When was the last time someone tried to underhand serve you?

#1
The underhand serve doesn't get much love around here. Many wars here have started over it, with people siding with those who say it is a legitimate, legal shot and others who say it is legal but bush league.

But does it happen often enough to warrant any discussion at all? In 14 years of league play, I can only think of two times an opponent hit an UH serve, and both were from men in 7.0 mixed. The last time had to be 9-10 years ago. The first time the serve was a fault, and the second time I ran forward and returned it. So . . . whatever, dude.

That's the question, then. When was the last time someone tried to UH serve you?
 
#2
Maybe about 3 weeks ago from a young guy who doesn't have a reliable 2nd serve.

I ended up breaking his serve to force a deciding tiebreak, but then lost the TB :[!!

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#3
A couple of years ago. I was so not ready for it, he aced me. I was pi$$ed for about 2 seconds. Then I laughed it off and thought "OK, you got me. But that ain't happening again!". He didn't try it again.

I'm not sure what prompted him to try that. And I haven't heard of him trying it against anybody else. I must have looked particularly distracted on that point.
 
#5
May 2016. Dude was a pretty good 4.0. He has a bit of a reputation for having a wonky game. IIRC it was a rather effective service. He only did it on the ad side and it was a slice/side spinner out wide that stayed low. Tough to attack but easy to get to neutral in the point. Its been a few years, but i think he may have done it 5 or 6 times in the match. I don’t remember having much trouble with it or that he won many points with it; i just think its a normal part of his service repertoire.
 
#6
Happened to me 2 months ago in a open tournament.

I qualified for the knockout stage and in the semi-finals went up against a UTR 7. The #1 high school kid in the entire county.

Im nowhere on his level skillwise but I can keep up athletically. Im a NTRP 3.5 and at the time coming back from a 4month injury. Only been back on the courts for about 2 weeks. Definitely not sharp.

I was giving it all I had. Especially since there was a decent crowd watching to see if I could pull off the huge upset.

Every game was close. But despite losing every game my effort or mental approach didnt fade. That’s just not how Im wired.

The kid was getting annoyed with the fact that I kept trying in a match I had no business being in. He wanted me to just roll over I suppose. Again, not gonna happen.

During the 2nd set he thought it would be funny to pull the underhanded serve & dink the ball over. I had no idea what it was & didnt even react to it. It didnt land fair and he double faulted (instant karma).

He was clearly trying to show me up. It was a punk move. Trying to play to the crowd. If it was just gamesmanship, it wouldnt bother me. The disrespect tho has stuck with me. The serve itself wasn’t unsportsmanlike, the intent was.

I come from a basketball background so that sorta stuff doesnt bother me. But it sure does seem hypocritical as hell considering how stuck up the sport of tennis can be.
 
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#7
Happened to me 2 months ago in a open tournament.

I qualified for the knockout stage and in the semi-finals went up against a UTR 7. The #1 high school kid in the entire county.

Im nowhere on his level skillwise but I can keep up athletically. Im a NTRP 3.5 and at the time coming back from a 4month injury. Only been back on the courts for about 2 weeks. Definitely not sharp.

I was giving it all I had. Especially since there was a decent crowd watching to see if I could pull off the huge upset.

Every game was close. But despite losing every game my effort or mental approach didnt fade. That’s just not how Im wired.

The kid was getting annoyed with the fact that I kept trying in a match I had no business being in. He wanted me to just roll over I suppose. Again, not gonna happen.

During the 2nd set he thought it would be funny to pull the underhanded serve & dink the ball over. I had no idea what it was & didnt even react to it. It didnt land fair and he double faulted (instant karma).

He was clearly trying to show me up. It was a punk move. Trying to play to the crowd. If it was just gamesmanship, it wouldnt bother me. The disrespect tho has stuck with me. The serve wasn’t unsportsmanlike, the intent was.

I come from a basketball background so that sorta stuff doesnt bother me. But it sure does seem hypocritical as hell considering how stuck up the sport of tennis can be.
He's cocky with a UTR 7? He's in for a rude awakening...
 
