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Hardscrabble Scramble
February 1997 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Service Key

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Mike Whittington

In many of my lessons on serving, I find the student is so wrapped up in the mechanics of the swing that he/she forgets the importance of a correct toss. In my opinion, the basic motion of the serve is really pretty simple to learn for most people. However, when that motion is combined with a faulty toss, all sorts of problems can arise.

The toss is the key element in having a successful serve. All great service motions in the world will get you nowhere if you don't connect with the ball at the proper place. And getting that toss right is not always the easiest thing - you are trying to get the ball in a specific target area by tossing the ball up with your non-dominant hand.

To gain consistency in your serve, make sure you have consistency in your toss. Of course that doesn't mean every toss has to be in the same place because different types of serves call for different toss placements. For instance, if your game plan called for a topspin serve you would throw the toss above the crown of your head or slightly behind it. But what if the toss went farther to the right? Your best be is to catch it and try again. Many club players will attempt some type of serve off a misplaced toss anyway. If the toss doesn't jive with what you had planned, then start again!

Servers should remember that they are throwing up a toss that should fit smoothly into their service motion. Special movements and motion changes should not be made to chase down an errant toss. Hold the ball lightly in the fingertips and push upwards lifting the ball just beyond the sweet spot of your extended racquet. Gain consistency with your toss and you might just find that inconsistent swing was that way for a reason!

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Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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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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