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Men's Tennis

Tennis Tips From Nigel Bentley

Good serving

There is nothing more satisfying than serving an ace. Serving is the most important shot in the game although it often is neglected on the practice court. There are many important factors to hitting a good serve. Some tips to remember include maintaining a relaxed wrist and smooth uninterrupted swing. This, combined with the proper mixture of power, placement, spin and variety, could make your serve a weapon.

Keeping a very loose wrist and staying relaxed will allow your racket head to swing more comfortably. Inexperienced players sometimes get in trouble at the start of their serve by holding the ball against the strings without using the support of their non-playing hand. This will cause the forearm and wrist muscles to tense. As a player's serve improves, a relaxed wrist becomes more important for providing greater power as you will need to "snap" your wrist. Also, a relaxed wrist provides muscle flexibility in order to create spin, which is particularly important on the second serve. Ideally, the racket speed of both first and second serves is similar. However, the second serve does not usually have as much ball speed as the first serve because the added spin will slow the ball down.

Perhaps the two biggest changes in tennis over the last 20 years are one, today's top players are hit open stance forehands and two, the return of serve, once a defensive shot, with new racket technology has become an offensive opportunity. This means smart serving placement is crucial. Inexperienced servers should aim to the receiver's weaker side. Stronger servers should serve smart by reading your opponent's grips. Recognizing and understanding different grips can be very helpful. Keep the placement of your serve away from your opponent's strike zone, which will differ depending on the style of player you are against.

Serving against the continental grip

Generally players with a continental grip prefer to hit low wide balls. Getting the ball high to the forehand can be difficult for the receiver. The receiver may only be able to block the ball in play neglecting any offensive opportunity.

Serving against a western grip

Players with this type of grip prefer higher balls so a low or flat serve can be effective. A slice serve moving away from the receiver usually produces weak returns.

Serving against the two-handed backhand

Players with two-handed backhands have limited reach so a wide, low serve is a good choice because the receiver will have trouble reaching the ball or will be pulled out of court position. Also a slice serve at the body can work because it jams the player.

Serving against the one-handed backhand

Usually players with one-handed backhands have difficulty with higher balls. Often placing the serve high will result in a weak or floating type of return.

Tennis is a game that requires many different athletic talents. Extraordinary hand eye coordination, flat out speed, balance, endurance and strength are just some of the talents needed to be successful. But tennis also requires much thinking and an understanding of when to hit hard or soft, when to attack or stay back, when to be cautious and when to be aggressive. When serving, be smart by exposing weaknesses of your opponents and maximizing your strengths by using good placement, changing speeds and mixing spins.

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