As Brad Gilbert writes, sometimes your opponent doesnâ€™t really attack your serve, so you can go for more on your first and feel comfortable just getting your second serve in play.
But sometimes you play someone who really attacks your second serve; and that puts a premium on your getting a high percentage of first serves in.Â I play just such an opponent in New Hampshire (my â€œFriday Leftyâ€, who is an all-around better player than I am). This day something funny happened, which taught me a lesson.Â Â
My goal against him this day was to make few unforced errors and put a high percentage of first serves in.Â When I put the balls in my left pocket to serve, they fell right through.Â Seems the stitching had come out of that pocket bottom.Â So I had to put the â€˜second ballâ€™ in my right hand pocket.
Well every time I missed a first serve, I was forced to put the racquet in my other hand, reach around, and take the ball out of the â€˜wrong pocket.â€™Â Which made me distinctly aware of anytime I missed a first serve.Â It also made me slow down and not rush hitting my second serve.
All in all, my first serve percentage was probably 70% or higher.Â That, combined with a very low number of unforced errors allowed me to take a set from my superior opponent (we only played two sets.)
So, the Tip of the Day: Intentionally put the second ball in your wrong pocket and it will help you remember to â€œget that first serve in!â€