When is a serve a serve?

We all know people who toss the ball on their service motion and then catch it (sometimes waaaay too many times). But at what point in the toss and motion does a serve become an actual attempt that counts?

An obvious answer is “when the server hits the ball with his racquet.” But short of that, what would happen if the server tossed the ball and swung and MISSED the ball (for whatever reason)… is that a service attempt and a fault?

I believe the answer is YES.

But a little more subtle example. We were playing recently with the noon Florida sun right in the server’s eyes on the toss. He tossed to start his motion; started coming forward towards the ball with his racquet face; but lost it in the sun and INTENTIONNALLY pulled down his racquet, without touching the ball. Is that a fault?

Our consensus on the court was NO. Do you know the answer?

3 thoughts on “When is a serve a serve?

  1. absolutely not. remember a match that agassi played a few years ago. the guy he was playing kept tossing the ball and them catching it endlessly. it actually became humorous. it wasnt a serve.

  2. The rule states that if you start your service motion and then stop for whatever reason and catch the ball with your hand or racquet (that doesn’t matter), it constitutes a serve. If he makes no attempt to strike at the ball and catches it, it is not a serve. If he swings and misses, it is a serve.

  3. I bring my racquet up at the same time that I make a toss. The defining move of the serve swing is when I start to move the racquet up and forward to make contact. Once a service swing is started, it is either a good serve or a fault.

    Terry – I think the rules agree with you; but i question the aborted motion where the server sees something, hears something, etc and stops the motion on his own (like Tiger Woods pulling off on his down swing).  — george

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