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-   -   Ball machine value for $$? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=458034)

Roddick85 03-18-2013 04:17 AM

Ball machine value for $$?
 
Hey guys,

I've been doing a lots of research on these boards in the last couple of weeks as i'm looking to acquire a ball machine as soon as the temperature here in Montreal, Canada allows for outdoor play. I've basically narrowed it down to Silent Partner Quest and Tennis Tutor Plus. However, reading the various reviews, it seems that the quality of either machines is a bit of a hit and miss with some users saying the machine worked flawlessly out of the box and others running into all sorts of problems? With that in mind, I'm starting to second guess investing 1k-2k in a tennis ball machine? Are the higher priced models built any better than the low end ones?

Another dilemma I had last week was that I talked to the owner of my local tennis shop, they carry Tennis Tutor only where as I think a Silent Partner would fit my needs more for probably a bit less money. However as I explained to him my dilemma between the 2 machines, he claimed that they used to carry Silent Partners a couple of years back and that the machine had HUGE reliability issues, but that Tennis Tutor was very reliable, but from reading the various reviews on the web, I don't fully trust his statement. I would like to buy from my local shop so that if the machine breaks, I can deal with them for 1 year, but I heard good things about Silent Partner's support, and they're a Canadian company, so really i'm a bit lost and hesitant... All I want is a quality built machine that I can rely on, that will fit either in my trunk or on the backseat.

Here's what I want to practice with the ball machine :

- Volley's
- Smashes
- Returning heavy top spin/hard shots (I definitely need a machine that can send a hard shots)
- Backhand/Forehand (Just practicing my form, don't care much about the speed)

I need something that will shoot balls at a good pace as I want to improve my footwork, I don't want to wait 10+ seconds for every shots. Judging by the reviews and my needs, I don't think investing in those "player" models with those pre-set that simulate different styles of play will bring much value vs the extra you pay for, but I could be wrong?

So if you guys could help me clear out my mind, I'd greatly appreciate! :)

Bolivian10s 03-18-2013 07:48 AM

Sports Tutor has been around over 25 years and they always have taken care of my machines for over 10 years, having owned several models over the years. Buy a Tennis Tutor Plus, that model describes everything you need. It's plenty fast, durable and has a 2 year warranty.

ATP100 03-18-2013 08:04 AM

They are both good machines, just buy one and get to practicing.
(I own both, and a few lobster's)

Roddick85 03-18-2013 09:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by ATP100 (Post 7285940)
They are both good machines, just buy one and get to practicing.
(I own both, and a few lobster's)

Seeing as you own both, does the Silent Partner really throw balls faster than other machines?

v-verb 03-18-2013 09:48 AM

Silent Partner is in Toronto so no cross border hassles for service

Bolivian10s 03-18-2013 09:53 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roddick85 (Post 7286099)
Seeing as you own both, does the Silent Partner really throw balls faster than other machines?

Silent Partner will throw harder but you can't keep the ball in the court at max speed, so fastest speed won't matter.

beernutz 03-18-2013 12:32 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bolivian10s (Post 7286170)
Silent Partner will throw harder but you can't keep the ball in the court at max speed, so fastest speed won't matter.

You can crank up the topspin and the balls will stay in the court if you move the machine all the way back to the fence. I have done this with my Silent Partner Star. There's not much practical value to it as they were kicking up extremely high the time I tried it.

That said, just like I rarely ever hit the maximum speed available in my car or boat, I very rarely ever use the top speed on my ball machine so I do agree with Bolivian that it doesn't matter much past a certain point. I've tried practicing volleys with the machine on the top setting and unless I'm back behind the service line they are coming too fast for me to do much with.

Roddick85 03-18-2013 02:05 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by beernutz (Post 7286519)
You can crank up the topspin and the balls will stay in the court if you move the machine all the way back to the fence. I have done this with my Silent Partner Star. There's not much practical value to it as they were kicking up extremely high the time I tried it.

