By J. Fred Sidhu, special to USTA.com
Indian Wells, Calif. – By the end of this weekend, two teams will be celebrating their respective titles at the 2010 USTA League 5.0 Adult National Championships which are taking place at the spacious Indian Wells Tennis Garden.
However for the company that produces the tennis balls, the celebration began early this year as Penn not only celebrates 23 years as sponsors of the USTA League National Championships, but also 100 years of excellence.
It was back in 1910 when Penn began producing tennis balls in the small town of Jeanette, Pennsylvania. That year, the company produced 13,000 tennis balls. This year, the company produced 13,000 tennis balls in one hour.
"Being America’s number one selling ball, we want to be involved with a great organization where our ball is going to be played with, used and appreciated in the States," said Allison Barnett, Communications Manager for HEAD Penn Racquet Sports. "We value the USTA and I’m sure they value the product that we’re offering them. It’s really a great partnership that we have."
In the 100 years Penn has produced tennis balls, the company has had many noteworthy milestones, including introducing pressurized cans in 1922 to give tennis balls a longer shelf life and producing the Penn Championship Pink Ball to benefit breast cancer research in 2002.
According to Barnett, Penn takes its sponsorship of the USTA League National Championships seriously.
"It’s something that we’ve valued for 23 years. We’ve had a great partnership with the USTA League program. It’s definitely an honor just to be part of such a great program," Barnett said.
"Penn is a really a strong brand name. A lot of people in the U.S. know Penn very well. For the Penn brand to have people using our product on the court is so important for us to make sure our standards are met," she added. "It’s really a good way to promote the Penn balls by having players using the product."
While many things have changed over the years, one of the few things that have remained consistent is the cost of a can of tennis balls. Barnett attributes this to the cost of raw materials and the manufacturing methods used in producing tennis balls.
After celebrating the first 100 years of producing tennis balls, what does the future hold for Penn? "We hope we can keep players excited about our brand and product and we hope we can keep our standard and continue to keep our status as America’s number one selling ball," Barnett said. "I’m sure we’ll have some exciting new initiatives come along the way. As a brand a hundred years strong, you just want to keep going. We’ve obviously done something right."
For more information on the history of Penn tennis balls, click on the following links: