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RedWeb
08-09-2006, 02:06 PM
I received my new tennis tutor player plus model on 8/8/06. I wasn't going to buy the player model until I discovered that Sports Tutor had a demo model available at a reduced price. Below are my initial impressions of the machine after using it in two 90 minute sessions.

* The machine is lighter than I thought it would be. It has a handle that allows you to carry it around and that makes it easy to move it across rough terrain. I'm big (6'3") so its relatively easy for me to pick up for short distance. No one would want to carry it very long however. For the more petite player it also comes with a fold out handle that enables one to pull it along on two roller wheels. Perhaps because I'm tall, I wish the handle was a little longer.

* The unit seems VERY sturdy and well put together. Nothing shoddy about its construction.

* The packing box contains the completely put together unit, a 10 page user manual and the charger. I bought the smart charger so I would not have to worry about overcharging the unit (the standard unit has to be manually unplugged).

* The top of the unit has four plastic flaps that fold up and out and are used to hold the balls (up to about 150) in place. They are made of white plastic. I wish the front one was made of clear plastic so I could see how many balls are left. I've already hit these flaps several times and they seem sturdy enough. I understand that they are replaced for free if something goes wrong.

* I had a supply of used tennis balls ready to break the machine in. They recommend that new balls not be used. Even with my used balls a lot of fluff was churned up during my initial two sessions. I have an air compressor and simply cleaned that stuff out after the second session. It wasn't a problem its simply me being a new picky owner. They say you can run 100 hours without doing this kind of cleaning.

* The battery charger works fine. It took about 10 hours to initially charge the machine but that might be because it was a demo. The instruction manual says it can take up to 18 hours. After my first 90 minute session it took about 8 hours to recharge the machine for day two. It was a good decision to get the smart charger because I didn't want to constantly have to worry about overcharging and have to go to garage to check the status lights. A fast charger is also available but I didn't think that was necessary for me. Perhaps if you give lessons or have multiple people using the machine then that would be nice. For me, an overnight charging period was fine.

* If you select slower shots you'll need to place the machine closer to the service line. If you're hitting medium or higher paced shots then baseline placement works best.

* The control panel on the player plus model has all digital readouts. It has an off and on switch and the machine seems to remember the settings that were in place the last time it was turned off.

* The player plus has all the features of the plus model including ball speed, elevation, spin (top/under), interval, oscillation (random, 2 line narrow, 2 line wide). Additionally it has the "fancy" player mode capability (more on that in a moment).

* One of the first things I did was crank the machine up to see what it could do. After adjusting the elevation and top spin I was able to get the machine to send across balls that anyone except Federer or Nadal would be challenged by. It will be a LONG time before I outgrow this machine. Actually since I'm over 50 I doubt I will outgrow it, but one has to dream. Whether or not the ball actually reaches the promised 85MPH I can't tell you. But I promise you that it has plenty of horsepower for any player I've seen on the league or tournament courts.

* I was able to work with the elevation and spin to create almost perfect lobs for practice. It took some twiking but once the setting were correct only slight variation was experienced and I contribute that to the balls themselves. I wish they offered a feature that allowed you to save, say 5-10 settings so that you did not have to manually adjust the machine each time. For example, it would be nice to be able to save setting for shallow lobs, deep lobs, deep hard topspin, etc.

* The oscillation feature works fine. I tried the 2-line versions (narrow, wide) just to make sure they worked but did not spend a bunch of time with them. The random oscillation worked fine. The way the machine does it is that it actually sits on the court through a steel plate attached to the main black portion of the machine through a motor(s). The machine turned left and right riding on this plate. It shoots balls out at random times.

* The internal setting goes from 10 seconds to 1/2 second. I had a problem with the longest two settings not turning the wheel that feeds the balls into the machine when a lot of balls are loaded. Obviously it works on some friction setting that is increased as the time internal is reduced. The slower setting simply did not turn the wheel enough to overcome the weight of the balls in the "hopper". This was not a big deal to me because I'd probably never use the 8 second+ settings while using the machine. 10 seconds seem like an eternity when using a ball machine. NOTE: THe slower speeds worked if fewer balls were in the machine.

* It took me a while to completely understand how to sit the machine up. It would of helped if I had read what little manual came with the machine. The "secret" if the center button that insures the machine is lined up on the steel plate that sits on the court. Just because the slot the balls come out of is centered that does not mean the machine itself is centered. Its all based upon the positioning of the steel plate on the court. This button makes sure they are in synch. Then you can align the machine to the desired court position.