That said, just like I rarely ever hit the maximum speed available in my car or boat, I very rarely ever use the top speed on my ball machine so I do agree with Bolivian that it doesn't matter much past a certain point. I've tried practicing volleys with the machine on the top setting and unless I'm back behind the service line they are coming too fast for me to do much with.

Thanks for the input. Just a question, how satisfied are you with your Silent Partner so far? Did you have to do any kind of maintenance?

beernutz 03-18-2013 06:11 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roddick85 (Post 7286773)
Thanks for the input. Just a question, how satisfied are you with your Silent Partner so far? Did you have to do any kind of maintenance?

It has been a good machine so far. I bought it a little over three years ago and have put about 150 hours on it. I had a battery go out while it was still in warranty and they sent me a new one. I then replaced that one with one I bought about a year ago. The smart charger I use accidentally came unplugged which I think caused my second battery to die. Replacing it wasn't hard and cost me about $45 and maybe thirty minutes time because you have to unscrew about 15 screws to get to where it is installed.

yonexRx32 03-18-2013 06:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roddick85 (Post 7285568)
Hey guys,

I've been doing a lots of research on these boards in the last couple of weeks as i'm looking to acquire a ball machine as soon as the temperature here in Montreal, Canada allows for outdoor play. I've basically narrowed it down to Silent Partner Quest and Tennis Tutor Plus. However, reading the various reviews, it seems that the quality of either machines is a bit of a hit and miss with some users saying the machine worked flawlessly out of the box and others running into all sorts of problems? With that in mind, I'm starting to second guess investing 1k-2k in a tennis ball machine? Are the higher priced models built any better than the low end ones?

Another dilemma I had last week was that I talked to the owner of my local tennis shop, they carry Tennis Tutor only where as I think a Silent Partner would fit my needs more for probably a bit less money. However as I explained to him my dilemma between the 2 machines, he claimed that they used to carry Silent Partners a couple of years back and that the machine had HUGE reliability issues, but that Tennis Tutor was very reliable, but from reading the various reviews on the web, I don't fully trust his statement. I would like to buy from my local shop so that if the machine breaks, I can deal with them for 1 year, but I heard good things about Silent Partner's support, and they're a Canadian company, so really i'm a bit lost and hesitant... All I want is a quality built machine that I can rely on, that will fit either in my trunk or on the backseat.

Here's what I want to practice with the ball machine :

- Volley's
- Smashes
- Returning heavy top spin/hard shots (I definitely need a machine that can send a hard shots)
- Backhand/Forehand (Just practicing my form, don't care much about the speed)

I need something that will shoot balls at a good pace as I want to improve my footwork, I don't want to wait 10+ seconds for every shots. Judging by the reviews and my needs, I don't think investing in those "player" models with those pre-set that simulate different styles of play will bring much value vs the extra you pay for, but I could be wrong?

So if you guys could help me clear out my mind, I'd greatly appreciate! :)

I own a ball machine. It throws so hard (especially with pressureless balls) that it will rip the racket off your hands. But that's not the purpose of the machine. Ask any professional. Hitting against hard balls that you can control only 30% of the time is a waste of time. I wasted time until I understood. Having had mine for five years (of great fun mostly) I can tell you the secret to purchasing one: reliability. Because when they break (and they will break) you will have to send them in for repair. The repair won't be cheap, it will take time (in one case over two months) and will rob you of your summer playing days, and the shipping both ways won't be cheap. So your top priority should be reliability and a remote, not 80mph vs 85mph....

Roddick85 03-19-2013 03:43 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by yonexRx32 (Post 7287378)
I own a ball machine. It throws so hard (especially with pressureless balls) that it will rip the racket off your hands. But that's not the purpose of the machine. Ask any professional. Hitting against hard balls that you can control only 30% of the time is a waste of time. I wasted time until I understood. Having had mine for five years (of great fun mostly) I can tell you the secret to purchasing one: reliability. Because when they break (and they will break) you will have to send them in for repair. The repair won't be cheap, it will take time (in one case over two months) and will rob you of your summer playing days, and the shipping both ways won't be cheap. So your top priority should be reliability and a remote, not 80mph vs 85mph....

