PDA

View Full Version : Win the toss; now what?


TonLars
07-09-2009, 05:42 AM
What do people think about the options when winning the toss, when do you choose each? What is the best time or scenario to choose to serve, receive, a certain side of the court, or to defer? What factors play a part in what you choose before the match when you win the coin toss? This should be a good instructional topic if this thread can get alot of answers. Ill reply myself later as I have no time at the moment. Discuss

adams_1
07-09-2009, 06:07 AM
Lately I choose to receive most of the time.

Losing the first game on your serve means that you have been broken before the match has really even started, and that isn't fun. Losing the first game if they are serving isn't such a big deal - they have held serve, that is to be expected, no need to panic.

Another factor is that my serve just seems to work better once I have a few points under my belt. The tension of the start of the match is gone, and I can hit a little more freely.

mikeler
07-09-2009, 06:14 AM
What do people think about the options when winning the toss, when do you choose each? What is the best time or scenario to choose to serve, receive, a certain side of the court, or to defer? What factors play a part in what you choose before the match when you win the coin toss? This should be a good instructional topic if this thread can get alot of answers. Ill reply myself later as I have no time at the moment. Discuss


I always choose to serve because it is normally one of my weapons. Seems like half of my matches turn into a serving duel with my opponent, so I always prefer to be ahead in the set when we are on serve. That way he may feel pressure when he is serving down 4-5 or 5-6 at the end of the set. Considering your NTRP level, I would think you probably get involved in quite a few of these types of matches.

I read somewhere that a player will elect to receive on hot days so that he is always serving after a short rest from the changeover. I've never done this though.

Topaz
07-09-2009, 06:17 AM
I always choose to serve. Even though my serve is not a 'weapon', I like the control of starting off the points.

PimpMyGame
07-09-2009, 06:40 AM
I tend to elect to receive, so I can swing my racket a bit with no pressure that I should be winning the service game. I'm then a bit more "match ready" when I serve. If my opponent wins his serve then good for him, it's expected and I lose nothing.

SystemicAnomaly
07-09-2009, 06:41 AM
Brad Gilbert suggests receiving serve most of the time. This way you get the first opportunity to break serve. However, this is usually not the best strategy for me -- I hate serving at 4-5 or 5-6 -- too much pressure if my service game is a little off. Normally, however, my serve is my strength and my serve returns are my primary weakness -- so I'll usually opt to serve first for this reason.

Similar situation for Roddick in the 5th set of his Wimbledon final. Both he and Federer were serving very well and both were holding serve easily (most of the time). Since Roger started the 5th set, Andy was always playing catch-up with the set score. Serving at 14-15, he was finally broken (for the first time in the whole match). If Andy had broken Roger's serve in the 5th set, he would still have to serve & win an additional game to win the set & match.

If lights or the sun if a factor, I'll often make the other player/team chose so that I can serve on my preferred side early on.
.

mikeler
07-09-2009, 07:00 AM
I almost mentioned the Wimbledon fifth set in my post, but I'm glad you did. If I'm playing a lefty and I lose the toss, I'll try and make him serve in the sun, so that I don't have to deal with until my 2nd service game.

Dags
07-09-2009, 07:05 AM
My first consideration is the sun. If it is bright and shining directly down the court, I will choose the end so that I do not have to look into it. This gives a very good chance of the early lead, and I'll be sure to put in a few higher balls to make it as uncomfortable as possible.

If there is no sun, then I usually choose to receive. Here are the reasons:

- at my level of play, players will lose serve more than they will win it. I actually thought I was the exception to this rule as I've always considered myself to have a decent serve; I then sat down and worked out my rate over 10 matches, and found I was holding a little over 40% of the time which surprised me. I had a 7-3 winning record over that period.

- my serve is noticably better when I am warmed up. If I choose to serve first, I am handing my opponent the best opportunity to break me. Likewise, if the same is true for them, by receiving I will probably be giving myself the best chance to break.

- your opponent will probably expect to hold their serve more often than not, regardless whether this is actually the case (see the first point). Psychologically, it can be a big blow to them to serve first and lose the opening game. Conversely, if they win it, they will feel that it is expected rather than a breakthrough.

I have never deferred, but will give that some thought. Usually when I lose the toss, my opponent will elect to serve first, so I tend to receive regardless whether I win or lose. In this instance, I suppose deferring could be advantageous, as I will most likely get the result I want, but make my opponent feel they are in control. I'll have to think about the implications of that.

On occasion I will choose to serve. This is mainly if I'm playing someone regularly, just to mix it up. If they always serve first, they can get too comfortable. If they realise that I prefer to receive, then it can also make them change their call when they win the toss.

