Why tennis players have fuzzy balls…

After the worldwide attention given to the New England Patriots’ deflated balls a couple of months back, I began to wonder about other sports equipment.

(This is where Amy says things start to go terribly wrong)

Pondering it, I realized there are no other fuzzy balls in sports except tennis. If deflation is a problem in football we sure don’t want to introduce fuzzy balls on the gridiron. Quarterbacks all over the league reaching beneath a center to grasp fuzzy balls? I think the shotgun formation would be permanently adopted.
With all the spitting scratching, chewing, pine tar etc I don’t think baseball needs fuzzy balls. Besides it would rob baseball of the satisfying crack as bat meets ball.
I guess basketball players could get a better grip if they had fuzzy balls but it might affect their shooting.
I don’t see a plus for pool, racquetball, ping pong, golf or croquet.
The only thing I can think of is, bowling would be quieter.

So why do tennis players have fuzzy balls?

Going to the elephant graveyard where half-truths go to die – Google – we find that early tennis balls were made by Scottish craftsmen from a wool-wrapped stomach of a sheep or goat and tied with rope. Unfortunately many of these balls were mistaken for Haggis appetizers and were eaten before tennis season could begin.



Other early tennis balls were constructed from a combination of putty and human hair or  materials such as animal fur, rope made from animal intestines and muscles, and pine wood…basically any old crap one could find laying around in the 1600’s


In 1882 a clever Englishman adopted the failed idea of wrapping automobile tires with stout tartan cloth. He tried wrapping rubber tennis balls with felt…and tennis’ fuzzy balls were born.




We also find that there are both pressurized and pressureless balls used in tennis. There has never been a deflated fuzzy balls scandal in tennis…however it is believed that something about that was yelled by Bobby Riggs at Billy Jean King.

I know you are asking (or maybe it’s just me)…what happens to all those used tennis balls? There aren’t enough dogs in the world to recycle them.


Balls from Wimbledon are now recycled to provide field homes for the nationally threatened Eurasian harvest mouse. Studies are underway to see if the mice would prefer a different house color.

The gift of tennis balls offered by the French in Shakespeare’s Henry V is portrayed as the final insult which re-ignites the Hundred Years’ War
‘When we have match’d our rackets to these balls, We will, in France, by God’s grace, play a set’

They should have sent a nice fruit basket…


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