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Tennis 101: Serving

tennis 2

Location of the serve is crucial. The majority of the time
your serve should be up the middle, down the T as I call it, or at
the opponent’s body, but occasionally serve wide to keep your
opponent honest. There are only three spots you should aim for
with your serve. One way to remember these three spots is by
thinking ABC: “A” for the single alley line, “B” for the body,
and “C” for the centerline.
Good doubles’ teams will tell each other in code where
the server is attempting to place the serve, and I’ll discuss
communication on the court in more detail in that section of the
book. In most adult doubles matches, place trumps pace, so
a soft serve in the right place is often more effective that a fast
paced serve. I played a tournament with my father in Monterey,
California. He had an elbow injury and was unable to extend his
arm to get power. He placed his serve so well that he won the
majority of the games at love.
Sometimes the net player will make hand signals behind his
back, asking the server to direct his serve to a particular service
area. If the net person knows the serve is being directed at the
centerline and the net person moves in that direction quickly,
the net person’s ability to poach is increased. The game is often
about anticipating where the ball is coming and a serve down the
center restricts the area for an effective return of serve, which
puts the poach in play.

If you serve wide, you give your opponent a crosscourt winner
because of the angle created. The wider you pull your opponent,
the wider the angle he has for the return. By keeping the ball
in the middle of the court or at your opponent’s body, you take
away the crosscourt angle. However, if you are going to serve
wide, make sure it is an aggressive serve. A poor wide serve
allows your opponent to “slap the ball down the line” for a
winner. Also, by serving up the middle you go over the lowest
part of the net. The wider the serve, the higher the net is. Most
aces are hit up the middle over the lowest point of the net.
In doubles the net person is a pawn of the server. If the
serve is wide, the net person must go wide to cover the alley. The
server now has to cover most of the court since his partner has
been pulled off the court. Keeping the ball in the middle of the
court gives your opponent fewer angles and makes it difficult to
get passed at the net.