So far, it's been a bit of an untapped market. Barely a blip on the sports memorabilia radar. Yet with thousands of people watching U.S. Open matches in New York every day and millions more around the world on TV, isn't it possible that there is a market for match-used tennis memorabilia? Would you really thumb your nose at a ball used by Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic?
The USTA and MeiGray believe you would not.
They've teamed up to sell items from the U.S. Open on site and also through an online auction. The bidding takes place throughout the month of September, with the initial group of 23 Match -Used balls ending tonight at 9 pm ET. Balls hit by stars like Federer, Djokovic, Andy Roddick and Andy Murray have already been bid up over $200 each.
The authentication efforts we've seen in Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA and NHL stadiums is now in place at the National Tennis Center. MeiGray has been authenticating items with balls being collected by the officials on court, including virtually every Match Point. Balls are transferred directly from the Chair Umpires on the court to MGG representatives on the grounds, then marked by MGG using synthetic DNA, given an individually serial-numbered hologram and prepared for auction.
MeiGray will authenticate on-site - and market in real time - the balls used in men's and women's matches, including match-winning points. Nets, court chairs and other match-used items, selected player autographed and match-used items, and unique artwork from the National Tennis Center will also be available throughout the event.
A portion of the proceeds from the new program will benefit USTA Serves, a New York educational and charitable organization that helps underserved youth and people with disabilities to improve academics and strive for excellence.
The New York Times checked out the process, which involves--for one-- some pricey invisible ink pens.