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View Full Version : BIGGER BALLS FOR TENNIS - AN UNHAPPY SOLUTION


Markus Kaila
02-19-2004, 12:33 AM
Throughout the new millennium there has been widespread consideration of changing to
different tennis balls on different surfaces - at least in professional tennis. Behind this lies the
notion that the game would to a greater extent be a similar sport, when, because of a slight
variation in the properties of the ball, the nature of the game and matches would become
more alike on different surface materials. This is also considered to mean that players would
not necessarily spelialize so largely in different types of courts as today, but at least in
principal everyone would be able to manage (almost) as well - or badly as the case may be -
on different surfaces. On faster grounds slower balls and accordingly on slower courts faster
balls would be used, while the present traditional ball would be retained for semi-fast or
semi-slow courts. Seems fair and logical, but have those who introduced the idea, given it
enough thought. Hardly so.

As the prime annual tennis event is played on grass ie. THE fastest surface, development of
the idea has concentrated only on how to change the balls in order to suitably slow down the
game on faster grounds. This way the entity of the game has been left without proper
consideration as has the result of the proposed solution of 6 per cent bigger balls. In public
we have seen some ostensibly theoretical measurings of how increasing air resistance and
decreasing ball bounce affect the receiver´s reaction time. Plus, practically in lab conditions,
with some testees there has been a slight increase on the average duration of points. That´s
all. Even when enlightened with this information it is not at all certain that the actual
problem ( excessive easiness of keeping your serve, in result of which the points played are
short plainly tedious for the audience, who, when it comes to that, pays the entire sport )
will necessarily be much for the better. ( Lost you there, didn´t I? )

Consequences

For argument´s sake, let´s presume that due to, for instance, increasing air resistance the
receiver has `sufficiently´ more time to get hold of the ball than at present. Now all grass
tournaments are naturally outdoors. The worst inconvenience and, at times, regular nuisance
in outdoor tennis is rain. The increased air resistance slowing down the speed of the ball
means accordingly that it ( the ball ) is more exposed to wind. In addition to today´s rain
pauses we would now have wind pauses as well. This would naturally not occur as often as
in, say, ski-jumping, but for a tennis enthusiast every time would be one too many, when in
live coverage the commentator would start:`The situation here at Wimbledon is desolate, the
flags flutter horizontally, there is way too much wind and in gusts, too. As of know, we
have no idea of when the matches will start.´ The example may be far-fetched, but the
meaning of it is to show that growing air resistance has its reverse side. On the other hand,
the wind inconvenience factor will not be that much greater because of the small increase in
air resistance, but in the end also that minimal increase in the receiver´s time to react bears
no practical meaning.

The growing impact of spins might also be considered a defect with bigger balls. In fact, this
may be enough to deprive the player of the alleged advantage when receiving. On the other
hand, the desired powerful spin becomes harder to achieve. As a result, players will
obviously change for extra-large frames. The disputes over line decisions will probably be
more frequent, too. This may be considered trivial, the umpire is the one to make the
decisions, but public rows do not agree very well with the gentleman spirit of tennis. The
amount of various arm injuries might also increase because of the extra power needed to get
the desired result even in the so called clear-cut situations. The least of the bigger ball
disadvantages will probably be the randomness brought along by the larger amount of
net-cord balls. The rhytm of the play will also slow down with considerably more net
serves.

Matters to consider

Man has stereo sight to judge distances. However, this ability is not as advanced with all
people, even when counting out those whose one eye is weaker to start with. Persons with
weaker ability can in common situations more or less make up for it with their experience:
they can thread the needle and hit the tennis ball. The essential issue here is that dimensions
have become so familiar that they can judge distances correctly, though naturally never as
well as those people with a particularly good stereo sight. As bigger tennis balls would only
be used for one part of the season, the changing of the balls might for some players prove
out to be such an extra hindrance that they would perhaps prefer to skip that part of the
season altogether. Thus, the players´ specialization for different kinds of surfaces would
rather be strengthened than lessened, which was the initial intention.

