Underhand serving: poor sportsmanship?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by lendl1986, Apr 24, 2012.

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Underhand serving (entire tournament). Poor sportsmanship?

  1. Yes

    22 vote(s)
    13.4%
  2. No

    142 vote(s)
    86.6%
  1. keithfival

    keithfival Professional

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    Not a damn thing wrong with it. I'd expect to see some lobs from your opponents though!
     
    #51
  2. keithfival

    keithfival Professional

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    Well said.
     
    #52
  3. Carsomyr

    Carsomyr Hall of Fame

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    Totally agree. Maybe I see the point of doing it to embarrass an obviously inferior opponent as poor sportsmanship, but even if you're not injured and you're using it as a surprise tactic or to mix up your game, don't see at all how that's poor sportsmanship. Just good tennis.
     
    #53
  4. Venetian

    Venetian Professional

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    There's nothing unsportsmanlike about serving, and there is absolutely no rule against serving underhand. Sneak it in sometime, it's a good way to win a quick point.
     
    #54
  5. tennis4josh

    tennis4josh Rookie

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    I just don't get it. It's legal shot. Just because most people don't do it doesn't mean you should not do it. I played a doubles match where one of my opponent and my partner were both same age (50-55). This senior opponent had a deceptive underhand drop serve that he would hit with the same action as his overhead serve. It did not work against me but worked very well against my partner who could not run fast and get to it. Ultimately that serve cost us the match. But neither me nor my partner felt anything wrong in it. Over the years I have played lot of guys who only hit slow paced spin serves during warm up, but serve flat bombs down the tee in the match. Most people don't find anything wrong with it, so I don't see why you should declare in advance how you are going to serve.
     
    #55
  6. PrinceMoron

    PrinceMoron Hall of Fame

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    #56
  7. olliess

    olliess Semi-Pro

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    You cite USTA comments 21.2 and 21.7. However, also see 21.1, 21.3, and 21.6. My reading is that the "readiness" rule applies to the first and second serves separately, it's reasonable to give the receiver a second or two to make eye contact with the server after being in ready position, and the server can't "suddenly" change the pace of the service motion beyond reason. So, if the server really is hiding the ball in his pocket and then suddenly whips it out and "quick-serves" underhand, then I think the receiver has grounds to claim that he is "not ready."

    If on the other hand, the receiver indicates "ready" and the server shows the ball as usual and then serves underhand without any special warning, I think that would be completely reasonable (both within the rules and within sportsmanlike conduct).
     
    #57
  8. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    I disagree with orange also. An underhand serve is perfectly legal. But you must let the player be ready to receive a 2nd serve. you can't serve a first serve that pulls a player off the court, which the receiver calls out, and then serve your second serve while the receiving player is still walking back to his ready "spot".


     
    #58
  9. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    The cheesiest, but possibly legal, one that I have seen is where the player pulls the ball out of his pocket in the same way that he does after a double fault. As if to give the ball to his opponent and instead serves it underhand.
     
    #59
  10. SwankPeRFection

    SwankPeRFection Hall of Fame

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    I have no respect for people who play in unorthodox ways. If you can't play legit tennis in this tournament, maybe you should skip it. I'm sorry, legal or not, this is how I feel about people who have unorthodox serving techniques.

    If it's just a friendly match with friends, we will mess around sometimes and throw in an underhand just to mess with each other, but I would never do it during a legit match and I expect others to have the same respect for the game. But hey, that's just me. I also don't have much respect for what I like to call sprinkler-head net volleyers. Those people usually get nothing but down the line rockets from me until they get the message and play two back or learn to stop playing crap tennis.
     
    #60
  11. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    Either a master troll or a bad tennis player.... I bet you hate Fabrice Santoro
     
    #61
  12. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    Do you also consider it "lame" for your opponent to pull out a drop shot if they havent hit one all match without declaring to you that the drop shot is coming up very soon?
     
    #62
  13. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    Agree totally. Deception is part of sports and if you cant handle it, then thats your problem.
     
    #63
  14. tennisjon

    tennisjon Semi-Pro

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    I play left handed and right handed. For the most part, I am a power baseliner right handed. I hit either flat or with a lot of spin. I rarely come to net. Only on occasion do I throw in change-ups. I don't have the greatest finesse.

