The underhand serve is becoming more prevalent

SinneGOAT

Hall of Fame
I’ve played a few tournaments in the past 3 months, and my God. Everywhere I go there is always somebody who uses an underhand serve. Hell, this past one it was his main tactic! I thought it was a little smart because of the wicked side spin that made returning and getting back into position difficult, but there is always somebody who underhand serves. Why is this happening? Did 2020 just make everybody think like Kyrgios? It’s consistently been 4 tournaments now I’ve had a person, sometimes two people in the same tournament, underarm serve. Granted one of them was a guy who’s serve was so bad he had to underhand but was nice enough not to try and use it like a drop but rather something as a way just to get the ball in.
 

La Pavoni

Rookie
Do they otherwise have big serves? I have to say that I've been tempted to chuck one in occasionally if someone is standing way too far back. I haven't done it yet, but I'm not convinced that it should be any more of a contentious tactic than hitting a dropper for someone that you've pushed way deep in a rally.

If it's not that though, then they can do one.
 

junior74

Talk Tennis Guru
There were always some old dudes doing that when I grew up playing in the late 80s.

So I'd say it's more of a renaissance.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
I'm not sure I can un-see those shorts and legs.

There's a world of difference between what Krygios does and some old guy hitting them.
Seems you watched more of the badminton video than I did.

And there's really nothing spectacular about the underhand serves that I've seen Nick K hit. He's hitting underarm drop shot serves, usually when his opponent is standing far behind the baseline.

Some of the old guys I've seen, hit some really wicked underarm underspin serves on the Ad side that have both generous sidespin and generous spiral spin that cause the ball to bounce dramatically toward the alley... much like a good side-bouncing twist serve would do.

Persian trick shot artist, Mansour B hits an inspired variation of the underhand serve in this video:


Not sure what he's done is completely legal tho
 

Dragy

Legend
Seems you watched more of the badminton video than I did.

And there's really nothing spectacular about the underhand serves that I've seen Nick K hit. He's hitting underarm drop shot serves, usually when his opponent is standing far behind the baseline.

Some of the old guys I've seen, hit some really wicked underarm underspin serves on the Ad side that have both generous sidespin and generous spiral spin that cause the ball to bounce dramatically toward the alley... much like a good side-bouncing twist serve would do.

Persian trick shot artist, Mansour B hits an inspired variation of the underhand serve in this video:


Not sure what he's done is completely legal tho
Next time he should do it in reverse: make an underarm serve, and then smack a hard one with the second ball as receiver rushes in (y)
 
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Deleted member 771407

Guest
For low level tournaments, underhand serves would be the norm if there was no stigma and we were trying to win above all else. You can mix it with your powerpuff overhead serve to keep them guessing.

Personally I like the idea of improving my technique more than winning at all cost.
 
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Deleted member 771407

Guest
Next time he should do it in reverse: make an underarm serve, and then smack a hard one with the second ball as receiver rushes in (y)
lol I will try in my league match. Bonus point for making your opponent so mad he throws the game.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
There are a few videos of some nasty spin with underhand serves. Some on this thread. However in general it is a weak serve. If folks could consistently make the ball dance with underhand serves it would be used much more frequently.
 

chic

Professional
Do they otherwise have big serves? I have to say that I've been tempted to chuck one in occasionally if someone is standing way too far back. I haven't done it yet, but I'm not convinced that it should be any more of a contentious tactic than hitting a dropper for someone that you've pushed way deep in a rally.

If it's not that though, then they can do one.
Guilty 3.5-4.0 big server with a uh mix up here.
 

La Pavoni

Rookie
There are a few videos of some nasty spin with underhand serves. Some on this thread. However in general it is a weak serve. If folks could consistently make the ball dance with underhand serves it would be used much more frequently.
I'm not sure that it needs to be that good if you've got someone to retreat a decent distance behind the baseline? Soft hands probably as important as spin.
There's a guy I play who has an almost pathological dislike of me aceing him. He's got so deep in his returning position that I'm almost tempted to give this a go. I doubt it would be welcome, but it might help him to keep his court position a bit further forward. Since he's started doing it I get a lot less unreturnable serves. I've had to start S+V more, as I'm getting a lot of crap balls to deal with.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
While it is nothing new, it is becoming more prevalent at all levels. In many cases it is not as effective because it doesn't offer a lot of variation from what their normal serve is, where they have a big serve and the opponent is standing further back to return, so the short slice underhand serve works well. At least in singles. For some players that use it consistently in dubs, it works very well to force the returner to pop a ball up so they can attack. I saw a playoff match on YT where underhand was the guys serve and the opponents had a hard time handling it (obviously not really having consistent practice at it).

