What are the relative effects of heat, altitude and ball type exactly?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by HughJars, Jun 10, 2013.

  1. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    Keep hearing on the tv commentators saying the court is playing 'heavy' cos of the conditions, but just wondering to what extent does heat, altitude and ball type effect a game? And why? Are they micro differences, or can they be easily noticed even by an amatuer?

    At training last night, it was cold, and it seemed like the ball was bouncing lower and coming on to the racket slower. Dont know if it was one of those days or the atmospheric conditions.

    Also, the different ball types commonly used - what are the attributes/characterisitcs of them, and do they impact the game very much?
    i.e Wilson 1,2,3,4?
    Ball used at French Open (Dunlop?)
    Slazenger used at Wimbledon (not sure what number)

    When I play with my mate we always try to use Wilson 4's.

    Thanks
     
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  2. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Hotter it get's, faster the ball moves and the higher it bounces, and the lighter it feels when you crush it fast.
    Higher the altitude, the the faster the ball moves, the higher it bounces, the reason for high altitude balls.
    DunlopHDHardCourtChamps feel like rocks, bounce low, stay alive the longest.
    Penns just bounce higher and feel softer.
    Wilson's fly the farthest off your racket, and bounce the highest.
    Depending on WHICH model of the balls, of course.
     
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  3. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    They make a huge difference...

    ...opposite end of the spectrum is here in the Rocky Mountains Front Range, elevation 5200 feet above sea level. We play with High Altitude balls (I like Penn), but on a hot, windy day, like it's been lately, regardless of manufacturer, the ball just explodes off the court. It's all you can do to keep it in the court.

    Regardless of the altitude, I like Penn Championship Extra Duty, everything else, especially Wilson is garbage, IMHO. Regardless of the ball, two sets is all you're going to get out of a can (I always open two cans), just as it doesn't matter what kind of strings you use as long as you change them out every 8 to 10 hours, max...
     
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  4. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Your Wilson 4 is no different that the Wilson 1, 2, or 3 assuming that they all have the same felt/duty (regular duty vs extra duty) and are the same model. Common models are Wilson Championship (recreational ball), or the premium balls -- Wilson US Open or Wilson Australian Open. Regular duty balls are often used for women's events or for clay courts while extra duty is used for men's events (except for clay).

    The bounce of a pressurized tennis ball is significantly affected by temp and by altitude. The bounce of a pressurized ball is related to the ball's internal pressure relative to the external pressure. At high altitudes, the external pressure is significantly lower the pressure at sea level so regular will be too lively at high altitudes. Either a pressureless ball or a high altitude ball is used for high altitudes.

    P = nRT/V

    If you do not recognize the equation, it is the ideal gas law. It indicates that the (internal) Pressure of a ball is directly related to Temperature. The Volume of the ball (V) as well as n and R can all be considered constants. This tells us why pressurized ball are more lively on warm/hot days than cold days.
     
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  5. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    ^^ I agree with skiracer55. Wilson Championship balls are garbage. The Penn Championship balls are better but tend to lose too much pressure/bounce after 2 sets of play. Penn also seems to put one substandard ball in every can of Penn Champs. Dunlop Championship ball are stiffer than the Penns. They are also better than the Wilson Champs.

    The Wilson US Open balls (either regualr duty or extra duty) are a better choice than any of the Championship balls. They are a premium ball. The quality is more consistent than the Penn Champs and the Wilson Champs and they last longer. However, certain players tend to fluff up the extra duty USO balls. Players who hit a lot of low skidding shots (flat or with underspin) seem to make these balls fluff up quite a bit.
     
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  6. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    Awesome. These are great explanations. Thanks.

    My experience with Wilson balls is that there a huge differences between the 1,2,3 and 4.

    Bought a few cans of the Aus Open ball, and they fluffed up and turned to garbage pretty quickly. The Wilson 4's seem to have much greater durability. Saying that, my hitting partner does hit low, flat shots. I hit mid range. And we always play on hardcourt.

