Underhand Serve -- Have you used it? Been a victim?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by TimeSpiral, Sep 20, 2013.

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The underhand serve, in Adult League / Match Play

  1. I have served underhanded before.

    40.3%
  2. I have never served underhand before.

    34.7%
  3. I have received an underhand serve.

    65.3%
  4. I have never received an underhand serve.

    13.9%
  5. It's a legitimate serve.

    66.7%
  6. It's bad manners.

    22.2%
  7. It's an underated shot at the rec level.

    23.6%
  8. It should never be used at the rec level.

    5.6%
  9. This is a topic I do not care about.

    12.5%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    It is usually different and I will attempt to explain why.

    If you went to the service line and hit your service underhanded in a manner consistent with your usual order of business ... absolutely no issue. In fact I am ok with it you have a huge serve, set up to the line to see me standing 10 feet behind the baseline, and at that point you decide ... ok I guess I will hit the underhanded serve. As long as you do not scheme to catch me off guard. Attempting to catch me off guard once the point is started is fine ...

    However, my issue with the treachery comes when you alter your order of business. I will give you an example. We have a habitual underhanded server in my area. He uses it in the following situation:

    A ball will be in the in the court when I move forward to clear the ball. I return to my position and as soon as I turn around he has hit the underhanded serve. He has changed his timing, his pace and the manner in which he has hit this shot.

    It worked once and now when I clear a ball I just raise my racket until I am in position. But he gets very irritated when I do this because he knows the shot can only work if he does not allow me to get set.

    Now this is an extreme case ... but if you are an underhanded server and alter other parts of your game to set up a situation when no one expects you to start the point ... this is a problem.

    This is gamesmanship ... this is bush league ..... I don't like it and if I have a choice I wont play with these folks.
     
    #51
  2. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Then your problem is with quick serving and NOT underhand serving. Quick serving is bush league AND against the rules.

     
    #52
  3. Bdarb

    Bdarb Hall of Fame

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    I got burnt by one of these the other day. It was the guy I normally play with and he hits a big serve. I was way back and he called me on it. Hit a beautiful drop shot serve and all I could do was watch. I don't think it's bush league, he's keeping me honest. The way to maximize his big serve is to keep me close to the base line forcing me to hit a harder shot and I don't have a problem with this, it's a good move competitively.

    We both had a laugh but the point was made, I couldn't stand way back there. I thought it was brilliant and well executed, gamesmanship never crossed my mind. I think we get to caught up with what we think tennis should be and forget people can play different games and can even have reasonable amounts of success doing so. I wish there was a bit more variance in the top of the game like this, that USO final was closer to a boxing match than tennis.
     
    #53
  4. dizzlmcwizzl

    dizzlmcwizzl Hall of Fame

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    That is true ... except in almost every case I have experienced where a player underhand serves ... they do so in such a way that they are using rhythm as a weapon.

    I have no problem with an underhand serve in and of itself .... because it is generally not very effective. However, almost every player who has hit it ... does so because they think they can gain an advantage starting the point unexpectedly.
     
    #54
  5. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Once you are ready, you cannot become unready. If you are in your ready stance to recieve, and the server makes sure you are ready, it is perfectly acceptable for him to change his normal serve motion from bouncing the ball, then tossing the ball and swing at the ball near the top of the toss....to changing it up and doing a quick underhand serve.

     
    #55
  6. mmk

    mmk Professional

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    #56
  7. Lautrec

    Lautrec New User

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    #57
  8. CurrenFan

    CurrenFan Rookie

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    I've had it done to me three times by the best player in my league, a 3.5 league through the local rec center.

    The first time caught me by surprise and although I got to it, I hit it 15' long. The second time I was not totally surprised, hustled up to it, and pounded an almost great return that, unfortunately, was called out (very close though). The third time, a few weeks later, I wasn't surprised and tried a different tactic. Since I knew the server had been having some knee problems, instead of trying to kill my return, I chopped back a very nice little drop shot across the court. The server sprinted as fast as he could toward it but couldn't reach it before the second bounce and he looked like it was painful for him to put the brakes on to avoid the net and was hobbling a bit afterwards. He never hit an underhanded serve to me again.

    Although legal, I think in a recreational league it is kind of bush league. In my case, the guy who did it to me was already pretty handily winning his service games, he rarely loses a set and in two seasons with the league, I've never seen him underhand serve before or since to any other player. If I recall correctly, the first time he did it I think I aced this guy in my previous service game (which no one ever seems to do and I've since done several more times), so I am confident that it was a bit of gamesmanship and attempt to "put me in my place."
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2013
    #58
  9. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    Is there something below rec level play that I'm not aware of? :twisted:
     
    #59
  10. goober

    goober Legend

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    He didn't allow it because a timing issue not because it was an illegal shot. He was called for time violation so he quickserved underhand. Subjective call IMO.

