While the bulk of my time with The Instep has seen me become hopelessly addicted to match balls, Select was kind enough to let us test a large portion of their available products. Since May, we have been enjoying the Select Numero 10, the Royale, and the Sapphire. After loads of kicking, some feedback from groups that I play with, and a whole lot of time thinking about it, it is time to pass judgement on the products that Select have out there.
First up, the Numero 10.
To be quick about it, the Numero 10 is the best value ball in the entirety of the market. Although the Numero 10 (and the Royale) suffer a bit from having a bit of a dead tennis ball sensation, the Numero 10 barely shows any sign of use after putting it through the absolute wringer. In fact, this is one of the few balls that could function on the pitch as well as if you play in an indoor facility that uses size 5 balls.
As I said, the Numero 10 is not as “energetic” as some balls are from the go. It also takes a little bit of breaking in as the casing is fairly unforgiving on the first few uses.
The Numero 10 is also, like the rest of the Select balls we reviewed, NFHS approved and it’s eligible to be used during any high school games. Once again, for the price-point and to have the “NFHS” stamp, this is the absolute best ball on the market for a similar price. One of the few balls in the entirety of the market that will last you years and years and years and years.
Next up, the Royale.
For us, the Royale is a legitimate big-brother to the Numero 10. Durability that will stand the test of time matched with some serious quality. Like the Numero 10, the Royale takes a bit of breaking in and, early on, can have the same “dead ball” feel as the Numero 10. However, the feel after break-in and the quality of the ball certainly shines through and has it stand above the Numero 10 after excessive use.
The Royale is also an NFHS certified model and can be used for any high school level games. Sadly, the Royale is not available in the hi-vis color that the Numero 10 comes in, but that is the only thing that the Royale does not have over its cheaper brother.
Lastly, the Sapphire.
The absolute favorite from the three as the Sapphire seems to combine all of the best aspects of each ball while avoiding some of the issues of the other balls. No break-in time, no “dead ball” sensation, and a feel that is as close to the top-end match balls as we have found for under $100. From our contact over at Select, the superior feel is down to the Numero 10 and Royale using a regular PU and the Sapphire using a microfiber PU.
The Sapphire has pushed other $150 balls out of my ball bag and has quickly become one of the balls that I use daily for testing. The Sapphire also has the NFHS branding on the ball, yet it is the first ball in the Select stable that has a visible texture right under the casing. Despite giving the Sapphire an intense workout over the last few weeks, the shiny texture (and fantastic feel and quality) is still very present.
It is rare that we get in a large group of products from any company and have difficulty disliking any of the bunch. While the lower tiers of the Select products do need a bit of work to get them to their best, the quality of each product does improve with the increasing price points. Still, I have no doubt that these Select balls may outlive me…such is their durability.
In closing, all of these balls are approved to use at your high school games. The Numero 10 is the best value available in the entirety of the market, the Royale is slightly superior to the Numero 10, but I would find it difficult to spend more money than what I could have gotten with the Numero 10. The Sapphire is a true match ball worthy of use in a high school game or in any competitive match. Hats off to Select with these products as we just cannot get enough!