I haven't figured out in my mind if I wanna add that as a club in my own bag, but I see some good use cases for it. In general though I think players are doing it more for effect, then understanding when it is effective.
 

chic

Professional
I'm not sure that it needs to be that good if you've got someone to retreat a decent distance behind the baseline? Soft hands probably as important as spin.
There's a guy I play who has an almost pathological dislike of me aceing him. He's got so deep in his returning position that I'm almost tempted to give this a go. I doubt it would be welcome, but it might help him to keep his court position a bit further forward. Since he's started doing it I get a lot less unreturnable serves. I've had to start S+V more, as I'm getting a lot of crap balls to deal with.
I've found it has a lot to do with the person's attitude and my relationship to them.

I have friends who rarely gets caught but just doesn't like uh serving. I like playing with him, so I don't uh serve to him.

A league match, no mercy. Unless, they have knee/ankle braces or are clearly old. I don't need to be disrespectful to someone with mobility issues. I should be able to abuse their game without going that route.
 

nyta2

Professional
I’ve played a few tournaments in the past 3 months, and my God. Everywhere I go there is always somebody who uses an underhand serve. Hell, this past one it was his main tactic! I thought it was a little smart because of the wicked side spin that made returning and getting back into position difficult, but there is always somebody who underhand serves. Why is this happening? Did 2020 just make everybody think like Kyrgios? It’s consistently been 4 tournaments now I’ve had a person, sometimes two people in the same tournament, underarm serve. Granted one of them was a guy who’s serve was so bad he had to underhand but was nice enough not to try and use it like a drop but rather something as a way just to get the ball in.
i think it's become more prevalent now because the pros are doing it more often... not just kyrgios... bublik, ivo, sock, mcdonald, etc... other than chang, i can't remember folks in the agassi/mac/borg era hitting UH serves
alot of folks have some old school "code" that underhand serves are disrespectful. i mostly see this attitude in the the public park pug groups amongst the older (less mobile) crowd
but even at the 4.5 level, i've had folks not shake my hands matches because i underhand served them
old-school folks think it's a shady "trick" cuz they never practice/see it... meanwhile over the last year @Topspin Shot and i have played a half or dozen sets with UH only... for fun (often with him bagelling me :p)... but even after getting used to the spin, etc... it's still effective as a surprise... just like hitting a kicker is effective if you've only been hitting slice serves the entire match.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
One of the things I love about tennis is the variety. Brute force, touch, finesse, angle, spins, height, depth.

Bigger the variety, the better for me. Bring it on.
Agreed. Some macho, hard hitting players don't always have a lot of variety in their game.

I learned a lot about variety playing badminton competition in the 80s (and 90s). High-level badminton inherently involves more touch, more variety and more deception than most tennis players employ. It has a greater dynamic range of speeds. Smashes can exceed 180 mph while touch shots at the net will move exceptionally slow -- much slower than a slow tennis shot.

When I came back to playing a lot of tennis in the late 80s, I employed a lot more variety in my tennis game as a result. I was hitting more drop shots (and other touch shots) than other players. some guys were played against were annoyed at this style of play. it wasn't all that respectable they hit drop shots back in the 1980s.

Even Roger wasn't hitting any droppers early in his career -- it was beneath him. Once he changed his tune, he became one of the best touch / drop shot artists in the game. And his SABR was another element of variety not seen in the pro game before.
 

SinneGOAT

Hall of Fame
I got underhand served once while adjusting my strings. It was pretty shortly after the previous point. The guy who did it was nice but if he wasn’t I would have been pissed. I get it that it is legal but I mean look up and see I’m moving my strings. Who do you guys think was wrong?
 

chic

Professional
I got underhand served once while adjusting my strings. It was pretty shortly after the previous point. The guy who did it was nice but if he wasn’t I would have been pissed. I get it that it is legal but I mean look up and see I’m moving my strings. Who do you guys think was wrong?
I mean, the returner still has to be ready to play or it's a let.
 

