How to serve if partner has forgotten how to volley?

chic

Professional
And as I said, I have one serve. One. No kick, no true spin serve, no flat serve. It has one speed, not slower not faster. One serve that I have managed to get pretty darn decent and can place. That is it.
Might be worth adding the time to learn a kick serve. More variety will keep your serve less predictable and draw more errors for your partner.

Another thought would be using signals, although I find this can throw some people off. But it can give volley confidence since they know where the serve is going.
 

golden chicken

Hall of Fame
Might be worth adding the time to learn a kick serve. More variety will keep your serve less predictable and draw more errors for your partner.

Another thought would be using signals, although I find this can throw some people off. But it can give volley confidence since they know where the serve is going.
:-D signal me all you want, there's a 1/3 chance it isn't going where I want it to. :oops:
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Ha! no I am a 3.5
I have tuned my serve so that it covers up some of the rest of my lack of skill.

It's not magic to have a good serve for the 3.5 ladies' level .... just takes work and time. Honestly easier than some other strokes as there are zero variables, I can control everything.

And as I said, I have one serve. One. No kick, no true spin serve, no flat serve. It has one speed, not slower not faster. One serve that I have managed to get pretty darn decent and can place. That is it.
75 to 80 mph? All studies I have seen state that club men's serves range from 60 to 90.

And you can place it in all 3 places.

You are not a 3.5 woman.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
75 to 80 mph? All studies I have seen state that club men's serves range from 60 to 90.

And you can place it in all 3 places.

You are not a 3.5 woman.
First, you haven't seen the rest of my game ... I can make the dumbest on court decisions. FH is erratic. I move great ... to the wrong places. I can generate UEs as often as a politician lies.

Second, can only go with what I was told on the speeds. Been clocked multiple times .. hand held guns usually put me in the mid 70s. Some outliers higher.
Local club had court set up with a play sight type system being tested out. Played a set of singles on it. ... top speed was 82mph, lowest was 64mph .. most were in the high 70s. Could be the system was generous by 5mph or more. Have never played on a true playsight court nor been clocked with anything but a hand held device.

Placing a serve is not hard .... T is easier than wide. Although my serves to the T tend to be slower than those body or wide.
 

shamaho

Professional
I have now had 3 different matches where the same issue has come up.

Playing dubs I know how to serve such that the return (if it comes back at all) is popped up to my partner at net nearly invariably.
I have one basic serve and I can vary it's placement with some accuracy (T, body, wide)
It comes in fairly fast (clocked in match average 75-80mph, it has an odd top-slice spin to it.
I hit it at 75-80% first serve in
2nd serve is exactly the same just a little more spin but no deceleration ... usually go body for placement for margin.
Majority of my service games are very easy holds .... Serve - no return or Serve - put-away-volley

If my partner is missing every volley that day .... it becomes much more frustrating.

This is not my partner's fault entirely as obviously I need to be able to serve differently on those days.

How?
What type of serve is more likely to come back to me and not the net person?
Hit more wide?
I would change serve, but ackowledge with the partner that volleying is not working so change his positioning... further back...
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
Granted I'm young and usually playing with younger partners since I'm 26.

But I can usually offer: "I promise I will set you up for the volley. If you get lobbed you're welcome to move back, but try it out for me."

But that really only works if you can serve aggressively enough to prevent most people from lobbing.
When I have a new partner, I usually tell them what my serves are like and what to expect in terms of a return.

I also let them know that I don't have a ton of pace, but I have a lot of movement on the ball. So I tell them to look out for lame ducks coming back or higher launch angled balls. If they are not a particularly strong net player, I let them know that if it's not in their range, they can let it go and I'll try to give him another chance.
 

chic

Professional
75 to 80 mph? All studies I have seen state that club men's serves range from 60 to 90.

And you can place it in all 3 places.

