The very first tennis balls date back as early as the 15th century and were made of different materials, mostly from leather stuffed with human and horse hair or wool. The Scottish craftsmen used the stomach of a sheep or goat that they wrapped with wool and tied with a rope. In the 18th century, strips of wool were tightly wound round a nucleus made of cork. Tennis balls with a cork core and cloth covering are still used in the original game of tennis, known as Real Tennis.
In 1870, vulcanized rubber was first used to manufacture tennis balls. The Germans were well known for developing vulcanized air filled rubber balls. Constant improvements were being made to the ball, by wrapping flannel around their surfaces and later using a felt on the exterior. Pressurized tennis balls started to be manufactured, and are being used today. For the best tennis balls on today’s market, please check out our tennis shop: Best Tennis Balls Reviews
TYPES OF TENNIS BALLS
• Pressureless – have solid cores and and last much longer than pressurized tennis balls. They don’t lose their bounce easily but the disadvantage is that the felt wears off much faster. Since they don’t need to be pressure-sealed, they come in nets or bags.
• Pressurized – have a hollow core filled with air or nitrogen. They are hermetically sealed and come in tin cans or plastic tubes of three or four balls. Once the can is opened, the balls begin to lose their bounce. When brand new, they bounce higher than pressureless balls, but don’t last as long. For all their events, the ATP and WTA use pressurized tennis balls.
Special types of tennis balls:
• Regular duty – are suitable for indoor and clay courts
• Extra duty – are suited for grass and concrete courts, when used on clay courts, they quickly become too fuzzy
• High Altitute Tennis Balls – are used in high altitude regions, where regular balls would have a greater bounce
STANDARDIZATION (approved by the ITF – International Tennis Federation)
• Size – the diameter of a tennis balls is 6.35-6.86 cm (2.50-2.70 inches)
• Weight – must be between 56.0 g – 59.4 g (1.975 -2.095 ounces)
• Rebound Height – between 135-147 cm (53-58 inches)
• ATP and WTA tournaments are played with yellow tennis balls, that were introduced in 1972 following research that demonstrated their easy visibily on colour television. White balls were used prior to this.
All tennis balls are tested in the following environment:
- Tempereature 20°C / 68°F
- Humidity 60%
- Atmospheric pressure 102 kPA
- Around 300 million tennis balls are produced each year
- Yellow tennis balls were first used at Wimbledon in 1986
- There are more than 200 tennis ball brands that have been approved by the ITF
- The most expensive material when manufacturing a tennis ball is the felt covering the ball
- The fastest ever recorded speed of a tennis ball in a tennis match was 156 mph (251 kph) and it was a serve hit by Croatian Ivo Karlovic. The fastest women’s serve was hit by Venus Williams at a speed of 127.4 mph (205 kph)
- Tennis balls become heavier when there is more humidity, as a result they travel slower through the air
- You could fit 290 million balls into Centre Court at Wimbledon with the roof closed.
- 54,250 tennis balls were used during Wimbledon 2010