Quantcast
nodot nodot
Wild Cards
January 2008 Article

Latest Wild Cards Article

Wild Cards Archives:
2004 - 2014
1998 - 2003

Tennis Server
HOME PAGE

Do You Want To Be A Better Tennis Player?

Then Sign Up For A Free Subscription to the Tennis Server INTERACTIVE
E-mail Newsletter!

You will join 25,000 other subscribers in receiving news of updates to the Tennis Server along with monthly tennis tips from tennis pro Tom Veneziano that won't be found on the web site.
 
Best of all, it is free!

Player Profiles:
 
Top Pros (Women)
tennis ball Serena Williams
tennis ball Maria Sharapova
tennis ball Petra Kvitova
tennis ball Simona Halep
tennis ball Eugenie Bouchard
tennis ball Agnieszka Radwanska
tennis ball Ana Ivanovic
tennis ball Caroline Wozniacki
tennis ball Na Li
tennis ball Angelique Kerber
 ... more profiles
 
Top Pros (Men)
tennis ball Novak Djokovic
tennis ball Roger Federer
tennis ball Rafael Nadal
tennis ball Stanislas Wawrinka
tennis ball David Ferrer
tennis ball Tomas Berdych
tennis ball Kei Nishikori
tennis ball Marin Cilic
tennis ball Milos Raonic
tennis ball Andy Murray
 ... more profiles
 
Tennis Features Icon TENNIS FEATURES:

BETWEEN THE LINES - Ray Bowers takes an analytical and sometimes controversial look at the ATP/WTA professional tour.
 
PRO TENNIS SHOWCASE - Tennis match reports and photography from around the world.
 
TURBO TENNIS - Ron Waite turbocharges your tennis game with tennis tips, strategic considerations, training and practice regimens, and mental mindsets and exercises.
 
TENNIS ANYONE? - USPTA Pro John Mills' quick player tip.
 
WILD CARDS - Each month a guest column by a new writer.
 
TENNIS SET - Jani Macari Pallis, Ph.D. looks at tennis science, engineering and technology.
 
MORTAL TENNIS - Greg Moran's tennis archive on how regular humans can play better tennis.
 
MENTAL EQUIPMENT - Explore the mental side of the game with Dr. John Murray.
 
TENNIS WARRIOR - Tom Veneziano's Tennis Warrior archive.
 
HARDSCRABBLE SCRAMBLE - USPTA pro Mike Whittington's player tip archive.
 
TENNIS EQUIPMENT TIPS.

Tennis Community Icon TENNIS COMMUNITY:


Tennis Book, DVD, and Video Index
 
Tennis Server Match Reports
 
Editor's Letter
 
Become a Tennis Server Sponsor

Explore The Tennis Net Icon EXPLORE THE TENNIS NET:

Pro Tennis Calendar & Event Links
 
Tennis News and Live Tennis Scores
 
Tennis Links on the Web
 
nodot
Wild Cards
 
Green Dot
 
Tennis Warehouse Logo
 
Green Dot

 
nodot
Serve-and-Volley Doubles -- Making It Work
by Kathy Krajco
Operation Doubles: Tennis Doubles Strategy & Tactics

Have you tried serve-and-volley doubles and had bad luck with it? Or, do you think following your serve to the net is beyond your ability?

Problems with serve-and-volley doubles are usually due to a common misconception that has many players a little off target in their objectives. And if you think following your serve is beyond your ability, it's probably because of the myth that you need a powerful serve to follow it to the net.

The serve-and-volley play isn't just for all-out attacking doubles. Used occasionally, as a way of mixing it up, this play should be an element in most teams' games. It's effective as a surprise on a big point. And it plagues the most important shot in the game, the service return, by forcing receivers to hit every return with one eye on your server to see whether the net rush is on or off.

The statistics leave no doubt - the key to success in the serve-and-volley game is minimizing the risk that the server will have a weak or out first volley forced from him or her on the way to the net. That's your team's vulnerable moment.

FOCUS

The receiver returns serve to the server so that the ball bounces at about the service line. Doing so forces the net-rushing server to hit up on a low first volley from that area called "no man's land." That's a tough shot, a low percentage shot that is often weak or out.

Even if the return isn't low, the server can't do much with the first volley from that far back. In fact, going for a winner from that far back is the most common cause of errors on the first volley. That's because, from back near the service line, the net is still too high and the opposition's court too narrow.

Usually you aren't in close enough to safely go for a winner until the second volley.