Power Player
07-09-2009, 07:13 AM
I like to receive. It gives me a chance to figure out my opponent. You can tell a lot just from their serve.

latinking
07-09-2009, 07:25 AM
I like to serve first. People say that if you start flat and lose serve than you are already down. I look at it the other way. Many people are flat when they start a match so most times I hold my first service game very easy and I am up 1 to 0. Than really try to attack thier server to break. Being up 2 to love is a huge advantage. Then if you hold again its 3 to love. I guess it depends on your game, but thats what I prefer to do.

jrod
07-09-2009, 07:26 AM
I think along the same lines as Dags, i.e. select the option that gives you the best opportunity to gain the early advantage. At the club level (4.0-4.5) breaks are almost routine and breaking serve on the first game of the match is probably a little more likely. However, factors like the sun, wind and even fixed structures that cause visual impairment can alter ones choice. Knowledge of the opponent's game can also influence your choice. In most cases however I elect to receive since I feel a break of serve is easier on the first game of the match.

Douggo
07-09-2009, 07:37 AM
Outside? Defer. Then I can ensure my first service game will be on the side I want. Bonus if that happens to be the side my opponent doesn't want to serve from first (I serve lefty).

mikeler
07-09-2009, 07:53 AM
I think along the same lines as Dags, i.e. select the option that gives you the best opportunity to gain the early advantage. At the club level (4.0-4.5) breaks are almost routine and breaking serve on the first game of the match is probably a little more likely. However, factors like the sun, wind and even fixed structures that cause visual impairment can alter ones choice. Knowledge of the opponent's game can also influence your choice. In most cases however I elect to receive since I feel a break of serve is easier on the first game of the match.


Most of my sets at the 5.0 level average about 3 breaks per set, so holding serve is critical to winning the set a lot of times for me.

firstserve
07-09-2009, 08:47 AM
It all depends.The toss can be very critical if you are playing an opponent who has a big serve and is compotent in holding serve. If I am playing that type of player I will normally choose to receive first since if you were to serve and lose first game the whole set would be about catching up. Also receiving the first game gives you a good chance to break because the opponent isnt used to getting balls back early in the match so if you get all your returns back and break you can really rattle your opponent. Now all you have to do is put in all the energy you have to hold.

LeeD
07-09-2009, 08:55 AM
Counterpunchers and those with weak serves should choose to recieve.
Big serving aggressive fast starters should choose to serve first.
Now which way is the wind blowing...to help or hurt your wide serves, to help or hinder the speed and depth of your strokes and your opponent's strokes?
Now which way is the sun facing? In your eyes, or behind you?
Since you choose to serve or receive, your opponent chooses the sides.
Is the court fast or slow? Does it favor the server or the returner?
Are you really nervous or is your opponent under pressure to do well in this match?
Are you the type that crumbles when you fall behind, or can you work from love-4?
Guess I already mentioned whether you tend to start fast or need some games to fully get into the groove. Now think about your opponent.
Have you fully warmed up and adjusted to the court, but also the background, the noise, the crowd, and the looming umpire?
I guess there's a few other important factors, is your concentration all on this match or are you thinking about return tickets, discounts, cute girls in the stands or those you should have but didn't .........

RalphNYC
07-09-2009, 08:59 AM
Brad Gilbert' Winning Ugly: choose to receive.

LeeD
07-09-2009, 09:08 AM
If you choose to play ugly tennis, have a weak serve, and like to annoy your opponent's like Brad, you should receive.
If you actually have a serve, want to win by hitting winners, not just get the ball back, it's usually the choice of serving first.
Interestingly, DanaGilbert was a hard hitting very cute A player who detested her brother's game, often coming up with the phrase .. "hit it like a man", when we watched him play. Funny, how they both came up thru the ranks together, went to lots of junior tournies together, and both had strong minds and lots of endurance.
If I had to choose, I'd choose Dana....:):)

bad_call
07-09-2009, 09:19 AM
Counterpunchers and those with weak serves should choose to recieve.
Big serving aggressive fast starters should choose to serve first.
Now which way is the wind blowing...to help or hurt your wide serves, to help or hinder the speed and depth of your strokes and your opponent's strokes?
Now which way is the sun facing? In your eyes, or behind you?
Since you choose to serve or receive, your opponent chooses the sides.
Is the court fast or slow? Does it favor the server or the returner?
Are you really nervous or is your opponent under pressure to do well in this match?
Are you the type that crumbles when you fall behind, or can you work from love-4?
Guess I already mentioned whether you tend to start fast or need some games to fully get into the groove. Now think about your opponent.
Have you fully warmed up and adjusted to the court, but also the background, the noise, the crowd, and the looming umpire?
I guess there's a few other important factors, is your concentration all on this match or are you thinking about return tickets, discounts, cute girls in the stands or those you should have but didn't .........

with LeeD on this one and especially....

LuckyR
07-09-2009, 09:32 AM
Different answers depending:

If outside, choose the best side. If he chooses to serve (most of the time) you have the best chance to break, but if he chooses to receive (?) you have the best chance to hold.

If you play inside, it all depends of two factors: are you a slow or fast starter (I am slow) and if you are a nervousy sort (I am not nervous). Slow starters and nervous folk do better receiving first (the reasoning Gilbert famously used). However there are plenty of fast starters (every single Pro), so serving first for them is a no-brainer.

Kick_It
07-09-2009, 10:42 AM
My preference is to serve first; my serve is a weapon.

What I choose in a tournament depends on when the coin toss is, and if I've seen my opponent serve and/or receive. By that point I have an idea of how I'm doing that day - which targets I can hit with my 1st and/or 2nd serve and how my return timing is.

