The Return of Serve Is As Important As The Serve Itself
The return of serve is as important a part of the game as serving. Andre Agassi doesn't have a big serve. But his return of serve is one of the best, if not the best in the business. Another player, who is now retired is the legendary Jimmy Connors, who would return serves as fast as they are served to him.
Needless to say, those two great players won a lot of matches and tournaments with their returns.
In hitting the return, you primarily want to get the ball in play. In club or social play, the receiver often has the advantage because he knows more or less where his opponent is going to hit the ball and he can prepare mentally and physically to make the most of that advantage.
You want to be ready for the shot which you like the least. If your backhand is not reliable, use the backhand grip. That way, if the serve goes toward that side, you are ready for it.
Stand in the ready position with your weight on the balls of your feet and your tennis racquet held firmly in front of you at waist level and pointed straight out toward the net.
As soon as the ball leaves your opponent's racquet and you know whether it is coming to your forehand
or to your backhand, you should turn from the waist and take your racquet back. If there's time, you can then move your feet.
Tips for Return of Serve
1. When faced with a hard serve, shorten your backswing as much as possible but use the follow-through if your return is to have pace and direction.
2. You can slice your return on a fast serve or simply block it back. The technique in doing that is: draw the racquet back slightly and stick it out in front of the ball. Make your wrist firm and the contact solid so as to make a good shot.
3. To handle a topspin serve, either take it very early before the spin has a chance to develop or very late, when the spin has had time to wear out.
4. Move in on the second serve especially if you know that it is coming to you soft. Move 2 or 3 feet closer to put the server off balance and allowing yourself to be in an offensive position.
5. Mix your returns so as to keep your opponent from anticipating where you are going to hit the ball.
6. Most importantly, always strive to keep the ball in play.
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