You are not a 3.5 woman.
As a 3.5 man who can serve 115+

All they have to do is bunt it back. If you have a serve it doesn't mean you can take control off the short ball on the return and then it's back to a neutral situation.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
First, you haven't seen the rest of my game ... I can make the dumbest on court decisions. FH is erratic. I move great ... to the wrong places. I can generate UEs as often as a politician lies.

Second, can only go with what I was told on the speeds. Been clocked multiple times .. hand held guns usually put me in the mid 70s. Some outliers higher.
Local club had court set up with a play sight type system being tested out. Played a set of singles on it. ... top speed was 82mph, lowest was 64mph .. most were in the high 70s. Could be the system was generous by 5mph or more. Have never played on a true playsight court nor been clocked with anything but a hand held device.

Placing a serve is not hard .... T is easier than wide. Although my serves to the T tend to be slower than those body or wide.
I was recently clocked by guns at 98 and slightly above several times.

For COVID temperature check

I have noticed that in tennis things are a package. If you are a female who serves 75 to 80 mph and can control the placement, the rest of your game CANNOT be bad.

I play with certified 3.5 and 4.0 USTA male league players who seem to have played all their lives and are in good health - and they cannot hit such serves and place them. A few who are over 6 feet tall can get some good pace though.

There are a couple of (short and older) bonafide USTA 4.5 women at my club. Their serves are low, flat and consistent, with some placement, but nowhere near 75 to 80 mph.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
As a 3.5 man who can serve 115+

All they have to do is bunt it back. If you have a serve it doesn't mean you can take control off the short ball on the return and then it's back to a neutral situation.
You are a 3.5 man who serves 115 mph and gets the ball in?

Were you a junior/college athlete in any other sport?
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
I have noticed that in tennis things are a package. If you are a female who serves 75 to 80 mph and can control the placement, the rest of your game CANNOT be bad.
Oh but it can be!
That is why protecting my service games is so darn important. Also why in my past 3 years I have played 255 USTA matches and 119 tie breakers.
 

chic

Professional
You are a 3.5 man who serves 115 mph and gets the ball in?

Were you a junior/college athlete in any other sport?
Yes and yes.
But mostly I didn't know other people to play with off season in high school and got good at the one thing I could do alone.

I was a good swimmer. Great baseline for a smooth body chain. Not great for developing footwork.

I'm pretty close to being a 4.0 but I lose plenty of matches at 3.5.
 
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chic

Professional
I was recently clocked by guns at 98 and slightly above several times.

For COVID temperature check

I have noticed that in tennis things are a package. If you are a female who serves 75 to 80 mph and can control the placement, the rest of your game CANNOT be bad.

I play with certified 3.5 and 4.0 USTA male league players who seem to have played all their lives and are in good health - and they cannot hit such serves and place them. A few who are over 6 feet tall can get some good pace though.

There are a couple of (short and older) bonafide USTA 4.5 women at my club. Their serves are low, flat and consistent, with some placement, but nowhere near 75 to 80 mph.
I definitely believe it's not common. In the TLN league I play in there's only 2-3 guys in 3.5 hitting serves above ~90 and all the other beside me dink the second.

I've been told by 3.75s, 4.0s and 4.25s (yes we use fake rankings, no I don't know why) that there's at beat 1-2 more guys that serve as well as I do. That's in a sample size of probably 100+people.

I had a similar experience in South Carolina with the exception of one guy I taught to second serve. Wasn't through league though just a group of like 40 guys who were in group chats at the park.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Yes and yes.
But mostly I didn't know other people to play with off season in high school and got good at the one thing I could do alone.

I was a good swimmer. Great baseline for a smooth body chain. Not great for developing footwork.

I'm pretty close to being a 4.0 but I lose plenty of matches at 3.5.
Perfect example that power isn't everything.

I've played plenty of 4.5's that can't get close to 115 mph on their serve but still befuddle returners with variety of spin, pace and bounce height. In fact i've played some that almost never use their "big" serve in a competitive match preferring to throw a 80% spin serve at you into the corners or body. They know the 100% power serve into the middle of the box gets blocked back too easily.