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kevrol

Professional
#9
Been 4-5 years ago and was due to oppenent having a bad should so that's all he could do to serve. I've done it myself in recreational play but never in a real match. Usually do it just to get a rise out of a friend.
 
#11
Happened to me 2 months ago in a open tournament.

I qualified for the knockout stage and in the semi-finals went up against a UTR 7. The #1 high school kid in the entire county.

Im nowhere on his level skillwise but I can keep up athletically. Im a NTRP 3.5 and at the time coming back from a 4month injury. Only been back on the courts for about 2 weeks. Definitely not sharp.

I was giving it all I had. Especially since there was a decent crowd watching to see if I could pull off the huge upset.

Every game was close. But despite losing every game my effort or mental approach didnt fade. That’s just not how Im wired.

The kid was getting annoyed with the fact that I kept trying in a match I had no business being in. He wanted me to just roll over I suppose. Again, not gonna happen.

During the 2nd set he thought it would be funny to pull the underhanded serve & dink the ball over. I had no idea what it was & didnt even react to it. It didnt land fair and he double faulted (instant karma).

He was clearly trying to show me up. It was a punk move. Trying to play to the crowd. If it was just gamesmanship, it wouldnt bother me. The disrespect tho has stuck with me. The serve itself wasn’t unsportsmanlike, the intent was.

I come from a basketball background so that sorta stuff doesnt bother me. But it sure does seem hypocritical as hell considering how stuck up the sport of tennis can be.
Im no expert on UTR, but I highly doubt the # high school player in the country is a UTR 7.
 
#12
At my level, I haven't faced anyone with a serve so strong that I had to stand more than a foot or two behind the baseline when receiving - and those were the hardest serves - for most servers I stand a full step or more inside the baseline. It's not because I return like Agassi or anything, but the fastest serves I see are well below 100 mph.

With that said some time in late 2017, I was having one of my RARE serving days playing in a T2 mixed match. When I have those days, my whole game is elevated - I'm serving light's out, which makes me confident, loose, and I play the rest of my game well as a result. I am certain our opponents thought we were sandbagging them (if only they'd seen me the match before where I had more double faults than I care to mention and my game was a total disaster). Anyway, the woman on the other team was getting pissed and mentioning the sandbagging and she underhand served me. Of course, I wasn't even close to the baseline as her regular serve had no appreciable pace... and her underhand serve went just over the net, very short in the service box to my backhand. I took a couple steps in and slice-dropped it just over the net and next to the alley for a winner. She didn't UH serve again.

I haven't seen any other UH serves since that one.
 
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J_R_B

Hall of Fame
#14
Very recently, an opponent was having trouble with double faults and got frustrated with himself and just hit a forehand second serve. Before that, about 5 years ago, I was playing a guy who had shoulder problems and was serving UH. In both cases, they weren't trying to be sneaky by doing it.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
#15
Last week, ladder match against a buddy who will often throw one in a match just to try and surprise. I've played him enough I figure he is going to do it so it is no longer a surprise, and he doesn't have a high percentage of getting it in. I have no issue with him doing it, it is perfectly legal and I'm not offended he would try it. He should practice it more and make it a more effective shot though.

It was not against me, but I was watching an acquaintance who is a 4.5/5.0 teaching pro playing in a 50s or 55s tournament and he was serving underhand on a consistent basis due to I believe a shoulder injury. This is different than the surprise use and I would hope no one would be offended by its use. Note that he had developed a very effective underhand serve and I believe won both the singles and doubles events.

I also watched a friend playing in a tournament outdoors resort to an underhand serve when the side and time of day was just right that not seeing the ball due to the sun forced underhand serving just to get the ball in.

