It was reported that, during the longest rally in tennis history (see yesterday's entry), the Rossetti brothers had hit the hair off the ball, leaving a bald ball that sometimes spun wildly during the final stages of the rally.
Realistically, no tennis ball could survive 25,944 strokes in over fourteen hours. Not even the so-called "Marathon Ball" Penn plans to release to the market next January. The ball is said to last 22% longer than standard balls. This, by the poor standard of today's tennis balls, is not much.
Given that players of the game cannot do without tennis balls, which, by design, do not have a long playing life as performance is greatly affected after the hair comes off and the internal air pressure is reduced, the product has always been a profitable consumable for the manufacturers. In recent years, however, the quality of tennis balls, like that of many other commodities, has steadily been compromised. The balls become less and less durable. "So what?" said the tennis shop owner I am familiar with when he heard me grumble about the situation. "Can you stop buying them? Are you going to quit playing?"
The "Marathon Ball" sounds appealing, but I seriously wonder whether it will live up to its billing. I seriously wonder whether it can play as well as the balls that I used to know. And how much will it cost? How good a deal the new ball is remains to be seen.