    I havent seen any Penns in Oz. I have used Head balls, and they really kick massively. As for Slazengers, it seems random what they can do.
     
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  7. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Don't forget the other major factor; humidity.

    More humid it is, less dense the air is and your ball will fly faster.
     
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  8. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    In simple terms, hot air raises. The hotter the temperature, more "air" (really a collection of various gases) have enough kinetic energy to randomly move to higher altitudes. So, as the ball travels through the air, there's less "air" for the ball to lose its kinetic energy in the form of friction. So the ball doesn't slow down as much.

    Whereas in colder temperatures, the "air" does not have enough kinetic energy to enter higher altitudes, so it's closer to the ground. Where me and you are, thus the ball has to go through more "air" mid-flight, and loses more kinetic energy to friction.

    Same principle applies to high altitude tennis. There's already less "air" there because of the high altitude. That's why tournaments like Madrid tend to be the fastest of the clay season. (S*** got really fast when it was blue! :) )
     
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  9. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    You mean less humid it is right? :confused:
     
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  10. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    Nope, game boy is correct. Most people get this way wrong.

    Here is a snippet from the following site (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/weather/wdensity.htm)

    Humidity and air density

    Most people who haven't studied physics or chemistry find it hard to believe that humid air is lighter, or less dense, than dry air. How can the air become lighter if we add water vapor to it?

    Scientists have known this for a long time. The first was Isaac Newton, who stated that humid air is less dense than dry air in 1717 in his book, Optics. But, other scientists didn't generally understand this until later in that century.
     
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  11. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Unless Wilson balls are marketed differently Down Under, which I seriously doubt, the 1,2,3,4 designation has nothing to do with the parameters or playing characteristics of the balls. These numbers are used by most manufacturers merely to minimize the chance that your balls will be mixed up with balls from an adjacent court. There is no ball product from Wilson known as "Wilson 4". Check the Wilson web site and the TW site. You will not find balls sold as Wilson 4 balls.

    If the balls you are using are the Wilson Championship or one of their other recreation balls (such as the Grand Slam balls) it is possible that you may have seen some variation from one lot to the next since the quality can be variable with the cheaper models. It is more likely, however, that you have played with Wilson balls with different numbers on different courts or under different environmental conditions. There should be no consistent difference between a Wilson 4 and a Wilson 1, 2, or 3.

    Penn and Head balls are the same thing. The Penn name is used in the US whereas the Head name is used for balls in most of the rest of the planet.
     
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  12. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Affects of temperature differences can definitely be felt by amateurs.
     
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  13. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    Well ya learn something everyday!

    I swear that there seemed to be differences between the numbers, or at least inconsistencies from can to can. Its annoying actually.

    Ill buy a couple of cans of the head balls, cos they seem to go alright.

    What about the Slazenger 1,2,3 etc.?
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2013
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  14. Chemist

    Chemist Rookie

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    Moist Air May be Lighter but Tennis Balls Become Heavier

    You and GameBoy are right about the air density, namely, moist air is less dense than dry air.

    However, one has to also consider the other impacts of the moist air on tennis balls. Balls would absorb moisture and become heavier, and won't bounce as high or travel as fast. The friction between the balls and air might also increase with humidity. The folks who play tennis in a light rain on clay would know quickly balls get heavier and land shorter really fast.... High humidity would also reduce perspiration and make us feel tired more easily.
     
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  15. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    Water in gaseous form would not be easy to absorb by felt, at least not enough to matter. You need condensation for that, and you need some change in temperature for that, which felt would not be good for.

    Just remember clouds are high in the sky because they are made of water vapors,and they are lighter than ground air.
     
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  16. Avles

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    The ITF disagrees:

    No cites for those studies but I'm inclined to trust the ITF Technical Centre on this topic....
     
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  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Right, because water vapor will displace some oxygen and nitrogen, and more of the latter (since there is more of it). N2's molecular weight is 28, while H20 is only 18.
     
