It is strange to me that TV tennis announcers rarely comment on what players choose for the coin toss (they do not always choose “I will serve”), but it would be interesting from a strategic point of view.
1) I/we will serve
2) I/we will receive
3) I/we will take that side of the court
4) I/we will defer and have you choose first
Why One Over Another?
According to Brad Gilbert in “Winning Ugly,” he liked to choose in singles to receive. This put more pressure on the server at the start of the match and more possible to get an early break. And he argues, even if you don’t, you are still on serve. I tend to follow this train of thought in my matches.
Newk camper friend Joel Drucker argues just the opposite… he says you should choose to serve first; because you will then be serving on the even game scores, like 4-4, but your opponent will have to serve the 4-5 game.
Frequent doubles partner Tom McCune thinks you should take “the bad side” (e.g. sun in your eyes) first, because you will be there for only one game at the start of the match, then your opponent has two games there.
Sun/wind – If either are a real factor at match time, think about where you want to start – especially if you are playing with or against a lefty, consider where they do (or don’t) want to serve from.
Strength of server vs returner – Are you a better server or returner? If you have a powerful and reliable serve, go first. If you have much more confidence in your return, receive first. If you opponents have a strong or weak serve, act accordingly.
Doubles vs. singles – In higher level doubles, the team serving SHOULD hold serve more often than not, so all other factors being equal, I would think you should serve first. Singles (at my level) can frequently feature several breaks of serve, so it is not as important – except for all the factors above.
What do you think?
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