    When I play left-handed, I don't have a lot of power. I use tons of junk. Heavy topspin or heavy slice or sidespin. I hit a lot of drop-shots, lobs, change of pace shots, and I come to net a lot.

    Right handed, I am a high 4.5 and left-handed, based on who I have beaten and rarely lost to, I am probably a high 4.0/low 4.5.

    If you ask most people, they would probably say playing me left handed is super annoying because they are being junk balled to death. I can move, think, and react like a 4.5, but play shots that are at a 4.0 level. I have beaten several 4.5s and don't lose to anyone not rated 4.0+. Recently, I began to throw in underhand lefty serves. Why not? It further adds to their frustration.

    I am a better overall player right handed. I control most points. Left handed is more of a mixture of reacting and offense. All of the things I do left handed is meant to legally disrupt my opponent because I don't have the ability to hit through them. Drop shots, lobs, crazy spins are all part of the game. Adding the underhand serve just adds another dimension to the equation.
     
    #64
  15. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I consider some things lame, and other things not lame.

    If you play me and if you care what I think, don't hit an underhand serve.

    If we are partners and you pull out an underhand serve as trickery to win a point, I will finish the match and I will say nothing to you about it.

    I will then put you at the bottom of my list of prospective partners. Nothing personal. I just wouldn't wish to partner with someone who does that.
     
    #65
  16. maggmaster

    maggmaster Hall of Fame

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    This is awesome, have you ever switched mid match?
     
    #66
  17. tennisjon

    tennisjon Semi-Pro

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    Even when playing right handed, I serve lefty maybe once a game. Usually on the ad side. I can still hit 120mph right handed when I need to, but I rarely go for big serves any more. I probably average around 90mph. Lefty I can serve about 95mph, but average 75mph. Its a good change of pace and spin.

    Off the ground, I only switch mid-match on very low balls to my backhand or if I am way pulled off the court on the backhand side. Its just too confusing for myself to change back and forth within the point. I have, on occasion, switched from playing right to playing left if I have lost my consistency. I have to focus so much more playing left handed, that one game of doing it usually puts me back on track.
     
    #67
  18. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

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    Fair enough, many of us prefer not to play with lob queens too :)
     
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  19. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    Cindy. Are you ok today?
     
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  20. corners

    corners Legend

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    I had to serve underhand for a while and played matches underhand. I always apologized at the start of the match, explaining that I was protecting an injury, just as a courtesy - like apologizing for a net-cord winner (also within the rules). The opponent should have no problem with it, as you are clearly playing at a disadvantage. They should be licking their chops and pounding your "serves". If they don't, it's their bloody fault and they shouldn't blame you.
     
    #70
  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yes, I'm fine. Thanks for asking.
     
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  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Oh, absolutely. I know for a fact that some people do not wish to play with me because I lob a lot. I am totally fine with that. Again, it's nothing personal.
     
    #72
  23. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Cindy, but you didn't answer the specific question:

    "Do you also consider it "lame" for your opponent to pull out a drop shot if they havent hit one all match without declaring to you that the drop shot is coming up very soon?"

    I wonder, if you think hitting a surprise drop shot is not "lame", then why would you think serving underhanded is lame?



     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
    #73
  24. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    Legal surprise shot, where the surprise comes because the opponent does not anticipate that shot - not lame. E.g. dropshot, underhand serve when opponent is ready to receive.

    Questionably legal surprise shot, where the surprise comes because the opponent is not yet expecting *any* shot - lame. E.g. "quick-serve" underhand serve before opponent is fully ready to receive.

    Legal shot made with the intent to injure - lame. E.g. headhunting on overhead.
     
    #74
  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Sorry, I wasn't clear.

    I do not consider it lame for my opponent to pull out a drop shot if they haven't used one all match without declaring to me that the drop shot is coming up very soon.

    Edit:

    You know what? I like you Blake, so I will explain why I think what I think.

    When a point starts, the Rules/Code are very precise. They seem to want a level, predictable playing field. All sorts of things are not allowed. You can't get a running start. You have to wait until the receiver is ready. You can't quick serve them or suddenly change your serving pace. You have to be in a certain position before you serve (at baseline, not touching line, not outside proper court). You have to announce the score. If it clips the net by a micro-milimeter, it's a do-over. Level, predictable playing field.