As mentioned above, the better spin qualities of bigger balls will lead to a greater amount of
maximum-sized racket frames. Also, a very swift change to maximum-length (ie. longbody)
rackets is to be expected. Most of the current top players use use 27 inch rackets. They are
simply used to them and never have had the actual need to learn to play with 29 inch
rackets, which according to rules are accessible.

If bigger balls threaten to become reality for example at Wimbledon, at least players who
base their game on serve, will decide to switch to these extra-long rackets. After they have
cursed the bad hits they get with greater balls, as well as noticed that the empirical part of
their evaluation of distance does not work; they tend to hit with the head of the racket, they
figure change of equipment will solve the problem. Especially on hard courts there is so little
`basic court play´ in their game that the risk of its deterioration may well be taken. Then
what? With extra-long rackets and bigger balls they feel that their basic play is much better
than with the familiar standard rackets and strange big balls. Actually the game feels much
the same as now with ordinary rackets and balls. The explanation is simple: when you play
with these six per cent bigger balls from a six per cent longer distance it seems/feels similar
to your present playing. At this context it might be taken for an accurate enough fact that the
distance between the player´s eye and the ball is c. one metre at the instant of the hit. The
`necessary´ six per cent surplus will be acquired almost exactly with these two inches longer
rackets. Of course, the situation is not quite the same as now: gravitation does not increase
six per cent, but at the time of shorter swings and lighter rackets there will be no real
problems in timing.

Naturally those players who do not belong to the group mentioned above, will soon find out
that they - especially they - need more reach at least to their serve and at the same time
realise that their stronger sections do not deteriorate in consequence. The afore mentioned
one metre distance applies for the serve,too. Adjustment cannot be too difficult for them
either.

As the tennis season rolls on, it is hardly likely that players would en masse return to their
shorter rackets at the introduction of slower courts and normal-sized balls. The hits would
tend to be too close ( to the body ), but in an era of larger frames it is not such an issue as
the other way round. So, as the season turns to one of its peaks, the French Open, players
will have larger angles at their disposal and the receiver´s part will be even worse than today.
In addition, the `rule renewal´ included the idea of faster balls for slower ie. clay courts. It is
very likely that this kind of situation would develop quite quickly. After all, it would not
require such a new type of predominant player as at the racket revolution of the eighties.

Conclusion

Modern technology has made it possible to generate rackets which combine power and
accuracy in a completely new manner. As players have simultaneously become even more
athletic, the debate on how to slow down the game has started. At this context regrettably
little attention has been paid to what we want to slow down. No one has complained that
some players hit their ground strokes or volleys so hard that - for public convenience - the
opponent cannot reach them or the audience is unable to see the (too-) fast flying ball. This
cannot not be a problem as little as it is a problem when 100 metre runners become faster.
With bigger balls tennis might altogether lose the fine strokes from the back of the court or
putting the opponent under pressure from there. This would lead into a growing desire/need
to seal the point at the very start and it was longer rallies we were supposed to be after! This
also applies for the idea of using using slower surface materials. As to the basic problem, the
excessive importance of the serve, the `renewal´ may indeed be opposite to its original
intentions.

A friend of tennis must with more or less mixed feelings wait for the next `biggest innovation
since shorts´. Heureka! Let´s make it public here and now. The net must be heightened and
guess how much? Two inches ie. six per cent naturally. But `Net-heightening - an unhappy
solution´ would be its own story.

Markus Kaila & Antti Karttinen
Tampere, Finland

Stinkdyr
02-20-2004, 06:39 AM
crikey but you fins can prattle on! (just joshing) Anyhow, if you are going to date the devil, you might as well just raise the net an inch....what the heck, it is the quickest easiest solution to slowing the game down if that is your goal.

marty fewcott
02-20-2004, 01:04 PM
My problem with "slowing the game down" is that there are 2 games of pro tennis. Womens and Mens.

Slower womens tennis? No thanks. Most girls' second serves would be smacked for a winner. Speed it up instead. Use faster balls for womens matches.

Slower mens tennis? Might it end up like womens tennis where the lesser players can't even hold serve? Not sure a 6-0, 6-0, 6-0 round one is going to do the game much good. Verkerk served his way to the French final (where they use the fastest balls), Karlovic served Hewitt out of Wimby. Without those type of upsets we might as well skip the first week.

