This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked tennis questions we get from our subscribers.
Quick answer? The SERVE is the most important shot in tennis, bar none.
Don’t get me wrong; the serve, or ‘serving’ not the most important aspect of the game of tennis, but among individual tennis shots, the serve is King.
Simply put, the serve is the only shot that, 100% of the time:
– Allows the server to choose where to hit the ball.
– Allows the server to choose what spin to impart on the ball.
– Allows the server to choose the speed at which to hit the ball.
– Allows the server to win the point without the ball ever hitting the opponent’s racket at any time during the point being played.
– Allows the server to hit a second serve after missing the first one.
– Allows the server to dictate how the point will start.
While this is an incomplete list of all of the features of the serve that a tennis player has available to them when given the opportunity to hit a first serve, the above should suffice in convincing anyone of the first serve’s status as the most important shot in tennis.
More proof of the importance of the first serve comes when we look at where its value is derived on the tennis court in a strategic sense:
– A player can win a game using a first serve exclusively. This can be said of no other shot in tennis, other than the return of serve (which, by the way, is the second most important shot in tennis).
– A player with a strong first serve doesn’t have to work as hard to hold serve as does an opponent with a weaker serve, who is relying on their ground strokes and/or volleys to win the points necessary to hold their serve.
– A player with a strong first serve can force a weak return of serve from their opponent, giving the server a chance to end the point quickly.
– A player with a strong first serve does not need to be as concerned about having to face a strong return by their opponent, as compared to a player with a weak first serve.
– A player with a strong first serve has more confidence in their ability to hold serve, thereby reducing emotional stress; this give them a greater ability to focus on the task at hand.
In 2004 Andy Roddick, who was #1 in the world at the time and holds the record for the world’s fastest serve in a match (155 mph) said this, regarding the importance of his serve:
“One day, I was practicing and I got pissed off.”
“I just stepped up to the line and took a wicked swing at it (the ball) without really going through the proper motions, and it went in, and I did it again and it went in again, and it was pretty hot, and the rest is history.”
“But since that day, it’s just always there for me, the one thing I can rely on.”
“I’m just thankful for my serve, because it has saved me so often.”
“It allowed me to win matches right away when I first went out on the tour, even if I wasn’t ready to do so, because I had that one weapon I could go to.”
“Since then, I’ve been learning on the trot, improving the other areas of my game. It also wears on the other guy. If I’m having a really good serving day and they’re thinking there’s no way in hell they’re going to break serve, and suddenly it’s 30-all on their serve, they know if they lose their serve, the set’s over.”
Did you read anything in that interview about how he’s just happy to “get the ball in play?” I didn’t either.
Read the highlights again:
“…it’s just always been there for me…”
“…the one thing I can rely on.”
“…it has saved me so often.”
“…that one weapon that I could go to.”
While in no regards should a player rely solely on their first serve to win matches, reading what Andy says about the importance of his serve, along with the benefits listed above should serve to ingrain the importance of having a strong, reliable first serve in your arsenal, and offer proof that the first serve is indeed the most important shot in tennis!
To Your Massive Tennis Success,
– Coach Kyril
P.S. If you want to discover the secret of exactly HOW to get
that powerful serve, you can do that right here!