* The player mode feature was initially disappointing to me. Perhaps my expectations were to high? In my mind I was expecting a machine that would send balls at me like I was playing a player of the selected ability level (beginner, intermediate, advanced). In other words simulate match conditions. The thing I noticed immediately was that balls did not come at the interval one experiences during a match. While the machine does vary the depth and placement of shots it also seems to send a lot of balls to the same place. I've only used the default settings so I think i need to play with these more to get it closer to real match conditions.

* Overall I'm very happy with the machine and am looking forward to many years of great practice and soon having perfectly grooved strokes.

Swissv2
08-09-2006, 02:08 PM
whaaaaa I want one :(

Well, hopefully I can save up or sell enough to get a TT of my own.

btw, thanks for the review!!!

pmata814
08-09-2006, 07:45 PM
Thanks for the review Redweb. It would be great if you could post an update once you've had time to experiment with the player mode. I own a wilson portable but I've been considering trying to sell it to get the player mode on the sports tutor.

xtremerunnerars
08-09-2006, 07:58 PM
That's a really long review, haha. Unfortunately (well, maybe fortunately) a stringing machine just passed a ball machine on the list of tennis items i want to buy.

varuscelli
08-09-2006, 08:53 PM
Nice review, RedWeb. Very thorough for such short-time use.

RedWeb
08-11-2006, 06:52 AM
Well, it took 3 sessions before something went wrong with the machine. Seems a set screw came loose on an electronic sensor and that prevented the motherboard from recognizing the true vertical setting for elevation. This meant the player modes were totally hosed and did not work. I could still set the machine manually and look at the feeder wheels for a clue as to what the elevation was but the digital readout was stuck at the lower level.

I called tennis tutor for support and left as message the first time as the support personnel were not in yet (they are on west coast). Not hearing back from them after about 4 hours I called again and was quickly routed to someone who worked with me to identify the problem. They lead me through the process of taking off the top of the unit. All that was required was a phillips screw driver. Then we monkeyed with the sensor and calibrating the machine until it was right and I tighten the set screw with a small allen/hex wrench. The guts of the machine are very simple and there is not a lot there. The repair process took about 30 minutes. Some of that time was because it was my first "excursion" into the machine and I was being very careful and slow.

The biggest component is the steel housing for the two feeder wheels that shoot the balls out. This entire unit moves when you adjust elevation. A black rubber "slide" fits in between the wheels and balls are feed down this slide from the top unit when the top carousel turns and its hole location matches the hole in the top housing. Pretty simple. Spin is obtained by the rotational speed of the two wheels being changed. More relative spin on top wheel means more topspin. More spin on bottom wheel means more backspin. The wheels appear to be made of "layers" of soft rubber that peel off over time. My guess is that those will eventually have to be replaced. There are a lot of wires in the back of the unit (away from the opening where the balls shoot out). Most wires end up at the inside of motherboard. The outside of the motherboard is were the external digital controls are located. This unit appears to be removable by loosening 4 set screws. There is lots of empty space in the unit. Probably enough for 4-6 tennis balls. I've already had to dig 3-4 balls out of mine.

Any person with even just a little mechanical ability could take the unit apart and evaluate the conditions of components inside. When the day comes that I need to replace the batteries I doubt that will be more than a 20 minute chore. I feel that I'll be able to communicate effectively with the factory and solve most future issues without a problem. If push came to shove I could probably replace anything inside the unit with a little guidance. The wheel housing would probably pose the most difficulty.

So far I still very please with unit. After I fixed it I took it out for the fourth time and the player modes were working again. Still, I have to say they are somewhat disappointing but I'm still experimenting. The ball feeding process is still a little flaky with lower feed rate speeds still iffy. While you can put about 150 balls into the unit I've found that much more than 100 causes problems (balls fall out between the four pull up panels, the carousel goes not turn properly, balls don't go into the carousel properly).

Another minor issue is that the push buttons integrated with the digital readouts and not as responsive or easy to push as I would like. Perhaps its because I've got big hands and fingers. They really aren't buttons that stick out from the surface but instead are sensor areas that are flush with the digital readouts. Sometimes I have to repeatively push the sensor area to change a setting, sometimes I can simply hold my finger on the sensor area to make an adjustment. I think I'd like it better if the unit had "normal" knobs to turn. Knobs in conjunction with digital readouts would be the best of both worlds.

