Triniti: The Greener Tennis Ball

Is there anything better than opening a new can of tennis balls? There’s that gratifying pop as the seal breaks and the pressure is released. There’s that distinctive aroma, an intoxicating blend of new rubber and stale air. The balls roll out of the can and into your palm, and they’re bright and pristine and full of promise. Ahhhh. It’s going to be a good day.

Of course, there’s a dark side accompanying all this new-can fetishizing. Tennis has a pollution problem. I’m sure, like me, you toss your old cans into the recycling bin, but I’m also sure you’ve heard plastic recycling is mostly a sham. Less than ten percent of plastics actually get recycled, and tennis ball cans present an extra challenge because of the metal lip around the top.

We know why this matters. Overflowing landfills. Degraded oceans. Microplastics in our air, food, and water. I love a fresh can as much as the next person, but I don’t want to eat it. 

I won’t pretend I’m especially eco-minded. I don’t even compost, for cryin’ out loud. I mean, how hard is it to compost? But I’ve started looking for some easy changes I can make—the low-hanging fruit, so to speak. My latest is swapping out my Cerave gel facial cleanser for the bar-based one. Same product without the plastic. It’s pretty much a no-brainer.

Which brings us back to our dreaded tennis cans. 

Earlier this year, I tried out a new tennis ball, the Wilson Triniti. Since most tennis shopping is done online, there’s a good chance you haven’t seen these before. (Yes, they’re sold online, as well as in stores, but unless you know they exist, you wouldn’t be looking for them.)

Here’s what the Triniti can looks like when you buy it:

And here’s what it looks like when you throw it away:

Yup. That’s ordinary, 100% recyclable paper.

HOW TRINITI IS DIFFERENT

Maybe you’re thinking, “That’s cool, but if the balls don’t need a pressurized can, then they’re just crappy pressureless balls. I wouldn’t be caught dead playing with a pressureless ball.”

Except the Triniti balls are pressurized. With use, they’ll lose their pep. But, Wilson claims, thanks to its innovative core, Triniti keeps its “new ball feel” four times longer than a standard tennis ball—and doesn’t require the pressurized plastic can to do it.

What’s more, unlike most pressureless balls, Wilson’s Triniti is USTA-approved. 

What does it mean to be USTA-approved? I wondered if this was meaningless marketing blather, but it turns out the USTA puts tennis balls through extensive testing. To be approved for match play, a ball must fall within a defined range on a number of characteristics, like size, weight and rebound.

For instance, to evaluate rebound, the balls are dropped from a height of 100 inches. To pass this element of the test, the ball must bounce to a height of between 53 and 58 inches. 

That five-inch range helps explain why a Penn ball plays differently from a Dunlop which plays differently from a Babolat, even though they’re all approved for tournament use. The Triniti falls within the acceptable range on rebound and all other measures.

HOW TRINITI PLAYS

Of course, none of the feel-good, save-the-planet marketing matters if the ball sucks. Sure, the USTA says Triniti’s kosher, but why had I never seen anyone playing with it? I decided to invest in a can and take it for a test drive. 

It’s hard to conduct a blind test with Triniti because the balls come out of a paper sleeve and say Triniti right on them. Triniti also makes a different sound when it bounces, a thud disconcertingly similar to that of a dead ball. So for my first two matches, I told my fellow players I was testing a new kind of ball for my blog. I explained about the new construction and forewarned them about the sound.

Test Drive #1: 

The first time I tried Triniti was on an indoor hard court. Everyone thought they played just fine, despite the sound, which took some getting used to. One woman especially liked the Triniti because she said it added more pop to her serve.

Test Drive #2: 

The next day, I used the same balls with a different group on an outdoor hard court, again explaining I was testing the balls and that they would sound dead although they weren’t. All three players said the balls played well and they’d probably buy them. Two players said if I hadn’t alerted them, they wouldn’t have known they were using a new kind of ball. 

