When it comes to playing tennis, there’s something nostalgic about unsealing a new can of balls. Whether it’s the fresh scent or the popping sound, there’s a sense of fulfillment for everyone to enjoy.
With product development pushing boundaries over time, today’s tennis ball containers are a far cry from its predecessors. Take the 1940s, when metal and crude rubber was reserved for World War II efforts, forcing industry manufacturers to modify tennis-ball containers with vessels like cardboard tubes, and transitioning balls to recycled rubber. Or the early 1970s, when the transcendent pull-tab metal plate and plastic lid combination was first unveiled by Penn in trade magazines.
The International Tennis Hall of Fame features more than 600 tennis ball containers in an imaginative exhibit. But for those who are unable to visit Newport, RI in person, the assortment of offerings can be investigated through the launch of its second digital display, Tins, Cans and Cartons. With seven collections to peruse, tennis aficionados can learn about the evolution of containers from all angles, including innovative partnership marketing with top players (like Vinnie Richards and Pancho Gonzales), size disparity and advances in technology.
“Creating a digital exhibit provides an opportunity for tennis fans around the world to interact with the museum collection and explore these unique pieces of tennis history,” said Museum Director Doug Stark. “The colors, fonts, featured players, even the materials that are used are very much a sign of the times from when that container was created. The containers provide an opportunity to examine the broad span of tennis history.”
Select designs of the containers have been transferred into stainless steel mugs, which can be purchased here. The Hall of Fame will continue digitizing exhibits to help bring tennis history to life for modern consumers and researchers. Plans are ongoing with pieces surrounding trophies and racquets.
Photo: International Tennis Hall of Fame