(by Steve Hopkins)
As a 2000-and-change level player, my analysis and comparison of equipment has limits. I don’t have the arm speed of the pros, and I don’t rely on powerful loops or try to drive the ball through my opponent – so my review is on how this equipment works for me in a competitive setting. I’m an all-around or control player that uses precise shots to set up high-percentage points. I vary spin and speed, and my attacking shots generally occur when the other player has made a mistake or as a counter attack using my opponent’s power against them.
Away from the table, I found very little difference between the two rubbers. Counterloops have similar effect for me, angles that were available with one are available with the other, and my most aggressive top spin attacks are about the same. The same goes for touch shots – I was expecting the harder sponge to have more difficulty with touch shots near the net or softening blocks or drop shots. However, both rubber sheets performed about the same after some adjustment.
One point of note is that a heavy underspin serve appeared to have less rotation with the harder sponge. I was still able to control the ball easily and to apply a variety of spins and placements – but that top gear for my heaviest spin was not there.
The biggest benefits for Tenergy 05 Hard for me were realized near the table. A vertical loop off of my opponent’s serve stayed a little lower and more speed was generated. An aggressive quick loop near the table during a rally creates a faster attack with a deeper and flatter ball that is more difficult for my opponent to return. And the aggressive block that I have come to rely heavily on (striking the other players loop flat and hard near my end line) has more power with this rubber than any other rubber that I have used. Because I have a little more power near the table, I am finding my play has become a little more aggressive and I am pressing the pace a little more. These are all good things for this aging all-around player in today’s offensive-focused version of our sport.
I always tinker with equipment, so I look forward to taking a close look at Dignics 05 when it comes out in a few weeks. But at this point, I plan to stick with Tenergy 05 Hard for tournaments.