One of the most popular sports on the planet, Tennis has a worldwide following, with some of the best-known stars in sport amongst its ranks.
Access to facilities for amateur players and fans is becoming more widespread, and with tournaments being played throughout the year, there is constant access to live matches to watch, but how do fans get their tennis fix when they’re not on the courts themselves?
Unlike many sports games, tennis doesn’t always transition well onto console or PC games, although that is rapidly changing with the emergence of Virtual Reality.
If you look hard enough though there are some real gems to be found when it comes to tennis simulators.
From working your way up through the ranks to become World Number One to being a tennis manager that plans everything from training to sponsors and tournament entry, tennis on the PC still has lots to offer.
With that in mind, let’s look at the best 5 tennis games that are available for the PC.
5. Tennis World Tour 2
- Released: 2020
If you think you can do a better job than Rafael Nadal, why not prove it on Tennis World Tour 2, and see if you can dominate the world of competitive tennis as the pros do?
Available on multiple platforms, TWT2 is one of the harder tennis games to master on the PC, but once you have mastered the timing of your shots, you could go to the very top. And timing is everything, get your shots hit right on the button and make it harder for your opponent to react, soo slow, or too fast, and you’re in trouble.
With an online option as well as on a local area network to go with the usual single-player mode, Tennis World Tour 2 offers players the chance to go head to head, or to compete in tournaments online.
Having command over everything from what equipment you use, to the staff you hire and the sponsors who shower you with cash, every decision you make affects your career, and that’s before you even step onto the courts.
With dynamic gameplay and an intuitive, if tough to master, control system, this is one of the better PC tennis games available, especially when you can take over some of the greatest players around and try to conquer the tennis world.
4. Tennis Elbow Manager 2
- Released: 2021
A bit of a twist on the usual tennis game, but one that has a hardcore set of fans that spend hour after hour trying to coach the next Roger Federer as they try to reach for the number one spot.
Tennis Elbow Manager 2 has many of the features of Tennis Elbow 4, although its match engine is based on an older version of the game (improved physics and ball/player movement have been implemented though), with 9 court types, 6 difficulty levels, and 3500 players that evolve with the game.
This time though, rather than competing yourself, you nurture and train your player, and eventually, you can have up to 9 players to coach if you wish to, as you plan everything from which tournament to enter to what training regime to focus on.
You can even take over the players during a match if you would prefer to play the matches yourself, although this can sometimes have an adverse effect on your training results.
Venus and Serena Williams father, Richard Williams, would probably have loved Tennis Elbow Manager 2, and with a level of detail that can become a strategy in itself, a busy online community of fans can be found, as well as tips and tricks for getting the most out of your potential stars.
The prospect of taking a junior player, getting them trained up, bringing in sponsors to generate funds for more specialized trainers is intoxicating, and one that for tennis fans could become a full-time job.
3. AO Tennis 2
- Released: 2020
Thanks to a community of loyal fans, and some rather impressive modding to add a whole new layer of realism to what was initially a poor effort on the release of AO tennis, the revamped and revitalized AO Tennis 2 is a creditable addition to any tennis fans collection.
This second attempt at building on an unpolished yet promising game has resulted in a much better user experience, as everything from ball dynamics to player and stadium improvements has resulted in a more content-filled game.
This is in no small part due to the community-created content that has allowed for the import of unlicensed players and stadiums, which adds much more depth to the game. AI-controlled players have a real feel to them, as styles of play come into your tactics, baseline players are noticeably great from the baseline, while those with a thumping serve can cause havoc.
Not only has the look and feel of the game had an overhaul, but the controls have also been overhauled to offer a much more responsive and intuitive feel, and this really helps the game along, given the extra work into the game mechanics, the game feels more complete than it previously did.
Overall, OA Tennis 2 still has improvements to make, but there’s optimism for the future, the community surrounding the game brings more opportunities to improve an already solid game, and as these improvements are added, AO Tennis 2 can become a real force.
2. Tennis Elbow 4
- Released: 2021
The real plus to having a game created by fans, for fans, is that the extra attention to detail and the overall quality of a game tend to be much higher, and Tennis Elbow 4 stands out as one of the most realistic tennis games available today.
The level of competition, which has over 3500 players progressing over two decades as they work their way up from the lowest rungs of the tennis ladder, right up to the very top, brings a dash of realism and longevity to the game that is unparalleled.
A comprehensive set of court surfaces, stadiums, and both singles and doubles tournaments add a whole new level to the gaming experience as you progress through the game, and with 6 difficulty levels, with each difficulty level split into 10 sub-levels, anyone from complete novice to hardcore pro can just right into the action.
The real standout for Tennis Elbow 4 is the superb game mechanics, with ball striking and ball movement feeling realistic, as are the players themselves, making for a much more seamless game.
Shot selection is important, and with every available real-world shot usable in the game, having each shot in your arsenal can be the key to success, it also adds to the realism as knowing the right shot, making it, and winning the point, is enormously satisfying.
1. Top Spin 4
- Released: 2011
Arguably the most popular tennis game of all time, Top Spin 4 is one of the most immersive tennis games available on any platform.
Not only does Top Spin 4 have possibly the most in-depth career modes around, but the real bonus is also the sense of excitement that you get when you finally start making it to major tournaments.
The more you practice, the better you’ll get, but that’s not all, the more you play the same players as you meet in tournament after tournament, the better you get a feel for how they play too, giving a real sense of progression that most other games can only dream about.
A comprehensive character creation tool will allow you to build your ideal player from the ground up, and getting to pit your wits against players like Andy Murray, or even Bjorn Borg himself, really lets you feel like you’re building an actual career.
There are several licensed major tournaments, Wimbledon excluding, and with a crowd system that groans along with you as you miss that vital shot, there isn’t another tennis game on the market that comes even close to Top Spin 4.
Even given how old Top Spin 4 is now, that comes close to the same feeling of terror as you step out in a final to face Novac Djokovic.
For a game that is over 10 years old to be number one still on our list is either a sad reflection of how tennis games have been poorly treated by the gaming industry or a glowing testament to one of the best sports simulation games ever made, for any sport.
We like to think it’s the latter, and once you get the crowd onside in your semi-final, staring down your opponent for break point, we’re sure you’ll agree that Top Spin 4 is in a league of its own.