I've been playing tennis for over four decades and have used just about every type of tennis ball imaginable. The best tennis balls are the newest tennis balls. Nothing beats opening a new can of tennis balls and being the first one to hit the new ball over the net.
Fun facts about the tennis balls used at the 2014 U.S. Open
Who makes U.S. Open tennis balls?
When I was a kid, I remember using Slazenger balls a lot, but over the years I've used just about every brand out there. There are dozens of other smaller tennis ball makers out there.
Tennis ball makers at other grand slam events
Number of tennis balls used each year at U.S. Open
A total of 70,000 tennis balls are used each year during the U.S. Open. That includes all balls used during practices and matches. To make that many tennis balls, Wilson uses some 4,000 pounds of rubber and over 700 square yards of felt. The total weight of 70,000 tennis balls, plus packaging, is around six tons -- or 12,000 pounds.
Fans can buy a tennis ball used in a U.S. Open match
Fans attending the U.S. Open in 2014 can buy a tennis ball that was used in tournament play for $10 each. Part of the money from each sale goes to the USTA Foundation, a charitable foundation that funds tennis and education programs for at-risk and disabled kids. U.S. Open tennis balls can be purchased in 2014 at Court 11 at the Meigray Group booth.
What is a tennis ball made of?
Tennis balls are made from rubber filled with pressurized air and covered with felt. The pressurized air encased in rubber is what makes the ball so bouncy. They pump about 12 pounds per square inch (PSI) into a tennis ball above the average air pressure at sea level.
Tennis ball colors
Tennis balls can be bought in just about any color imaginable. When I was a kid, we played with both white and yellow tennis balls. The color of the balls used at the U.S. Open is officially called optic yellow. That is supposed to be the most visible color for both players and TV viewers.
How long are tennis balls good for?
A tennis ball must bounce between 53 and 58 inches when dropped from a height of 100 inches to be used at the U.S. Open and other tennis events. That is the official rule used by both the USTA and ITC.
Unofficially, a tennis ball is still good if you hold it up at eye level and drop it and it bounces up to the height of your waist. Over the years, I've played with many tennis balls that had the felt worn smooth, and the bounce might come up to my knees.