The used balls I started with are now pretty much completely devoid of fluff. I thought that was the case before I got the unit but man the machine really unfluffs them even more. I'll probably end up getting special pressureless balls to use with the machine. I will say that although I have balls that range from almost new to really bad the machine is still fairly consistent about where it throws the balls.

Today my doubles partner joined me and we tried the two line oscillation settings more. The narrow setting shoots alternatings balls about 2-3 feet either side of the center line (assuming you have the machine properly centered on the court). The wide oscillation places balls about in the center of the deuce and ad courts (once again, assuming you have the machine properly centered on the court). That was a little narrower than I was expecting but after we used it for a bit I realized that was about right. The narrow mode is good for a single player who wants to alternate forehand and backhand strokes with only a little footwork necessary. The wide is fine for two people. We also used the random oscillation mode and cranked it up. Doing that by yourself leads to an impossible situation were there is no way you can get to balls. However for two people its pretty cool. We also spent some time at the net using narrow and wide oscillation to practice volleys together. That worked well.

Another advantage of having someone with you is that you can alternate picking up balls and this really leads to almost no downtime at all. One person hits until their arms feels like it is about to fall off, then the other takes over.

I've already gotten a lot of comments about the unit and its a real head turner at the various courts where I practice. Its sweet to see the jealousy in other player's eyes as they walk by the court while I'm hitting against MY tennis tutor player plus ball machine!

RedWeb
08-13-2006, 08:06 PM
Today was session number 5 with the TT Player plus. I spent the vast majority of the time using the player mode. It is working a lot better now that I've gone into the unit and tighten the set screw on the sensor. The variance in placement and depth was more pronounced. I made a few setting changes from the default beginner mode and was very happy. I wanted to practice as if I was playing a pusher and had to create my own pace. So I lowered the default speed and raised the elevation slightly. My goal is to use the unit at least 3-4 times a week and nothing at this point makes me think that will be a problem. Based upon other reviews I've read on this forum I think anyone buying a ball machine should expect that there will be a good chance that something will go wrong initially with the unit and you'll need to work with the factory to resolve the issue. Customer service reputation was one main reason I decided on tennis tutor.

r2473
08-15-2006, 10:21 AM
Today was session number 5 with the TT Player plus. I spent the vast majority of the time using the player mode. It is working a lot better now that I've gone into the unit and tighten the set screw on the sensor. The variance in placement and depth was more pronounced. I made a few setting changes from the default beginner mode and was very happy. I wanted to practice as if I was playing a pusher and had to create my own pace. So I lowered the default speed and raised the elevation slightly. My goal is to use the unit at least 3-4 times a week and nothing at this point makes me think that will be a problem. Based upon other reviews I've read on this forum I think anyone buying a ball machine should expect that there will be a good chance that something will go wrong initially with the unit and you'll need to work with the factory to resolve the issue. Customer service reputation was one main reason I decided on tennis tutor.

Could you continue to explain (in the same detail as the posts above) any pros / cons of the "player mode" with this machine. I am considering a purchase, but would like to hear as much about this feature as possible before finalizing the decison. I tried to send you an e-mail, but you specified that you do not wish to receive e-mails. Thanks, Robert

Bolivian10s
08-15-2006, 03:58 PM
Could you continue to explain (in the same detail as the posts above) any pros / cons of the "player mode" with this machine. I am considering a purchase, but would like to hear as much about this feature as possible before finalizing the decison. I tried to send you an e-mail, but you specified that you do not wish to receive e-mails. Thanks, Robert

Put the Tutor on the baseline, open the white flaps, dump your balls into the machine (I use 75), turn machine on, hit the CENTER button on the control panel, and machine will align itself automatically(a cool feature), then I hit the Advance button on the control panel and machine does the rest. And the plus player kicks my butt after one load of balls.
Its that simple;)

RedWeb
08-17-2006, 06:14 AM
Bolivian10s is pretty much correct about setting up the TT for player mode. It is pretty simple and the steps he outlined are the key ones. Centering the machine then manually adjusting it so while centered it is shooting balls toward the center of the court is key.

