Originally Published: June 19, 2018 6 a.m.
Did you realize that there are over 130 million used tennis balls that could be recycled each year if you and I took the time to get them to the proper locations to help the cause?
This past year we had a young man, Ray Barnett, 20, who saw the need and way to recycle used tennis balls; and through the Yavapai College Honors Society created a local recycling program at the Yavapai College Tennis Facility.
He donated his time, money and effort to purchase two covered containers (on wheels) with signage that asked for players to drop their used tennis balls in. The attached signs tells the sites he would be redistributing the balls and there are many; The Dog Park, Animal Hospitals, Heritage Park Zoo, Rehabilitations Centers, Nursing Homes and to Little League coaches.
Ray said it’s been a huge success and every time he picks up the balls and makes his rounds everyone is so appreciative, and ask when he’ll be back with more.
Some people might wonder how to determine when a tennis ball reaches that point of no return.
The process for that determination is fairly easy; when the color of the ball is faded, the bounce is way less, when you can squeeze the ball easily from the loss of pressure, the fuzz is much less than normal, when it makes that dead-ball sound.
When they get recycled how do they get used the second or third time around?
Attached to walker and desk legs so they slide easier and don’t scratch floors; dogs and animals at the zoo love them; massage therapy; Little leaguers practice hitting and throwing without getting hurt; local artists use them in many different art projects; they can be ground up and used for parks and even resurfacing tennis courts; hung from the ceiling as garage parking indicators; cover with Vaseline and hung in a tree to deter insects; and, put in the dryer with blankets and quilts to help the drying time.
The recycled balls can also be packed in boxes to safeguard breakable items; change holders; put on shape edges of coffee tables; put in pool filter areas to soak up oils; attached to door knobs and hitches; used as doll heads; jar openers; science projects; put on car antennas to help find your vehicle; put on kickstands for bikes not to fall over; put on the end of a broom stick to clean cobwebs; as rehab for hand exercise; put in toilet to decrease amount of water used; and the list is as long as you want to be, it seems.
Ray would like to see this project expand to all the public and private tennis facilities as well as local subdivision recreational facilities. All it takes is a trash can with a lid (wheels make it easier to move around); a sign that tells what it’s for; and he will make sure the balls get collected and taken where there’s a need.
It’s the unsung heroes like Ray Barnett that make me proud. He came up with what many would consider a simple idea and need, followed through with his own ingenuity and has made a lot of people happy while making the Earth a better place to live.
He will be going to the University of Arizona soon with thoughts of electrical engineering or neurology, but promised to do his best to get others to take his place while he becomes our next rocket scientist, or to me “Rock Star!”
Give him a call at 928-533-6645 if you have a need for some used tennis balls, he’ll get you on the list.
Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or firstname.lastname@example.org.