APTA changes ball color specification

The orange ball was pioneered by John P. Ware using spray-on paint
The orange ball was pioneered by John P. Ware using spray-on paint

In the winter of 1963, an equipment innovation pioneered at Fox Meadow brought new color to the game. Because paddle in the north is often played in snow, the traditional white ball was difficult to see.

John Ware decided that coloring the balls might solve this problem. “I got a can of fluorescent paint, orangey-red, and started spraying paddle balls. These crusty orange balls worked pretty well until they dried out and cracked, and you got paint all over your clothes. But they were the precursors of the present yellow ball.”

The APTA 1963 Annual Meeting Minutes included the following recommendation of Rules and Equipment Chairman George Harrison:

“The committee has spent the past year in an unsuccessful attempt to inveigle the ball manufacturers to produce a regulation ball spray painted with a fluorescent yellow-orange paint. . . . We suggest the member clubs purchase balls in quantity and spray-paint [balls] themselves with Krylon No. 234.”

The changes didn’t officially take place until after the APTA had studied them thoroughly and worked with manufacturers.

Source: Adapted from Diana Reische, Fox Meadow Tennis Club – The First Hundred Years, 1983

Ultimately, of course, the manufacturers came around and produced the colored balls now in common use.