One might also ask the question when was the last time you used an underhand serve. I actually worked on an underhand serve last year when I had an injured shoulder just so I could play recreationally, and actually found it to be very effective even when an opponent new it was coming simply because of how different a shot it is and players were not used to dealing with it. Because of this, I've thought about throwing one in once in awhile as a surprise even though my shoulder is reasonably healthy again, but have not ever done so in a competitive match. I've thought about it a time or two, but never gotten up the nerve to do it.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
#16
Last week, ladder match against a buddy who will often throw one in a match just to try and surprise. I've played him enough I figure he is going to do it so it is no longer a surprise, and he doesn't have a high percentage of getting it in. I have no issue with him doing it, it is perfectly legal and I'm not offended he would try it. He should practice it more and make it a more effective shot though.

It was not against me, but I was watching an acquaintance who is a 4.5/5.0 teaching pro playing in a 50s or 55s tournament and he was serving underhand on a consistent basis due to I believe a shoulder injury. This is different than the surprise use and I would hope no one would be offended by its use. Note that he had developed a very effective underhand serve and I believe won both the singles and doubles events.

I also watched a friend playing in a tournament outdoors resort to an underhand serve when the side and time of day was just right that not seeing the ball due to the sun forced underhand serving just to get the ball in.

One might also ask the question when was the last time you used an underhand serve. I actually worked on an underhand serve last year when I had an injured shoulder just so I could play recreationally, and actually found it to be very effective even when an opponent new it was coming simply because of how different a shot it is and players were not used to dealing with it. Because of this, I've thought about throwing one in once in awhile as a surprise even though my shoulder is reasonably healthy again, but have not ever done so in a competitive match. I've thought about it a time or two, but never gotten up the nerve to do it.
I have never used an underhand serve, but I have worked on what a baseball pitcher would call a 3/4 motion where I try to slice or even underspin the serve. I've used that a couple times to try to induce errors when playing players who clearly like pace and are grooving returns against my regular serves.
 
#17
About 6 years ago in a league match, my partner who normally has decent serves, started choking and double faulting a few times in a row. So I asked him to just UH his serves. The first one was of course a surprise one for our opponents. The UH was short and floating. The receiver tried to whack the ball and hit it to the net. My partner continued to serve like this until the end of that game. It was close to the end of the match. We ended up winning the match.

He was a 4.5.
 
#18
I have never used an underhand serve, but I have worked on what a baseball pitcher would call a 3/4 motion where I try to slice or even underspin the serve. I've used that a couple times to try to induce errors when playing players who clearly like pace and are grooving returns against my regular serves.
Yepper... I was just thinking about whether or not I should learn and practice an UH serve. To me, serving is just like pitching in baseball - and that's my athletic experience before picking up tennis later in life... I didn't have the fastest fastball, but I had good placement and threw 4 pitches (fastball - really more of a sinker, 12-6 curve, knuckleball, and changeup). My changeup made my fastball better. Every batter was a little mini-game within the game, and serving in tennis is just like that for me.

Here's a little anecdote for you that I just thought of about this - again it was a T2 MXD match and I was serving only decently, not great, missing a lot of first serves (flat missiles) but getting a lot of kickers and softer slices in on second serves, and I could move them all around - have them land short or deep in the box, out wide, on the body, up the T, etc. The man was having all sorts of trouble with me mixing up my serves. Late in the match, I see him standing one half step behind the service line - not the baseline, but the service line. He had decided he was going to give up on my first serve (and why wouldn't he? I was only getting 1 in 5 in.) and try to take my kickers/slices early. So I of course see that and my initial thought is right out of the pitcher's ego manual: "You have no respect for my serve? I'll show you!" I just took a fair bit off of my first serve. It bounced about 18 inches in front of him, well in, and he had no hope of returning it (it still had what had to be close to, if not 80 mph + pace). The next time he received my serve he stood back at the baseline so I hit a first serve kicker short in the service box on my first serve, which was easily 6 off the court (outside the alley) by the time it got back to the baseline - he couldn't get to it. Next time he's receiving my serve he's back at the service line - 3/4 flat serve right to the body - well in and went right through his legs. (thankfully didn't hit him). So even on a day when I just could't dial in my first serve, moving the ball around and being crafty about it was a winning strategy.

