There's actually nothing inherently wrong with an underarm serve in tennis

Should the underarm serve be played more?

  • Yes, it is a fair legal shot and should be encouraged

    Votes: 48 100.0%
  • No, the implications could be potentially disastrous

    Votes: 0 0.0%

  • Total voters
    48

REKX

Rookie
As a Federer and Nadal fan, I feel very lucky to have watched these two growing up - Wimbledon 2008, Australian Open 2009 - it's almost sad to know we may never see this level of tennis again.

I can't recall these two doing an underarm serve - I'm sure their image is worth more than a potential free point. (Although Federer may have won another Wimbledon and be on 21 Grand Slams if he chose to do one at a certain moment in history).

But after seeing Kyrios do it twice (I believe) in the match against Thiem, I can't think of a reason why it is wrong. I don't personally like it, but there are other shots in the game which have similar purposes.

The slice drop shot is very effective and is designed to catch people out standing at the baseline. Federer certainly made use of it when he won his 2009 French Open, played a tonne of drop shots.

The forehand slice drop shot is less common, but is used a lot on tour. Same reason, to catch people out.

There are shots which involve deception. When an opponent plays a drop shot, a player gets to the ball and looks the opposite direction to where he plays it. Nadal actually practises this and uses it alot in matches.

Some players play a very peculiar return game at times. Federer and Murray I've seen on their return of serves, at some points of their careers, come very close to the net and get the ball back to catch their opponent out.

I've seen players take 10-20 mph off their serve many times to catch their opponents out - this definitely works as their opponents are not used to the timing of the slower serve.

Fabrice Sontoro - self explanatory.

So the arguments against underarm serve can also be made for all the above and more - but they are all okay.

One issue I can think of is, if the underarm serve is accepted then you may see players develop an underarm slice serve with heavy spin and potentially make it unreturnable - would potentially bring the game into disrepute and may require new legislation. But right now it's a legal shot, absolutely nothing wrong with a player doing it.

 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
You could argue that the shot catches the opponent out when he's not quite ready, but it's up to the opponent to anticipate this.

Nadal complained that Norrie fast-served him last night, but moved on.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
the underarm serve is accepted then you may see players develop an underarm slice serve with heavy spin and potentially make it unreturnable - would potentially bring the game into disrepute and may require new legislation.

An underarm heavy slice serve will not be unreturnable to a pro.
Not any more so than a cannonball serve.
 
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REKX

Rookie
An underhead serve will not be unreturnable to a pro.
Not any more so than a cannonball serve.

What about playing those type of shots which have so much spin on them, they come back to the player's side of the net?
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
What about playing those type of shots which have so much spin on them, they come back to the player's side of the net?

Never seen anybody good enough to serve like that... If it happens we can change the rules to allow volleying of the serve.

Or let it be legal and watch tricky Bart win Wimbledon.
 
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Tommy Haas

Hall of Fame
Tennis used to be a gentleman's game and no underarm serving is an unspoken rule. Times have changed. Can Wimbledon ban that shot for their tournament? I can't see that shot being seen as more distasteful than at the WC.
 

Raul_SJ

G.O.A.T.
You could argue that the shot catches the opponent out when he's not quite ready, but it's up to the opponent to anticipate this.

Nadal complained that Norrie fast-served him last night, but moved on.

That is a difficult case to make. The returner is supposed to play at the pace of the server. When the server decides to underhand serve, he will step up to the line, abandon his usual full windup and immediately dink it. The non-attentive returner will not be ready.
 

SinneGOAT

Hall of Fame
It’s legal but I don’t want it to be encouraged. It’s not illegal but it won’t be disastrous. The truth is always in the middle, that it is just a way to throw off your opponent and is sometimes taken as an offense or as a rude gesture.
 

pj80

Legend
Wimbledon 2008. If you watch the speed and shot making of both players - amazing. If you compare it to today's play then you see how great that level of play was.

Search Wimbledon 2008 on Youtube, you'll find some good ones. Commentary is pretty nice as well, they were also stunned by the quality.
I remember Federer yelling at his fans to shut up....I think it was in the 2nd set
 

Visionary

Hall of Fame
When my high school students serve funny, I tell them to honor the sport and players they face. I also teach them to differentiate in between a competition and entertainment to instill a degree of respect. None of my students may ever become pros but hopefully admired athletes, or even teachers, should they choose a path in the direction. So, my view's that the underarm service is unprofessional and ill-mannered.

That said, I think that considerations to unusual approach to receiving the service may be looked at. Some players just take it too far off the court when expecting the ball. While it is not as common on the amateur courts that we practice, it is possible in the standard layout to see a competitor far back there. In the pros, seeing Djoker so far when receiving is unlikely but Zverev... I kinda enjoyed Medvedev's underarm against him not long ago. (I guess in the ATP Finals it was). To me, it was like a Cause (Zverev) and Effect (Medvedev) there. As coaches, teachers and players, we ought to give a thought to both sides of the court.
 