So, focus on that first volley. Play serve-and-volley doubles so as to minimize the risk of a weak or out first volley. That's the key to success.

Before your server hits that first volley, your team has only about a 50-50 chance of winning the point. But if he or she gets that first volley back deep, your team's chances of winning the point rocket to 75 or 80%.

THE SERVE

Does this mean that your serve must draw a weak service return? No. That answer is probably a surprise. A weak service return is usually welcome, of course, but you don't need a weak service return: you need an easy-to-volley service return. An easy-to-volley return is one within reach that you can hit at about shoulder height while passing through no man's land on your way to the net - preferably a floater.

Players who think they need a weak service return try to serve too hard. Serving too hard causes faults, and you don't get to the net behind faults. So, make sure your objective is correct: the objective of the serve-and-volley serve is to draw a floater down the center of your court.

Now, what kind of serve accomplishes that?

The first part is easy: to insure a return down the center, serve up the center. Geometry rules, as the diagram shows. A wide serve has almost twice as big an angle of return as a centered serve. Centering the serve constrains the return to within an area you can reach.

Indeed, the worst first volley is the one you don't get to hit, because you got passed by the service return. Nine times out of ten, that's your fault. Why? Because you shouldn't hit a net-rushing serve with a passing angle of return.

Therefore, don't serve at a sharp angle (especially with outward curving spin). If you do, that serve must be so forcing that it puts the receiver in just-get-the-ball-back mode. And you're likely to miss a ballistic serve like that. So, you won't get to the net often and safely behind wide serves. Serve wide just often enough to keep that receiver honest and guessing.

Now for the second ingredient of an easy-to-volley return, a shoulder high shot. How do you draw a high first volley so that you aren't forced to hit up on a low one at your feet as you pass through no man's land?

To see how, let's put ourselves in the receiver's shoes.

The receiver wants to return deep if your server stays back, and short if he or she rushes. The deep return flies high over the net, and the short return is a low shot. The receiver knows that the deep return is a setup for a server rushing the net, because it gives you a high and easy first volley. Likewise, the receiver knows that the short return is a setup for a server staying back, because it gives you a short shot to tee-off on. In fact, it would invite you to the net.

Therefore, be unpredictable. Keep the receiver guessing which kind of return to hit. Thus you require the receiver to return serve with one eye on your server to see whether the rush is on or off. You make returning serve much harder this way.

In fact, for the same reason, occasionally follow a second serve. Or hit your second serve as a first serve and follow it.

Yes, you needn't follow a hard slice or flat serve. In fact, a topspin or twist serve to the backhand in the deuce court, or to the body in the ad court, often works better. That's because most players hate these high kicking backhands, the fastest spinning shots in tennis, which acquire up to 2,000 rpm of additional topspin on the bounce to explode at the receiver as though the court drop-kicked the ball at them.

Result? Floaters!

So, your topspinning serves are high-percentage second serves that do triple-duty as change-up first serves and good net-rushing serves.

There you have it, your easy-to-volley service return.

THE FIRST VOLLEY

But you can still blow that first volley. As William Talbert wrote, "The first volley is the toughest," so don't take unnecessary chances with it.

Rarely does your rush get you all the way to the net for your first volley. Therefore, don't make this tough shot tougher by going for too much. Unless you're well into your forecourt, your first volley should be another setup shot, not a finishing shot. Its aim is to draw another easy-to-volley return. Just place the ball deep in the opposition's court - to a back-player. Depth makes this a forcing shot, so you needn't hit hard and risk hitting out.

Then continue the rest of the way to the net. You've arrived. Now you can go for winners.

TROUBLESHOOTING

What if good service returns break up your serve-and-volley game? Then try having your partner poach the service return. Try Australian Doubles and the I-Formation. Both are poaching formations that also make excellent serve-and-volley formations.

Poaching helps because your net player isn't at the same disadvantage as your net-rushing server. So, when you poach the service return, you eliminate the risk of having a weak or out first volley forced from your server on the way in.

Of course, everything said here about serve-and-volley doubles applies to serve-and-volley singles as well. Everything, that is, except the tip about poaching the service return to protect your net rushing server.

When you get the strategy and tactics right, the serve-and-volley play does work, whether it's the leading element in an all-out attacking game or an occasional variation to mix it up and pressure the service return. So, good luck with it, and may the tennis gods (the odds) be with you!


Kathy Krajco runs the website Operation Doubles: Tennis Doubles Strategy & Tactics.

If you wish to provide a comment to the author of this Wild Cards column, please use this form. Tennis Server will forward the comment to the author.