    We also seem to protect the receiver. He and his partner can stand anywhere. He can feint or change position while the toss is in the air. If he's not ready, he can just stand there. He can hold up his racket to signal that he is not ready, and the server has to wait even though we all know the server dictates the pace.

    Once a point starts, all bets are off. You can hit a ball from anywhere on your side in any manner you want.

    It is that principle of a level playing field that causes me to wrinkle my nose at attempts at trickery. It is not a huge big deal -- as I said, I would never in a million years scold an opponent or partner for using a legal shot.

    That does not mean I have to respect it. If my partner wants to use trickery to gain an advantage while serving, fine. I will simply find a different partner.
     
    Last edited: May 3, 2012
    #75
  26. Avles

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    #76
  27. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

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    Great summary, couldn't have said it any better-- except that if the opponent isn't ready to receive the serve is illegal, right? ("The Server shall not serve until the Receiver is ready.").

    I think under this standard the shot that maggmaster described earlier (act like you think you double-faulted and then quick-serve) falls into category 2, because the goal is to serve before your opponent realizes your service motion has even begun.

    An underhand serve after the opponent is ready to receive clearly falls into category 1, even though the motion is different from an overhand serve (and an underhand serve motion will be inherently different whether or not the intent is to deceive).

    "Ready to receive" for me can only mean "ready at the start of the service motion." Once the service motion has begun the returner is on notice that the serve could arrive at any time. I see no way to construe the rules to indicate or imply that the server is expected to serve with a predictable or consistent motion.
     
    #77
  28. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    i like you too Cindy! but, think a good drop shot can be just as, if not more, full of trickery as an underhand serve. i have been fooled many more times by a drop shot, than by an underhand serve. i still dont see the distinction you are making between a drop shot (good) and an underhand serve (lame).


     
    #78
  29. woodrow1029

    woodrow1029 Hall of Fame

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    #79
  30. aced_Tezuka

    aced_Tezuka Rookie

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    As long as you don't sneak it in like my friend. He does a ridiculous underhand slice when we goof off. We get a good laugh from it but no hard feelings. I used to do a regular forehand serve when I just cannot absolutely serve at all. Not a underhand but side serve? it generates enough pace so they don't end up running all the way to the service line and stay behind the baseline. My coach doesn't like it at all though. :(
     
    #80
  31. ttbrowne

    ttbrowne Hall of Fame

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    No more bad than:

    Calling a ball out that's obviously in.

    Putting all kinds of backspin and side spin on every shot.

    Stacking.

    In other words just normal everyday USTA issues.
     
    #81
  32. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

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    How can you possibly even consider these two things as being in the same category?

    Calling a good ball out is cheating.

    Putting spin on the ball is perfectly fine, except that it seems you can't handle those kinds of shots...
     
    #82
  33. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    Exactly. Lumping cheating and putting spin on a ball as the same makes ZERO sense.

    It seems to me that with all the whining about underhand serves, and other things some people call "deceiving" during a match gives those who dont play tennis a lot of ammo to call tennis a wuss sport. Deceiving your opponent is a part of every sport. In football, the quarterback uses the play action pass to deceive the defense and even tries to lure them off sides by changing the snap count or by even changing the tone of his voice. You dont see them whining that they "deceived us" do you? As long as its not cheating, deal with the obstacles it takes to win your match and dont whine that "he used an underhand serve on me." I cant imagine any accusation in any sport being more lame.
     
    #83
  34. gavna

    gavna Hall of Fame

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    I don't get why anyone would have an issue with the use of an underhand serve? And if you do then you must think its wrong to hit a drop shot? Is there this unwritten rule that if a player is that far back or getting jerked from side to side you can't drop him/her? And if you do its bad form or unsportsmanlike? Same should be for the short serve or underhand serve, If are able to short serve or drop in an underhand serve then good for you and god bless do use it.
     
    #84
  35. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I have had opponents UH to me several times. Sometimes due to windy conditions, sometimes due to injury, sometimes because they couldn't get a serve in OH to save their life. I don't really care because it's perfectly legal.

