The tennis serve is one of the mightiest weapons in the game. The ability to return the tennis serve is essential, but the practice is not that easy. You will need a practice partner with a lot of time and a lot of skills. He should be ready to serve with different speed, rotation, and direction. The server variability is the key to practice for all possible match situations. But what to do if you are short of tennis partners with dedicated time and will to practice your return. Can the tennis ball machine help you? What are your options?
The tennis ball machine can feed you with a lot of different shots. A good tennis ball machine will mix the shots with different directions, depth, speed, and spin. The only shot that the tennis ball machine can not replicate is the tennis serve. The ball machines shooting mechanism is usually placed low. The tennis serve comes from a height of 2 to 3 meters, depending on the player. No tennis machine is high enough to throw the ball from the same level.
If you still want to use the tennis ball machine for returning a tennis serve practice, you need to place the device in the desired height. How to do it? You have two basic options. The first one is to use the platform from the manufacturer, the second one is “do it yourself” risky solution.
I found two manufacturers providing service platforms: Spinshot and Playmate.
Spinshot Service Platform
It looks easy to use. The setup of the desired height is very convenient, and as you see in the video above, it should not make any problem even to ladies. The only downside of this branded service platform is the price. To pay third what your new Spinshot Player tennis ball machine costs or half of Spinshot Pro price seem too much for me. The second problem is that this platform is compatible just with Spinshot tennis ball machines. Other machines from different manufacturers will be too shaky on the platform, and nobody will risk the fall from 2 meters high serving stand that can damage the machine. So I would not recommend using this platform with other tennis ball machines (not even with other rectangle sized ball machines (e.g., Tennis Tutor portable machines))
Check the availability of the Spinshot Service Platform on Amazon here.
This stable aluminum construction is not a cheap solution but very comfortable. It can be used with all Playmate tennis ball machines. Playmate lift is easy to control, very stable, and safe to use.
I would recommend the lift for tennis clubs that are looking for a viable practice solution. If you wanna build machines equipment on behalf of the club, the Playmate machines and lift need to be considered.
Risky low-cost solution
The other solution is to use something high and stable enough that is already on the court. I call it a very risky but low-cost solution. Do not try it without thorough consideration.
Tennis umpire chair is not present at all courts in your club, but at least one can be found in all good tennis clubs. The height of the seat is around 2 meters (7 ft). If you place the machine on the chair, the ball will be thrown from an ideal height.
Disclaimer: Keep in mind that tennis ball machines move a little when shooting the ball, so fasten it with the belt to prevent its fall and be very careful to avoid any damage on machine or injury to people on the court.