It seems only 3.5's try to hit the 100% power serve every first serve, miss it 90% of the time and then dink in a second serve.
 

chic

Professional
Perfect example that power isn't everything.

I've played plenty of 4.5's that can't get close to 115 mph on their serve but still befuddle returners with variety of spin, pace and bounce height. In fact i've played some that almost never use their "big" serve in a competitive match preferring to throw a 80% spin serve at you into the corners or body. They know the 100% power serve into the middle of the box gets blocked back too easily.

It seems only 3.5's try to hit the 100% power serve every first serve, miss it 90% of the time and then dink in a second serve.
I also rarely hit flatties in match, preferring a 105mph kick serve or 90mph topspin that I have better control on.

You're not a fast server when you can hit a big ball 10% if the time. You're a fast server when your second serve still aces :laughing:
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
You're not a fast server when you can hit a big ball 10% if the time. You're a fast server when your second serve still aces :laughing:
But you are definitely not a fast server when you CANNOT hit a big ball 10% of the time.

People miss that. You need to try in order to get faster.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I also rarely hit flatties in match, preferring a 105mph kick serve or 90mph topspin that I have better control on.
I still can't figure out whether you are joking or not.

The numbers you mention are not achieved most of the time by WTA players or sometimes even by ATP players.
 

chic

Professional
I'm not joking. I know the speeds are not common but I've posted some videos on here about a year ago of me hitting that fast (with a bit worse technique than I have now thanks to some jo11y feedback.) They were 30fps but even being conservative I was hitting ~110 in 30°F conditions.

When I say kick I mean the combined topspin and slice style serve, some people seem to call this twist and call a topspin serve a kick serve. Idk if there's a right and wrong terminology or if it's a regional thing.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
I'm not joking. I know the speeds are not common but I've posted some videos on here about a year ago of me hitting that fast (with a bit worse technique than I have now thanks to some jo11y feedback.) They were 30fps but even being conservative I was hitting ~110 in 30°F conditions.

When I say kick I mean the combined topspin and slice style serve, some people seem to call this twist and call a topspin serve a kick serve. Idk if there's a right and wrong terminology or if it's a regional thing.
Top slice swings to your left after bounce if you are a righty, American Twist to the right, and kick keeps the original direction. I am never sure what happens to my serves because I have no control.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Well, you folks who claim these big serve speeds that don't match your computer rating understand the skepticism, right?

I mean, if you really own a serve that is way above level that no returner can handle, I don't see how that happens. Like, if I had a serve like a 4.5 woman or 4.0 guy, how bad does the rest of my game need to be for me to be computer rated at 3.5 like I am? Pretty bad, I would think. I'd have to have 3.0 level strokes on a few other things, at least. That doesn't make sense to me. Like, I would have a BH I can't put in the court? I can't wrap my head around it.

Like, take the issue that started this thread. If my serve is excellent, how are returners targeting my partner at all? They should be missing or sending high, soft cheese to my partner. That's how it goes in mixed, when my male partner is serving to the opposing woman. If she can target me at net at will, my male partner's serve isn't that great.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
Like, take the issue that started this thread. If my serve is excellent, how are returners targeting my partner at all? They should be missing or sending high, soft cheese to my partner. That's how it goes in mixed, when my male partner is serving to the opposing woman. If she can target me at net at will, my male partner's serve isn't that great.
I think the OP’s issue is with the net player missing easy volleys and not being targeted by tough returns. I can relate to that as I’m a lefty who can serve different spins (slice, top-slice, kick in addition to flat) and I use all of them in matches. When I play open courts at my club (maybe twice a year due to last-minute match cancellations) and am matched with low-level players I don’t know, they miss a lot of what I could call ‘high, soft cheese’ and then say that the return had funky spin to it - probably because my serve has heavy, lefty spin and gets a lot of mishit returns. I’ve found that if I use a variety of spins, it messes up my low-skilled net partner sometimes as much as it does the returners.