A higher net would probably kill the slice backhand, leaving us with 2 handed uniformity. Don't imagine there would be much volleying...

Not sure there actually is a problem with too much speed.

tennisplayer
02-20-2004, 06:44 PM
Bigger balls? Sounds like a great idea... wait a minute... are we talking tennis... never mind!

Joe Oldschool
02-20-2004, 06:48 PM
This "debate" drives me crazy. The balls don't have to be changed and the net doesn't have to be raised. SLOW DOWN THE COURTS.

I too prefer to see tactical tennis rather than 1-2 shot points. This is why clay is the ultimate surface for modern tennis. It suits the modern power game beautifully by forcing players to use a little strategy to set up points and leaves room for net play and drop shot/finesse/angles.

I have maintained for years now that the U.S. Open and other hard court tournaments should add a little more sand to the paint (i.e. slow down the courts some). That leaves grass as the only "overly fast" surface, which makes it a nice change of pace. Besides grass is unique in other ways that bring out its own "flavor".

But for crying out loud, slow down the hard courts already. I am not really a fan of tennis on concrete anyway. (too hard on the body - but that's another rant altogether)

peace :!:

Max G.
02-20-2004, 07:35 PM
This "debate" drives me crazy. The balls don't have to be changed and the net doesn't have to be raised. SLOW DOWN THE COURTS.

I too prefer to see tactical tennis rather than 1-2 shot points. This is why clay is the ultimate surface for modern tennis. It suits the modern power game beautifully by forcing players to use a little strategy to set up points and leaves room for net play and drop shot/finesse/angles.

I have maintained for years now that the U.S. Open and other hard court tournaments should add a little more sand to the paint (i.e. slow down the courts some). That leaves grass as the only "overly fast" surface, which makes it a nice change of pace. Besides grass is unique in other ways that bring out its own "flavor".

But for crying out loud, slow down the hard courts already. I am not really a fan of tennis on concrete anyway. (too hard on the body - but that's another rant altogether)

peace :!:

SLOW DOWN THE COURTS?!?!?!?!

ARE YOU INSANE?!?!?!

WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO, KILL S&V ENTIRELY??!??!?!

I prefer to see EXCITING tennis - serve and volley! The claycourt battles can stay on, well, the clay - no place for them elsewhere. I just wish there was a grasscourt season as long as the claycourt season, so the true netrushers could have a chance to shine.

Markus Kaila
02-21-2004, 03:30 AM
Joe Oldschool, do you really want still more leg injuries than we have now? Those tacky artificial surfaces are not at all healthy for pro-tennis where forces differ much from amateur tennis.

Joe Oldschool
02-21-2004, 06:57 AM
No, I do not want to see more injuries and I do not want to "Kill serve and Volley". I like serve and volley tennis A LOT!

However, there is a difference between serve and volley tennis (i.e. Sampras and Rafter) and SERVE tennis (i.e. Ivanisevic and Roddick). Real SandV's need a split second to get to the net. Sampras, Edberg, and Rafter were all awesome SandV's and none of them smoked their first serves (Edberg ALWAYS came in on his second as well). It's about placement and tactics. Rafter claimed to like slower hardcourts because they gave his kick serve more kick and gave him time to get into position at the net. For G-d's sake, McEnroe nearly won the French by SandV! Other SandV's have had good luck there as well - and the French courts are some of the slowest clay courts imaginable due to their composition.

As far as injuries go, that's why hard courts blow. Rebound Ace being the worst because its sticky when hot. Grass and clay are the best surfaces to prevent injury, period.

Finally, "those tacky artificial surfaces"? Exactly how "natural" is any form of concrete?

Markus Kaila
02-24-2004, 04:04 AM
As far as injuries go, that's why hard courts blow. Rebound Ace being the worst because its sticky when hot. Grass and clay are the best surfaces to prevent injury, period.

Finally, "those tacky artificial surfaces"? Exactly how "natural" is any form of concrete?

