Best Playmate Tennis Ball Machines

There’s no doubt about it, the game of tennis is an enjoyable pastime. While the game has many positives, getting started can be a steep learning curve for many players. It may look simple from the outside, but there’s more to it than just hitting the ball. To succeed in the game, you not only need to be aware of your opponent’s movements, but you also need to learn how to swing and serve accurately.

Thankfully, there are a number of ways that you can improve your tennis skills. Some people find tennis lessons beneficial, while others prefer to take to the court and practice independently. If the latter suits you best, investing in a tennis ball machine is the best way to improve your game. This way, you can practice independently without having to work around a tennis partner’s schedule.

In this article, we discuss the best Playmate tennis ball machines to help you choose one. In our opinion, they’re an essential piece of kit for anyone looking to improve their game. With the aid of a tennis ball machine, you can practice any time without the need for a human opponent.

Playmate Deuce Review

If you want to practice two shot combinations, the Playmate Deuce is the machine for you.

Unlike other tennis ball machines, the Playmate Deuce offers two distinct programmable shots, each with its own spin, speed, elevation and delay.

Whether you’re looking to follow a volley with a lob or move from a topspin into a backspin, this machine has you covered. The Deuce control box makes setting up the shots simple.

Players can electronically adjust the height, speed, topspin or backspin, and feed rate, and also enjoy the seven-position direction.

Another great thing about the Deuce is that it’s a Chameleon Series ball machine. Compatible with the Genie, Smash, and PC control units, the machine can grow with you and be upgraded at a later date.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random
  • Speed: 12 to 80 mph
  • Feed rate: 1-17 seconds
  • Elevation: 5-15 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 300
  • Power: AC mains
  • Weight: 46 kg

Playmate iGenie Review

The Playmate iGenie is another powerful tennis ball machine. Equipped with a state-of-the-art control panel, the machine can provide up to ten different shots to simulate real game situations.

Whether it’s used independently or in a group, the iGenie allows students to practice drills including approach shots, groundstrokes, or lobs to 2 lines. If you’re hoping to mix and match your shots, that’s fine!

Whatever combination you can think of, the iGenie can do it! iPlayMate Tennis for iPhone and iPad support is included with the machine. This handy little app allows you to plan ahead and create drills, track workouts, and compare your results with others.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random
  • Speed: 12-105 mph
  • Feed rate: 1-60 seconds
  • Elevation: 15-55 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 300
  • Power: AC mains
  • Weight: 37 kg

Playmate iSmash Review

The iSmash is Playmate’s base Chameleon Series model.

Totally upgradable to the iGenie, this machine is ideal for players who want to start with the basics and work up. You can purchase the ball machine now and buy upgrades later to turn it into a top line model.

Although the iSmash is the base model, don’t let the name fool you. The machine is one of the best in production and has tons of features to keep the most avid player on their toes.

The iSmash features a 300-ball hopper, a 7-position programmable electronic direction and a variable topspin and backspin.

The machine is also compatible with the Playmate Serve Lift, allowing you to enjoy the features of the iSmash from an elevated position.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random
  • Speed: 12-80 mph
  • Feed rate: 1-60 seconds
  • Elevation: 15-55 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 300
  • Power: AC mains
  • Weight: 37 kg

Playmate Grand Slam Review

At the time of writing, the Playmate Grand Slam is the fastest ball machine in the world.

Not only is the machine quick, but it can also throw any type of spin, including right-handed slice, left-handed slice, right-handed kick, left-handed kick and American twist. Boasting 4 throwing wheels, the machine can provide almost any combination you can imagine.

The unique 4-wheel design allows the Slam to grip the ball like no other machine in the world and randomly deliver 120mph serves to players on the inside, the middle and the outside. To get ahead of your opponents and learn how to face an almost 200kmh serve, invest in the Playmate Grand Slam.

Specs

  • Oscillation: random
  • Speed: 12-105 mph
  • Feed rate: 1-60 seconds
  • Elevation: 15-55 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 300
  • Power: AC mains
  • Weight: 37 kg

Playmate Volley Portable Review

The Playmate Volley Portable is considered one of the best battery-powered ball machines in the world.

When the machine is set to “random”, the internal wheels change the ball direction. As this is invisible from the outside, you’ll be forced to react to the ball changing direction – just like you would in a real game.

Unlike other portable machines, the rechargeable battery is removable. This means that you don’t have to lug the entire machine back and forth to plug in and recharge. The machine comes in two different models:

The Full Volley Portable and the Half Volley Portable. Both models have a number of great features including a 200-ball hopper, electronic ball speed and feed rate, and variable topspin and backspin.

The Playmate Full Volley also includes a 2-line function with random oscillation and a wireless remote control.

Specs

  • Oscillation: Horizontal 2 Line
  • Speed: 20-60 mph
  • Feed rate: 1-20 seconds
  • Elevation: 15-45 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 200
  • Power: Battery
  • Weight: 25 kg

Playmate Ace Review

Last, but certainly not least, is the Playmate Ace.

Boasting a number of great features, this machine is suitable for a private court owner, a club rental, or even a school.

Compatible with the Playmate Serve and Lift, the Ace can imitate a human’s serve to provide a realistic game environment.

The standard model comes with a remote control for ON/OFF function and has the power to be controlled remotely with the Freedom Kit upgrade. Featuring an electronic control panel, players can control backspin, topspin, and oscillation with ease.

The Ace also comes with a 200-ball hopper, a view controller, and electronic direction to 1, 2, or 3 lines. As the machine isn’t a Chameleon model, it can’t be upgraded to become the Deuce, Smash, Genie, or Slam. While that’s not necessarily a negative, it’s something to keep in mind when choosing your tennis ball machine.

Specs

  • Oscillation: 3 Line
  • Speed: 12-80 mph
  • Feed rate: 1-17 seconds
  • Elevation: 15-55 degrees
  • Ball capacity: 200
  • Power: AC mains
  • Weight: 37 kg

Playmate Serve Lift

If you’re looking to elevate your tennis skill-set, the Playmate Serve Lift will not disappoint.

Compatible with a number of tennis ball machines, the Serve Lift is a player-friendly accessory that raises your machine to service height.

Whether you’re hoping to improve your skills or just enjoy a realistic experience on the court, the Playmate Serve Lift has got you covered.

With the Serve Lift, you can improve your left and right serve return and practice defensive lobs against the ball machine’s overhead. Elevating your machine to imitate a human’s serve, the Serve Lift creates a realistic game environment to further improve your skills.

The accessory is compatible with various tennis ball machines, including the iSmash, iGenie, the Grand Slam and the Playmate PC.

How to Choose a Playmate Tennis Ball Machine

So now you know what a tennis ball machine is, but how do you choose one? With so many Playmate models out there, it can be difficult to decide. Thankfully, we’re here to help.

With thousands of tennis ball machines on the market, there is something to suit players of all sorts. To choose the right one, you’ll need to consider your budget, expectations and what you’re looking to get from the machine. While basic machines are often cheaper, top of the line options provide more power, speed, and customisability.

There are two main types of tennis ball launcher: those that use compressed air and those that use a rotating wheel. As each type has pros and cons, it’s definitely something to consider when choosing your machine. Typically, compressed air machines are more affordable, and the air isn’t too hard on the balls during use. However, compressed air machines can be noisy and inaccurate when using different types of balls. While rotating wheel machines are more expensive, they don’t make as much noise and they’re more consistent than compressed air launchers.

Ultimately, the best type of tennis ball machine will depend on your budget, skill level, and what you’re looking for. If you’re serious about improving your game, investing in a good-quality rotating wheel machine is probably your best bet.