So, I end up asking them to guard the alley and serve wide a lot hoping to get a crosscourt return back to me. Or, I serve low-spin serves that are flat as they seem to draw block returns with less spin than my net player can handle. I don’t have this issue when I play at my level with my usual group.
 
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chic

Professional
Well, you folks who claim these big serve speeds that don't match your computer rating understand the skepticism, right?

I mean, if you really own a serve that is way above level that no returner can handle, I don't see how that happens. Like, if I had a serve like a 4.5 woman or 4.0 guy, how bad does the rest of my game need to be for me to be computer rated at 3.5 like I am? Pretty bad, I would think. I'd have to have 3.0 level strokes on a few other things, at least. That doesn't make sense to me. Like, I would have a BH I can't put in the court? I can't wrap my head around it.

Like, take the issue that started this thread. If my serve is excellent, how are returners targeting my partner at all? They should be missing or sending high, soft cheese to my partner. That's how it goes in mixed, when my male partner is serving to the opposing woman. If she can target me at net at will, my male partner's serve isn't that great.
I mean, I don't have the problem of returners targeting my partner and I routinely played 4.0 doubles and 8.0 mixed before moving (with a 4.0 woman) without hindering them by being 'down a half rating'. But I have more serve variety than OP is claiming to.

But ime, a big serve only helps so much if the ball gets put in play I have a couple hinderances I'm working on:

1. I'm not great at hitting the short ball I can either hit it with decent pace deep (my go to) but I error a decent amount and the ball is still returnable. Or I can tap it over but this leaves me in a 50-50 net scramble at best. – the solution I see with others at my level or better is to be able to hit a less pacey more angled topspin shot that is either a winner or opens up more of the court. I can hit this sometimes but not with any consistency, I need reps on the footwork.

2. A deep block return, if flat and sending my own pace back at me does not always get me the initiative it should if I don't get my feet around the ball. If I'm late to the second shot their return only has to be ok and we're back to neutral.

So for me, often, gaining advantage =/= keeping advantage. This also couples with a higher error margin on serving. At the peak of my league season I was down to 4 double faults max per set probably averaging between 2 and 3. Acceptably by my standards of risk - reward, but admittedly high and higher when I play less meaning that if I don't hold the initiative on the points with good serves the games can get away from me.

Tl;dr: it's not that other shots are below level, it's that at the 3.5 level we just don't put away advantages as well or consistently so it doesn't net as much in the grand scheme.

As to who is at fault in a doubles scenario, in part OP sounds like she needs to work on serve variety. Placing the same serve, no matter how aggressively, will get adjusted to over the course of the match. But if the netwoman likes to stand too far off the net bunt returns and short balls can tend to dip right at ones feet, so being flexible with positioning is probably something that should be considered.
 

chic

Professional
1. I'm not great at hitting the short ball I can either hit it with decent pace deep (my go to) but I error a decent amount and the ball is still returnable. Or I can tap it over but this leaves me in a 50-50 net scramble at best
Oh I guess I also can and do spin a neutral ball deep and back up to the baseline.

My go tos are this and the heavy deep ball depending if I feel like I have my feet in position.
 

time_fly

Hall of Fame
If my partner is missing every volley that day .... it becomes much more frustrating.
...
What type of serve is more likely to come back to me and not the net person?
If you really think her volleys are costing you the service games, then you have a few options:

Level 1: ask her to guard the alley and only take balls that are right at her
Level 2: ask her to start back at the baseline, assuming that her ground strokes aren't also off
Level 3: ask her to lie on her back on the court as close as possible along the net without touching it. That way you can play singles and only the best possible drop shot might touch her.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
I used to love hitting big flat serves, but I eventually came to the conclusion that as a lefty who serves and volleys it wasn’t really working out for me.

These days I kick or slice everything. I hit fewer unreturnable serves, but I also hit fewer second serves and get less returns coming back with clean contact.

As a result, volleying is way easier. I have all the time in the world to get to net, and when I get there I usually have a relatively benign ball I can get aggressive on.

