with how players treat them, especially considering they are volunteers.
Caught up in the heat of a match, players sometimes forget their manners when asking for their towel. One example came at the Shenzhen Open in 2018 when Spanish player Fernando Verdasco was caught on camera berating a ball boy for being too slow to bring him his towel after a point.
Some, including Judy Murray, British tennis coach, and mother of tennis stars Andy and Jamie Murray, were vocal in response to the incident, “What about a rule that makes players get their own towels?”
Following this event, the ATP decided to trial the use of towel racks during professional matches at the Next Gen Finals in November 2018, where it would no longer be the ball person’s job to hand towels over to players after each point. Instead, players would need to grab their towels from a rack positioned at the back of the court.
Next Gen players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev suggested that they struggled to adapt to the towel rack at the tournament. Common complaints were that they would often forget to pick up a towel when or cause time violations because it took too long to get their towel.
Luckily, when it comes to the treatment of ball people, it isn’t all negative, and most of the time, players treat them with the utmost respect. Many tennis stars, including Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic, used to be ball boys before they became players and their experience helps give them perspective and a deeper appreciation for their effort.
Regardless of the stance the pro tour chooses to adopt in the future, towels will remain a crucial part of a player’s gear.
Tennis Towels as Souvenirs
Beyond their practical on-court usage, towels are also one of the most popular souvenirs at tennis tournaments.
The gift shop at most tournaments will typically have towels available for purchase. However, some lucky fans who are close enough to the action might have a towel thrown their way after a match, as many players toss them to spectators as a token of appreciation.
Players themselves often keep their used towels as souvenirs, especially if they have been playing in a prestigious tournament such as Wimbledon. These towels will often feature the tournament’s logo, and Wimbledon towels are considered precious by most players.
Christy, the UK-based company that has manufactured towels for Wimbledon since 1987, states that they only receive 33% of their towels back because players tend to either throw their towels into the audience or keep them for themselves as souvenirs.
Former American pro, Brad Gilbert, is on record talking about how he loved to collect tennis towels, and even traded towels with other players to ensure he had the men’s and women’s towels from each tournament.
From their functionality to their frequent usage as souvenirs, tennis towels will undoubtedly remain an essential piece of tennis gear.
Key Towel Attributes
When it comes to the towel that you bring to the court, there are a few different factors that separate good towels from the best. Here are a few of the most important to keep in mind when making a decision.
Durability: Look for towels that feature high-quality materials that are proven to survive the rigor of a tennis match as well as regular wash cycles without falling apart or ripping.
Comfort: Since you’ll be using the towel on your face and hands, you’re going to want to find a towel that is soft and doesn’t cause any distracting discomfort during each use.
Absorption: When it comes to towels, there’s nothing worse than one that doesn’t absorb well. For the best possible performance, make sure the towel you choose excels in this area.
Weight: As tennis players, we tend to carry a lot of gear around in our bags in preparation for anything that gets thrown at us. Finding a lightweight towel will help keep the overall weight down.
Size: We prefer mid-sized towels that are easy to handle and manage. A towel that’s too large can become unwieldy while a towel that’s too small can feel pointless.
Machine Washable: You’re going to wash your towel after every use, so make sure the one you pick up is machine washable and ideally doesn’t have any colors that will bleed.
The following two features aren’t a requirement, but they’re a nice bonus if you find them in the towels you select.
Quick Drying: Some towels do an exceptional job at drying fast, so they last longer and don’t need to be replaced as frequently. We find we’ll go through two or three towels during a match anyway, so it’s not the biggest concern but a nice to have.
Antimicrobial: Towels that help reduce odor and maintain the freshness of your towels over time are another great bonus. One such technology is Silvadur from Dupont that you’ll find many towel manufacturers using, which kills microbes by releasing silver ions when organisms land or form on treated fabric.
Towels for The Court
Let’s start by covering our favorite picks of tennis towels to help you stay dry and comfortable while out on the court.
OlimpiaFit Microfiber Towels
These lightweight microfibre towels from OlimpiaFit come in a three-pack, which is a bonus, but what we love is that they include three different sizes.
Large: 50″ x 30″
Medium: 30″ x 15″
Small: 15″ x 15″
You might keep the largest towel at your bench for use during changeovers, while the medium and small towels are great for bringing to the back of the court for use between points.
As you’d expect, the towels check key boxes for performance in that they’re soft, absorbent up to 4x their weight, and dry 10x faster than your standard towel. Perhaps their most impressive feature is that they’re hypoallergenic and antimicrobial.
Last but not least, they come with a handy mesh carrying case to stash them neatly in your bag.
Sinland Microfiber towels
Similar to OlimpiaFit, Sinland offers a three-pack of soft and lightweight microfiber towels except theirs come in a single 16″ x 32″ size, which is perfect for the court.
Perfect for intense tennis matches played in hot conditions, the Sinland towels can absorb more water than a regular towel, and dry 3x faster.
As far as durability goes, you can wash these up to 500 times without damage, which makes them an economical choice too.
Wilson Court Towel
Coming from one of the most well-respected tennis brands, Wilson offers up this soft cotton sports towel, which measures 20″ x 30″ (50 x 75 cm).
This medium-size towel is white and features Wilson’s iconic logo in red.
