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  • Writer's pictureBarbara J MacFarlane, MD

The Little Yellow Ball.

Updated: Jan 24, 2018

Tennis season has started and who will do well both in the men's and women's is really up in the air. Ever wonder why the ball is a fuzzy yellow ball? Modern tennis balls are regulated for size, weight and bounce by the International Tennis Federation. As well, for official competitive tennis, the colors can only be yellow and white. The particular color of yellow was chosen in 1972 to be the most visible on television. The yellow felt on the outside gives the ball a better flow and flight when hit and when a player looks at the balls and discards one before a serve, it is the one with the least fuzz that is discarded. Before lawn tennis began in the 1870's, the ball did not look at all like it does today. There was even a time when tennis balls were made with such things as leather, rope, hair, wool, fur and animal organs. Just as Goodyear developed the process to make rubber for tires, it was the same process of making vulcanized rubber that initiated making the tennis ball with rubber. The felt was added later as was the white rubber line to make the ball more aerodynamic. The yellow fuzz wears and the bounce of the ball lessens quickly with use and therefore the balls are changed in a professional tennis tournament after the 7th game (allowing for warm-up use) and then after every 9th game. A good tip for used tennis balls is putting a few in the dryer and your clothes dry quicker!


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