Getting to 4.5/5.0 with a mediocre serve

FiddlerDog

Hall of Fame
Blue shirt has a low level waiter's tray serve. Yet he is a strong 4.5 who plays up to 5.0

Tennis player in blue (Boss of Atlanta USTA 4.5) was 7-1 at #1 singles (including playoffs) for Summer 2020. He plays both USTA 4.5 and 5.0 league but is technically a USTA 4.5 rated player. He started tennis at 16 years old and his highest state ranking was 50.

 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Consistency gets you a long way in tennis. Up to a certain point it doesn’t matter how technically proficient your shots are as long as you can hit them reasonably hard, deep and accurately.

This guy has plenty of flaws, but it requires a reasonably high level player to hit good enough shots to exploit them.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Blue shirt has a low level waiter's tray serve. Yet he is a strong 4.5 who plays up to 5.0

Tennis player in blue (Boss of Atlanta USTA 4.5) was 7-1 at #1 singles (including playoffs) for Summer 2020. He plays both USTA 4.5 and 5.0 league but is technically a USTA 4.5 rated player. He started tennis at 16 years old and his highest state ranking was 50.



Probably a revelation many others have had over time, but in the last few years, jsut in reflecting of my own development and having watched many others and listened to what they want to change and why...I've learn in many instances for everyone trying to chagen things for the better to improve, there is someone doing it the "bad" way at a higher level.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
The theory that you can't win without a good serve is highly suspect. Blue serve does have some waiter's tray but it is certainly good enough to keep people off balance. He also has really sweet groundstrokes - moves well - can hit volleys etc.
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
if the rest of your game is solid you can do ok at 4.5/5.0 with a 'decent' serve, meaning good placement and not a ton of errors. if you hit your spots, you won't find too many players at that level who can bury you off the return consistently (i'm talking like in the 80s/90s, not lollipop serves.) in fact i've noticed a lot of players do better with a little pace to work with, and have a harder time with spinnier stuff than just outright pace (to an extent--if you're hitting spots w pace obviously that's a good thing.)
 

GuyClinch

Legend
if the rest of your game is solid you can do ok at 4.5/5.0 with a 'decent' serve, meaning good placement and not a ton of errors. if you hit your spots, you won't find too many players at that level who can bury you off the return consistently (i'm talking like in the 80s/90s, not lollipop serves.) in fact i've noticed a lot of players do better with a little pace to work with, and have a harder time with spinnier stuff than just outright pace (to an extent--if you're hitting spots w pace obviously that's a good thing.)

As long as your serve doesn't hang up - seems like even 4.5s can't bury you with it. GSG is a perfect case of this. I don't think his serve is in the 80s.. Personally I feel the most dangerous serve to hit is your hanging curve - aka the slow "kicker' that lacks any real kick.. Guys can tee off on that..
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
if the rest of your game is solid you can do ok at 4.5/5.0 with a 'decent' serve, meaning good placement and not a ton of errors. if you hit your spots, you won't find too many players at that level who can bury you off the return consistently (i'm talking like in the 80s/90s, not lollipop serves.) in fact i've noticed a lot of players do better with a little pace to work with, and have a harder time with spinnier stuff than just outright pace (to an extent--if you're hitting spots w pace obviously that's a good thing.)

Agreed. I'm a mid-4.5 and I have a mediocre serve. My results typically do not hinge on how well I serve because I don't get many service winners. As long as my serve is good enough to get me to the net without getting passed too much, I'm good.

I could serve terribly and DF a bunch but that's rare.
 

FiddlerDog

Hall of Fame
.. Personally I feel the most dangerous serve to hit is your hanging curve - aka the slow "kicker' that lacks any real kick.. Guys can tee off on that..

GSG's serve is a low slice, which is very hard to tee off on. It is a very neutral serve even at 4.5
 

mental midget

Hall of Fame
As long as your serve doesn't hang up - seems like even 4.5s can't bury you with it. GSG is a perfect case of this. I don't think his serve is in the 80s.. Personally I feel the most dangerous serve to hit is your hanging curve - aka the slow "kicker' that lacks any real kick.. Guys can tee off on that..

i know i do, absolutely. many a service game has been lost by players obsessed with hitting the 'kicker.' a hard topspin slice with a little curl to it is an easy serve to develop, you can hit it probably 85% of the pace of your first and it's quite reliable. would strongly advise any player to develop that serve, you can swing it out wide, jam people with it, and way harder to tee off on.

don't get me wrong, a great kicker is tough to handle but i see very, very truly effective ones even at the 'good hacker' (4.5/5.0) level of play.
 

travlerajm

Talk Tennis Guru
Almost 20 years ago, I played against a guy who had a grandma style waiter’s tray completely flat, softly-hit serve. The kind of soft low-bouncing serve you see 4.0 ladies use.

Despite his rec level serve technique, this guy serve-and-volleyed every serve, both first and second. His net game was elite. How elite? He peaked at 550 in the world. Even though I was ripping returns at his shoestrings, he could volley those ankle-high balls with precision and place them in the corners every time.

He was in his late 30s at the time. I asked him why he didn’t serve harder? Did he have a shoulder injury? He said... ‘nah, I’ve tried everything. This is what ended up working best for me. When I add spin it just kicks up higher and makes it easier for guys to return. And when I serve harder, it doesn’t get me enough time to close in behind it.’
 