Test Drive #3: 

The third time I used them was more than two weeks later. A normal tennis ball can’t sit around in an opened can without losing some of its pep, but according to Wilson, this shouldn’t be a problem with the Trinities.

Based on the feedback from Test Drive #2, I withheld some information from Test Group #3. I told them only that I was testing out a longer-lasting ball and that I’d already used them twice. I didn’t mention the new technology, the unpressurized “can” (which I hid), or the ball’s dead sound.

After we warmed up with used conventional balls, I brought out the Trinities for the match. On the very first serve, the ball sounded dead. All three of my fellow players immediately said the balls were no good—they didn’t bounce; they just died. Not wanting to influence their thinking, I said nothing. We played only one game before they insisted we open a new can of regular balls.

After we finished our match, I asked one of the women to stay and rally a bit using the Triniti ball. We hit for fifteen minutes or so, at which point she said she couldn’t see any difference between the Triniti and the standard balls we’d just used. We wondered if everyone had misjudged it simply because of its “old ball” appearance and dead sound.

I then approached another foursome on the next court who’d already played a set with a new can of regular balls. They happily agreed to participate in the experiment, and this time I warned them about the sound. They played four games with Triniti before I asked for their feedback. 

All agreed that the Triniti was every bit as lively—in fact, probably livelier—than the new balls they’d just been using. One woman didn’t like them because she thought she was hitting out more. The others said although the Trinities played a little differently, they’d buy them for their environmental value. 

Test Drive #4: 

Six days later, I gave them to a friend to try out in her doubles game on a clay court and asked her to report back. (No, I don’t know why I was excluded from this game. It’s all right. I’ve moved on.) 

According to the marketing, my Trinities should still play like a new can of balls. The result: After one set, no one wanted to continue using the Triniti because the bounce didn’t feel true. 

Were the balls truly “dead” at that point, even though they should have been good for one more day? Do Trinities perform worse on clay, even though they’re marketed for all surfaces? Were the players distracted by the appearance and sound of the ball, like Test Group 3’s participants seemed to be? Was the clay itself wetter and deader on the test day?

Obviously I can’t answer these questions since, as noted, I wasn’t invited. And even if I had been—and let the record show I was available that morning—my own perceptions aren’t free of bias. I want to like these balls.

Another test case (and perhaps a clue as to why I wasn’t invited)

Some weeks later, I was warming up with Triniti prior to another social match. This particular set of Trinities had been used at least once before. 

After warm-up, one of the players popped open a new can, saying the Trinities didn’t bounce.

Confidently, and a bit obnoxiously, I said, “Actually, I bet they bounce higher than the ones you just opened.”

She tested them out side-by-side and, laughing, had to admit I was right. She wondered how she could have so completely misperceived it. Again, it seems we’re so conditioned to the sound of a dead ball that our brains disregard all other input.

We ended up using her newly opened can because we had to. Otherwise they’d have started going dead. I, on the other hand, could just toss my Trinities in my bag, knowing they’d still be peppy whenever I used them again. 

I tried very hard not to appear smug about this. Being right really brings out the worst in me.

IS TRINITI WORTH IT?

Finally, there’s the cost. The Triniti ball is more expensive upfront but will likely save you money in the long run. How much money depends on the quality of ball you usually buy, whether you typically re-use your regular balls, and how often you’ll use each sleeve of Triniti. 

You know what that means, don’t you? It’s time for Tennis Math! Loyal readers (are there any other kind?) know I love me some Tennis Math, but if you aren’t gleefully rubbing your hands together right now, you can just scroll down to the next section.

Let’s dive right in, shall we?

A case of balls from Tennis Warehouse costs the following:

  • Wilson Triniti = $110, which works out to $110/24 = $4.58 per sleeve
  • Wilson US Open = $100 = $4.17 per can
  • Wilson Championship = $70 = $2.92 per can

Let’s suppose you play tennis 12 times a month, you buy Wilson Championship balls, and you use each can twice. Let’s also suppose your friends are a bunch of freeloaders who never seem to show up with tennis balls. You would need 6 cans for the month. (You may also need some new friends.)

