Serving against aggressive returners...

Wes19

New User
Had a league match today, lost in two tight sets. My return game was working about as usual, but I couldn’t hold serve near how I usually do.

My opponent altered his return game to stand well inside the baseline for first serves, and further inside the baseline for second serves.

I’m a lefty who usually likes to slice a lot of serves to create angles, but felt like he was taking the ball so early and making a lot of really well hit aggressive returns.

Is there a specific serve you guys use when people continually creep in on your serves?
 

ubercat

Semi-Pro
Low fast slice serve into the body. So throw the ball up lower and more into the court and take a big step into the court. Aim slightly to the forehand and your lefty slice will take it into the body.

Also slower high sliced serves. throw and hit the ball high very much on the side with a slower action. The ball will bounce up hire and to have more of that lefty spin

Obviously mix these up with the odd hard flat serve as well to keep him guessing.

I'm not sure how it works for a lefty. If I try for a big kick serve on the as side I can often create a crazy angle onto his back hand.

Maybe you can do the same on the deuce side to his forehand.

And surely if he's standing close a high rising kick serve would be worth trying. Not many people can crush fast balls above their head.
 

movdqa

G.O.A.T.
The standing in thing is a response to a good lefty serve to cut off the angle. So he's probably cheating over on the backhand side too. He also wants to block back a kick serve before it gets high and wide. Is he actually doing that much with the return or just getting it back into play at neutral? If it's just a block, maybe you can take advantage of that by stepping in and hitting it to the opposite corner.
 
I actually use the exact same approach in my 3.5 league where seemingly everyone employs slice serves but no one has a huge flat first.

Sent from my Pixel 3 using Tapatalk
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
Had a league match today, lost in two tight sets. My return game was working about as usual, but I couldn’t hold serve near how I usually do.

My opponent altered his return game to stand well inside the baseline for first serves, and further inside the baseline for second serves.

I’m a lefty who usually likes to slice a lot of serves to create angles, but felt like he was taking the ball so early and making a lot of really well hit aggressive returns.

Is there a specific serve you guys use when people continually creep in on your serves?
I am a creeper. The only thing that works is fast serves and body serves...fast body serves. High balls inside the court for me at least are unlikely to work.

Also if you can do it play with your rhythm. That kind of return is based on reading their rhythm and timing the creep. Slowing or speeding your toss/ swing rhythm will make things tougher, but probably mess up your serve as well. Personally I have slow and fast deliveries to mess up the returner.

Also with lefty spin to a righty, the fh for me and I think others is the harder return to hit. The spin makes the ball jump off the racquet. Bh is a more natural return so maybe test the guys FH and see what happens.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
As a lefty, one of my most effective serves against righty returners was to jam them on their Fh side. Particularly effective on the Ad side.

Against returners who liked to run around the serve to hit their preferred Fh, I would often serve to the midline of their body. I would usually hit a heavy slice serve or a topspin slicer. It was often amusing watching them try to run around this serve. Because of the Lefty spin, the ball would keep breaking into their body, stalking or hounding them. I referred to this as my heat-seeking serve.
 
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megamind

Professional
As a lefty, one of my most effective serves against righty returners was to jam them on their Fh side. Particularly effective on the Ad side.

Against returners who liked to run around the serve to hit their preferred Fh, I would often serve to the midline of their body. I would usually hit a heavy slice serve or a topspin slicer. It was often amusing watching them try to run around this serve. Because of the Lefty spin, the ball would keep breaking into their body, stalking or hounding them. I referred to this as my heat-seeking serve.


I've experienced this as a righty.

Its frustrating as fook.

Luckily the guy I was playing with wasn't super consistent, so I knew if I could just get it in, he wouldn't last more than a 5 shot rally
 

megamind

Professional
As a lefty, one of my most effective serves against righty returners was to jam them on their Fh side. Particularly effective on the Ad side.

Against returners who liked to run around the serve to hit their preferred Fh, I would often serve to the midline of their body. I would usually hit a heavy slice serve or a topspin slicer. It was often amusing watching them try to run around this serve. Because of the Lefty spin, the ball would keep breaking into their body, stalking or hounding them. I referred to this as my heat-seeking serve.

whats your ntrp rating?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
whats your ntrp rating?
1.0-1.5

Actually, not played in nearly 4 years... hip and shoulder injuries. Hip replacement hopefully before Spring. Followed by shoulder (rotator cuff) surgery.