Dragy

Legend
Almost 20 years ago, I played against a guy who had a grandma style waiter’s tray completely flat, softly-hit serve. The kind of soft low-bouncing serve you see 4.0 ladies use.

Despite his rec level serve technique, this guy serve-and-volleyed every serve, both first and second. His net game was elite. How elite? He peaked at 550 in the world. Even though I was ripping returns at his shoestrings, he could volley those ankle-high balls with precision and place them in the corners every time.

He was in his late 30s at the time. I asked him why he didn’t serve harder? Did he have a shoulder injury? He said... ‘nah, I’ve tried everything. This is what ended up working best for me. When I add spin it just kicks up higher and makes it easier for guys to return. And when I serve harder, it doesn’t get me enough time to close in behind it.’
I wouldn’t claim to be able to pass that guy on and on :-D
But still. A slow serve, even if it’s low, allows returner to hit it from well inside the baseline and “mini-tennis” it with steep curve and really sharp angle. A bit more tough as I/O BH, for example, but otherwise seems to mostly require confidence and strong mental side to stick with it and win again and again. There’s a reason they don’t reach higher levels with weak serves - need to start at least neutral.
 

travlerajm

Talk Tennis Guru
I wouldn’t claim to be able to pass that guy on and on :-D
But still. A slow serve, even if it’s low, allows returner to hit it from well inside the baseline and “mini-tennis” it with steep curve and really sharp angle. A bit more tough as I/O BH, for example, but otherwise seems to mostly require confidence and strong mental side to stick with it and win again and again. There’s a reason they don’t reach higher levels with weak serves - need to start at least neutral.
Another example is the gal I play against at least once a week here.

She basically has a waiter’s tray serve. Not much pace.

And yet, I have never beaten her. She usually kicks my butt unless I’m having a really good day, in which case I can make it close.

She reached 900 in the world in singles, and 400 in doubles, but in reality those rankings don’t reflect how good she because she didn’t have the resources to play many tournaments. She’s still a top-200 caliber player even in her mid 30s, as the rest of her game is just plain sick.
 

Dragy

Legend
Another example is the gal I play against at least once a week here.

She basically has a waiter’s tray serve. Not much pace.

And yet, I have never beaten her. She usually kicks my butt unless I’m having a really good day, in which case I can make it close.

She reached 900 in the world in singles, and 400 in doubles, but in reality those rankings don’t reflect how good she because she didn’t have the resources to play many tournaments. She’s still a top-200 caliber player even in her mid 30s, as the rest of her game is just plain sick.
If a player absolutely kicks opponent's mess in return games, there's obvious one-sided win even if the serve is weak. But if the level is closer, if an opponent gets some advantage serving... Tough to overcome with a weak serve.
 

travlerajm

Talk Tennis Guru
If a player absolutely kicks opponent's mess in return games, there's obvious one-sided win even if the serve is weak. But if the level is closer, if an opponent gets some advantage serving... Tough to overcome with a weak serve.
My point is that I’ve seen plenty of really good players who have really weak serves. Every player has strengths and weaknesses, and you can’t judge the level of a player by watching just one type of stroke.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
GSG's serve is a low slice, which is very hard to tee off on. It is a very neutral serve even at 4.5

Don't disagree.. He is not trying to hit a kicker - it's a kind of slice serve you see guys without any formal instruction hit. Usually at the 3.5 level..
 

FiddlerDog

Hall of Fame
Don't disagree.. He is not trying to hit a kicker - it's a kind of slice serve you see guys without any formal instruction hit. Usually at the 3.5 level..

Yes, kick serves are easy to return compared to GSG's slice serve. Even a 3.0 player can hit a kick serve, but few master GSG's slice that works for him at 4.5
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Yes, kick serves are easy to return compared to GSG's slice serve. Even a 3.0 player can hit a kick serve, but few master GSG's slice that works for him at 4.5


Well only bad floating kicks.. But GSG doesn't stand a chance.. Pretty much all the guys that Ian are better then GSG.
 

FiddlerDog

Hall of Fame
Well only bad floating kicks.. But GSG doesn't stand a chance.. Pretty much all the guys that Ian are better then GSG.

GSG wins most of his matches at 4.5 in a strong Atlanta market.
This makes GSG a very strong 4.5 or low 5.0
Ian is a 4.5 so they are evenly matched, in terms of ratings.
Ian's edge is that he respects the junker and will play accordingly
 

user92626

G.O.A.T.
Blue shirt has a low level waiter's tray serve. Yet he is a strong 4.5 who plays up to 5.0

Tennis player in blue (Boss of Atlanta USTA 4.5) was 7-1 at #1 singles (including playoffs) for Summer 2020. He plays both USTA 4.5 and 5.0 league but is technically a USTA 4.5 rated player. He started tennis at 16 years old and his highest state ranking was 50.

FiddlerDog, are you the purple shirt guy? His form looks good but he plays too conservatively, imo.
 

ZanderGoga

Semi-Pro
Another example is the gal I play against at least once a week here.

She basically has a waiter’s tray serve. Not much pace.

And yet, I have never beaten her. She usually kicks my butt unless I’m having a really good day, in which case I can make it close.

She reached 900 in the world in singles, and 400 in doubles, but in reality those rankings don’t reflect how good she because she didn’t have the resources to play many tournaments. She’s still a top-200 caliber player even in her mid 30s, as the rest of her game is just plain sick.
Good lord, seek help. You live in a complete fantasy world.
 
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