Wilson Championship: $2.92 x 6 = $17.52 per month

If you switched to Triniti and used each sleeve 3 times, you’d need 4 sleeves for a month.

Triniti: $4.58 x 4 = $18.32 per month

Under this scenario, the Triniti will cost 80 cents more per month, or $9.60 more a year. No savings, but not an onerous expense, either.

But if you used each Triniti sleeve for 4 matches, you’ll go through only 3 sleeves a month. That’s $4.58 x 3 = $13.74 per month. Now we’re getting somewhere. You’ll save $45 a year.

I won’t work through all the various permutations. (That’s not true. I did work through them because I’m a nerd. What I really mean is I’ll spare you the chore of reading it–or save you the fun of doing all those calculations yourself.)

The biggest cost-saving scenario? Going from Wilson US Open balls that you use for only 1 match to Triniti balls that you use for 4. You’d save $435 a year. (I Tennis Math!)

THE PROS AND CONS OF TRINITI

Pros:

  • Way better for the environment
  • Very cool-looking package
  • Plays “like new” longer, although possibly not as long as the marketing suggests
  • Can sit around for weeks without losing its pep
  • Plays better in the cold than standard balls (I didn’t play in the cold, but some online reviewers have.)
  • Generally cheaper than normal balls in the long run

Cons:

  • More expensive upfront
  • No more intoxicating fun of popping the can
  • A different, somewhat dead sound
  • A not-so-fresh look by day 4 
  • Some adjustment to a livelier ball
  • Possibly not as good on clay
  • A firmer ball, so it may not be a good choice for those with tennis elbow (I didn’t notice the ball was firmer, but some online reviewers as well as my local pro have.)

The biggest con, though, may be having to convince other players to use them. Who wants to start every social match debating whether a tennis ball is any good? (And for a league match? I wouldn’t even try to use them. Some of those women are downright scary.)

But on the whole, I’d say switching to Triniti is another no-brainer in my slowly greening consumption habits. I’m going to keep bringing them to social games and encouraging people to try them. I’ll try to do this as unobnoxiously as I can so I don’t lose all my tennis friends.

Now, here is where a bigger, more successful blog would include an enticing offer. Mention LittleYellowBall and get 10% off your first purchase of Wilson Triniti! Woo-hoo! 

Wouldn’t that be great? 

Someday, my friends…

 

 

Friday Fashion Face-off: Worst-Dressed at the 2021 U.S. Open

Late again. But to make it up to you, we have two polls!

A couple of people suggested Naomi Osaka for inclusion on this week’s worst-dressed list, and while I can’t disagree, I also can’t pile on the poor girl. She’s clearly having a rough time adjusting to the expectations that come with being a champion. My heart went out to her when she was crying in her interview after her third-round loss.

So to demonstrate our compassion, let’s pile on other people and see if we can make them cry instead.

Continue reading “Friday Fashion Face-off: Worst-Dressed at the 2021 U.S. Open”

Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Woman at 2021 US Open

Yes, I know it’s Sunday. Friday is a state of mind.

What a strange and wonderful Open it’s been on the women’s side. I won’t comment on the
results of the final since some people may have recorded it, but both young women were
deserving of the title, much like our best-dressed nominees. Continue reading “Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Woman at 2021 US Open”

Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Man, 2021 US Open

Every slam, it’s the same story. I’m completely blindsided by the first Friday. How can it be time for another best-dressed man contest??

Fortunately, I was sent a gentle reminder by good friend and blog reader Eileen. An avid student of the game, Eileen went to the US Open for the opportunity to study the finer points of strategy and stroke execution. So dedicated is she in her quest for tennis excellence that she even shot some instructional video to continue her studies at home: Continue reading “Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Man, 2021 US Open”

Famous Tennis Tykes: A Quiz!

