Serving and returning serve are the two most important shots in the game. However, just getting these shots in play is not going to be enough to win the match against a good player. The first shot that you hit in a match sets the tone for how the point will be played. It is very important to get control of the point the majority of the time with your serve or return of serve. My advice is to use direction and placement to hit these shots aggressively, but also with a good margin for error. Hitting your serve directly at the returner (serve lands close to the middle of the box) is an effective and safe way to start the point. Once you have established this serve, try moving your serve around using out wide and towards the “T”. Try to keep the ball 2-3 feet inside the sideline and the center line while still hitting the serve with good speed and/or spin. The same idea can be used when returning serve. Hit the return deep and down the middle at about 75% speed. After using this return for a while, vary the return from side to side, again, giving yourself lots of room away from the sideline. I would try to get the return to land halfway between the center of the court and the singles sideline. Keep the pace around 75% and try to get the opponent moving on their next shot. The tendency on both the serve and return of serve is to use pace as the main method of aggressiveness. Placement is more important and will also give you a better chance of being consistent when serving or returning serve.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Professional, is a Tennis Coach with Traveling Tennis Pros in Tucson, Arizona, the Director of Annacone Tennis, MyHamptonsPro and First Serve Tucson. Steve is also a Volunteer Assistant Coach for the University of Arizona Women’s team. For questions about private tennis lessons, group clinics, or tennis coaching, please go to our Tennis Lessons Tucson, Arizona page or contact us.