I still hit the odd flat body serve, just to keep them honest. However I spend all my time practicing spin serves so it’s a bit rubbish these days.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I used to love hitting big flat serves, but I eventually came to the conclusion that as a lefty who serves and volleys it wasn’t really working out for me.

These days I kick or slice everything. I hit fewer unreturnable serves, but I also hit fewer second serves and get less returns coming back with clean contact.

As a result, volleying is way easier. I have all the time in the world to get to net, and when I get there I usually have a relatively benign ball I can get aggressive on.

I still hit the odd flat body serve, just to keep them honest. However I spend all my time practicing spin serves so it’s a bit rubbish these days.
When I was kind of building my S&V game, I developed a kick serve for S&V.

Now, let's tamp down expectations here. This was not an Isner kick serve. It wasn't hitting the ground and going over anyone's head. But it was slower and landed deeper and had modest topspin. The result is I had enough time to get to the net AND 3.5 female opponents could not tee off on it reliably precisely because they were 3.5s. I found if I tried to S&V with a flatter serve, no one was impressed and opponents could use my pace against me.

Alas, I can't hit it anymore because I am a lazy sack who never practices her serve.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
Yeah, even a mild kick serve can be very handy. Until I learned one, I just couldn't send a ball reliably to the forehand side of the service box.

People would cheat shamelessly on my slice (especially on my second serve) and all I could really do in response was hammer the body.

My early kicker was not much chop, but at least I stopped having to give up ~30% of my target area. My opponent having to consider that fact made my slice serves a lot more effective, even if the kicker itself didn't win me many points.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Well, you folks who claim these big serve speeds that don't match your computer rating understand the skepticism, right?

I mean, if you really own a serve that is way above level that no returner can handle, I don't see how that happens. Like, if I had a serve like a 4.5 woman or 4.0 guy, how bad does the rest of my game need to be for me to be computer rated at 3.5 like I am? Pretty bad, I would think. I'd have to have 3.0 level strokes on a few other things, at least. That doesn't make sense to me. Like, I would have a BH I can't put in the court? I can't wrap my head around it.

Like, take the issue that started this thread. If my serve is excellent, how are returners targeting my partner at all? They should be missing or sending high, soft cheese to my partner. That's how it goes in mixed, when my male partner is serving to the opposing woman. If she can target me at net at will, my male partner's serve isn't that great.
That is precisely it. Partner completely lost the ability to volley. When my serve gets returned it gets popped up almost invariably as a nice easy sitter, or it doesn't come back. This is why I win service games. On days a partner dumps those into the net or tries to crush them and sends them long or wide .... it is a long day. No one is targeting the net player at all.

And how to be a 3.5 with an above level serve? Play only doubles. Play a ton of tiebreakers that prove you are at level therefore won't get bumped. Be a head case that gets tight and starts making stupid errors when up in a set.

Being computer rated has zero to do with one's serve or any other stroke. Only what the w/l and more specifically games won vs lost.

Pretty easy to have a good serve and a very tight w/l picture when you throw in all the other factors.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
And yes ... working on variety this week. Spent 30 minutes each of the last 3 days serving a few buckets.

Decided my flat wide serve to the Ad side has to come back into my rotation. But it is a higher risk shot. Fun when it hits.
Spent most time on a wide top-slice to the deuce side ... less pace than my norm but trying to add spin.
 

jered

Rookie
I'm not joking. I know the speeds are not common but I've posted some videos on here about a year ago of me hitting that fast (with a bit worse technique than I have now thanks to some jo11y feedback.) They were 30fps but even being conservative I was hitting ~110 in 30°F conditions.