20 years ago (in my late 40s) started playing at 5.0 level. But that was short-lived cuz of age and injuries.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I've experienced this as a righty.

Its frustrating as fook.

Luckily the guy I was playing with wasn't super consistent, so I knew if I could just get it in, he wouldn't last more than a 5 shot rally
Lot of righty servers don't realize it but they can do the very same thing to lefties. However, righty servers dont always learn to exploit their spin as much as many lefties do.
 

zaph

Semi-Pro
I do this allot, I will change my return position depending on the server. Sometimes I will play in a ridiculous return position, a couple of feet from the service line and try to take the ball super early. The first thing I would say about that is I will freely admit I am trying to get into the servers head. Men especially, will take it as an insult that a 3.5 level player like me is showing their serve no respect and will go for too much. The bonus of returning like that is double faults.

The counter I am afraid is pace and power. You either need to hit it fast enough to make returning close in impossible or the spin is so extreme I can't control it that close in. If you have a slow serve placement and variety won't do it. I am so close that I hit it before it really turns on me, if you slice. To ace me servers basically have to hit the sideline.

If I do make the return, you have problem. That close in I can easily hit very tight angled returns or nail it at the server, without giving them any time to react, Not to mention the dropshot return.
 

Born_to_slice

Professional
If you have at least flat and slice in your repertoire and can hit right/left side of the service box at will, you have what it takes to keep them guessing. Mix in pace, serve riskier if they're trying to take advantage of your slow 2nd.
 

TagUrIt

Professional
I have no discernible pattern to my serves. Depending on my opponent, I’ll serve a second serve as a first serve and flat serve as a second. What I almost ALWAYS do is serve a 100+mph flat serve to the body of an opponent who steps in on my second serve. I never serve or aim at anyone to cause an injury, however if you’re playing against me and you decide that’s where you want to stand, that’s on you. Even if you fault on your second serve, hitting a well paced flat second serve will make your opponents to reconsider stepping in.
 
Had a league match today, lost in two tight sets. My return game was working about as usual, but I couldn’t hold serve near how I usually do.

My opponent altered his return game to stand well inside the baseline for first serves, and further inside the baseline for second serves.

I’m a lefty who usually likes to slice a lot of serves to create angles, but felt like he was taking the ball so early and making a lot of really well hit aggressive returns.

Is there a specific serve you guys use when people continually creep in on your serves?
Yes, body slice. Aim a slice slightly into his forehand so it turns into his body. Very hard to return on fast courts.
 

Goof

Semi-Pro
If you don't have better serves in your arsenal (and are 4.0 or below), I say change up the speed of your motion to throw off their timing. It's not a long term solution and won't help you progress as a player, but to help win in an important league match at like 3.5, by all means throw in some quick motions to keep him guessing.
 

zaph

Semi-Pro
If you don't have better serves in your arsenal (and are 4.0 or below), I say change up the speed of your motion to throw off their timing. It's not a long term solution and won't help you progress as a player, but to help win in an important league match at like 3.5, by all means throw in some quick motions to keep him guessing.
I am not sure how that will help, quick serving is illegal, the returner has to play at the servers pace but the server can't hit a serve until the returner is ready.
 

Goof

Semi-Pro
I am not sure how that will help, quick serving is illegal, the returner has to play at the servers pace but the server can't hit a serve until the returner is ready.
Didn't mean illegal serving before returner ready, meant fast motion like Kyrgios, Ivanisevic, Ljubicic, Dolgopolov, etc.
 

movdqa

G.O.A.T.
As a lefty, one of my most effective serves against righty returners was to jam them on their Fh side. Particularly effective on the Ad side.

