The History and Evolution of the Tennis Ball
Song-writer and performance poet from New York City, Siobahn Hotaling started a music career at 16, and has become a hobby she has continued throughout her life. During her free time, Siobahn Hotaling also enjoys working out, writing, and playing tennis.
Tennis or Lawn tennis is a sport in which two or more players strike a ball with rackets over a stretched net on a rectangular court. Developed in the 1870s, lawn tennis originated from the game of royal tennis or real tennis that had been played for centuries. The royal game of tennis differed from lawn tennis in the size of the court, method of scoring, and the ball used in playing. Tennis, especially doubles, is a great social sport; Siobahn Hotaling is a member of the Metropolitan Tennis Group, New York City’s gay and lesbian tennis league.
The ball used in lawn tennis weighs about two ounces, is made of rubber, and is covered in felt. While tennis balls have always been made of rubber, the properties have been improved upon to better the game.
The first known lawn tennis balls were made of rubber and imported from Germany by Walter Clopton Wingfield, a Welsh inventor. The imported balls were made using a vulcanization process that involved pressurizing the hollow core of the ball with gas. The balls were a light grey or black and had no covering.
Later on, an English barrister and real tennis player, John Moyer Heathcote, suggested covering the tennis ball in flannel cloth which was later replaced by a special melton cloth. Finally, in 1972, the International Tennis Federation introduced yellow tennis balls into the game because of research that proved that brighter colored balls were more visible to viewers.