Normally we’d be having oodles of fun today with our worst-dressed fashion face-off. But then I got to thinking: Is this really who we want to be as tennis fans? After everything we’ve been through during this ongoing pandemic nightmare, shouldn’t we focus our energies on building each other up? Supporting each other through our travails, sartorial or otherwise? Have we learned nothing?

A blog is a powerful platform, one I should be using to further the causes of self-esteem, mental health, and general fashion tolerance. No longer will we be poking fun at people for outfits they had no hand in choosing. From now on, this blog will be dedicated to positivity and warm, fuzzy feelings.

(Also, I couldn’t find any worst-dressed nominees for Wimbledon. Such is the drawback of a dress code. We’ll revisit these high-minded ideals once the US Open starts.)

But fear not—we still have interactive photographic content to, um, interact with. Behold this nifty quiz, featuring our favorite stars’ warm and fuzzy childhood photos brazenly ripped from the internet. (If this blog gets shut down, you’ll know why.)

Enjoy–and if you like it, please share it by email or social media! Continue reading “Famous Tennis Tykes: A Quiz!”

Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Woman, 2021 Wimbledon

Tomorrow morning Ash Barty and Karolina Pliskova face off on the hallowed grounds of Wimbledon. But first they’ll have to duke it out here, in the mucky bog of my blog. Will one of them take home the title of Best-dressed Woman, or will it be the surprise contender who steals the show? Continue reading “Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Woman, 2021 Wimbledon”

Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Man, Wimbledon 2021

Every blog day is a joy, but some days you just have to work a little harder for it. Case in point: The “best white outfit on a guy” contest. It’s always a challenge to find some detail—any detail—that can set one outfit apart in a sea of bland undershirts. Things got so dire at one point that I even considered nominating Novak Djokovic!

But the specter of the twirpy Serb on my best-dressed list brought me back to my senses. I redoubled my efforts and finally identified these three worthy candidates. Continue reading “Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-dressed Man, Wimbledon 2021”

Fantasy Wimbledon!

Just a quick post to let you know that the free fantasy league for Wimbledon is now open for entries. You have all weekend to figure out your teams, so don’t come crying to me next week that you missed out on the fun.

Here’s the link to my original post on the fantasy league, where I describe the process: Fantasy Tennis Is Here!

Here’s the link for setting up your women’s team: https://www.fanslam.us/contest_teams.php?contest=626

And here’s the link for the men:

https://www.fanslam.us/contest_teams.php?contest=625

Should we have our own internal contest? Of course we should. Post your team rosters in the comments section before play begins on Monday, June 28. Winners will get (what else?) a new can of tennis balls!

 

 

Friday Fashion Face-off: Worst Dressed at the 2021 French Open

My apologies for the late edition of the worst-dressed poll. I had the post ready to go yesterday, but the images weren’t embedding. What good is a fashion face-off without images? My descriptive powers only go so far.

Distressingly, all of today’s nominees are my compatriots. How can this be? Are we really that fashion-challenged? Or could it be that spectacular failure is the risk that accompanies bold and innovative thinking, and that fearlessly embracing that risk is what exemplifies the best of the American spirit?

Yeah, let’s go with that.

Now, quick, before the images stop embedding again, let’s vote for the worst dressed boldest and most innovative player at the French. Continue reading “Friday Fashion Face-off: Worst Dressed at the 2021 French Open”

Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-Dressed Woman, 2021 French Open

What a strange French Open it has been on the women’s side. Would you have picked any of the semifinalists (Sakkari, Pavlyuchenkova, Krejcikova and Zidansek) for your fantasy league  team? Well, you might have picked Sakkari, but I didn’t. Fortunately for me, hardly anyone else did, either. I remain in a respectable eleventh place.

Will today’s slate of best-dressed nominees be as surprising as the semifinalists? Let’s find out…

Continue reading “Friday Fashion Face-off: Best-Dressed Woman, 2021 French Open”

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