January 29, 2024 – Start With Your Trickiest Serve

Many players hold back on their trickiest serve until it’s close. This is usually a mistake. If you have such a tricky serve, you should use it early – probably with your first serve. (This is especially true for deep, spinny serves.) Here’s why.

  1. You don’t really know if the serve will be effective against this player without trying it out – and by using it early, you’ll know whether you want to use it later in a close game.
  2. If the serve is effective, by using it early you can come back to it sooner without overusing it and letting the opponent get used to it.
  3. Perhaps most important, it forces the opponent to watch for that serve, thereby making all your other serves more effective. This is especially true of tricky deep spin serves. The receiver has to guard against them, making them a bit slower in reacting to other ones, especially shorter ones. You should generally develop your game around shorter serves that are harder to attack effectively and that set up your own attack, but if that’s all you do, the opponent will quickly get used to them.

However, there’s an exception to this. If you play someone regularly, then they may anticipate that you’ll start with that serve, and be more ready for it. But if you are playing a new player, why not throw your trickiest serve at them the first time you serve, and go from there?