Dependent upon the mode (beginner, intermediate, advanced) you are using you'll have to place the ball machine at different depths/locations regarding the baseline. For example if using beginner mode I've found the machine needs to be placed a little behind the service line and advanced needs to be behind the baseline. Intermediate is between those two. You'll need to let a few balls shoot out to insure you're OK or you'll need to adjust the elevation, speed, and/or spin to fine tune so balls land in play on the other side.

Once that is done then the machine will place balls at various locations (width, depth) as expected. Now, is this going to be like playing a match against a player? My finding has been not unless you ratchet down the internval a little so that a ball is coming at you as the last one you hit lands. By default the player mode interval is a little slower than what you'd experience in a match. Thats fine if you want to give yourself a little more time to consider how you hit the return and get ready for the next one. But if you want to experience conditions as close to match play as this type of machine can give you then the internal may need to be kicked down a little. This is no big deal and is done in a few seconds while the first few balls come out. Once you know the proper interval you can sit it to that from the start the next time you use the selected player mode.

One thing I've noticed is while the machine does vary placement the spin put on the ball tends to stay rather consistent. It does vary a little but you'll not experience as large a variety of cut shots or side spins as you'd see against some players. Its certainly no Fabrice Santoro in that regard and you'll get no side spins at all.

Based upon my experiences so far I'm very happy with the machine. I'd say the decision to go with the player plus model (+$200) would depend on several issues. If you want to use the machine primarily to groove your strokes and have hitting partners to help work on your game then it may not be necessary. If you have trouble finding people to hit with then the player mode might be a good investment. I did not get my machine with the remote control and I'd say if I had to choose between the remote control and player plus feature I'd go with player plus. Not having the remote means you "burn" 2-3 balls moving to start hitting balls back. But other than that I never miss having that feature. I simply put on my iPod Nano headset and rock out until the machine is empty.

r2473
08-28-2006, 01:10 PM
Thanks for the response. It seems like a pretty good investement. My idea would be to use it for a season or so and then sell it on Epay. Typically, you can recover about 75% of the purchase price. I would imagine, as these sell new for $1549, they would sell on Epay for about $1,200.

whoster69
03-31-2007, 06:39 PM
Great info! Thanks for the thorough job! This is exactly the machine I'm looking at buying!

baydad
04-01-2007, 07:05 PM
Another minor issue is that the push buttons integrated with the digital readouts and not as responsive or easy to push as I would like.

Same here. And I have small fingers. At the first, i thought the buttons don't work.

Tennissee
04-08-2007, 04:54 PM
I have a Tennis Tutor Jr that doesn't work any more. I know it's taking charge since the oscillator still moves when I turn it on. The two large wheels, however don't spin any more. I'd like to take it apart and take a look but don't know where to start. I can certainly unscrew all those screws but not sure that's the right approach.

Any suggestion is appreciated.

Jack & Coke
04-08-2007, 09:42 PM
Any suggestion is appreciated.



(800) 448-8867 is your friend.. ;)

tguha
04-16-2009, 09:48 PM
Hi Redweb,

I just got Tennis Tutor Player Plus last week and I am having some difficulty setting this thing up for 2 Line Narrow and 2 Line Wide Feature.
Also I want to discuss about different setting for lob and other different type of shots.
Wondering if you could provide me a separate email to my personal email.
tguha@hotmail.com with you contact number.

I really need some tips to get going with this machine.

Thanks
Tapas

jmjmkim
04-16-2009, 10:13 PM
Sounds like a great Tutor.

COPEY
04-20-2009, 10:30 PM
.................

tguha
04-21-2009, 11:54 PM
Can I have your contact details.
Need to talk about the Tutor plus.
I am having some issues to set it up correctly.

rafael17_13@hotmail.com
05-15-2009, 08:37 PM
Hi, I got the same machine you do. But I'm having a problem getting the numbers to get a simple drill ball, like in a lesson. If you know the numbers may have them please?? :)

winokko
07-27-2011, 06:00 PM
Hello Redweb (think thats your user name)

I've had a tennis tutor now for about 5 years....today the elevation mechanism got stuck (it won't go down when I press the button) ...any ideas on how to fix or by any chance do you have tennis tutors contact info? I can't seem to find my manual.

Thanks

please reply to winokko@hotmail.com

winokko
07-27-2011, 06:03 PM
You wouldn't have tennis tutors contact info by any chance would you?? I need to call for a fix with my elevation mechanism....stuck in the top position.