It seems that we have same opinions, because I believe that it would be a real blessing for pro tennis if it could entirely get rid of all artificial surface materials. Two grand slams on red clay, two on grass; back to the roots of tennis!

Sorry Lleyton and Andre, I have nothing against you but....Ankle braces are coming into too general use in tennis.....

python
02-24-2004, 04:32 AM
Hard courts are the ultimate "fair" court. Both attacking players and counter-punchers can win on them, unlike grass and clay which are clearly slanted to a certain style of play.

Get used to them, folks. Hard courts aren't going anywhere.

Markus Kaila
02-24-2004, 07:53 PM
Hard courts are the ultimate "fair" court. Both attacking players and counter-punchers can win on them, unlike grass and clay which are clearly slanted to a certain style of play.

Are you telling that the last two Wimbledon winners (Federer and Hewitt) cannot win in French Open?

chad shaver
02-24-2004, 08:00 PM
Uh, no. He did not say that. He said that grass favors the serve and S&V players, and that clay favors the heavy topspin baseliners. Hard courts allow both styles to compete on a more equal basis.

Markus Kaila
02-25-2004, 02:37 AM
There are many who think that serve&volley tennis is dying out. But.... I think the most players appreciate the Wimbledon trophy more than any other. Now you (and/or Python) claims that Wimbledon with its grass favors S&V players. Indirectly I can draw a conclusion that you think the players of today aren't interested in winning Wimbledon. I disagree. It is still the most desired trophy. The same tennis-player (Let's suppose his name is John Lonfellow) can as well win on grass as on clay (or on carpet or hard) if he only have fast serves to the corners of the service courts.

Or do you want some real names?

python
02-25-2004, 03:49 AM
There are many who think that serve&volley tennis is dying out. But.... I think the most players appreciate the Wimbledon trophy more than any other. Now you (and/or Python) claims that Wimbledon with its grass favors S&V players. Indirectly I can draw a conclusion that you think the players of today aren't interested in winning Wimbledon. I disagree. It is still the most desired trophy. The same tennis-player (Let's suppose his name is John Lonfellow) can as well win on grass as on clay (or on carpet or hard) if he only have fast serves to the corners of the service courts.

Or do you want some real names?

Markus-

I really don't know where that came from. Of course, anyone would be proud to win Wimbledon. Do you really disagree that Wimbledon favors a S&V style? Whatever.

Markus Kaila
02-25-2004, 11:37 PM
I am afraid that you are still living in McEnroe's or Edberg's time. It is no more even Sampras' era.

"You need only to watch Wimbledon for proof. This year (2002) at Wimbledon, the grass inside the service box was not worn and chewed
up as it was twenty years ago. The baseline, on the other hand, was a mess. I think all would agree that Wimbledon is the place
where S&V players are able to showcase their skills. If we use Wimbledon as the barometer or forecast of playing styles, then
clearly S&V tennis is on the decline."

The whole text:
http://www.geocities.com/edhead01us/era.html

jayserinos99
02-26-2004, 02:02 AM
There are many who think that serve&volley tennis is dying out. But.... I think the most players appreciate the Wimbledon trophy more than any other. Now you (and/or Python) claims that Wimbledon with its grass favors S&V players. Indirectly I can draw a conclusion that you think the players of today aren't interested in winning Wimbledon. I disagree. It is still the most desired trophy.

First off, what is your proof that Wimbledon is the most coveted championships to win?

The same tennis-player (Let's suppose his name is John Lonfellow) can as well win on grass as on clay (or on carpet or hard) if he only have fast serves to the corners of the service courts.

Not necessarily. You need more than a serve to win a GS (if so, then Ivanesevic would have more than one slam).

Or do you want some real names?

I can think of one name. Borg. But his game contradicts your previous point.

Anyways, your posts tend to ramble on many different tangents which leave us a bit confused. Especially the last one.

I am afraid that you are still living in McEnroe's or Edberg's time. It is no more even Sampras' era.

Very odd you say that you say that especially since there has only been two 'baseliners' that have won Wimbledon the past 12 years (Agassi, Hewitt).

