In response, I received a comment from none other than Rich Neher (tennis promoter and reporter for examiner.com) who informed me that there are methods of reinvigorating tennis balls. Curious, I researched the subject and discovered, to my surprise, much discussion, research and invention devoted to resuscitating the old guys. Who wouldn't want to breathe new life into their tennis buddies?
Men, women, stand-up comics, players and budgeteers of all kinds are interested in prolonging the life of their balls. And it can be done. Perhaps it should be done, because, apparently "playing with flat balls can increase the liklihood of tennis elbow". More importantly, however, "flat balls tend to behave in a less than consistent manner". No one likes inconsistent ball behavior. (see my prior post titled, "Balls Behaving Badly".)
Some players involved in the debate were skeptical and insensitive. "Used balls usually have less hair," said one protester. "It doesn't make sense to restore them." Clearly, vanity prevailed over compassion in her decision. She wouldn't bother with bald balls no matter their bounce.
"It's a gimmick. Wouldn't you rather play with brand new balls?" said another. (Sporting goods salesman, perhaps?)
WARNING: It is not a procedure to be taken lightly. The balls must undergo pre-operative testing to determine whether or not they are resuscitation worthy. First they are 'scragged' (stretched to a certain length). OUCH! Then, using a pneumatic 'pick and place' robotic arm, the ball is grabbed and rotated until placed in just the right position upon a platform. . .naked. After that, the brutal machine compresses the captive ball and applies extreme pressure to measure the force needed to squash it. (Hmm, 'mammogram' comes to mind.)
Once the 'deformation testing' is complete, there are a couple of options. Treatment in a microwave or conventional oven (barbaric and ineffective in the long run) leaves the ball traumatized and your baked goods tasting like old tennis ball. YUCK! While it's true that warm balls perform well, they tend to return to their deflated state upon cooling. Gamma ReviveTM with hand pump, or Tennis Ball SaverTM are more humane and effective choices. Whatever you decide, think through your answers to the following:
- Will the few added games on court outweigh the trauma experienced?
- How will my racquet respond to the improved and returning rival?
- If using the 'Pump N Bounce' TM model, do I have the time necessary to lubricate its O-ring?
(Next week's post: Love to Game, Scoring in My Favorite Sport.)