By Larry Hodges
Many players, when serving, move the racket as rapidly as possible in a straight line through contact. With good racket speed and a grazing contact, you can get great spin this way--but little deception.
If you want to really fool your opponent – make him push way up in the air, go off the side, or block the ball into the net--you have to use semi-circular motion.
If the racket moves in a straight line, anyone with the eyesight of bespectacled bat can read the spin (with a little practice). However, if the racket goes through a semi-circular motion, your opponent (and the aforesaid bat) has to figure out whether you contacted the ball on the downward, sideways, or upward part of the swing. If you move the racket quickly and smoothly through this semicircular motion, your opponent will have trouble picking up the exact point of contact.
Semi-circular motion can be used in nearly all serves – both forehand and backhand serves. Depending on the serve, you will either start by swinging downward, sideways, and then up, or the reverse: upward, sideways, then downwards. Experiment with your most comfortable serves, and watch to see how top players do it.
With this semi-circular motion, you can get topspin, sidespin or backspin with the same stroke – all that changes is where in the stroke you contact the ball. If you contact it on the downward part, you get backspin; on the sideways part, sidespin; on the upward part, topspin.
You will be more successful in deceiving your opponent if, instead of serving pure topspin or backspin, serve sidespin-topspin or sidespin-backspin. Experiment on combining these spins, and learn to combine them with a pure sidespin.