Tennis and tennis serving is a fun, exciting and vigorous sport. The tennis serve plays an important part because it starts the game - a game that depends on skill, stamina, and determination. After the first tennis serve, the same player who performed the serve may get the chance to complete a second tennis serve. Will this second tennis serve improve the player's performance? Or should there be a balance between the first and second serves - so that once a player knows what is right for him or her, he or she can use that strategy?
WHAT STATISTICS SAY ABOUT FIRST AND SECOND TENNIS SERVES
Statistics show a discouraging outlook when it comes to a player being given the chance to carry out a second serve. For players like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, this strategy would reduce their rate of service points gained by just under two percentage points.
But then there is one player, Ivo Karlovic, who does better, but that is because he is a bigger player. If we analyze 40 matches in 2010 and 2014, we see that for him, two first serves gave better results than one (Sackmann, 2015).
However, that may not mean much. The player Novak Djokovic is considered to be strong in returning second serves. Therefore, an opponent would probably not want to give him a second serve. If a hypothetical analysis is run, we see that two first serves would result in an increase of his rate of return points by 1.2 percentage points. However, if we looked at all returners, we see that they do not come that close to breaking even - and so this is a strategy that would not work for them (Sackmann, 2015).
But what if a player like Karlovic, good at two first serves, plays against Djokovic, good at returning second serves? In a match, Karlovic won 85% of first serve points, but only 50% of second serve points. Even after considering this, it is still difficult for a player to consider this strategy. If a player's double-first advantage (percentage points of serve points gained that would be lost by a player, for hitting two first serves) is multiplied by the returner's double-first advantage, we see players like Karlovic-Djokovic are put at one extreme (Sackmann, 2015).
HOW STATISTICS INFLUENCE TENNIS COACHES TO TEACH TENNIS STUDENTS TO ADOPT A BALANCE IN SERVING STRATEGIES AND TACTICS
Because of these statistics, tennis coaches teach students to adopt a balance between first and second serves. One size does not fit all, and there are a number of factors a player considers: the opponent's skills, the opponent's weaknesses, completing the first serve, the court surface, and knowing how to hit the correct serve in a particular situation (Sackmann, 2015).
Because these statistics show players concrete numbers, there is more knowledge about first and second serves. Coaches understand what to focus on, and teach their students a number of tactics they can use during a game. Therefore, players know how they should compete, and can adopt new strategies to give his or her opponent competition, and possibly win the game.
Sackmann, J. (2015). Are Two First Serves Ever Better Than One? Retrieved from http://www.tennisabstract.com/blog/2015/11/02/are-two-first-serves-ever-better-than-one/
A little bit of technical, a bit of physical, a bit of mental...all tennis. We're looking at topics that will help coaches as well as students appreciate their tennis journey.