How and Where to Serve
It could be that you do not have the power or variety in your serve that
the pros do, knowing where to serve and why can add a weapon to your game.
Too many players think of the serve as a way to start the point without
realizing the consequences or options that are involved. There are 3 basic
areas where you can serve. The first is wide onto the sidewall, the second
low to the back of the service box and the third is down the middle at the
player, the body serve. Each of these service areas have different tactics
that you must follow.
When you serve high and wide, the lob serve, the key is to make your
opponent stretch, or even better, he allows the ball to pass him into the
back corner, before returning your serve. If you can achieve this, you will
have the advantage to come to the tee and volley or to dictate the first
shot of the rally. You could also hit a winner if the return of serve is
short. If you do not move your opponent wide enough, your opponent will gain
the advantage of your serve. Your opponent will have the choice to hit short
or a deep forcing return.
Be alert to not overuse the body serve because your opponent can often hit
an attacking return. The key of this serve is to use it as a surprise
element unless you know that this type of serve is one of your opponent's
The tennis or overhead power serve, low and into the nick at the back of the
service box, will limit the ability of your opponents to carefully place
their returns. Like with the wide lob serve, the key is also to stretch and
sometimes overpower your opponent so you increase your chances to take the
advantage of a shorter and weaker return of serve.
In summary, utilising the geometry of the court will help you successfully
plan your serve patterns. Having a game plan will help you anticipate as you
will be able to execute each point as you planned. Next time you need to
hold serve in a crucial game, think of the return you want to receive so you
can serve accordingly. Remember that 80% of the returns off a good wide
serve will be down the line or towards the middle of the court, so place
your serve and have a plan.
Two other key points to think
> Where is your opponent standing to
> Can you learn to play an overhead tennis-like serve but softly, so it
becomes a safer lob-service?