La Pavoni

Rookie
I got underhand served once while adjusting my strings. It was pretty shortly after the previous point. The guy who did it was nice but if he wasn’t I would have been pissed. I get it that it is legal but I mean look up and see I’m moving my strings. Who do you guys think was wrong?
If he's done it when/because you are adjusting your strings and knows about it then I'd be quite annoyed.
Did he UH again, or was that the only time?
Also I guess it would also depend on the stage of the game (and match) for how annoyed I would be. Break point at 5-4....
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
I got underhand served once while adjusting my strings. It was pretty shortly after the previous point. The guy who did it was nice but if he wasn’t I would have been pissed. I get it that it is legal but I mean look up and see I’m moving my strings. Who do you guys think was wrong?
Don't play the ball and call a let. That's what I do when guys serve before I'm in a ready position. Underhand or overhand.
You only have to play at the "reasonable" pace of the server. Suddenly quick serving someone isn't reasonable. It's trickery and gamesmanship.

The secret is to not suddenly try to play these types of balls. Nonchalantly raise your hand and tell them "sorry i wasn't ready, first serve."
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
I'm not sure that it needs to be that good if you've got someone to retreat a decent distance behind the baseline? Soft hands probably as important as spin.
There's a guy I play who has an almost pathological dislike of me aceing him. He's got so deep in his returning position that I'm almost tempted to give this a go. I doubt it would be welcome, but it might help him to keep his court position a bit further forward. Since he's started doing it I get a lot less unreturnable serves. I've had to start S+V more, as I'm getting a lot of crap balls to deal with.
I am talking about using it as the primary weapon at the rec levels. In your case you seem to have a great first serve. Completely agree with you on using it if your opponent is hugging the back fence. Heck Zverev should have used it against Thiem at the USO when Thiem could barely move and was still hugging the back femce on ROS.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Honestly I am really surprised its not the go to serve for women under 4.0 and men under 3.5.. You will rarely double fault with it - and it can be hit with enough slice and pace so people can't tee off on it.
 

SinneGOAT

Hall of Fame
Honestly I am really surprised its not the go to serve for women under 4.0 and men under 3.5.. You will rarely double fault with it - and it can be hit with enough slice and pace so people can't tee off on it.
You get the guys who use it as a weapon with crazy side spin, they are the guys consistently either double faulting or have the shot down well.
 

Power Player

Bionic Poster
I played a guy who worked it in. Its real effective on the Ad since it kicks to the side. I started guiding them down the line for winners and he stopped doing it.
Personally, I appreciated the strategy.
 

sovertennis

Professional
I played 9.0 mixed recently and the woman on the other team (an older woman who apparently had a shoulder issue but could nonetheless hit overheads) served underhand every time. It was very effective because she could place it well and the ball stayed very low (we were on a clay court). My return choices were approach and come to the net or hit a drop shot (and come to the net). Hitting directly at her partner (ie who was at the net) didn't seem like a good idea.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Honestly I am really surprised its not the go to serve for women under 4.0 and men under 3.5.. You will rarely double fault with it - and it can be hit with enough slice and pace so people can't tee off on it.
Real men cannot be seen with an underhand serve
 

Enceladus

Legend
Underhand serve is a legitimate stroke. Prejudices were against this stroke in the past, but they are receding nowadays. And that's good, prejudice is an ugly thing.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Underhand serve is a legitimate stroke. Prejudices were against this stroke in the past, but they are receding nowadays. And that's good, prejudice is an ugly thing.
This. With the popularity of pickleball and the hatred of masculinity - it would not shock me for a significant percentage of rec players to serve underhanded. What is nice about serving underhanded in tennis - anything goes. You can tap it in with some topspin - or you can put some wicked slice on it. This means unlike pickleball you can still make it difficult for people.

The so called "vicious" serve that MEP hits could be hit much better with an underhanded shot..
 

PrinceMoron

Legend
Had a frozen shoulder so went and got some of the hammer frames Serena played with. Could still hit a decent serve from shoulder height.
Partnered someone with the same issue who hit underarm serves and I ended up standing at the net looking stupid.

man up and hit the ball
 

GuyClinch

Legend
Had a frozen shoulder so went and got some of the hammer frames Serena played with. Could still hit a decent serve from shoulder height.
Partnered someone with the same issue who hit underarm serves and I ended up standing at the net looking stupid.

man up and hit the ball
Maybe play back if your partner can't serve. Otherwise you will be in for target practice.. :p
 

FiddlerDog

Professional
“If you look where he was standing at the beginning of the match to return the first serve in comparison… he changed that at the end of the first set. He started returning from further back, so it was even harder to get free points on the serve,” Murray said. “I thought if he's going to stand that far back and I'm getting no love from the court and the conditions, why not try it and see if I can bring him forward a little bit again?"
 
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