how to deal with a lefty fast and spinny serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Rozroz, Apr 7, 2014.

  1. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    i played with a lefty yesterday who had very good serves,
    fast and spinny.

    i never managed to find the best spot to receive, but i mainly focused on using the BH.
    i felt i had to stand futher back but it didn't make things easier.
    needless to say i had so many misshits and he got many free points.

    kudos to him, he himself pointed out that i better stand closer instead of further, and learn to come forward and return early, because that way i'll be able to return the ball before it gets too spinny and make the return harder.

    i'll appreciate more discussion on general lefty serve receiving approach,
    and also about this certain hard to return serve.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
    #1
  2. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    Most lefty spin will tail off to the returner's left when receiving, so you might want to start with cheating over to the left more. Of course you can always get caught by out-wide kickers and flat serves on the deuce side, but you will get and idea of how well they hit those serves in the match.

    Also because of the spin you always want to get more space between you and the ball on the forehand, and move into the backhand return (for righty)
     
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  3. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    Really good post by psv255 ^^^

    Only things I have to add are to really watch that ball as it leaves his racket and try to read that spin as early as possible. I typically start off prepared to slice that return on the BH side while i'm still getting used to his lefty spin and learning tendencies.

    Also, more generally when I am having difficulties with the return game, I tend to focus more on holding my own serve. If you hold all your games you only have to break him once to take the set, or at worst you take it to a tiebreaker where anything can happen.

    Finally, don't try to do too much with the return if you're not getting a lot of opportunity balls. Double faults are gifts and cannot be assumed; if you want to break him you are going to need to get at least 4 returns back into play in a game. Sometimes you just need to get it back into play if that's all you can do, reset the point to neutral and play it out from there.
     
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  4. sjoerdklarenbeek

    sjoerdklarenbeek Rookie

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    I think the most important tips have already been given. To a certain extent you'll have to accept that a lefty with a good serve has a certain advantage. If you can, practice returning such a serve. Your reflexes and unconscious motions will become better, as will your confidence.

    In general, I think a return shot on a good serve should have a very compact swing, and you should be moving forward to intercept the ball and cut off the angle. The main priority is to get the ball into play behind the service line, or, when your opponent plays serve and volley, you can try to play to the side lines or his feet, but be conservative if you have trouble getting it in at all.
     
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  5. TennisCJC

    TennisCJC Legend

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    Things to handle a good lefty serve:

    1. Shift to your L to cut off the lefty slice angle
    2. make sure to hit the ball out front especially on your R forehand as a lefty slice will jam your R FH if you don't make contact out front
    3. if possible, try to use your normal flat or topspin serve but if you are getting eaten alive by the spin, you may want to try using a conti grip with a block and follow-thru type return. Again, be sure to catch it out front
    4. if you have a lot of talent, try moving in and taking it early before the spin can pull you around
    5. but, it is probably better to move back 5 or 6 feet and let the spin run out a bit. Get on the balls of your feet in your split step and be sure to move your feet quickly with small steps as the biggest mistake is to end up stretching to reach the ball because the spin pulls it out of your strike zone.
    6. Finally, the best advice to returning a L serve is to find a lefty with a good slice and kick and practice with them a lot.

    I have struggled with lefty serves too. I had a lefty doubles partner years ago and we played a lot of singles together in practice. During those years, I was better against lefties but that was years ago. I rarely play lefties now with really strong serves and when I do, it is a PITA.

    Lendl struggled against McEnroe's serve for the first few years they played. Lendl hired lefties to emulate McEnroe's serve and practiced against them. Late in Lendl's career, he was able to neutralize McEnroe's serve and began to dominate the rivalry.
     
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2014
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  6. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    wow, many tips and great ways of thinking.
    very helpful, thanks!
     
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  7. Rui

    Rui Semi-Pro

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    At least he's not kick-serving you.
     
