If you have played someone with a good serve and the game to back it up, you know how difficult it is to win the match or even stay close enough to give yourself a chance to win since they will hold serve most of the time.
Roger Federer's ability to hold serve has definitely played a major role in his success over the years and is now the main reason why he can still win titles at his age. Even if you are not capable of hitting aces, you can use your serve to get the opponent in trouble and keep them in trouble on the next shot.
Try serving to the player's weakness and then following it up with a shot to the open side of the court. Another effective play is to serve directly at the returner and then look to step in and hit the next ball early since the player will likely be off balance from the serve. If you can at least get the point to be neutral after the serve and return, you should be able to hold serve more often than not by using your weapon (big forehand or volleys for example) on the next shot and keeping the pressure on with shots that get the opponent running or backing up.
Having the mentality that you will be very focused on winning your service games will help you concentrate more consistently and take some pressure off of your return games. Holding serve more than your opponent almost always results in the outcome you are looking for: winning the match.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis (http://www.annaconetennis.com) MyHamptonsPro (http://www. myhamptonspro.com) and Baron’s Cove Resort In Sag Harbor, NY, as well as Volunteer Assistant Coach for the University of Arizona Women’s team. For details on lessons, clinics, or coaching, contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 865-300-7323