Now more than ever it’s important to recycle. That’s why tennis players around the world are recycling used tennis balls. They’re not the only ones. The US Open has joined in the crusade to save landfills and grow the game. Last year they worked with Wilson, RecycleBalls.org, Laykold (a sports surface company), and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Their efforts resulted in a restored tennis court in Queens. Because of this collaboration, more people are enjoying the great game of tennis.
The refurbished tennis court is located in Fresh Meadows, not to be confused with Flushing Meadows where the Open is played. Fresh Meadows is located in the northeastern section of New York City. It is best known for its natural beauty, quaint neighborhoods, and family-friendly environment.
The Ella Fitzgerald Playground was selected to be resurfaced. It’s inside Kissena Corridor Park. Now children and adults alike can practice the mechanics of their game on the park’s free community court. It was constructed of tournament balls from the 2020 US Open, and both practice and match play balls were used. Additionally, the balls were collected and donated by the USTA (United States Tennis Association). Just think some of these used balls were struck by tennis champions. Keep in mind that Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Serena Williams, and Naomi Osaka were all at the 2020 Open.
The balls were sent to RecycleBalls.org, which is a non-profit organization. Their mission is to recycling as many used tennis balls as possible. They have an on-site processing center in South Burlington, VT where a giant machine removes the felt. From there the interior rubber is ground into tiny pieces. Finally, the rubber mesh is used to make new products such as tennis court surfaces. The mesh is also referred to as Green Gold. Even though the facility can process 10,000 balls an hour, it depends on staff and donations.
Extensive research and development went into creating the cost-effective method. Relying heavily on donations, RecycleBalls has corporate sponsors and club partnerships. They also have industry friends such as Tennis Express. Shipping costs remain their primary expense. They offer a Quick Label program where it’s free to send in 100 balls or more. However, the organization suggests a donation of $20 for each shipment. They also offer specially designed boxes used to collect balls courtside.
The recycled mesh material is being used to build new tennis courts. Likewise, it’s used to resurface old ones too. Laykold, an industry leader in sports surfaces, is using the recycled material. They’ve developed a new type of tennis court that provides excellent playability. The new courts are more durable and have better shock absorption than standard hard courts. These new hybrid tennis ball courts use about 10,000 recycled tennis balls. The Fresh Meadow court is just one of many examples where the used balls are bringing new life back to the game.
Plus the Green Gold has revitalized playgrounds across the nation. It’s also doing well in the horse arena. Recently several equestrian centers started using the all-natural, non-toxic rubber as a new-age footing choice. New discoveries for how to use the recycled materials are constantly being made. Some of the breakthroughs include plant and garden ground cover, a one-coat stucco, and clothing items.
Committed to recycling tennis balls, the US Open will donate balls from this year’s tournament. Plans to restore another local court are underway and the Open will work with Wilson, RecycleBalls, Laykold, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation to make this happen.
You can do your part by collecting used tennis balls and sending them to RecycleBalls. Their website is full of great information as well as shipping instructions. Nevertheless, you can always make a donation. Both the balls and monetary donations are tax-deductible.
To learn more about this program or to shop for your favorite tennis apparel, shoes, and gear, visit TennisExpress.com.