When it comes to Friendship 729 and Friendship 729-2, people familiar with the history of table tennis in China will express their nostalgia. 729 is a brand of table tennis equipment that has contributed to the development of the sport in China. It has provided great support to numerous famous Chinese table tennis players who have reached the pinnacle of the sport, such as Xi Enting, Guo Yuehua, and Cai Zhenhua.
However, over time, it has gradually declined from its peak and even moved towards the lower end of the domestic market among top brands. But Friendship 729 remains a legendary table tennis rubber, especially its classic 729-2, which has been beloved by table tennis players for decades.
I first used the 729-2 when I was practicing table tennis in elementary school. At that time, there were two classic rubbers from 729, namely 729 and 729-2. However, the 729-2 Sensor we are going to introduce today is not the same rubber that I used over a decade ago.
Who is the Friendship 729-2 sensor for?
Friendship 729-2 sensor is not among the top offensive rubbers but it does have great speed and control. This rubber is suitable for offensive players who like fast loops or drives in the short court, especially the ones who are good at their backhands. It is also a great choice for the controllable players as the topsheet is relatively medium soft and can provide great control over the ball.
Overview of Friendship 729-2 sensor
The 729-2 Sensor rubber is known for its spin-oriented design, allowing players to generate impressive spin on their shots. The topsheet of the rubber is designed with a grippy surface that grabs the ball, enabling enhanced spin potential.
In the playtest, I glued the rubber on my classic all-wood blade Stiga CL-CR. We have made the introduction and also did a review of this blade in our previous blog. You can just click the link to make a reference.
I tried the first several forehand and backhand drive shots and my initial of this rubber is its considerable elasticity. In terms of sponge hardness, the 729-2 Sensor’s rating would be medium compared to other Chinese rubbers. It is relatively hard, even when compared to rubbers with supposedly hard sponges like the Roxon 500.
Friendship 729-2 Sensor also allows for quick and powerful friction that facilitates accelerated loops. It is particularly effective for both forehand and backhand loops or drives. But most players are super satisfied with its great speed in backhand. The soft sponge of the rubber enables excellent ball control, making backhand loops effortless.
However, the 729-2 sensor lacks top gear compared to other top offensive rubbers like T05 or D05. And the overall speed is not as fast as the 729 Focus 2 or the classic DHS Hurricane 3.
Due to its ability to lift the ball effectively when close to the table, it serves as an efficient weapon for players who rely on fast-loop attacks in short-court situations.
When compared to other rubbers without speed glue, the 729-2 Sensor offers commendable speed and spin. In terms of spin, I would rate it around 9.5 or 10, similar to popular rubbers like Tenergy.
The 729-2 Sensor has taught me a new skill – using the push shot not just for control, transitions, and setting up the next shot, but as an attacking technique. With the same amount of force, the has greater spin, and when I added power to the push, the ball became highly spinny and threatening. My opponents often struggled to control the ball, leading to shots going into the net or returning weakly, setting me up for a more powerful attack on the next shot.
The stickiness of the rubber makes generating underspin so easy, and the friction it provides is truly remarkable. Whether it’s a high, looping shot or a quick, forward-spinning shot, the rubber feels great in my hand and gives me a sense of control. I’ve never experienced the direct downward plunge of a forward-spinning shot like this; it’s difficult for opponents to handle.
The high, looping shots are similar to topspin attacks, and there’s a noticeable acceleration after the second bounce. It’s relatively easy to lift short balls with backhand topspin shots, and the balls spun out have a powerful rotation and a wide angle, posing a significant threat.
Honestly speaking, I was pleasantly surprised by the 729-2 sensor’s great responsiveness and excellent control on the table. It is extremely similar to the classic DHS Hurricane 3 National Version but with a rather low price. The soft sponge allows for precise ball placement and maneuverability, giving players a high level of control during their shots.
But we have noticed that the black version is slightly softer than the red version, which may make lots of players a little bit confused. In my personal preference, I choose to use the black side for my forehand and the red side for my backhand in table tennis games. However, it is a common practice among players to have a stronger and more powerful forehand compared to their backhand. Therefore, table tennis players often opt for a harder rubber on their forehand side.
But anyway, I am quite into this rubber and I always use softer rubber for my forehand because I am a chopper and softer rubbers usually have better control. The positioning of the ball can be better controlled and the rubber has higher error-tolerance. I noticed that sometimes I hit the ball without full preparation but the ball can still be on the table.
Friendship 729-2 sensor is not a typical block rubber but it has decent performance in blocking and driving. I am really content with its passive blocking. The rubber is medium soft and it helps me to absorb the incoming powerful of the ball. It is a great rubber to slow down the game and break the rhythm of your opponent in the games with a passive block. As mentioned before, the short pushes are also great that can serve as a way to change the rhythm of the game.
The specially designed sponge of the Friendship 729-2 Sensor rubber is able to generate backspin shots. I can clearly feel the friction from the sticky surface, tracing the ball’s trajectory as it grips the rubber. The spin is particularly strong, allowing me to effortlessly produce heavy backspin serves that can confuse and trouble my opponents, making them struggle to return the ball effectively.
I am also satisfied with its performance when serving the dead ball(without spin). The fast-paced serve has great speed and precision, with a noticeable increase in speed after the second bounce, making it highly threatening and rarely causing mistakes.
Personally speaking, I think the Friendship 729-2 sensor is an ideal alternative to DHS Hurricane 3. The bad thing is that there are lots of fake rubbers of the Hurricane series in the market nowadays. But in the case of 729, there is no such issue. I strongly suggest that players use the Friendship 729-2 sensor for their backhand as it has great stability.
The rubber can be matched with a blade ranging from all-round to off+. Players will benefit from its great control and high error tolerance.
In conclusion, the Friendship 729-2 Sensor rubber proves to be a remarkable choice for table tennis players seeking enhanced control and versatility in their gameplay. With its medium soft top sheet and responsive touch, it offers smooth and precise ball contact, allowing for accurate ball placement and maneuverability. The rubber’s impressive spin capabilities, both in generating super spinny shots and executing powerful topspin attacks, provide players with a strategic advantage on the table.