In tennis, it’s all about the balls. During a tennis match, the referee has to constantly provide new balls to replace the used ones. The condition of the balls in play dictates the efficiency of the players. For this reason, balls are constantly replaced, and this draws the question, “How many tennis balls are used in a match?”
At the beginning of the match, the referee places six balls on the centerline of the court. The team members collect any of the balls when the whistle is blown. While there are six different balls on the court, only one can be in play during a single match and two during a double match.
Tennis has so many fans worldwide. Many people don’t mind watching a single game go on for several hours as it’s very entertaining. However, while these games go on, we notice how tennis balls last throughout, no matter how hard it’s struck or how long the games last. So, let’s go in-depth about what really happens with these balls.
How Often Are Tennis Balls Replaced?
When used over a long period, tennis balls lose pressure and are no longer as bouncy as they initially were. Before the server serves the ball, he checks the extra balls looking for the newest and least fluffiest of the lot. Firmer and smoother balls maximize serve speed.
Balls degrade rapidly when in serious play as the impact of the racket and hard surfaces tend to reduce their toughness. For this reason, they are replaced after every 7-9 games.
A tennis ball is most efficient during its first three hours of active play. After this period elapses, new balls are provided to boost the efficiency of both the players and the game.
A tennis ball can last as long as 1-4 weeks when used in light or moderate play without the aggressive force exercised during competitions.
Balls that are not in play are stored in a refrigerator or any facility that maintains a steady temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit. Keeping the balls at this temperature ensures that they perform efficiently when in use.
As for the old balls, they are used as practice balls by players who have upcoming matches. In addition, they can also be recycled by plastic companies which extract the rubber from them and utilize it in the manufacturing of other plastic materials.
Alternatively, a collection of used plastic balls could be mailed to a dog charity or an animal rescue home. This is a better option than disposing of them in landfills.
How Many Tennis Tournaments Are There In a Year?
There are several tennis tournaments organized worldwide throughout the year.
The ITF (International Tennis Federation), a body that controls and regulates all affairs concerning table tennis and other closely related sports, has enumerated four annual competitions as the major annual tournaments.
These four major tournaments are referred to as the Grand Slam tournaments. They are relatively the most advanced and most important competitions of the year. Furthermore, they attract the highest prize money and public attention rate than any other tennis tournament globally.
However, a more accurate definition of the term ‘Grand Slam’ refers to the extremely rare and remarkable accomplishment of winning all the four major tournaments of the year. But, most people mostly mistake this term and use it to refer to any of the four major tournaments.
There is no singular venue for all the tournaments. They are named after the locations in which they hold. Below is a list of the four major tennis tournaments in the world in chronological order:
Australian Open Grand Slam
This is the first of the annual grand slams. It is held in Melbourne in Australia’s national tennis park. It normally begins in mid-January and lasts for two weeks.
The first-ever Australian Open grand slam was held in 1905, with Rodney Heat emerging as the first official winner. The tournament had been in existence for 116 years, thus making it the last of the grand slams to be created.
As of 2021, the prize money for the Australian Open Grand slam was set at $80,000,000. The previous tournament was originally slated for January 18-31. But due to the inconvenience of the Covid 19 pandemic, it was moved to February 8-21. Novac Djokovic was declared the overall winner, having defeated Danil Medvedev in a straight-set.
In the two-week duration in which the tournament lasts, the number of balls used is approximately 48,000. You might wonder where these many balls end up after the game. Many of them are sold off at the venue, and the proceeds from their sales are handed over to the Australian Open Grants Program. The rest of the unused balls are recycled.
French Open Grand Slam
The French Open Grand Slam, also known as Roland Garros, has been in existence since 1891. It is 130 years old, thereby ranking as the third oldest tennis grand slam in history. It is one of the two grand slams held on the same continent.
Furthermore, It is the second grand slam of the year. It is held annually in the latter period of May and also lasts for two weeks. It is held in France at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. Both the tournament and the events center are named after the historic French aviator, Roland Garros.
The French Open grand slam has a distinct feature from the others. It is the only tournament held on clay grounds. The courts are made of red brick, drained rocks, clinker, and crushed limestone.
These clay courts tend to slow the pace of the balls, at the same time accelerating their bounce, thus putting big servers at a disadvantage. The French grand slam tournament is arguably the toughest and most challenging tournament of all four annual grand slams.
The grand prize of the game as of its last conduction in 2021 was £34,367,215. Nova Djakovic was declared overall winner of the season.
Up until 2020, all tennis balls used in the Roland Garros tournaments were produced by the French Company Babolat. The contract with them was terminated due to complaints spearheaded by both Roger Frederic and Nova Djokovic.
Their complaints stated that the balls accelerated higher and faster than other previously used balls. Babolat, in its defense, blamed the climate for their faulty balls and attempted to prove the efficiency of their balls, to no avail. The contract was withdrawn from them and handed over to Wilson Company.
Wimbledon Grand Slam
Wimbledon is regarded as the oldest of all tennis grand slams. It was first held in 1877 and has had 145 annual editions so far. It falls in mid-June and lasts for two weeks, sometimes encroaching into early July.
