unwritten code that deems underhand serve not sportsmanlike.

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
You mean like overheads ? High volleys? The kind of shots we all hit every day?
I think the swinging volley is more difficult than the OH precisely because of the racquet face angle that @Dartagnan64 mentions. Heck, I never even learned the swinging volley in HS when I learned all of my fundamentals. I'm still relatively inexperienced with it: I know how to hit it but when the opportunity arises, I do what's normal which is to hit a regular volley.
 

RogueFLIP

Professional
Hahaha I remembered this thread today and tried it out on match point in the tiebreaker. Missed it. We were up ahead 6-1 anyways, so why not? I got yelled at by my partner rather than the opponents. "I told you to go to his backhand and you pull that stupid &$*%".

Def gotta practice that one.

Def laughing over that one at drinks afterwards.

Unless there's a written code that deems it illegal, I'm gonna serve like that at least once a match. Unwritten code pfffft....
 
The UE serve takes practice. You can't just serve it randomly.
What the results when your opponents crush it long.
I've won entire serve games at luv with UH and it was hilarious.
Opponent was so pissed with himself since he could not return the ball in play.
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
I think the swinging volley is more difficult than the OH precisely because of the racquet face angle that @Dartagnan64 mentions. Heck, I never even learned the swinging volley in HS when I learned all of my fundamentals. I'm still relatively inexperienced with it: I know how to hit it but when the opportunity arises, I do what's normal which is to hit a regular volley.
To each his own. A swing volley is way easier than an overhead for certain balls, IMO. I can let the ball drop lower so I can see it better. Also I can put topspin on it to keep it in the court. Both are high level shots, that nobody practices. Both useful tools in different scenarios.
 
To each his own. A swing volley is way easier than an overhead for certain balls, IMO. I can let the ball drop lower so I can see it better. Also I can put topspin on it to keep it in the court. Both are high level shots, that nobody practices. Both useful tools in different scenarios.
Swinging volley has a real tendency to go straight down into the net. It takes a lot of practice. I always hit one when I can, even if the ball is going out.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
You mean like overheads ? High volleys? The kind of shots we all hit every day?
Overheads aren't easy to master either and they are travelling slower at the point you hit them than when they've dropped further into swinging volley zone. High volleys require just lining the racket up with the ball and pushing forward a tiny amount. Even still, the high backhand volley is one of the tougher strokes in tennis. Both are easier than timing a falling ball with a full swing waist height. Not saying it can't be done but its a challenge depending on the trajectory of the moon ball.

If its a sky high lob that lands deep i much prefer to let it land, bounce up and hit it like a slice serve. I find that is a tough shot for many to handle and easier for me to time since the serve motion is ingrained and the ball motion is slow.
 
Overheads are automatic winners on the internet.
Real life is a different matter. Here is one of the greatest players who ever lived struggling with overheads.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
Why is it that?
For me it's almost certainly the racquet face angle: I'm programmed to hit a ball that's already bounced which requires a certain racquet face angle. When I take the ball out of the air, the incoming trajectory is different and my angle is too closed. I need to open up more, even though I feel like if I do I'm going to hit long [which almost never happens].
 

MisterP

Hall of Fame
I can’t remember the mathematical term for it but the ball will naturally deflect off the stringbed at the same angle on which it approaches. Which is why it tends to hit the ground or low on the net if you duff the swing volley. You just have to drill it like any other shot. My swing thought is “up” and “around” the ball.

Edit:

Angle of incidence, I believe.
 

Matthew ATX

Semi-Pro
I was never taught and have never developed a swinging volley. It's something I very rarely see in match play so I guess I'm not the only one.

Looks like a fun shot and I'd definitely like to be able to hit it. My instinct in the situation where one would hit that shot is just to punch a regular volley deep.
 

ptuanminh

Hall of Fame
If you are taking a full swing at the ball, most rec players will net it. I find it easier to shorten your stroke, hit low to high, lots of top spin.
 

Hmgraphite1

Hall of Fame
Good point. Its hard to just look at how a player hits FH BH and judge their abilities. If your opponent can get everything back and you can't, you lose.
I also find the swing volley to be particularly useful when dealing with junk and moonballers. If one can hit swing volley consistently on both FH BH take time away from them, it will be very easy.
Did this today. On the 3rd moonball i stepped in and slammed a swinging volley, hit the doubles sideline, clearly took my eye off it, but coach saw it and said , "good thing we worked on our swinging volleys", what a rewarding feeling.
 

