The call of “new balls, please” at Wimbledon might soon have an entirely new meaning, courtesy of a prototype sustainable tennis ball.

As reported by the BBC, The International Tennis Federation (ITF), tennis’ world governing body, has developed a prototype of a ball without a fabric cover, believing it will be more environmentally friendly than the current option.

A working group has been set up, involving the ITF, manufacturers and other federations, with a remit to look at sustainability in tennis.

Tennis balls have been pinpointed as the main focus when it comes to equipment.

The ITF’s lab in Roehampton, London, close to Wimbledon, is home to several robots that test balls and racquets, along with a wind tunnel which is used to test the aerodynamics of balls.

The prototype, which is in its early stages, features a polymer outer shell with holes.

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Speaking to the BBC, Jamie Capel-Davies, head of ITF’s science and technical department, said: “We’ve been looking at this for the past few months.

“The first, most important, from a sustainability [point of view], was: is it actually a net benefit in terms of the associated CO2 emissions of production and the life of the ball?”

“The second thing is, does the ball perform like a conventional tennis ball? And then the third thing is, are there any practical considerations? What’s the feasibility, the cost, the economics and so forth of this type of design?”

The team will look to test the life cycle of the new design versus the conventional ball.

Work is also being carried out to explore the potential to adapt the rules around how regularly balls are changed during matches, and looking at ways to prolong the lifespan of existing balls.

Earlier ths month, it was revealed Wimbledon’s head gardener, Martyn Falconer, was carrying out various sustainability measures at the prestigious All England Club.

Circular economyClimate crisisEnergyInnovationNature and the environmentNet zeroPolicySocial sustainability

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