Which one do you recommend for reliability? Tennis Tutor?

yonexRx32 03-19-2013 05:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Roddick85 (Post 7287819)
Which one do you recommend for reliability? Tennis Tutor?

I wish I knew. I have only owned one. Check the warranty (try to get at least two years, but better three years) and make sure you use the machine intensively during that period. If something's amiss you want to catch it before the warranty expires. The things that tend to break are the program functions (alternate side to side hitting) and random oscillator. You can have a ton of fun without those functions so save your bucks and get one that throws straight but adjusts for ball speed, height, frequency, spin, and has a remote. That would be my advice.

tennis_ocd 03-19-2013 06:44 AM

I have a silent partner sport and don't believe I've ever gone over 50% of max speed (more precisely, midway on the dial.) You could raise the machine on a cart or table, increase speed for serve returns - I never have. As with batting cages, they are for practicing technique not fastball timing.

Machine has been great. Did fry board but they immediately sent out another under warranty (2 years.) Service was excellent. They really are pretty simple things -- structure which won't go bad unless machine is dropped or severely abused; two ball motors; small oscillator motor; battery and circuit board. All batteries will need eventual replacement. A motor or circuit board is a relatively easy swap if it should fail.

Two big surprises with machine that I discovered are that you really need courts to yourself; fine if you can go off hours or extreme weather. Two, the machine won't fire damp balls. Any drizzle or court puddles will end the session.

jonestim 03-19-2013 08:01 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by tennis_ocd (Post 7288132)

Two big surprises with machine that I discovered are that you really need courts to yourself; fine if you can go off hours or extreme weather. Two, the machine won't fire damp balls. Any drizzle or court puddles will end the session.

I use mine at public courts - mostly where there are two, sometimes where there are four. If someone shows up to play next to me I just work on crosscourt/down the line where it places all the balls into the corner away from them. Last night I had one ball roll onto their half along the back fence behind the guys playing - they didn't notice it. During the same time I had about 5 of their balls make it onto my court. Work on consistency of placement and it isn't bad. If I have to use it at the facility with four courts I do need an end court.

And yes, if it drizzles you are done for the day.

BIGJ98 03-19-2013 08:04 AM

Tennis tutor has the best customer service out there. One of my friends batteries on his machine from 10 years ago stopped working and they gave him a whole new battery and a ac power cable all for free.

2ndServe 03-19-2013 08:14 AM

tennis tutor for their customer service.

anandk74 03-20-2013 08:47 AM

I am looking at buying ball machine for my kids 5 & 9. My older one plays orange ball and I am tired of trying to find hitting partners. I am looking at Tennis Tutor prolite and wanted to know if I can use quickstart balls with it?

nn 03-20-2013 11:55 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by anandk74 (Post 7290665)
I am looking at buying ball machine for my kids 5 & 9. My older one plays orange ball and I am tired of trying to find hitting partners. I am looking at Tennis Tutor prolite and wanted to know if I can use quickstart balls with it?

absolutely you can use orange or green dots with tennis machine.

Since you have two boys tennis tutor plus will be good option. It has three modes (beginner to advance) to switch between them.

anandk74 03-20-2013 12:16 PM

Thanks nn...I heard that these quickstart balls might get stuck bcos of less pressure. Also, are there pressureless balls that would mimic quickstart balls instead of just the reqular balls?

nn 03-20-2013 08:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by anandk74 (Post 7291277)
Thanks nn...I heard that these quickstart balls might get stuck bcos of less pressure. Also, are there pressureless balls that would mimic quickstart balls instead of just the reqular balls?

You can control the speed of the ball from 5-80 range on most of the ball machine. I am not aware of quick start ball stuck in the machine. Just to clarify I am talking about orange (qst 60) and green dot (76) (not regular ball i.e. yellow). I am not sure about red qst 36 works with ball machine (never try) because they are little bigger in shape compare to any quick start balls.


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