Against returners who liked to run around the serve to hit their preferred Fh, I would often serve to the midline of their body. I would usually hit a heavy slice serve or a topspin slicer. It was often amusing watching them try to run around this serve. Because of the Lefty spin, the ball would keep breaking into their body, stalking or hounding them. I referred to this as my heat-seeking serve.
I run around the forehand on these kinds of serves. My backhand was a lot better than my forehand in the past until I changed to a bigger racquet and a semi-western forehand. My backhand got worse and my forehand got better. But I still often favor the backhand to the forehand when a ball comes into the body. You can see this in my latest video where I seemingly prefer to hit backhands over forehands. When I'm thinking, though, I run around the backhand. I run around the forehand when I'm not thinking.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I run around the forehand on these kinds of serves. My backhand was a lot better than my forehand in the past until I changed to a bigger racquet and a semi-western forehand. My backhand got worse and my forehand got better. But I still often favor the backhand to the forehand when a ball comes into the body. You can see this in my latest video where I seemingly prefer to hit backhands over forehands. When I'm thinking, though, I run around the backhand. I run around the forehand when I'm not thinking.
When right-handed servers attempted to jam me, a lefty, with a spin serve, I would usually take it with my Bh (1-handed). If it was relatively easy to run around, esp on the Ad side, I would use my Fh.

My lefty spin usually had a very dramatic right-to-left break (returners perspective). Very difficult to run around for most players. If the returner was able to get around the breaking ball to their Fh side, I would aim for their midline (or even somewhat to their Bh side). Discouraged most from trying to run around my lefty jammers.

Worked extremely well against 4.0 and 4.5 players. But some 5.0/5.5 returners would not have as much trouble against those serves. Against these guys, I would employ more 'heat' (less spin break) when attempting to jam them. Worked pretty well for the most part.
 

movdqa

G.O.A.T.
When right-handed servers attempted to jam me, a lefty, with a spin serve, I would usually take it with my Bh (1-handed). If it was relatively easy to run around, esp on the Ad side, I would use my Fh.

My lefty spin usually had a very dramatic right-to-left break (returners perspective). Very difficult to run around for most players. If the returner was able to get around the breaking ball to their Fh side, I would aim for their midline (or even somewhat to their Bh side). Discouraged most from trying to run around my lefty jammers.

Worked extremely well against 4.0 and 4.5 players. But some 5.0/5.5 returners would not have as much trouble against those serves. Against these guys, I would employ more 'heat' (less spin break) when attempting to jam them. Worked pretty well for the most part.
I have somewhat of an advantage as my regular hitting partner hits lefty serves. And righty serves too.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I have somewhat of an advantage as my regular hitting partner hits lefty serves. And righty serves too.
That could help. I can hit both lefty and righty serves. Learned the latter 15+ yrs ago.

My brother was fairly comfortable with my lefty spins, since most of his practice was with me. He complained that he was so accustomed to my lefty spins, he had a bit of a problem with righty spins (even though he was right handed himself).

With other guys, who I played with very regularly, my lefty jam serves were pretty effective even tho we played together twice a week for 2 decades. But most of those guyd were 4.0 and 4.5 players.
 

ubercat

Semi-Pro
the main thing I have learnt with lefty serves is to either stay very far back and just let them finished spinning and then deal with it. Or stay on the baseline and charge diagonally in with walking footwork and try and slice them on the rise. Getting caught in the middle when they are still spinning all over the place is a disaster.
 

movdqa

G.O.A.T.
the main thing I have learnt with lefty serves is to either stay very far back and just let them finished spinning and then deal with it. Or stay on the baseline and charge diagonally in with walking footwork and try and slice them on the rise. Getting caught in the middle when they are still spinning all over the place is a disaster.
The problem with the first is that most people usually hit the ball back to the middle and the server can just block the ball into the open court.
 

Morch Us

Semi-Pro
This is really interesting. Probably the first time I hear about a lefty talking about his serve getting attacked.

The answer to your question is body serve. You don't have to try to make it super fast, just because he is more inside takes his own reaction time away, so you want to be accurate with position right at his body. Obviously to be accurate there is a limit on how much speed you can do.

Now back to your original finding. This may actually be an answer to a long haunting question for rightys facing lefty serves. How did he actually do it so well? Can you elaborate and explain more details to help the rightys?

We all know that lefty weapon is the slice, and then if you move enough to cheat the lefty has that flat one to the other side as well. So it make sense that by moving forward he cut off the available angle for you to slice it farther from him. But still with that natural side spin, how could your opponent do so well? Please help your righty forum members here, with more elaborate explanation.