J B

Semi-Pro
Only if you let the ball bounce, reach its apex, and then decline.

To take time away from him, you could short-hop the moonball or hit a swinging volley [or just a regular volley if you're uncomfortable with the SV].

Both the short hop and the SV are more advanced shots but if you let the moonball push you to the back fence, it's almost impossible to dictate from there, let alone hit a winner.



No one said anything about randomly crashing the net; you do it when you get a short ball that can be attacked.

In general, moonballers don't have great passing shots; if they did, they'd use a similar stroke for rallies instead of moonballing. The exception is the player who is flat out better than me who can beat me by moonballing because I can't generate enough consistent offense. But against a peer or someone lower?

Which leaves the lob: since I know he's not going to be hitting crisp passers, I will play further off the net in anticipation of the lob. Then it becomes my OH vs his lob. I'd be comfortable with that scenario.



Sounds like he was simply a better player than you rather than having a shot that you couldn't overcome.

I've never run into a moonballer myself [I can't think of any at 4.5]. I have run into pushers and I attack the net and that has always worked in the past. Using the swinging volley or just a regular volley in combination with OHs, I can see dealing with a moonballer the same way.
This!

My ex hit moonballs because she was learning, i hit them before they bounced and learned to hit them flat back at her. Went to a clinic and the coach kept telling people to let it bounce. Totally threw my game off, in the "singles game" of the clinic i started hitting before the bounce again. Its either a winner, unable to be lobbed back forcing an error, or in the net, when it was in the net it was due to me trying to hit a net skimming winner. The way i see it is i hate moonballs so i hit them before the bounce when they are traveling faster, so I can hit them harder. Hitting after the bounce never works out well for me except to hit another moonball. I dont hit overhead I hit a regular flat shot. Its very hard for a moonballer to get to or return.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
I think the primary reason serving underhanded is often considered bush-league is that some players use the underhand serve in conjunction with a quick serve motion in an attempt to catch the opponent off guard. I think a similar "quick serve" tactic using an abbreviated overhead serve would elicit the same response -- that it is unsportsmanlike to try to gain an advantage by serving before the receive is ready.

A few years played two matches where I served underhanded for the duration of the match, due to injury (and b/c I didn't trust any of my teammates to win, even when they were fully healthy). I notified my opponents that I would be serving underhanded, to take away the element of surprise. I don't think they had a problem with me doing it. And largely because my regular serve is not a strength of mine, I didn't feel I was put at much of a disadvantage by serving underhanded.
 
I didn't feel I was put at much of a disadvantage by serving underhanded.
The question becomes, was the UH an advantage for you?

The biggest secret in 3.5/4.0 tennis is that
only 4.5 and above can punish a weak serve.

I have seen 4.0 players with literal dink serves.
Clearly, not an issue for them.

Even in the MacMac video, Polansky could not return an UE serve without crushing it long.

At the 3.5 level the UH serve may be the biggest serve weapon.
The 3.5 can only think "CRUSH for winner" and will lose every point.
It is humiliating to NOT crush the dink serve, but few ever drill that shot.
It is pure gold against 3.5
 

thehustler

Semi-Pro
I played a guy once that when he was struggling on his serve he would underhand them. Never worked on me as I was quick enough to get to them and get a decent return, but it did work against someone he was playing in a tournament. He aced the guy and he complained that my buddy needs to announce that he's tired and plans on serving underhanded. Nope. Neither of us recalled that rule and it was funny to watch someone just get upset about it. I think it was the only underhanded serve he hit as well.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
The question becomes, was the UH an advantage for you?
I'd say it was not an advantage for me those matches, only because I was not consistent enough in keeping them low and slicing away. When I got my first UH serves in, they worked well. But my UH second serves were too much of a sitter, plus I DF'd more frequently than I would with my dinky regular serves. If I were to practice serving underhanded, and mixed it in as a regular part of my serve rotation, I think it would be an advantage for me. At least versus 3.5 level competition.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
The question becomes, was the UH an advantage for you?

The biggest secret in 3.5/4.0 tennis is that
only 4.5 and above can punish a weak serve.

I have seen 4.0 players with literal dink serves.
Clearly, not an issue for them.

Even in the MacMac video, Polansky could not return an UE serve without crushing it long.