Green DotGreen DotGreen Dot

Wild Cards Archives:
1998 - 2003 | 2004 - 2014


If you have not already signed up to receive our free e-mail newsletter Tennis Server INTERACTIVE, you can sign up here. You will receive notification each month of changes at the Tennis Server and news of new columns posted on our site.

This column is copyrighted by the author, all rights reserved.


 

nodot
nodot
Google
Web tennisserver.com
nodot nodot
The Tennis Server
Ticket Exchange

Your Source for tickets to professional tennis & golf events.
 
Barclays ATP World Tour Finals Tennis Tickets 11/7-11/14
 
Davis Cup Finals: France vs Switzerland Tennis Tickets 11/21
 
Chris Evert Pro-Celeb Tennis Classic Tickets 11/22-11/23
 
2015 BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells 3/11-3/22
 
2015 Miami Open Tennis Tickets 3/23-4/5
 
2015 US Open Tennis Tickets 8/31-9/13
 

 

Tennis MindGame

 
Popular Tennis books:
 
Smart Tennis by John Murray
 
Winning Ugly: Mental Warfare in Tennis-Lessons from a Master by Brad Gilbert, Steve Jamison
 
The Best Tennis of Your Life: 50 Mental Strategies for Fearless Performance by Jeff Greenwald
 
The Inner Game of Tennis by W. Timothy Gallwey
 
Most Recent Articles:
 
Tennis Warrior: Five Powerful Tennis Concepts by Tom Veneziano.
 
October 2014 Tennis Anyone: Why Can I Not Poach? by John Mills.
 
October 2014 Turbo Tennis: Momentum Revisited by Ron Waite.
 
October 12, 2014 Between The Lines: Home Stretch 2014 -- On the Hard Courts of Asia by Ray Bowers.
 
Tennis Warrior: In Tennis, Principle Trumps Emotion by Tom Veneziano.
 
September 2014 Tennis Anyone: Things To Do and Not To Do by John Mills.
 
September 2014 Turbo Tennis: The Only Thing You Have To Fear Is Fear Itself!!! by Ron Waite.
 
September 9, 2014 Between The Lines: Dissecting U.S. Open 2014 by Ray Bowers.
 
August 2014 Wild Cards: The Tennis Round Table: Interviews With Jim Courier, Todd Martin & Mark Philippoussis in Arizona by Vince Barr.
 
May 2014 Wild Cards: Michael Chang Wins Cancer Treatment Centers of America Tennis Challenge in Arizona by Vince Barr.
 

 

 

 

 
 
Featured events in the Tennis Server Ticket Exchanges:
 
  Featured Tickets:
BNP Paribas Open Tickets Indian Wells CA Tennis Garden
Miami Open Tennis Tickets Miami Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
 

  Featured Tickets:
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 1 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 2 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 3 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters
Western & Southern Open Cincinnati Tennis Tickets Session 4 W&SFG Cincy Mason OH Lindner Family Center Financial Group Masters

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Tennis Tickets Men's Final Session 26 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Women's Final Session 25 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Men's Semifinals Session 24 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Women's Semifinals Session 23 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Men's Quarterfinals Session 22 New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona

  Featured Tickets:
Sony Open Tennis All Session Strip Tickets Miami Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 1 Tickets Miami Men's & Women's Singles Qualifying Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 2 Tickets Miami Men's & Women's Singles Qualifying & Women's Singles 1st Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 3 Tickets Miami Men's & Women's Singles 1st Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center
Sony Open Tennis Session 4 Tickets Miami Men's & Women's Singles 1st Round Key Biscayne FL Crandon Park Center

  Featured Tickets:
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 7 Second Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 6 Men's First Round Women's Second Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 5 Men's First Round Women's Second Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 4 Opening Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona
US Open Tennis Tickets Session 3 Opening Round New York City NYC NY Flushing Meadows Corona

 
 
"Tennis Server" is a registered trademark and "Tennis Server INTERACTIVE" is a trademark of Tennis Server. All original material and graphics on the Tennis Server are copyrighted 1994 - by Tennis Server and its sponsors and contributors. Please do not reproduce without permission.

 

Tennis Server
Cliff Kurtzman
Editor-in-chief
2323 Clear Lake City Boulevard
Suite 180-139
Houston, Texas 77062-8120
Phone: (281) 480-6300
Fax: (281) 480-7715
Online Contact Form
How to support Tennis Server as a Sponsor/Advertiser
Tennis Server Privacy Policy