How Many Tennis Balls Are Used In A Match? (Find Out Now)

Tennis tournaments have been around for many years. Every year, millions of tennis balls are manufactured and used in tournaments worldwide, leading many avid tennis fans to wonder how many balls are used in a match.

The number of tennis balls used in a professional tennis match is 6 balls. Because they lose pressure and bounce, these will be replaced after the first 7 games and then again after every 9 games. However, the number of balls used in a casual tennis match is 2 or 3 balls.

Keep reading to learn more about why tennis balls need to be changed, how many tennis balls are used in a match, and what happens to used tennis balls after the match.

How Many Tennis Balls Are Used During a Match?

The number of tennis balls used in a professional match is 6 balls. This number applies to both single matches and doubles matches.

As mentioned before, professional tennis matches use pressurized balls that lose bounce after taking several hits. Therefore, the tennis ball will be at its highest efficiency during the first 3 hours of play.

So how often are new balls used in tennis?

Once the balls lose their bounce, they must be replaced with new balls to ensure their efficiency for the players. After the first 7 games, the balls are changed, then they are changed again after every 9 games.

It's different when it comes to casual tennis matches, as they do not always use the same pressurized balls. The number of tennis balls used in a casual tennis match is usually 2 or 3 balls.

The Number of Tennis Balls Used in Different Tennis Tournaments

There are four major tennis tournaments held worldwide throughout the year. These four tournaments are collectively known as the Grand Slam tournaments. They are named the Australian Open, Wimbledon, Roland Garros (French Open), and the US Open.

The average number of tennis balls used yearly for all Grand Slam tournaments is about 237,000.

Here's a quick breakdown of the average number of tennis balls used in each Grand Slam:

Grand SlamAverage number of balls used yearly
Australian Open48,000 balls
Wimbledon54,000 balls
Roland Garros (French Open)65,000 balls
US Open70,000 balls
Total tennis balls used:237,000

Why do Tennis Balls Need to be Changed?

Tennis balls need to be changed throughout the match, especially in professional tournaments.

That is because the balls used in professional tournaments are pressurized, which means they are filled with gas that gives them the ability to bounce efficiently.

After taking several hits during the match, some of the gas will escape from the ball, causing it to lose pressure and bounce.

A tennis ball is usually subjected to about 105 racket hits in a professional tennis game. That is not to mention the number of times the tennis ball hits the ground.

The more the ball loses its pressure, the more it will lose its bounce, which will reduce the overall efficiency of the ball. That means this ball will not be fit for playing and needs to be discarded or used only by players during practice or warm-ups.

To preserve tennis balls that are not in play and make them last longer, they must be stored in a refrigerator or any place that maintains a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit.

This temperature will help maintain the gas pressure in the balls to ensure they're efficient enough for playing.

Tennis balls are also sold in pressurized cans to prevent the gas from escaping before use.

What Makes a Tennis Ball Efficient?

Tennis balls are made of rubber and inflated with pressurized gas, which gives the balls the ability to bounce. Basically, the more the tennis ball can bounce, the more efficient it is when playing.

However, the rubber used to manufacture tennis balls allows the gas to escape when the ball takes several hits. Therefore, more gas will gradually escape with prolonged use, and the ball's efficiency will be significantly reduced.

Tennis balls that are not at peak efficiency have less bounce height and less spinning speed. They also make a thudding sound when hit because of how flat they are.

These balls are unsuitable for playing and cannot be used in a professional match. So, it's important to test the efficiency of the tennis balls to know when they need to be replaced.

How to Test The Efficiency of a Tennis Ball?

In order to test the efficiency of a tennis ball, there are four factors you need to cover. Let's take a closer look at each of those factors:

Speed and distance:

Tennis balls that are in good condition will typically move at a higher speed and travel a longer distance compared to used balls that have lost their pressure.

If the tennis ball doesn't move fast enough or covers a long distance, it must be replaced.

Pressure in the ball:

The ball's pressure indicates the remaining amount of gas it has inside. To test the pressure, you only need to give the ball a slight squeeze.

If the tennis ball flattens easily, that means it doesn't have enough pressure and needs to be replaced.

Bounce height:

Tennis balls that are in good condition will bounce off the ground at a higher distance than used balls because they have more pressurized gas inside.

If the tennis ball doesn't bounce as high as it should, that means it doesn't have enough pressure, and it's time to replace it.

Spin ability:

When tennis balls take a hit, they tend to spin fast as they move because of the pressure inside them. The higher the pressure, the faster the ball will spin.

If the tennis ball doesn't spin fast or doesn't spin at all when it's hit, that means it doesn't have enough pressure and needs to be replaced.

What Happens to Used Tennis Balls After The Match?

Given the number of tennis balls manufactured and used every year, many tennis fans wonder what happens to those used balls and whether they go to waste.

During tournaments, some professional players give used tennis balls to their fans to keep as souvenirs. In addition, some upcoming players might also take some of the balls to use during practice or warm-ups.

However, if the tennis balls are discarded, they either end up in recycling centers or landfills.

Can Tennis Balls be Recycled?

Tennis balls can be recycled. However, the process of recycling tennis balls is very demanding, and there is currently no industry-wide sustainable way to make the process easier.

In addition, a very small percentage (less than 0.5%) of the tennis balls used in the US are recycled.

Instead, over 100 million tennis balls end up in landfills every year, which can be extremely harmful to the environment as tennis balls have a very slow decomposition rate.

What to do With Used Tennis Balls?

In order to prevent more tennis balls from ending up in landfills and reduce their strain on the environment, there are various ways to use tennis balls when they are no longer suitable for playing.

For instance, you can use tennis balls at your house by sticking them on the ends of furniture to protect the floor and remove scuff marks. You can also use them as cushioning when packaging fragile items.

However, the most sustainable option is to give the used tennis balls to charity or specialized projects that find innovative ways to recycle or reuse the tennis balls.

One of the most popular recycling projects for tennis balls is Recycaball, which is based in the UK.

They receive over 500 tennis balls from tennis clubs and coaches from all over the UK, which they send to various places that could have more use for them, such as school playgrounds, children's charities, retirement homes, physiotherapy treatment centers, and dog shelters to be used as toys.

Another fantastic project that offers innovative ways to reuse tennis balls is Project Green Ball, which is based in the US.

They specialize in converting old tennis balls into mats to cover the surface of tennis courts. One court could take about 10,000 balls to cover.

Conclusion

As you have read, a professional tennis match starts with 6 balls. These are replaced with new balls after the first 7 games. Then, after every 9 games, new balls are put into play.

Tennis balls are replaced because they lose their optimal capacity. As a result, they no longer meet the requirements of official bodies.

Fortunately, there are several ways to give used tennis balls a second life.

Brian Henderson

I am what you might call a true tennis fanatic. When I am not on the tennis court teaching or playing myself, I am probably writing an informative article about tennis. My goal is to get as many people as possible excited and informed about tennis.
Published: 
September 20, 2022
Published: September 20, 2022