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Hardscrabble Scramble
November 1999 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Where And Why In Serving

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Mike Whittington

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.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


 

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