What Are Tennis Balls Made Of?

As has happened to everything related to tennis, with the passing of the years and the technological advances also the balls have evolved. Find out what material tennis balls are made of.
What are tennis balls made of?

Today we will discover what tennis balls are made of and for this reason it is inevitable to talk about the sport in which they are used. Balls have changed a lot from the beginnings of tennis until today.

The evolution of tennis balls

Tennis was first played in 1870 and, unlike today, balls were made of leather or cloth and stuffed with rags or horsehair.

Rubber tennis balls, very similar to those of today, developed in India. They quickly became the standard for tennis matches.

Originally the tennis balls were black or white but in the 70s the International Tennis Federation introduced the yellow ones because the bright color allowed greater visibility on television.

The visibility of the yellow tennis balls

Currently the International Tennis Federation has established rules on the standard size, composition and color of the balls to be used for matches.

The measurements are:

  • a diameter that oscillates between 6541 and 6858 millimeters (it can never be greater or less than this)
  • a weight that fluctuates between 56.0 and 59.4 grams.

The only color allowed is yellow with white lines, this is because it is the color that allows better visibility for both players and spectators, as we have already said before.

Instead, as far as the composition is concerned, they are two half circles of rubber or rubber that come together. At the center, pressurized air is injected; a precise amount of air that allows the ball to bounce properly.

Once the air is injected, the balls are covered with glue and pieces of yellow felt are added to this.

From the felt cover to the center of the rubber, there are generally excellent materials although in some cases recycled PET material is used.

Processing

The complete tennis ball is heated to make the glue form a stamp, which holds the two canvas walls together. For the elaboration of the tennis balls it is necessary to follow precise steps:

  • The process begins by mixing a high purity natural rubber with chemical components.
  • When it is perfectly smooth and homogeneous, the mixture turns into the ball. Each ball is made with the utmost precision and the same weight.
  • The balls are placed in molds which, under pressure, transform them into semicircles.
  • The edges are cleaned to make them as smooth as possible and are joined with an adhesive rubber.
  • The halves are placed in another mold where they fuse them together to get a complete core of the ball, with just the right pressure.
Tennis match
  • During this process, the degree of pressure, equivalent to twice the earth’s atmosphere, is carefully controlled and sealed at the center. This pressurized core of the ball is scraped, to better hold the glue and to be able to apply the coating.
  • The ideal mix is ‚Äč‚Äčnylon and pre-tensioned felt, to avoid losses both in production and in the game. Then, a mechanical press cuts out the mold with the shape that the ball will have.
  • Finally, when the ball reaches the right conditions, the logo is imprinted.

In the end

In the final step, the balls are inserted into hermetically sealed plastic tubes with a pressure of approximately two atmospheres. This is to avoid any loss of pressure before they reach the tennis courts.

In professional tournaments, one ball is not used for more than nine games. This short period of time is sufficient for small deformations to arise in the surface.

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