When I say kick I mean the combined topspin and slice style serve, some people seem to call this twist and call a topspin serve a kick serve. Idk if there's a right and wrong terminology or if it's a regional thing.
I'm in the same boat. Serving and overhead skills are far above my NTRP ranking. I'm fairly new to tennis but I'm very athletic and come from a lifetime a playing competitive volleyball and with a few adjustments I could almost instantly serve far above the level of the rest of my game within the first month of playing. At 3.0 I could serve almost every opponent off the court. Playing 3.5+ though, it's not enough to be able to serve big because many people can block back well. I get a lot of aces and serve winners but when they cough up a "put away" ball, I often screw that up because the rest of my game is erratic. The way I almost always get broken is that on serve +1, I royally screw up an easy +1 over and over.

A big serve is great but it doesn't win you games above your groundstroke level in my experience.
 

chic

Professional
I'm in the same boat. Serving and overhead skills are far above my NTRP ranking. I'm fairly new to tennis but I'm very athletic and come from a lifetime a playing competitive volleyball and with a few adjustments I could almost instantly serve far above the level of the rest of my game within the first month of playing. At 3.0 I could serve almost every opponent off the court. Playing 3.5+ though, it's not enough to be able to serve big because many people can block back well. I get a lot of aces and serve winners but when they cough up a "put away" ball, I often screw that up because the rest of my game is erratic. The way I almost always get broken is that on serve +1, I royally screw up an easy +1 over and over.

A big serve is great but it doesn't win you games above your groundstroke level in my experience.
Yeah for me my groundstrokes are even fine/at level. But the footwork isn't lol.

Consistency consistency consistency ... *Sigh*
 

Chalkdust

Rookie
I'm not joking. I know the speeds are not common but I've posted some videos on here about a year ago of me hitting that fast (with a bit worse technique than I have now thanks to some jo11y feedback.) They were 30fps but even being conservative I was hitting ~110 in 30°F conditions.

When I say kick I mean the combined topspin and slice style serve, some people seem to call this twist and call a topspin serve a kick serve. Idk if there's a right and wrong terminology or if it's a regional thing.
The skepticism is because if a 3.5 could consistently hit a 105mph kick 2nd serve, then no-one at 3.5 or even 4.0 is ever going to be breaking that payer. They are just not going to be getting enough returns in play to break, even if the rest of the player's game is not at 3.5 level. So worst case scenario would be losing in TBs, more likely the player would scratch out a break (or opponents would gift one) here and there, and the player would be getting bumped up and no longer a 3.5.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
And yes ... working on variety this week. Spent 30 minutes each of the last 3 days serving a few buckets.

Decided my flat wide serve to the Ad side has to come back into my rotation. But it is a higher risk shot. Fun when it hits.
Spent most time on a wide top-slice to the deuce side ... less pace than my norm but trying to add spin.
Doesn't sound like you need any more variety if your serves come back as sitters. You just need better partners. Time to play mixed instead of ladies league. Most guys in mixed would kill to have a hard serving woman to poach off of.
 

chic

Professional
I think he is a big guy who is a freak of Nature, somehow achieving perfect technique on the serve while being a 3.5. He would be a fascinating subject for a Ph.D. in Sports Science
It's pretty simple: grow up in exurbian Schenectady. Lots of desire to get better but no one to play with and no formal coaching. Spend a lot of time hitting a hopper solo.

Then walk on to a d3 team that's 2-22 as an off season thing for swim. Once the new coach needs you to be 6 in the lineup of 7. He knows you have no hope in singles but that winning a doubles match could decide the whole thing (in d3 each doubles set is a whole point) helps refine the self taught serve and volleys with this in mind.

Then once the team had more depth I went back to full time swimming and never really refined the rest of my game. Still no partner or wall at home.

Just got really good at one thing
 

chic

Professional
Tennis is weird in that it's very difficult to practice solo without additional resources. Most other sports have a wealth of drills that can be done solo with a ball or some sidewalk chalk. Tennis isn't like that unless you have a wall.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Tennis is weird in that it's very difficult to practice solo without additional resources. Most other sports have a wealth of drills that can be done solo with a ball or some sidewalk chalk. Tennis isn't like that unless you have a wall.
it's even hard to practice with someone else unless they are happy to just feed you balls.

It's easiest to practice with a ball machine which, as you say, requires resources.
 
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