An UH serve sounds like *just* the thing to add to my game to keep the opponents guessing...

*edit* and I do think that the key to using an UH serve strategically and in a sportsmanlike manner, is to not "quick-serve" it... but do do your usual pre-serve routine... otherwise it feels kind of like it would look like you were trying to serve before the receiver was ready.
 
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#19
I played yesterday in friendly match and my opponent serve one underhanded, I went up and hit it hard at the net man and they let it go. The server called it out, and I could not see it because the net player was in the way but my partner said it was a foot in, so it was very odd. We normally dont have calls that bad but he said he was sure it was out. An odd sequence.
 
#20
I honestly didnt even know it was a legal serve. I figured my opponent was just sending the ball to my side of the court as if we’d changed serves.
 
#21
The underhand serve doesn't get much love around here. Many wars here have started over it, with people siding with those who say it is a legitimate, legal shot and others who say it is legal but bush league.

But does it happen often enough to warrant any discussion at all? In 14 years of league play, I can only think of two times an opponent hit an UH serve, and both were from men in 7.0 mixed. The last time had to be 9-10 years ago. The first time the serve was a fault, and the second time I ran forward and returned it. So . . . whatever, dude.

That's the question, then. When was the last time someone tried to UH serve you?
in a competitive mixer. he was laughing and carrying on when we missed the return into the net. I wanted to knock him out like mike Tyson knocked out leon Sphinx. but I restrained myself. Best way to retaliate is to return the favor and Underhand serve him back
 
#22
Doesn't happen enough to lose sleep over it and start arguments over it but I last saw it 2 months ago in a mixed match. I'd say I face spinny dink serves more than I see the underhand serve. Some people have all sorts of tricks to make up for a lack of form.
 

mmk

Hall of Fame
#23
About a year ago. The only guy who would occasionally throw one in left the club. I have no problem with anyone doing it, it is a legal shot and it is up to me to return it, same as any other serve, volley or ground stroke.
 
#25
#26
He does have a foot inside the line but this was a for fun match.

Still, at FO when guys are 15 feet behind the baseline why not keep them honest?

For rec players, I just played a guy tonight who served at 6-5 and hit the worst serves of the entire match. I ended up winning third set tiebreak, for a change!

Rec players just need working serves they can relay on.

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#30
Happened to me at sectionals this January. He must have seen something in my movement (I didn't and from the video it doesn't look to me like it but apparently the MRI says I was), but I was playing on a slightly broken ankle (finally back to cleared for light baseline rallying after PT today!) so I guess he tried to attack it? It didn't work, and the second time he tried it I was really surprised given how poorly the first one turned out.
 
#31
The underhand serve doesn't get much love around here. Many wars here have started over it, with people siding with those who say it is a legitimate, legal shot and others who say it is legal but bush league.

But does it happen often enough to warrant any discussion at all? In 14 years of league play, I can only think of two times an opponent hit an UH serve, and both were from men in 7.0 mixed. The last time had to be 9-10 years ago. The first time the serve was a fault, and the second time I ran forward and returned it. So . . . whatever, dude.

That's the question, then. When was the last time someone tried to UH serve you?

i did it in usta when i had to serve in the sun in the late afternoon. i have difficulty serving in the sun, so after double faulting a game away, i think i had 3 or 4, i served underhanded for the rest of the match, and no longer double faulted. i even held serve most of the time.
btw, it was against another usta team from our club, so i probably was not the most popular person after that match.
however it gets the point started
z
 
#34
Happened to me today for the 2nd time. Tried catching me by surprise. Wasnt trying to show me up.

He was losing and desperate. Didnt bother me. He ended up faulting anyway.
 

norcal

Hall of Fame
#35
I served underhanded almost the whole time in my league match last weekend. Wrist injury was flaring up after two serve games so I told my opponent I was going to serve underhand. I had to stand back a couple feet to get a decent sidespin serve in. I figured I could break him so my serve wouldn't be that important. I was playing line 3 singles (out of 3) against not the toughest team so I was able to get away with it. He hit several winners off it but missed some too. Won 3,4.

