Evan Minniti Culture Editor
Tennis is one of the most popular sports in America and a $84.3 million industry. With such a large industry though, many deflated, or “dead” tennis balls are simply thrown out. However, Sophomore Jason Mandel has made it his personal mission to get involved in finding an eco-friendly alternative to throwing out the deflated tennis balls. Mandel, together with the nationwide Recycleballs organization, has set out to collect dead tennis balls from various tennis courts in the LA area and send them to Vermont to be recycled.
Recycleballs, which was started in 2014, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing green issues to the tennis industry. Mandel discovered Recycleballs last year and knew he wanted to get involved.
“I am here in California, and I partner Recycleballs with different country clubs, like Hillcrest and Riveria, Mountaingate…Then I ship the balls [from those clubs] to Recycleballs in Vermont,” Mandel said.
Many of the tennis courts he has contacted weren’t aware of the possibility of recycling dead balls before Mandel contacted them.
“[Country clubs in LA] have been giving their dead balls to landfills, or they can give them to schools and use them as the bottoms of chairs. For the most part, though, those balls ended up in trash cans,” Mandel said. “I just had to send them an email saying, ‘This is Recycleball’s program, can I come and bring this program to you? I will take care of the heavy lifting.’”
Mandel’s efforts did not go unnoticed in the campaign. Derrick Senior, a representative from Recycleballs’ national organization, is impressed with Mandel’s work.
“Jason, as a Recycleballs champion, has been exemplary in promoting our nonprofit initiative and programs in California. We could not be prouder of Jason and recognize him as a highly inspirational force and a model for other youth in growing our mission of recycling all tennis balls in the USA,” Senior said.
The job hasn’t been easy for Mandel as he has had to sacrifice a lot of his free time for this project.
“I do try and make a lot of outside time for Recycleballs. Weekends have definitely been when I spend the most time picking up from clubs. I make some phone calls during the week, but I have a balance between Recycleballs and school. School is more prioritized, but I make Recycleballs a close second,” Mandel explained.
At the moment, Mandel is the only Recycleballs member in the LA area. However, he plans on expanding the organization.
“Right now, it is solely me working with Recycleballs,” Mandel said. “I want to get more people involved because our goal isn’t just to recycle as many tennis balls as possible, but to spread the idea of recycling and green [causes] in tennis.”