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  8. dominikk1985

    dominikk1985 Legend

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    A spinny AND hard lefty serve is a weapon at any level. you need to cut it off before it spins out of the court but of course the speed makes that harder.

    if it is only spinny or only fast it is easier but if it has both it is just a good serve. do your best to return it well and then try to get in the rallies.
     
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  9. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    thanks.
    as i said, the player himself told me to take it early for those reasons.
    i stood far out back, and the spin & speed were just too much.
    i don't play him much, but i do play a lesser lefty so i'll practice on him ;)
    (i don't have any problems with his serves though).

    i'm just concerned as to how fast can anyone put the racket at the right place if standing closerand going forward,
    if the serve is heavy and fast?
    i guess you get used to the timing.
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Most important is to stand IN, move forwards just a little at contact, and hit a solid, not hard, low return.
     
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  11. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    I seem to always run into this same player at our annual club tournament. We are on opposite schedules so I rarely play him during the year. Seeing this serve once a year especially in the wind is just a nightmare. He follows it up well with a big forehand too. Needless to say, I have not beaten him yet.
     
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  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    ..and therein lies the reason for practicing against lefty players, even if you have to ask AND supply the tennis balls....
     
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  13. mikeler

    mikeler G.O.A.T.

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    We both have jobs and family. Has nothing to do with asking or balls...tennis or otherwise.
     
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  14. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Pride then?
    I got asked a lot by superior players, and always, they got something out of the sessions, and so did I.
    Practice is supposed to make perfect, or better anyways. And no practice is not helping your game, or the lefties.
    He could probably use some practice against some of your strokes.
     
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  15. downdaline

    downdaline Professional

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    A tip that a senior player once told me is to keep moving your feet and follow the ball.

    This is a great tip for returning in general, but I find it especially important against a lefty serve.

    You don't want to be caught flat-footed and then have to stretch to get to the ball, or get handcuffed with a body serve.

    Keep moving your feet and drive a solid return back.
     
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  16. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    i'm usually a very good returner, follow the ball extremely well, springy on my feet.
    the problem with this lefty was also the speed/power.
    this was a situation that requires a lot of experience with a lefty serve.
     
    #16
  17. cjs

    cjs Semi-Pro

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    Answer: practice.

    I've got a fast lefty spinny serve and I must say my regular match play partners (who I've played so many times I've lost count) have have got their return of my serve sorted. Even my sister who just had a baby has got it sorted, though she was a college player. If I don't place it well she spanks it.

    The first couple of times I play someone though its usually a huge advantage and I can serve almost anywhere in the box and get free points, but this advantage wears off pretty quickly.
     
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  18. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    yup, that was exactly the case :lol:
     
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  19. ericwong

    ericwong Rookie

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    I agree with some of the posts here. Instead of standing stiff on the spot receiving serve, move your feet ( bailey footwork perhaps https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4pFMiSZ1rDY ). Some players might place their racquet in a relax position but for me I hold my racquet upright. Once, the opponent made contact, step in , lean to the left and block the ball ( swing at it if the serve is slow ). You may miss the ball if this is your first try. Hence, you have to keep practising to get the timing right to meet the ball at your optimum height.
     
    #19
  20. torpantennis

    torpantennis Legend

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    Hit early, and position yourself so that you take away the lefty slice angle. I personally struggled a lot with lefty serves before changing my positioning. Now on the deuce court I stand with both feet well inside the singles sideline, and on the ad court I stand closer to the doubles sideline than the singles sideline!
     
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  21. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I stand with one foot in the ad court doubles alley and a little closer than usual.
     
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  22. dman72

    dman72 Hall of Fame

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    Thank goodness one guy in my league who had a devestating lefty slice serve stopped playing a few years back.

    It sometimes would take me a whole set just to put a few of them IN PLAY.

    Thankfully the rest of his game was spotty and he had almost as much trouble with my slice serve.
     
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  23. Rozroz

    Rozroz Legend

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    positioning slightly to the left, yea i know.
    but then they can easily put a wide serve at the deuce court or DTL on the ad. if they're good positioners, that is.
     
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