Many players think of the serve as simply a way to put the
ball in play with little thought of the consequences of
their action. You may not have great variety or power in
your serves but knowing the where and why of serving can
add to your arsenal of weapons.
There are basically three areas of the service box to hit
into: wide toward the alley, into the body, and down the
center service line. Each of these areas has advantages
you should know about.
When hitting wide serves you pull your opponent off the
court, leaving you more open court for your next shot. You
must remember that "hitting an angle creates an angle,"
so you must be prepared for a shorter, sharper return.
Hitting into the body keeps your opponent from really
being able to step into the ball and hit an offensive
return. Hopefully, this will force a weak return so that
you can control the point or knock off a winning volley
if you have followed your serve to the net.
A serve hit down the center service line limits the
angles your opponent has on the return. Many times you
will get a ball back down the middle of the court so
that you can then hit to your opponent's weakness.
Knowing the most likely return of each serve can help
you in planning your attack on each point. By using a
game plan where you consciously place your serves, your
anticipation will increase as you see the point unfold
the way you planned it. So the next time you are
wondering how to hold serve in a crucial game, think of
the return you are trying to get from your opponent,
then place the serve accordingly.