Who Should Serve?

windJack Moter asks: If a doubles team has a stronger and a weaker server, who should serve into a strong wind or a challenging sun? There are good arguments on both sides of this question …

Capitalize On Your Strength

On a windy day, one side says that you should have your stronger server take advantage of having the wind to his back – and make his strong serve even stronger. And then take your chances with the weaker server hitting into the wind.

Minimize Your Weakness

The other side says that the stronger server can push through the wind; but the weaker server can use the help – and maybe hold that service games more often than he would have.

The Sun?

The sun may be a different issue. Can the “stronger server” by definition better handle changing his toss to deal with the sun in his eyes? If so, maybe he takes the “bad side” and lets his partner have an easier time serving.

Or, do you now lose whatever serving advantage you had; and now have TWO weaker servers?

What do you think??

Bryan Brothers Bubble Burst?

If you watched some doubles from Indian Wells, you may have seen the incredible… the Bryan Brothers blowing SEVEN CONSECUTIVE MATCH POINTS.

They were up in the Match Tiebreaker at 9 points to 2 … and then lost seven consecutive points. They actually slightly recovered and had one more match point (at 11-10?) and also lost that eighth one.

They survived two match points against them; but finally succumbed 14-12.

What is this world coming to?

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4 thoughts on “Who Should Serve?

  1. Thoughts on who serves first: If wind is the issue, partner with more spin on the serve serves with the wind, flatter server against. If sun is the issue, the deuce court lob return of serve up into the sun is less effective against the stronger server. If both equally strong and confident serving into the sun, the flatter server serves.
    If no sun, wind issue, weaker server going first has returners with less timing and usually will make more return errors than later in the match. However, the critical 4-5 game or 4-4 has your teams weaker server having to hold. 2nd and 3rd sets, the stronger server starts. The wild card in all of this is the relative strength of the partners net game, poaching. If my partner plays the net better than me, I want to serve first.
    Sorry George, always hard to get a tennis opinion from me!

    Winder, thanks. george

  2. There are some often overlooked variables in the who serves first debate. Most debates, like this, frame the issue mainly in terms of who has the “better” serve in varying conditions. But I submit the more important variable is which partner has the better net game. As long as both players can just get their first serve in the box with roughly equal frequency, whoever holds serve more is usually far more dependent on whose net man is more aggressive and makes less mistakes than who has the “better” serve. So, rather than focus on the relative serving skills, I generally think the debate should be on who is fortunate enough to have the better net man as a partner.

    That is, more good servers lose their serve because of having a bad partner at net than LOSE their serves on their own. More mediocre servers who can at least get the first serve in play with decent frequency win their serves because of having an aggressive/ consistent net man than win their serves on their own.

    I also put “better” in quotes above because even that variable is not always so obvious. Do we mean the player whose serve is faster? Has more spin? Has more variety, including different spins? Has a higher percentage going in? Hits his spots better? Happens to have more confidence at the moment? A case could be made that, in any given match and under any particular match conditions, any one of these variables is more important than others.

    Also, don’t forget the righty/ lefty issue. This is probably more relevant in the sun than in the wind. But it is an important factor on a particularly sunny day, or where a court has been constructed badly to be influenced by the sun more than others. Often on a sunny day a righty cannot even see his toss on one side of a court but a lefty can, or vice versa. That factor alone probably dictates who goes first most times.

    Marty, i couldnt agree with you more! I never say we held/lost “your” serve… it is always a combination of server and net man’s play. thanks, george

  3. I like to have the wind at my back on the serve, giving my fairly weak serve a little more umph. More importantly, I hardly ever double fault; whereas many players with less consistent serves often double fault with the wind at their back. Unless my partner’s serve is even more consistent than mine, let them have the wind help their consistency.
    There’s the conservative approach!

    Spike, yup, for that very reason, I like to serve INTO the wind. Thanks, George

  4. No doubt, there are many factors to consider. A consideration that many times is overlooked is what player has the best first volley. I have seen many strong servers that had trouble hitting a good volley from the service line area. Strongest serve alone should not be the sole factor in determining which player serves first, but only one of many.

    Doug, and a server with a strong first volley is doubly strong! Thanks , George

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