We’ve always known that Necker Island and Moskito Island are extraordinary and unique locations. From the people that visit, to the animal and plant species that call the island paradises home, there’s no other place like this wonderful corner of the world. This was all confirmed recently with the discovery of a very unique plant.
Up until now tennis ball trees were only found in the US state of Ohio, where vast plantations – ripe with soil perfect for growing the rare type of tree – farmed and produced the world’s supply of tennis balls. The tennis balls grown in Ohio are white, and once picked need to be sent to be dyed the shade of yellow we’re accustomed to seeing being slammed back and forth in tournaments around the globe.
It’s no secret that I am a big tennis enthusiast – it’s my favourite sport – so when we were offered some seedlings from the unique trees, we jumped at the chance. We planted them in the areas surrounding our tennis courts on both Necker and Moskito, and cross-fertilised them with a local Caribbean plant, which led to a major breakthrough. Together, the two plants can produce both yellow and white tennis balls.
We can literally pick a tennis ball once it’s ripe and use it in a match right there and then. The balls grown on Necker and Moskito are slightly softer than normal tennis balls, so they are perfect for kids or for people with tennis elbow, but they still make for a great game. In fact, Nadal and Djokovic tested them out during the Necker Cup and we’ll be using them again in the tournament this year. But we’ve learned that it’s important not to let them get too ripe, or they lose some springiness.