Backspin1183

Talk Tennis Guru
As a Federer and Nadal fan, I feel very lucky to have watched these two growing up - Wimbledon 2008, Australian Open 2009 - it's almost sad to know we may never see this level of tennis again.

That's all I came here to say.
 

Demented

Semi-Pro
The size of the show courts at big venues allows them to neutralize big serves in manner that is not possible on most standard size layouts. I think Kyrgios should have used it more frequently when up in the service score to make Thiem come in.
 

lim

Professional
When your opponent is returning from 20 ft behind the baseline theyre asking for it. KyriGOAT takes it to another level with the underarm fakes though. Imagine getting faked then kyrigoat aces you with a 140 up the T. Thats just mean
 

REKX

Rookie
When my high school students serve funny, I tell them to honor the sport and players they face. I also teach them to differentiate in between a competition and entertainment to instill a degree of respect. None of my students may ever become pros but hopefully admired athletes, or even teachers, should they choose a path in the direction. So, my view's that the underarm service is unprofessional and ill-mannered.

That said, I think that considerations to unusual approach to receiving the service may be looked at. Some players just take it too far off the court when expecting the ball. While it is not as common on the amateur courts that we practice, it is possible in the standard layout to see a competitor far back there. In the pros, seeing Djoker so far when receiving is unlikely but Zverev... I kinda enjoyed Medvedev's underarm against him not long ago. (I guess in the ATP Finals it was). To me, it was like a Cause (Zverev) and Effect (Medvedev) there. As coaches, teachers and players, we ought to give a thought to both sides of the court.

I do like the Nadal/Thiem style of standing far back, getting the time to get to the shot and prepare and then hit a hard return with power and spin. But they are obviously doing it to gain an advantage - and they do, time.

But as you say, if your opponent is standing that far back, the dropshot (not a dirty word) or underarm serve (dirty word) is on.

If you look carefully below, you'll see that there's actually a ball boy wearing a white t shirt stationed at the bottom of the court.

 

pj80

Legend
Fed yelled at his opponent (Delpo) fans to shut up at the 2012 French Open.
He did it at W 08 Final too...his own fans(who cheered because they thought fed won a point) when he missed a volley...i'm trying to find where exactly. I have the full match on my comp.
 
its a darn shame that more players don't utilize it more.

as someone already mentioned, if a dropshot is fine, then the underarm serve should be also as they both have the same goal/intention in mind.
 

socallefty

G.O.A.T.
It is a fair and legal shot. But, the only place where it is justified is at the pro level if you face a returner standing 20 feet behind the baseline on a big stadium court. At the rec level where opponents return from close to the baseline, I don’t think it should be encouraged even if it is legal. Just like most rec players don’t call foot faults, underarm serves are just going to sow discord and ruin the social aspect of a rec match.
 

toby55555

Hall of Fame
Of course it’s fine, sometimes it’s a necessity due to injury and you’re the type that like to always try and finish a match.
Come to think of it when was serving over arm first deployed and what did people think about it at the time?
 
D

Deleted member 22147

Guest
As a Federer and Nadal fan, I feel very lucky to have watched these two growing up - Wimbledon 2008, Australian Open 2009 - it's almost sad to know we may never see this level of tennis again.

Haha
 

ollinger

G.O.A.T.
It says something about the preoccupations of this forum (or the OP's slightly incoherent writing style) that a thread about the underarm serve begins with a discussion of Federer and Nadal.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
It says something about the preoccupations of this forum (or the OP's slightly incoherent writing style) that a thread about the underarm serve begins with a discussion of Federer and Nadal.
And just like we will NEVER EVER see that level of tennis ever again, the forum will never reach this level of delusion again...
 

REKX

Rookie
And just like we will NEVER EVER see that level of tennis ever again, the forum will never reach this level of delusion again...

So I take it you're not a fan of Federer or Nadal.

I started watching tennis because of Federer.

What do you think will become of this forum and the sport after these two (and Djokovic) retire? I can't see any other player right now having the potential to drawing the level of interest these two have.
 

Shroud

G.O.A.T.
So I take it you're not a fan of Federer or Nadal.

I started watching tennis because of Federer.

What do you think will become of this forum and the sport after these two (and Djokovic) retire? I can't see any other player right now having the potential to drawing the level of interest these two have.
It will probably get better because people wont be trying to imitate them and using tiny handles.
I do like fed but Nadal is unwatchable for me.
 

NoleIsBoat

Hall of Fame
It’s legal but I don’t want it to be encouraged. It’s not illegal but it won’t be disastrous. The truth is always in the middle, that it is just a way to throw off your opponent and is sometimes taken as an offense or as a rude gesture.
I think it’s even more offensive to stand metres behind baseline to neutralise big serve.
 
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