Previous match (line 1 singles, very competitive match) my opponent tried the underhand serve twice - my fh return was going long so he was smartly picking on it so I backed up to give myself time. So he threw in a couple surprise underhand first serves, missed both. This was soon after Kyrgios/Nads, I'm sure that's where he got the idea. Fine with me, just showed he was frustrated. Won 6-3, 4-6, 7-6.
 
#36
2 more examples where the server can't even get it into the box.
The fact that most people can't even hit an UH serve into the box should give it the respect it deserves.
UH serve is a touch finesse shot that needs to be practiced.
 
#38
There's a male player in our league who serves UH on every serve. He does it because he has a problem with his shoulder. His UH serves are very hard to read and usually have a lot of spin. I used an UH serve in a tournament match last weekend because the sun was so bad I had trouble hitting my normal serve. I let the other team know before the first time I used it because I didn't want them to think I was trying to trick anyone. For the second set my partner and I switched up the sides we were serving on so was able to hit my normal overhead serve. We won the games where I served UH very easily by the way. Even when our opponents knew it was coming they had difficulty adjusting to it.
 
#39
More than 10 years for me. Had a buddy who would do it when he was struggling with his serve, but I was typically on top of it. He did it in a tournament once and pulled off the ace. Opponent got mad and said he's supposed to tell him that he's tired and going to serve underhanded. Lol. Ya got burned bud, deal with it.
 
#40
I use it all the time with my students. If they are being lazy on returns, I’ll lay a soft short underhand in the box to force them to get the feet going.
 
#41
More than 10 years for me. Had a buddy who would do it when he was struggling with his serve, but I was typically on top of it. He did it in a tournament once and pulled off the ace. Opponent got mad and said he's supposed to tell him that he's tired and going to serve underhanded. Lol. Ya got burned bud, deal with it.
The reaction of the receiver usually reveals more about the receiver than intended.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
#42
So I have been really working on my chip shot in general ... finally to the point where I can hit it with the FH from anywhere on the court, and control the depth and angle both deep in the court and very short ... (bh not so much) ... happy with the progression and the fact that I have finally put it in a match with good outcomes (e.g. winning the point with opponent swearing, especially on a ROS)

Was getting my reps in on my serve and was getting tired/bored ... decided to see if one can chip a serve ... turns out with the same toss as my regular serve I can indeed chip a serve and drop it short in the court with an annoying bounce.... very amusing.

I could only get in about 50% of them so needs some work ... but, since my regular serve is fast and deep, this may become my change-up serve... effect is nearly the same as a well-executed UH serve.
 
#44
So I have been really working on my chip shot in general ... finally to the point where I can hit it with the FH from anywhere on the court, and control the depth and angle both deep in the court and very short ... (bh not so much) ... happy with the progression and the fact that I have finally put it in a match with good outcomes (e.g. winning the point with opponent swearing, especially on a ROS)
Didn't I suggest that a few months back?
 

McLovin

Hall of Fame
#48
lol. I thought of this thread last night when our opponent served underhand to my partner (who tried to smack a forehand up the line but missed wide by a few inches). The irony here is that he is 6' 3" and has one of the best serves at our club.

I will add, though, that this was fun doubles between friends, and we're constantly talking trash to each other. In retrospect, I'm surprised this hasn't happened before.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
#49
@on the line so you toss up high like a regular serve, let it drop to your waist then hit it?
No ... I do have a much lower contact point on it though ... still well above the shoulders ... same chip motion and near zero follow through ... so would be totally telegraphed compared to my normal service motion. I wonder if I let it drop to waist level whether it would be better .... again something I am just messing around with.
 
#50
No ... I do have a much lower contact point on it though ... still well above the shoulders ... same chip motion and near zero follow through ... so would be totally telegraphed compared to my normal service motion. I wonder if I let it drop to waist level whether it would be better .... again something I am just messing around with.
So kind of like a waiter's tray service motion rather than an "on edge" one?
 
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