I’m a lefty who usually likes to slice a lot of serves to create angles, but felt like he was taking the ball so early and making a lot of really well hit aggressive returns.
 

Kevo

Legend
I hit hard body serves when people try to stand in on me. In general you need to have a mix of serves to be able to hold reliably at the higher rec levels. With just one or two main serves a lot of good returners will camp out to try and take one of them away from you.

I once had a guy in a 4.5 doubles match stand in on me. I had been clocking serves pretty hard already and I think his only reason for doing it was to try and play mind games. I hate it when tennis players play mind games and just try to screw with you. I'm there to play tennis not try to win with psychological tactics. Anyway, I gave him a long look to see if he planned on staying two steps behind the service line like he was and he did. So I nailed probably my fastest serve of the match up to that point right at his body and it landed in and nailed him square in the chest. To his credit he didn't complain. Just said good serve while his partner and mine got a good chuckle in. He stayed behind the baseline the rest of the match and from what I can remember didn't try any more squirrelly mind tricks for the rest of the match either.
 

FiReFTW

Legend
If someone is standing inside and taking ur serve and attacking it theres only one thing thats making that possible and nothing else.

Your serve is too slow.

Now im not saying ur serve s*cks or your serve in general is slow, im talking in this particular situation against this particular opponent, its too slow and he feels comfortable with it.

If the speed of your serve would feel very fast for your opponent he would never be able to close in and start attacking it.

When roger did his SABR he did it only against 2nd serves (slower serves), a couple of times the opponents actually saw it and served a 1st serve and he completely missed the ball, because the serve eas too fast to take it so early.

Theres a reason why people stand so far behind the baseline against those 115-125mph serves
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
Had a league match today, lost in two tight sets. My return game was working about as usual, but I couldn’t hold serve near how I usually do.

My opponent altered his return game to stand well inside the baseline for first serves, and further inside the baseline for second serves.

I’m a lefty who usually likes to slice a lot of serves to create angles, but felt like he was taking the ball so early and making a lot of really well hit aggressive returns.

Is there a specific serve you guys use when people continually creep in on your serves?
I typically hit a spin serve. Once in a while, I'll serve against an older player that has really perfected the art of stepping in and block/slice my serve early to hit (near) drop shot winners off my serve.

So I hit a flat, deep serve. Doesn't have a ton of pace on it. But it needs to stay low and needs to land deep. If they get their racquet on it, it's either into the net or they pop it up for me to come in on it.
 

movdqa

G.O.A.T.
I typically hit a spin serve. Once in a while, I'll serve against an older player that has really perfected the art of stepping in and block/slice my serve early to hit (near) drop shot winners off my serve.

So I hit a flat, deep serve. Doesn't have a ton of pace on it. But it needs to stay low and needs to land deep. If they get their racquet on it, it's either into the net or they pop it up for me to come in on it.
Why can't they just block the ball back?
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
Why can't they just block the ball back?
I think the point is that the ROS is anticipating a spin serve. Moving up towards the service line helps to block the ball on the rise before the spin takes off. But if you hit a deep, flat serve ROS has to block the ball at shin level. Especially if you can hit a body serve, it is a very difficult return much like picking a ball off the floor when approaching the net. The OP said he was losing the point on the serve. This just gives opponent an extra thing to react to rather than the same shot.
 

movdqa

G.O.A.T.
I think the point is that the ROS is anticipating a spin serve. Moving up towards the service line helps to block the ball on the rise before the spin takes off. But if you hit a deep, flat serve ROS has to block the ball at shin level. Especially if you can hit a body serve, it is a very difficult return much like picking a ball off the floor when approaching the net. The OP said he was losing the point on the serve. This just gives opponent an extra thing to react to rather than the same shot.
I always recall McEnroe when he moved up for a RoS. Racquet in front of his body on the backhand side, a little hop and he could always bunt it back with just a touch of the ball.
 

Traffic

Hall of Fame
I always recall McEnroe when he moved up for a RoS. Racquet in front of his body on the backhand side, a little hop and he could always bunt it back with just a touch of the ball.
If OP's opponent can return like McEnroe, then he is screwed. Just walk off the court. ;)

For the rest of us. If opponent is anticipating and setting up to return a slice serve, give them something else. OP was losing the serve anyway. Why not?
 
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