The event is generally considered the grandest and most prestigious of all tennis tournaments, being, in fact, the first-ever official tennis championship tournament. Its venue since 1902 has remained the English Lawn Tennis and Croquet Court in Wimbledon, London.
It is the only major tennis game to still be played on grass courts. The grass is the traditional playing surface for tennis, and Wimbledon Grand Slam is the only tournament that holds this legacy.
Another legacy it upholds is the strict all-white dress code for each of the competitors. Wimbledon tennis courts have, in recent times, been fitted with a retractable roof to prevent rainfall from disrupting game sessions.
The grand prize of the tournament as of its last occurrence was £35,000,000. Novac Djokovic stole the highlight of this season as well, having defeated Matteo Berrettini, Bjoro Berb, and some of the world’s top-notch tennis players to win the 6th Wimbledon title and his 20th gram slam title.
The highly talented player seems to be hell-bent on breaking records this year, as he becomes the fifth man to ever win the first three glam slams of the year. The year is a triumphant one for the Serbian.
Tennis balls are rapidly replaced during matches. At the end of the two-week duration for the championship match, the number of balls used during the match is approximately summed to 54,000. More exact speculation by the ITF places it at 54,250.
Balls used during this tournament are sold at the venue, and the profits return to the Wimbledon Foundation. Used balls which were not sold are either recycled or end up in landfills.
Slazenger has for ages retained its position as the official tennis-ball supplier to Wimbledon. Popular opinion has it that Slazenger produces the world’s most efficient tennis balls. The company has retained this position since 1902 and will remain so for a very long time.
The US Open Grand Slams
The United States Open Tennis Championship is the year’s final grand slam. It is held annually in August and lasts for two weeks.
It has existed for 140 years, having been inaugurated in 1880. The US Open Grand Slams is the second oldest of the four major tournaments.
It is held annually at the USTA Billie Jean National Tennis Centre in New York City, USA.
The ITF in 2020 barred spectators from viewing the matches live due to the massive surge of the covid 19. However, in 2021, spectators were allowed to converge, but they were expected to have previously undergone a Covid 19 test and also present a test result attesting to this fact.
Just like the Australian Open Grand Slam, the US grand slam is also played on hard courts. However, US tennis courts have acrylic surfaces, while those in Australia have synthetic surfaces.
Some hard courts might even have artificial grass. Hard courts are very popular and are more commonly used in most parts of the globe.
\The tennis grand slam tournament records the highest number of used tennis balls among all four. Official records show that an estimated 70,000 balls were used during the two weeks. Wilson company is the official supplier of tennis balls for the US Open Grand Slam.
While ITF recognizes the four tournaments mentioned above as major annual competitions, some people argue that the Olympics tournament should be awarded the grand slam title.
According to them, the Olympics tournament attracts as much fame as these four and is equally important. Winning an Olympic gold medal can be correlated to winning any of the grand slams.
However, the ITF has publicly addressed this and has concluded that only these four mentioned above are qualified to bear the grand slam title.
Do Tennis Balls Have Different Weight?
Tennis balls may look similar, but hence they are not manufactured by the same company. It would be impossible for every tennis ball to be exact replicas of each other.
However, the weight difference between tennis balls is minute, as the ITF has stated the official dimensions of a tennis ball. The diameter is supposed to fall between the range of 2.57 to 2.70 inches. Its weight should fall within 1.975 to 2.095 ounces.
Factors such as heat and humidity have effects on a tennis ball. Heat makes a tennis ball more elastic, thus bouncier, while humidity makes it thick and a bit bulkier.
In the grand slam tournaments, men’s tennis balls are a bit heavier than those of women. Men use extra-duty balls while women use regular-duty balls.
The tennis game requires the exertion of force and pressure. The masculine gender has proven its ability to withstand long periods of force exertions and hold its forte. While women are great tennis players, it would be tough for a female tennis player to beat a male player.
In John Enroe’s words, Serena Williams (World best Female tennis player) could not beat any male tennis player within the rank of 1-700, unless, of course, if he was sick or injured. This statement, of course, triggered a lot of controversial remarks worldwide.
My Favorite Tennis Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you’ll find my top tennis equipment recommendations would like.
- Racket: My preferred tennis racket is the Wilson Ultra 100 V3. This racket is made from graphite and carbon fiber, making it durable, firm, and easy to swing. The racket weighs 300g, making it lightweight yet not too lightweight to generate power. The racket’s main benefit is power. I like to add multifilament strings to the racket, such as Wilson NXT Soft 16 (recommended tension 52lb/23.5kg), because they are comfortable and soft on the arm with a great feel to the game.
- Tennis balls: Best tennis balls are always pressurized, and I like them having extra-duty felt, which is fit for hard court play. I like Penn Championship Tennis Balls, and so does the ITF because these balls are approved for competitive play. So yes, these are the real deal.
- Tennis shoes: I can’t stress enough the importance of comfortable and supporting shoes. ASICS Gel-Resolution 8 tennis shoes are unique because the balance between durability and support mixed with comfort is something out of the ordinary.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.