    The only time I saw an UH serve that I thought was really lame and poor sportsmanship was in a club mixed tournament. A 4.5 man and his 3.5 partner were soundly beating a pair of 3.0 beginner players. I think the 4.5/3.5 pair won the first set 6-0 and was up 5-0 in the 2nd set. The 4.5 man hit an UH serve to the 3.0 beginner woman. It went over like a lead balloon. It really seemed inappropriate and it appeared that the 4.5 man was really rubbing in the easy win. That was very lame.
     
    #85
  36. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    I agree. In a situation like that where youre destroying the opponent and just doing it to stomp on their dignity, theres no call for doing that BS move.
     
    #86
  37. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    So. All legal shots are not created equal?
     
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  38. pinky42

    pinky42 Rookie

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    All legal shots are created equal. It is belittling an opponent that is BS.
     
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  39. Bobby Jr

    Bobby Jr Legend

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    There's an older guy at a club I play at who serves underhand but that's not the crazy thing about him. He also hits his forehand with a western backhand grip. His contact point is so far back you think it's gone past him and then suddenly he hits it back. He's been playing like that for so long he is consistent and pretty accurate too - knifing all his forehands barely inches above the net. I've played with him a couple of times socially and makes for some entertaining doubles.

    Oddly he hits his backhands with topspin - using the same grip. :lol:
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2012
    #89
  40. Avles

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    Of course all legal shots are created equal. What sometimes can differ is the motivation behind the shot.

    If I aim a shot at the net player because I think that's the best percentage play, that's fine.

    If I aim a shot at the net player because I want to injure them, that's bad.

    A shot aimed at the net player is neither good nor bad. It is just a shot, like any other shot.

    Similarly, if I hit an underhand serve because I think it's likely to give me an advantage in the point, that's fine.

    If I hit an underhand serve to humiliate a dramatically inferior opponent, that's bad.

    The underhand serve is neither good nor bad. It is just a shot, like any other shot.
     
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  41. sabala

    sabala Semi-Pro

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    #91
  42. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

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    You just dont get it. Even if I was losing 6-0, 5-0 and someone did underhand serve me on match point, I wouldnt come on here whining to everyone about it. Its a LEGAL shot Cindy so if you cant return it, thats your problem.
     
    #92
  43. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Perfectly said! Bravo.

     
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  44. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

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    I play with a couple guys who use that serve from time to time. it's not an issue.

    In fact, last evening I got even. I used my regular toss, let it drop to my waist and then spun the ball underhanded just over the net and on the ad sideline.

    He just got to the ball but netted the return. We all got a good laugh out of it, as he got a taste of his own medicine, on game point no less.
     
    #94
  45. Loose Cannon

    Loose Cannon Rookie

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    The question must be asked.....who enters Tournaments with nagging Injuries????
     
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  46. Taxvictim

    Taxvictim Semi-Pro

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    Did he do it quickly... a sneak serve... to catch the opponent off guard? Or was it clear from his motion that he was serving underhand?
     
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  47. jk175d

    jk175d Semi-Pro

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    Recently when playing mid day when the sun was just brutal on one side, both I and the guy I was playing served underhand from that one side for a few games. I would try a regular serve but just couldn't find anywhere to toss the ball that wouldn't blind me. So I told the guy it was coming underhanded.

    I wouldn't want to do this all the time, but it was actually quite fun. It was on clay and I would put as much undercut and side-spin on it as I could, even when he knew it was coming it would be such an awkward shot he'd either hit an error or a sitter and then be out of position. It made for easy holds.

    There was a singles match in our Spring league in which one guy made a couple of regular service motion pump fakes then did a quick sneak underhand serve. THAT is lame. Fortunately he lost that point, and the match.
     
    #97
  48. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    i think it is soo stupid to tell people you are going to serve underhand. Do you tell them when you are going to serve with a kickserve too? How about warning your opponent when you are gong to serve out wide, do you warn them about that too? Then why warn people about an underhand serve?

     
    #98
  49. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I dunno, Blake. It might be going a bit far to say it is stupid.

    People warn about underhand serves so that they don't look like they are engaged in trickery. If a player doesn't care what their opponents think, then of course there's no reason to warn.
     
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  50. blakesq

    blakesq Professional

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    Sorry Cindy, but serving underhand is no more trickery than serving a kickserve on a first serve, or serving out wide. And it would be stupid to tell your opponent that you are going to serve out wide to him or her.

     

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