2003 R. Federer (SUI) 4 M. Phillippoussis (AUS) U 7-6 (7-5), 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) 116
2002 L. Hewitt (AUS) 1 D. Nalbandian (ARG) 28 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 117
2001 G. Ivanisevic (CRO) U P.M. Rafter (AUS) 3 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 2-6, 9-7 181
2000 P. Sampras (USA) 1 P.M. Rafter (AUS) 12 6-7 (10-12), 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, 6-2 182
1999 P. Sampras (USA) 1 A.K. Agassi (USA) 4 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 115
1998 P. Sampras (USA)
1 G. Ivanisevic (CRO) 14 6-7 (2-7), 7-6 (11-9), 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 172
1997 P. Sampras (USA) 1 C.A. Pioline (FRA) U 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 94
1996 R.P.S. Krajicek (NED) S M.O. Washington (USA) U 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 94
1995 P. Sampras (USA) 2 B.F. Becker (GER) 3 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 149
1994 P. Sampras (USA) 1 G. Ivanisevic (CRO) 4 7-6 (7-2), 7-6 (7-5), 6-0 115
1993 P. Sampras (USA) 1 J.S. Courier (USA) 3 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 6-3 178
1992 A.K. Agassi (USA) 12 G. Ivanisevic (CRO) 8 6-7 (8-10), 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 170


http://wimbledon.com/en_GB/about/championships/menroll.html

Anyways, I'm getting tired of this post (seeing as it is 3am), so let me end this whole thing with...

http://www.flamehq.com/albums/wpw-c4/bill.jpg

polakosaur
02-26-2004, 09:40 AM
tennis is good the way it is its only fast for the professionals the game us regular people play is fine the way it is, the professionals are supposed to play that way its at the highest level of our human ability

Markus Kaila
03-01-2004, 12:14 AM
"About bigger tennis balls, you
blockhead, havn't you read what the topic is"

jayserinos99
03-01-2004, 12:18 AM
You're funny. Why don't you try to answer the rest of the post before you answer the picture?

jayserinos99
03-01-2004, 12:24 AM
Let me break it down like this Markus. You go on to ramble on different points in each of your posts, thus straying from your original topic of bigger tennis balls. My post with the picture exempifies my point. Really now, let's not get too childish or personal or start any flame wars. I have respect for your opinions even though I totally disagree with them.

Markus Kaila
03-01-2004, 01:49 AM
I totally disagree with them.

OK. Yes, but I am afraid that you even haven't read the original 1st message!
If you disagree me, you can of course tell what is wrong with this:

http://www.3malli.net/bballs.html

jayserinos99
03-01-2004, 07:58 AM
I have read the initial post. And even then that rambles somewhat. However, here's my point. Why bother with changing the balls, or the courts, or the racquets if the players are going to always adjust? It's human nature. Take players now versus players in the eras prior to the 90s. Total commitment to training wasn't as commonplace as it is now. One of the first players to really set that tone was Ivan Lendl. Nowadays top players have personal trainers as well as coaches (there are exceptions to the rule, see Federer as an example). And add the fact that players are naturally taller and bigger than before and of course the game will change.

Markus Kaila
03-10-2004, 05:38 AM
I have read the initial post. And even then that rambles somewhat. However, here's my point. Why bother with changing the balls, or the courts, or the racquets if the players are going to always adjust?....... And add the fact that players are naturally taller and bigger than before and of course the game will change.

Just curious: What are the parts which ramble most? Besides, if you don't appreciate my arguments although also you dislike bigger tennis balls I hope that you can tell better ones to all of us!

The balls have changed (at least the colour), the courts have changed (at least surfaces), racquets have entirely changed, players have changed. Even the rules (tie-break most important.) Thus the game has changed very much and is changing all the time. Too much, says even Mark Miles. In order to make the total change- how to say- only moderate we have to do some kind of contra change. Otherwise the sport will change quite too much.

The smaller service court (as it has been told in another thread) will reestablish tennis as it was in its golden era (1960's and 1970's).

jayserinos99
03-10-2004, 08:43 AM
First off, you don't have any responses to my previous posts except to either berate me (the picture) or to refer back to the first post. It obviously looks like you don't care to reply back in an intelligent manner. Second, you cut out the proof in my statements to make your point.