    If you search you can find another 2-3 vids of pros serving underhand on both women and mens side.
     
    #60
  11. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    I want to highlight this post, as it's an interesting situation.

    At first, it would appear that the ump did not allow the serve because it happened nearly concurrently with the time violation warning. Figuring that the receiver may have been hindered by the warning, the ump did not allow the quick serve.

    But then, when you listen to the ump talk, it sounds like he says, I have notes that you cannot serve like that. What the heck? By "like that" did he mean, quickly after the violation warning, or underarm? I don't know, but the smug grin and the painfully long wagging of his finger, it would suggest that he meant the latter.

    Is it possible that the tournament organizers implemented a house rule: no underarmed serves? Is that even possible? Can tournament directors at events like that change the rules of tennis?

    This instance is gray. Is play required to stop when issued a time violation warning, or is the player allowed to continue his service motion? Is Berdych would have went through his normal serve routine, would the ump still have denied the serve?

    If play is required to stop when a time violation warning is issued on the serve, then Berdych was in the wrong. If he's not required to stop, then that was a legal serve and an overreach from the ump.
     
    #61
  12. Mongolmike

    Mongolmike Professional

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    There is an older man who I've seen play in leagues (I've never had a chance to play against him, but my friend has) who has a legit underhand spin serve. He has an ok regular serve, but half the time he does a full pendulum swinging underhand serve with sharp side spin. He is accurate with it, but obviously if you have decent movement you can get to it and deal with it.

    The guy also wears a spongebob cap while he plays and mis-matched colorful clothes... so when you see him you think "What is up with this guy?". I think the whole look and underhand serve and spinny game is part of his tactic... for some it is trouble, for others- not so much trouble at all.

    That being said... it is a legal serve... a tactic... he is entitled to do it. For this guy, I don't even think it is bad manners... it's his method to try to win. It is not dirty or cheating. It's even interesting to watch him play/serve. You know its coming... deal with it.

    For other guys who only do it once or twice a set and otherwise have a legit serve.... it's still legal but in my opinion it reflects on their personality, and not in a positive way. Those are the guys that also seem to make questionable calls, and want to argue all the time.
     
    #62
  13. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    I've used it a lot. I've come back from severe arm/shoulder injuries several times and either physically could not lift my arm over my head or was having so much trouble at times trying to re-learn how to hit an overhead serve that I served underhand.
    I don't have a good enough underhand serve for it to be effective, though.
    Back when I had a good serve, people would set up to return with their back against the back fence. I think I used it a few times then, too.
     
    #63
  14. atatu

    atatu Hall of Fame

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    After reading all these posts, I think I've changed my mind and concede that it's a legit serve. I can hit a ridiculous slice serve side armed, where I make contact at shoulder level and that serve is not any different than an underhand serve. Also, some guys can hit that "reverse serve" where you hit the opposite side of the ball and that's no different (just a lot harder to execute).
     
    #64
  15. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    That sounds like it could be a wicked shot!
     
    #65
  16. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    He did not say "I have notes". He said "I announced". It's because of the time violation. We went over and over this previously in other threads, and it's obvious that it was the timing, not that it was an illegal way to hit a serve.

    You can't expect the receiver to be ready that quick. Obviously the umpire announcing time violation is a distraction to the receiver as well.

    The tournament director can't make a "house rule" saying no underarm serves. LOL.
     
    #66
  17. rufus_smith

    rufus_smith Professional

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    Some guys do the underhander in a way that is a little bit sneaky. They serve normally for a while, then on one serve they meander towards the baseline not looking up at all, nonchalantly, like they are composing themselves before a normal serve, your view of the ball and his racquet head can be obscured by the net, neither the ball or the racquet is lifted up from about hip level, the hitting motion is small, and all of a sudden, surprise, a ball is coming the net over and landing in the box.
    I don't complain since it seems technically within the rules. I guess I would feel it would be better etiquette if the server gave some signal, like eye contact or raising his head up, that he is really ready to serve.
     
    #67
  18. TimeSpiral

    TimeSpiral Professional

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    How can a receiver be caught off guard if he is ready?

    ... by a great play, that's how.

    Another nod to ping pong--because of the wicked deviation in standard serve methods--the ball is required to be "in sight of your opponent" the entire time.
     
    #68

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