At the 3.5 level the UH serve may be the biggest serve weapon.
The 3.5 can only think "CRUSH for winner" and will lose every point.
It is humiliating to NOT crush the dink serve, but few ever drill that shot.
It is pure gold against 3.5
Any serve that doesn't bounce up is gold at 3.5. Most players can't get low enough to really deliver topspin to a flat serve. So the only option is a flat or slice shot back at moderate pace. Those rarely result in winners.

I've played several 3.5's that can skid their patty cake serve nicely and they are hard as hell to get back with any sort of pace. Played a 3.5 woman that could skid the ball 6 inches off the ground. Try to hit topspin on that thing. Wasn't very fast or deep but man it was hard to get under and lift up.
 
I have given away countless points trying to crush the junkers weak slow chop serve.
Attacking it is a waste since even if you can top a low ball, the placement is just not there.
Get lobbed the next shot when you return the serve directly to the server.
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
To each his own. A swing volley is way easier than an overhead for certain balls, IMO. I can let the ball drop lower so I can see it better. Also I can put topspin on it to keep it in the court. Both are high level shots, that nobody practices. Both useful tools in different scenarios.
Admittedly, you may have practiced enough to become proficient at it, but from a technical standpoint it is a harder shot. Overheads are actually a very high percentage shot when a player has good technique and positioning.

To be clear, I'm not saying people shouldn't use it, but that's why you don't see it taught to players at lower levels often. I'll go for the shot infrequently, usually the intent is to try and play the shot before my opponents reposition.

I think the primary reason serving underhanded is often considered bush-league is that some players use the underhand serve in conjunction with a quick serve motion in an attempt to catch the opponent off guard. I think a similar "quick serve" tactic using an abbreviated overhead serve would elicit the same response -- that it is unsportsmanlike to try to gain an advantage by serving before the receive is ready.
I agree. There's a set of people who are just grousing because they can't play it, but they're WBs who will complain about anything.

The biggest secret in 3.5/4.0 tennis is that
only 4.5 and above can punish a weak serve.
Absolutes are often wrong. I know plenty of 4.0 players who can take advantage of weak serves. It doesn't always mean crushing a winner, and in truth it rarely is. The most common mistakes on low, flat serves are overhitting and failing to position. Especially when the serve is very slow, it's easy to underestimate how far in you need to go to play it. The challenge is having the patience and restraint to play more conservative returns on their difficult placed balls. You'll get a chance to punish them, but it might take a good chip and volley first.
 

Hmgraphite1

Hall of Fame
I used to stand on the baseline for both 1st and 2nd serve returns. Now when I play 2nd serve dinkers i'm 3 ft from the service line before they hit the ball. It rarely bounces low flat so I hit it with 80% pace and get less errors than when I used to "show respect" and stay back and have to rush up to hit it before second bounce.
 

EddieBrock

Professional
Wow, it's not just rec tennis.
This defective thinking goes to the very top.
No wonder no one has tried to drop serve Nadal

Tennis players seem to be the most unsportsmanlike of any sport.
They literally do not understand the meaning of the word "sport"

You can not dictate the style in which your opponent can play.
"Hey pitcher, you can only throw fastballs at me. Curveballs are unsportsmanlike!"
"Hey! What's the big idea of passing the ball when we blitz??! No fair!"

Drop shot? Slice? UH serve?
Disrespectful ! Unsportsmanlike! Fake tennis!
I'm walking off the court and bad mouthing you to everyone at the club.
I only want topspin!!"


Why is this tolerated in tennis, but no other sport?



https://www.express.co.uk/sport/ten...erer-underarm-serve-Rafael-Nadal-Mexican-Open

But speaking on the Beyond The Baseline podcast, Anderson, the world number five admitted he would hit underarm serves if he “perfected” it but did feel the tactic won’t be accepted by those in tennis.

Anderson said: “It’s funny how there is an unwritten rule or code that deems the underhand serve not sportsmanlike.

“I’ve played a few guys when they return from extremely far back, I sometimes think if that is something I can perfect it would be something worth bringing out.

