Advanced Recreation Design (ARD) introduced a new platform tennis ball to the sport during the 1991-1992 season, after a significant amount of research and development. Carly Swain explained the journey:
“One of the main points concerns the APTA specifications for approved baIls. Those specs include such factors as weight, diameter and rebound or bounce, with acceptable tolerances dictated for each measure. But the specifications do not take into account other factors, such as durability, playability, and color retention. Nor do they address the question of quality control in terms of how many balls are tested to meet the specifications.
(Note: The APTA’s rules and equipment committee had struggled with the tactical aspects of inspecting balls for some time. There were questions about how many balls to test, how to acquire the balls and where they come from, and who paid for the testing. None had simple answers.)
ARD has spent the last three years researching the creation of a strong ball. Over that time, we have expended a great deal of time, energy and money in studying different types of rubber, glue and flocking. We’ve also developed a number of sample balls during this research period, some of which would certainly have met the basic APTA standards for approval. But we held back, mainly on the recommendation of nine-time national men’s champion Rich Maier, who is ARD’s primary player/tester. His standard for the balls’ playability has been very demanding. Rich did not think it was fair or feasible to market to players a ball that he wouldn’t be comfortable playing with himself. He pushed for a ball that wasn’t too soft or too hard, and which consistently bounced true, with no wobble or wiggle when hit.
We think we’ve successfully fulfilled all his demands. The final product, the new ARD ball, is currently for sale throughout the U.S. and Canada. It is APTA approved for play in sanctioned and ranking events. ARD is confident the effort put into the ball’s development has created a ball that will please platform players with its quality and consistency.”
Source: Platform Tennis News, Winter 1992 and APTA May 1990 BOD Meeting Minutes