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  18. corners

    corners Legend

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    At high altitudes, balls travel faster and the effects of spin are reduced. This makes it difficult to control. If you play with stiff copoly strings and take a plane to Quito, you'll feel like somebody switched your frame at customs for a granny stick full of multifilament at low tension.
     
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  19. Shroud

    Shroud Hall of Fame

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    Thanks Chemist.

    You filled in the stuff I was missing. WHile I wrote that post knowing the science I was doubting it a bit because I swear the courts in Florida's humidity played slower than the ones in Ca., which would be the exact opposte of what you would expect based on that link.

    An oversimplification on my part. Thanks for adding in the blanks.
     
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  20. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    Having played for a long time in Florida, I can tell you the conditions are fastest in April and May. The temperatures are getting into the 80s every day and the humidity is still relatively low. Summer time conditions are almost as fast but the humidity does seem to balance out the heat.
     
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  21. drak

    drak Professional

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    having played outside for 20 years at 3700 ft in a dry high desert climate i can guarantee you the effect is huge. When summer comes and we gets 80's temps the balls fly and bounce high and it's tough to take the same swing amd keep the ball in play.
     
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  22. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    My bold in second paragraph. Thanks for the info. I normally use Penn Champ extra duty, but am going to try the Wilson US Opens. I also like the Penn ATP balls.
     
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  23. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I always buy Wilson US Open balls
     
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  24. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    Regarding air temperature and humidity:
     
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  25. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    The cooler conditions are not my favorite to play in as everything slows down but at elevation I might like it better.
     
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  26. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

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    I crave cooler conditions (like playing in the evenings or very early mornings), but, alas, summer in South Florida is upon us, and it gets very very (verrrry) hot in the afternoons, and is usually quite muggy even in the morning and evening ... but at least the glare of the sun isn't so intense at those times. It is one of the nemesises (did I spell that right?) of the older, not very well conditioned, retired tennis player (such as myself). :)
     
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  27. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Yep, Wilson US Opens...

    ...are better than the Champs, I just mostly use Penn Champ High Altitude because I can get them for $2.28 a can at Walmart. Two sets is pretty much all I ever get out of two cans of balls anyway (I always open two cans at the beginning of a session), just as around 8 hours is all I get out of a set of strings...
     
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  28. corbind

    corbind Professional

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    Great thread
     
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  29. gameboy

    gameboy Hall of Fame

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    I am not saying it won't have ANY effect. I am just saying the difference is so small that most people would not even notice it. ITF has to be very precise since they are testing for compliance.
     
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  30. Fusker

    Fusker Rookie

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    I'd echo this being in Denver. Some of the guys that came in from out of state to play in the Colorado State Open a couple years ago (including Taylor Dent), said as much also. For me, the effect of going from Denver to Pittsburgh last year and playing was dramatic. It felt like every ball I expected to go a couple feet long would fall in (of course I tended to leave a few balls short).

    While some folks might think that your serve would benefit, unless you are very tall and hit dead flat, the altitude actually has the effect of making it more difficult to get serves in because the spin is less effective at dipping it in.

    Regarding the balls, I play with either the Penn or Wilson U.S. Open high altitudes, and yeah, once they lose their fuzz it becomes really tough to keep them in play.

    While I usually play at 5280, there's a tournament I almost signed up for in Vail (Elevation: 8,150 ft). I almost wonder if that's even fun.

    About the only thing I can think of that is easier at altitude is my golf game.
     
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  31. Fusker

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  32. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Average air temps I play in is around 58.
    When I lived in SanFrancisco, out in the fog belt, maybe closer to 54 in the summer months.
    When it hits 70's, my serve really pops. When it hits 75, I die and suffer from heat fatique.
     
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  33. HughJars

    HughJars Professional

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    Correct me if Im wrong, but wouldnt the increase in humidty speed things up even further, with the air being less dense? Or does the extra moisture on the felt making the balls heavier counteract this?
     
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