If I see my opponent hitting a bunch of serves out in the warm up, or only 2nd serves are going in, I smell blood in the water. If I have any confidence in my returns that day - I'll elect to receive ;-)

eagle
07-09-2009, 11:01 AM
If I see my opponent hitting a bunch of serves out in the warm up, or only 2nd serves are going in, I smell blood in the water.

Similar to playing poker, I never show my true serves when hitting practice serves. I simply work on the mechanics and getting my range. I'm mindful of folks like you but I too am very observant of my opponents during practice. :)

To answer the OP, I always elect to receive for reasons already mentioned above.

r,
eagle

Nonentity
07-09-2009, 11:29 AM
id rather chose to receive. Alot of times 1st game is a little awkward, because you aren't used to each other's match game and haven't really gotten into it. I would take advantage of this and try to get a break off some UEs or DFs. And if you have a big serve, i don't really see the point in starting 1st because you shouldn't be afraid of being broken.

mikeler
07-09-2009, 12:02 PM
When serving first, if I get the first break of the match, I'm up 3-0, 4-1 or 5-2. It is only one break, but it feels like a bigger hole to get out of for your opponent.

JavierLW
07-09-2009, 01:21 PM
What do people think about the options when winning the toss, when do you choose each? What is the best time or scenario to choose to serve, receive, a certain side of the court, or to defer? What factors play a part in what you choose before the match when you win the coin toss? This should be a good instructional topic if this thread can get alot of answers. Ill reply myself later as I have no time at the moment. Discuss

I have a pretty decent serve, but I like to get a little warmed up first. So this is primarily what Ive been doing:

- Singles or doubles when conditions dont matter, I/We receive first.

- Unless we know they have someone with a HUGE serve, then we may serve first just to start out with some decent momentum.

Otherwise it seems more important to me in most cases that we're serving when and if it's 5-4 or 4-5 or 6-5 or 5-6, then it does that we are serving when it's 0-0. And it's sometimes easier to break people right off the bat, unless they are a known really excellent server.

Another trick we use is if I have an awesome lefty partner and we want to make sure that:

1) We are both serving on the ends that mean we face away from the sun

2) The lefty serves before I do. (then he gets to serve more in that set)

Then if we win the toss, I make the other team choose what to do first. They may serve first or they may pick a side or make us serve, but whatever they choose, I can guarantee we can fix it so we get the two things listed above.

I do something similar in singles, but that's just to avoid us both getting screwed on our first game.

Otherwise it doesnt matter much, either we're both not looking into the sun on our first service game, or we are going to both get blinded on our first service game. (maybe if I know somehow I can deal with it better, I'll stick us both in the sun but that doesnt happen too often)

Kick_It
07-09-2009, 01:49 PM
Similar to playing poker, I never show my true serves when hitting practice serves. I simply work on the mechanics and getting my range. I'm mindful of folks like you but I too am very observant of my opponents during practice. :)

To answer the OP, I always elect to receive for reasons already mentioned above.

r,
eagle

Yep, it's a risk. As any experienced poker player would - I'm pretty selective about which cards I show from my hand during warm-up too.

That said, my return game is above average; I make it a point to explicitly practice serve returns every week. This approach usually works out for me at least 60% of the time. Yes there are times I get burned by this choice, but I question how bad it really is. To me the real risk with this approach is if my first serve is off <which I should know before I make this choice> or if my opponent is a dramatically better serve returner than I am.

ramseszerg
07-09-2009, 05:40 PM
I follow Brad Gilbert's advice and receive, unless the sun is really strong on one side then I choose the opposite side. Sometimes when I do this the other guy chooses to serve, in which case he is serving the first game into the sun!

JaneLynne
07-09-2009, 09:58 PM
It's been awhile since I played a real match and I can't believe the things I've forgotten. When do you do the toss, before warm up or after? And if you choose to receive, does the opponent choose court?

imalil2gangsta4u
07-09-2009, 11:26 PM
Since my serve isnt my biggest weapon, i return first. I hate getting broken the first game when you really arent warmed up yet.

Bud
07-09-2009, 11:29 PM
What do people think about the options when winning the toss, when do you choose each? What is the best time or scenario to choose to serve, receive, a certain side of the court, or to defer? What factors play a part in what you choose before the match when you win the coin toss? This should be a good instructional topic if this thread can get alot of answers. Ill reply myself later as I have no time at the moment. Discuss

If I'm feeling sluggish, I'll choose to receive... so as to get the body moving. It sucks when you're slow to warm up... then lose your serve the first game.

I'll then use the first game as a gauge to my hitting... while trying to make any adjustments (if I'm having a tendency to hit long, short, etc.). I consider it a warm up game.

Bud
07-09-2009, 11:34 PM
It's been awhile since I played a real match and I can't believe the things I've forgotten. When do you do the toss, before warm up or after? And if you choose to receive, does the opponent choose court?

Usually before the warm up... and yes... the toss winner either chooses to serve/receive first OR the side. If the side is chosen by the toss winner then the loser chooses to serve or receive.