Regular yellow tennis balls will no longer be used for 10 years and under competitions throughout the world under a new rule change announced by the International Tennis Federation that came into force on New Year’s Day.
The world governing body is in favour of the mandatory use of lower-pressured red, orange and green patched balls on specified Tennis 10s courts as approved at the ITF’s annual general meeting at Washington in 2010.
This is only the fifth time in the history of tennis that a major rule change has been effected following the introduction of the foot fault rule, the tie-break, set breaks and optional scoring methods.
The Tennis Federation of Cambodia has welcomed the change as a great step in development of tennis among children.
“The kids can now play tennis with a greater degree of self confidence and learn the skills better with these lower pressured balls,” TFC Secretary General Tep Rithivit told the Post yesterday.
“We are definitely heading for a good growth rate.”
The TFC is among the over 200 national associations supporting the Tennis 10s, which was introduced by the ITF as a global initiative in 2007.
The key argument in support of this change is that it would be lot easier for children to start playing tennis with lighter rackets, smaller courts and low bouncing, slower balls.
According to the ITF, the first experience for any child taking up tennis should be a positive one by serving, rallying and scoring from the first lesson.
The three varieties of coloured patches on the balls represent three different phases of a player’s development. The red ball, made of foam or felt, is 75 per cent slower than a regular yellow ball, and is meant for children aged between five and eight years old on a 12-metre by 6-metre court.
The orange balls, pressured at 50 per cent of regular ones, are for eight to ten-year-olds on courts measuring 18m by 6.5m.
The green ball set, just 25 per cent slower, will be used by more advanced nine and ten-year-olds on full-sized courts.
ITF Executive Director of Development, Dave Miley, who visited Cambodia in March last year, has pointed out that countries making use of these lower pressured balls have seen big improvements in technical and tactical quality of ten and under players coming through their youth programmes.
It may also be recalled that Miley had a word of praise for Cambodia in the implementation of the Tennis 10s programme.