“But I guess it is one those things that is not accepted by the tennis world.”
I posted about this before when I used an underhand serve at a time I felt very tight and my opponent said "talk about winning ugly". It made me feel bad, but I don't really see anything wrong with it. Like you said it's perfectly legal and not something like squeaking shoes or delaying play that's at all rude to your opponent. It's a legitimate shot and as Anderson says it requires skill and is a perfect way to counter someone returning from a deep position. I got annoyed one time when someone hit a drop shot return off my 2nd serve, but I took that to mean I need to mix it up more. If someone used a drop serve when I was standing back I'd know I might need to move in. It's just tennis strategy.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Got beat by a dink serve yesterday in men’s social dubs. No ad point. First serve is long. Opponent looks frustrated like he lost the game and just bunts the ball to me like he’s sending it back for us to serve. I assume he thought he DF’d and grabbed the ball out of the air with my hand to tell him he has a second serve. He says that was his second serve and they won the point.
I felt pretty sheepish....
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Got beat by a dink serve yesterday in men’s social dubs. No ad point. First serve is long. Opponent looks frustrated like he lost the game and just bunts the ball to me like he’s sending it back for us to serve. I assume he thought he DF’d and grabbed the ball out of the air with my hand to tell him he has a second serve. He says that was his second serve and they won the point.
I felt pretty sheepish....
D'OH!!
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
When I say "punish", I mean PUNISH.
Simply chipping it back into play was not what I meant.
A dinker 3.0 can do that.
I don't know what you think "punishing" is, but I guess you don't know what a good chip return is.

Chipping a return with placement is an effective weapon at all levels of tennis, including professionals (see Federer).
 

Hmgraphite1

Hall of Fame
I don't know what you think "punishing" is, but I guess you don't know what a good chip return is.

Chipping a return with placement is an effective weapon at all levels of tennis, including professionals (see Federer).
Prob best to chip one then demolish the next one.
 

lstewart

Semi-Pro
Last year in a match at the senior national grass courts I played a guy who hit nothing but underhand serves. He was a strong player, but who had a shoulder injury. He won several rounds before I played him. Balls don't bounce well on grass, and he had perfected his underhand serve to have a severe slice /cut that moved extremely wide to both sides. It basically did not bounce, and was outside the doubles line by the time you tried to hit it. I moved up close to the service line, and then just hit an approach shot coming in for every return. Once I saw the serve a few times, I was able to attack and take the net, with him being unable to pass me regularly. But I did see how effective an underhand serve could be for a good player who had worked on it.
 
N

Nashvegas

Guest
Last year in a match at the senior national grass courts I played a guy who hit nothing but underhand serves. He was a strong player, but who had a shoulder injury. He won several rounds before I played him. Balls don't bounce well on grass, and he had perfected his underhand serve to have a severe slice /cut that moved extremely wide to both sides. It basically did not bounce, and was outside the doubles line by the time you tried to hit it. I moved up close to the service line, and then just hit an approach shot coming in for every return. Once I saw the serve a few times, I was able to attack and take the net, with him being unable to pass me regularly. But I did see how effective an underhand serve could be for a good player who had worked on it.
This is how I play a particular guy who has a slow lefty (not underhand) serve with a lot of slice. I’m almost standing on the service line when making contact, and it’s to the net from there. He can really mess you up if you don’t play him that way, but once you do it’s break city.
 

jacob22

Professional
The question becomes, was the UH an advantage for you?

The biggest secret in 3.5/4.0 tennis is that
only 4.5 and above can punish a weak serve.

I have seen 4.0 players with literal dink serves.
Clearly, not an issue for them.

Even in the MacMac video, Polansky could not return an UE serve without crushing it long.

At the 3.5 level the UH serve may be the biggest serve weapon.
The 3.5 can only think "CRUSH for winner" and will lose every point.
It is humiliating to NOT crush the dink serve, but few ever drill that shot.
It is pure gold against 3.5
Speaking of 3.5 tennis. I played a guy today who was using frequent dropshots on rallies. I was DFing some serves and threw in a UH serve, bounced twice before he got to it. Tried it one other time, not as successful. Should have countered every dropshot with an UH serve.
 

S&V-not_dead_yet

Talk Tennis Guru
This is an excellent podcast that talks exactly about what "sport" is.
It is about NOT giving your opponent shots he likes.
This guy exudes a pure love for the game.
This episode was a pleasure to listen to.

Joel Drucker On Tennis As A Game Of Disruption
https://soundcloud.com/everything-about-tennis%2Fjoel-drucker-on-tennis-as-a-game-of-disruption-and-a-whole-lot-more-ep-29
I enjoyed the episode; then again, I enjoy all of Gerst's podcasts.