Bolivian10s is pretty much correct about setting up the TT for player mode. It is pretty simple and the steps he outlined are the key ones. Centering the machine then manually adjusting it so while centered it is shooting balls toward the center of the court is key.

Dependent upon the mode (beginner, intermediate, advanced) you are using you'll have to place the ball machine at different depths/locations regarding the baseline. For example if using beginner mode I've found the machine needs to be placed a little behind the service line and advanced needs to be behind the baseline. Intermediate is between those two. You'll need to let a few balls shoot out to insure you're OK or you'll need to adjust the elevation, speed, and/or spin to fine tune so balls land in play on the other side.

Once that is done then the machine will place balls at various locations (width, depth) as expected. Now, is this going to be like playing a match against a player? My finding has been not unless you ratchet down the internval a little so that a ball is coming at you as the last one you hit lands. By default the player mode interval is a little slower than what you'd experience in a match. Thats fine if you want to give yourself a little more time to consider how you hit the return and get ready for the next one. But if you want to experience conditions as close to match play as this type of machine can give you then the internal may need to be kicked down a little. This is no big deal and is done in a few seconds while the first few balls come out. Once you know the proper interval you can sit it to that from the start the next time you use the selected player mode.

One thing I've noticed is while the machine does vary placement the spin put on the ball tends to stay rather consistent. It does vary a little but you'll not experience as large a variety of cut shots or side spins as you'd see against some players. Its certainly no Fabrice Santoro in that regard and you'll get no side spins at all.

Based upon my experiences so far I'm very happy with the machine. I'd say the decision to go with the player plus model (+$200) would depend on several issues. If you want to use the machine primarily to groove your strokes and have hitting partners to help work on your game then it may not be necessary. If you have trouble finding people to hit with then the player mode might be a good investment. I did not get my machine with the remote control and I'd say if I had to choose between the remote control and player plus feature I'd go with player plus. Not having the remote means you "burn" 2-3 balls moving to start hitting balls back. But other than that I never miss having that feature. I simply put on my iPod Nano headset and rock out until the machine is empty.

winokko
07-27-2011, 06:04 PM
sorry, asked for the info on contacting them ....please reply to winokko@hotmail.com
thanks

alancalan
08-01-2011, 07:48 AM
sorry, asked for the info on contacting them ....please reply to winokko@hotmail.com
thanks

Can't you google the info or try www.sportstutor.com When I was deciding which machine to buy I called them from the number listed on the web.

tennis4
07-16-2012, 12:07 PM
Just want to share one more positive experience with Sport Tutor's customer service!

Mine is a 10 years old Tennis Tutor 4 Plus with remote control. Recently the remote stopped working because I dropped it. After making a few unsuccessful attempts to fix the problem, they had UPS pick up the machine. Today I got it back. Wow, not only do they fix the remote control, they practically upgrade the remote control unit internally and externally. Plus they replace the throwing wheels, give me a new battery charger.

It is a 10 years old machine and they still take good care of it. I have to say they offer exceptionally great post sales service!

COPEY
07-17-2012, 02:52 AM
That's top notch customer service for sure. I own a Playmate, and although I think their customer service is good, it can't compare with Wilson...if in fact that's status quo.

beernutz
07-17-2012, 06:06 AM
Just want to share one more positive experience with Sport Tutor's customer service!

Mine is a 10 years old Tennis Tutor 4 Plus with remote control. Recently the remote stopped working because I dropped it. After making a few unsuccessful attempts to fix the problem, they had UPS pick up the machine. Today I got it back. Wow, not only do they fix the remote control, they practically upgrade the remote control unit internally and externally. Plus they replace the throwing wheels, give me a new battery charger.

It is a 10 years old machine and they still take good care of it. I have to say they offer exceptionally great post sales service!

Do you mind sharing what the cost was to have all that done?

tennis4
07-17-2012, 06:32 AM
Prior to returning the entire machine via UPS, I sent in the remote control, and subsequently the boards (removed from the machine). That cost me less than $20.00 in postage all together. As usual, they paid for the postage when returning the items back to me.

As the problem persisted, Tennis Tutor scheduled a UPS pick up so it incurred me zero.

In my previous notes, I forgot to mention that they replace the motors too, as well as replace the broken cover. Practically it is a brand new machine.

It is going to be 100 degree today so I am not sure if I will give it a test drive. I am optimistic it will perform well.

Do you mind sharing what the cost was to have all that done?