Tennis balls have become a point of controversy among pro players
Dec 04, 2023
Recently, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic voiced concerns (again) about the growing number of injuries he believes is due to the the variety of different tennis balls used on tour. And he's not the only player perplexed about it.
Djokovic said (via The Independent), "There has been a lot of discussions on the effect of the different balls every week on the joints, the wrist, the shoulders and the elbows... injuries this year comparing to other years [have] drastically has gone up."
The Express points to Carlos Alcaraz who recently said, “Well, they should do something about it because it's unbelievable that if we play three or four tournaments in a row, we play four tournaments with [a] different ball.”
Perfect Tennis cites a recent social media post from Stan Wawrinka stating, "I think it's time to look at the fact that many players are getting wrist injuries which could, possibly, be prevented by not changing every week [the type] of balls."
Above: Inside the contentious issue of tennis ball inconsistencies as cause for injuries on the pro circuit. YouTube: Perfect Tennis.
Veteran Candian Vasek Pospisil stated on X, "The balls have been getting incrementally heavier and surprise surprise, it's killing our bodies. Almost every player I've spoken to feels the same way. I've never seen more wrist, elbow and shoulder injuries in the locker room.”
Tennis365 reports Daniil Medvedev claimed, "You hit the ball ten times and you have the feeling that every time it becomes bigger, bigger and bigger. It swells a lot. I don’t want to feel shoulder pain for the rest of my life. I hope a solution can be found.”
Perhaps one of the top WTA pros, Jessica Pegula, sums it up best when it comes to the complexity surrounding the increasing weight and variety of tennis balls (via USA Today), "The ball issue is so elaborate... they can come from different manufacturers, [and] sometimes they're made differently." But court surfaces also play a role.
She cites some examples on tour: "In Cincinnati they didn't use a typical hard court, they used a different surface, which was like skinning the balls to going really, really small. In Montreal, they're all extra duty and were fluffing up like this (gestures the size of a cantaloupe) in two minutes. There's so many elements."
Pegula concludes, "They play different based on the conditions, the court surface, where they're coming in, what country you're in, who's playing with them. It literally is all over the place... I feel like I don't like any of the balls, so I just kind of took myself out of [the conversation]. But yeah, it's something we're going to have to look at."