I can empathize with Drucker's idea of disruption, being a S&V guy in a BLer era.
 

Holdfast44ID

Semi-Pro
I had a college teammate, and a top player on team, who had a shoulder injury. He could only serve underhand for a few matches and should not have even been on the court. Not only was that not "unsportsmanlike," I admired his grit and determination to play any way he could at the time.

Sent from my SM-G955U using Tapatalk
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
Got beat yesterday against an opponent who won several points on various dink serves, one underhanded. But he varies the motions, so it's hard to see coming. His full speed serve is strong enough you want to stand well behind the baseline, but then you are vulnerable. I don't mind it at all, but it makes his strong serves more powerful, cause you're looking for the dink.
 
The biggest secret in 3.5/4.0 tennis is that
only 4.5 and above can punish a weak serve.

I have seen 4.0 players with literal dink serves.
Clearly, not an issue for them.

Even in the MacMac video, Polansky could not return an UE serve without crushing it long.

At the 3.5 level the UH serve may be the biggest serve weapon.
The 3.5 can only think "CRUSH for winner" and will lose every point.
It is humiliating to NOT crush the dink serve, but few ever drill that shot.
It is pure gold against 3.5


 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
The biggest secret in 3.5/4.0 tennis is that
only 4.5 and above can punish a weak serve.

I have seen 4.0 players with literal dink serves.
Clearly, not an issue for them.


Even in the MacMac video, Polansky could not return an UE serve without crushing it long.

At the 3.5 level the UH serve may be the biggest serve weapon.
The 3.5 can only think "CRUSH for winner" and will lose every point.
It is humiliating to NOT crush the dink serve, but few ever drill that shot.
It is pure gold against 3.5


Only problem is that you have to practice that underhanded serve, otherwise if you just try to hit it in a match as surprise tactic, you will miss it.
 

sansaephanh

Professional
Wait, what's wrong with hitting your opponent with the ball every chance you get? How is that BM? People hit it at me all the time. I always hit my overheads at the volleyer's face if I can even make contact with an overhead. lol. BTW me making contact with an overhead has like a 0.1% chance of happening, but when I do, I go for murder.
 

R1FF

Professional
I understand why people complain that modern tennis is now dominated by unthinking (and boring) baseline robots and stiff equipment.

I know a 3.0 pusher who is highly skilled at adapting to his opponent.
Can see your weakness and exploit it the entire match.
Also know his weakness and compensates for it.
(I have seen this particular 3.0 straight bagel a 4.0 and beat a 4.5/5.0 and the club pro)
I really wish I would have read this thread (and in particular this post) a long time ago.

I was described as that 3.0 pusher when I first started playing. I beat a 5.0 player who quit after the first set (6-0). I got up to a 3.5 level quickly and beat a 4.5 after he quit just one set in (6-0). Im athletic and can cover the court very well. And I got extremely consistent at returning every shot and just keeping the returns deep in the corners. Run anyone enough and they start making mistakes and eventually get frustrated. Whereas I can run all day and not get tired. My skills werent anywhere near my opponents but I found I could dictate nearly every point, that in itself caused them so much frustration they'd implode mentally.

My strategy was simple: (1) out athlete the average opponent (2) out compose them mentally (3) create long rallies that they werent used too (4) keep working on my serve to get it very good for my easy points ... basically the same strategy that always did me well in ping pong. Identify what my opponent doesnt like and just keep going there.

Literally everyone at my local club kept complaining and telling me that I needed to change my game if I ever wanted to get better. Eventually I reluctantly listened to them. Learning more aggressive grips. Started going for winners. And my game suffered for a long time. My style got better, but it wasnt MY style.

It's been one step back to take two steps forward. Made tennis less fun at times. I never cared about my style, I prefer winning. Eventually I hope to get pretty consistent with a nice topspin on my strokes, some decent pace, but then I'd like to go back to my old strategy of just playing at 75% and never making mistakes. Turn it into a marathon and wear people down.
 
@R1FF
You are a natural tennis player.
Anyone can learn pounding heavy strokes.
Very few can hit it where the opponent is not.
Stick with your strengths

Also, never ever take tennis advice from players who you just bageled.
They should be asking you how to improve, but tennis is filled with delusional fools and brats.
 
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