Babolat Medium Tennis Towel
Another titan in the tennis industry, Babolat offers a popular tennis towel that’s 100% cotton and perfectly sized to bring to the court.
Babolat’s medium-sized tennis towel comes in three different colors: red, white, and blue, which is fitting for the French company.
Nike Caddy Towel
If you’re a big fan of Nike, you’ll want to check out their Caddy sports towel, which is 100% cotton and comes with a waffle texture that’s soft and super absorbent. Yes, it’s technically a golf towel, but it also works excellently as a companion for the court.
As far as size goes, it’s a medium size towel that measures 41″ x 19″ (104 x 48 cm), which is easily manageable and perfect for wiping down sweat – not too big or small. Plus, it comes in a few different colors.
Tourna Sport Towel
Tourna, which is well known for the tennis grips, also offers up a soft white towel that’s perfect for bringing to the court.
It’s the perfect size at 13″ x 33″ (33 x 84 cm) and features the Tourna logo in red toward the bottom edge of the towel.
AmazonBasics Cotton Towels
From players that like to buy in bulk, this generous pack of twelve lightweight towels is an excellent option for players that enjoy the classic feel of cotton, which is soft, absorbent, and fast-drying.
Each towel is a great size for the court at 16″ x 26″ and features a looped terry design and reinforced edges for added durability.
To get the most out of our towels, we need to bring them with us to the back of the court so we can use them between points.
Unfortunately, there’s rarely a convenient place to stash a towel, so we’re forced to place them on the ground, which isn’t the greatest when we’re using it on our faces. Hanging towels present a unique solution, which can hang from a fence to keep them off the ground and dry.
Here are our favorite picks.
Sfee Microfibre Towel
The Sfee microfibre towel comes in four different sizes with two per pack – one of the sizes you select, and the other is a smaller hand towel.
Although not marketed as a hanging towel, they work great for that purpose because each towel features a convenient loop, and each purchase comes with a handy carabiner.
Simply attach the carabiner to your towel and hang it from the fence at the back of the court so you can easily wipe down between points.
Nike Performance Towel
As an alternative to the Caddy by Nike, their performance towel is another 100% cotton option that’s super soft without the waffle texture. However, what further sets it apart is the convenient carabiner that will attach to the fence, which makes it a perfect choice as a courtside companion.
Again, Nike markets it as a golf towel, but it’s perfect for tennis. The towel comes in multiple colors and measures 16″ x 24″ (41 x 61 cm) and features a small ‘Nike’ logo in one corner.
QBE$T Tennis Towel
Designed for tennis players, you can hang this towel from QBE$T anywhere around the court with its convenient hook so that it stays free of dirt and debris on the court while drying quicker.
The towel is 100% cotton, super-absorbent, and features a tennis ball emblem at one of the corners.
Although they’re a bit harder to come by, there are a few tennis towels that offer larger sizes and work great for the beach.
For reference, we recommend going with a towel that’s at least 50″ (120 cm) long, so you have plenty of coverage against the sand.
Wimbledon Championship 2019 Towel
The official Wimbledon towel from the famous towel company Christy is the perfect tennis beach towel at 27.5″ x 52.3″ (70 x 133 cm).
The 2019 edition of this jacquard woven towel features Hygro technology, which makes them ultra-soft, highly absorbent, and quick drying. Moreover, the towel becomes fluffier and softer after each wash.
This towel also makes an excellent tennis gift too.
Large Addidas Towel
Although this large towel from Adidas can undoubtedly work well for the court, it’s larger size makes it the perfect option for the beach too.
The 100% cotton black and white towel is 27.5″ x 55″ (70 x 140 cm), and it’s durable, lightweight, and quick-drying.
When it comes to towels, there are a few that stand out from the crowd and offer unique benefits or personalization. The following are a few of our favorites that are worth checking out.
GAMMA Tacky Towel
The Gamma Tacky Towel isn’t your traditional towel used to wipe away sweat. Instead, the Tacky Towel it’s intended to help enhance your grip.
It works by infusing non-toxic bee’s wax into a cloth towel, which, when applied to your hands or the handle of your racquet, helps increase traction as without feeling sticky.
On average, the towel will last 3-6 weeks, but that depends on how frequently you play and use it. Regardless, you’ll want to keep in mind that you’ll need to replace the towel periodically.
The Gamma Tacky Towel is 9″ x 18″ (23 x 46 cm).
Chill Pal Mesh Cooling Towel
Cooling towels have been a popular trend that works fantastic on and off the tennis court. The concept is simple – you wet your towel with water and wrap it around your neck to cool down on changeovers.
There a wide variety of cooling towels out there, but our favorite by far is from Chill Pal. The towels mesh design makes it comfortable and soft on the skin, and it’s the perfect size at 12″ x 40″ (31 x 102 cm).
As a tennis player, it’s one of those accessories you didn’t know you needed, but once you try it, you’ll wonder how you ever went without it.
Although we’d be hard-pressed to call a towel an essential piece of gear when it comes to tennis, they’re excellent accessories that can help increase your comfort and ensure you have a solid grip on your racquet.
Hopefully, this guide has helped you find a towel that works well for you or, at the very least, helped point you in the right direction on your search.
Have any questions about the towels we’ve covered or about the topic in general? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.