The serve is the most important shot in tennis. Serving in a match can become extremely complicated, making it important to focus on more simple keys to hitting your serve well.
Start by walking up to the baseline, bouncing the ball once and then touching the ball to your racquet. Keep the racquet parallel to the ground or with the racquet head slightly above wrist at the starting position. Point your racquet towards the desired target and start the motion. Bring the racquet back with your shoulder turn, similar to how you bring racquet back on forehand.
When tossing, release the ball from your hand gently. The toss should go straight up and not too high, preferably no higher than the top of your racquet at full extension. The ball should have little or no spin on it. Keep your left hand up high after releasing the ball from your hand.
Use your legs to push up off the ground on both the first and second serves. Focus on landing in front of the baseline and inside the court after making contact with the ball. Make sure to recover and get back to the ready position—expect the ball to come back.
When you are working on your serve in practice, try to hit the serve as if you are playing a point. Hit two serves each time: one first serve and one second serve. Practicing your serve 15-20 minutes every day using this routine will help make things more automatic when you are in the heat of the match. Once you gain confidence, add placement of the serve to your practice.
Focus on these keys for the serve and you will be on your way to better results in your matches, especially when things are coming down to the wire.
Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY. In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org