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November 2001 Article

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Serve and Volley

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John Mills, USPTA

Why do most players not like to play serve and volley:

  • Weak serve.

    Solution: By playing serve and volley your serve must and will become aggressive. You will likely get tired of serving poorly and coming into the net behind it.

  • Not coming in fast enough after you hit the serve.

    Solution: Always assume your serve in. Picture making the mid-court volley near the service line.

  • Running through the first volley.

    Solution: After you serve, run forward first five or six steps fast or stop right before your opponent strikes your serve. At this point you must be ready for a change of direction.

  • Hitting the first volley too hard.

    Solution: Usually the first volley is taken below your waist. By hitting it hard, you lose control, accuracy and consistency. Hit the first volley no harder than you hit in the warm-up period before the match starts.

  • Trying to win the point with the first volley.

    Solution: Because the first volley is usually hit below your waist, it is difficult to hit up on a volley and win the point. Send the volley soft and low, usually cross-court in doubles and deep, high and soft in singles. Expect your first volley to be returned. Keep moving in.

  • Not getting "square" or "away" from the ball.

    Solution: Try to stay away from the first volley. Place your body in a position where you could hit a homerun if you were batting in baseball.

  • Not understanding the strategy of serve and volley.

    Solution: In actuality, you will win just as many points by getting the serve in and coming into the net and your opponent failing to make the return as you will by making the first volley. The pressure you put on your opponent by coming into volley is great -- forcing them to play out of their comfort zone. Watch a good doubles match on TV. Serve and volley dominates the game of doubles.

Good luck on the court

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This column is copyrighted by John Mills, all rights reserved.

John Mills' experience includes four years as head pro at the Windemere Racquet & Swim Club, where he was responsible for organization of all tennis activities at the club. John also played college tennis at the University of Houston and has spent 20 years teaching tennis at the Memorial Park Tennis Center, the Pasadena Racquet Club, and as the head pro at the Bay Area Racquet Club.


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