And like I said previously, why change it if the pros constantly adjust? Just because basketball players are taller and stronger than before you don't make the rim higher do you?

Markus Kaila
03-14-2004, 11:01 AM
And like I said previously, why change it if the pros constantly adjust? Just because basketball players are taller and stronger than before you don't make the rim higher do you?

At least then it would be reasonable when pro-players make more points by dunking than by throwing.

Markus Kaila
09-15-2004, 01:02 AM
And like I said previously, why change it if the pros constantly adjust? Just because basketball players are taller and stronger than before you don't make the rim higher do you?

At least then it would be reasonable when pro-players make more points by dunking than by throwing.

Jayserino99 wrote in the neighbouring topic ( "A Proposal"): "We on the boards are tired of proving you wrong." Am I wrong also in the above opinion?

jayserinos99
09-15-2004, 01:54 AM
What are you trying to say? That you would like to see more dunking in basketball than team play? If you watched the olympics the US Mens Basketball team tried to play the individual style of basketball instead of good team basketball and thus were beat by better teams that were unselfish. If you follow the NBA, the finals were also a great example of team basketball versus individual play. The Lakers had the two best players in O'Neal and Bryant but once the Pistons shut them down and played the game at their tempo, then the Lakers had no answer for them.

Like I said in your only other thread, go to the powers that be and take it up with them. It's gotten old on these boards.

Phil
09-15-2004, 01:55 AM
Just curious: What are the parts which ramble most?

All of them.

Markus Kaila
09-15-2004, 02:51 AM
Just curious: What are the parts which ramble most?

All of them.

Then you must be an eager supporter of bigger balls for tennis.
And I hope you begin a new topic for example: "Bigger Balls for Tennis- A Brilliant Idea".

Markus Kaila
10-06-2004, 04:28 AM
"Change the balls: In the late 1990s, the International Tennis Federation
introduced two new balls, one to speed up play on slow surfaces, another
to slow play on fast surfaces. The "slow ball," which weighs the same as a
standard ball but is 6 percent larger (extra surface creates more wind
resistance, decreasing velocity), can offer up to 5 percent more time to
read a serve. But players hated the new balls, fearing they would cause
more injuries. Tournament directors sided with the players, and
manufacturers stopped making the balls. That's probably a good thing.
What happens when players start hitting the big ball as fast as a standard
one? Soon, they'd be slugging those giant tennis balls that kids dangle out
of the stands for autographs."

The whole article is here:
What's That Racket? How high-tech equipment is destroying tennis. By Nick Schulz

http://slate.msn.com/id/2103263/

Now I am quite sure that the story about oversized tennis balls has come to its end at least in pro tennis. Tennis needs better and real solutions "to slow down the game".

Markus Kaila
05-18-2005, 11:56 PM
I wrote: "Now I am quite sure that the story about oversized tennis balls has come to its end at least in pro tennis." But am I still wrong??

I noticed that even today there is on the web-site of ITF still something like this:

"Whilst the rule allows for three types of balls to be used on any surface:

> Ball Type 1 (fast speed) is intended for play on slow pace court surfaces.
> Ball Type 2 (medium speed) is intended for play on medium/medium-fast pace court surfaces.
> Ball Type 3 (slow speed) is intended for play on fast pace court surfaces.

What is the effect of playing with the Type 1 (fast speed) ball?

Type 1 balls have, in effect, been in use for some time, particularly in countries where clay is the predominant surface. Impact studies on slow surfaces have shown that the Type 1 ball rebounds both faster and at a lower angle off the surface, thus helping to speed up the game on these surfaces.

What is the effect of playing with the Type 3 (slow speed) ball?

The larger Type 3 ball flies off the racket at the same speed as a standard ball. Aerodynamic studies show, however, that a 6% larger ball will have a 12% increase in drag force. Such a ball will therefore slow down more quickly during it’s flight and give the receiver about 10% more reaction time, compared to a standard ball."

The whole text:
http://www.itftennis.com/abouttheitf/rulesregs/balls.asp

And once again my opinion:
http://www.3malli.net/bballs.html