Serving Into the Sun

If you don’t have the benefit of having a lefty/righty doubles combination, someone will be serving into the sun; and for many players, that can really dampen the effectiveness of their serving.  With the summer sun coming upon us, what can you do about it?

Six Tips to Consider

  1. Wear Sunglasses – It amazes me how few pro players ever wear sunglasses.  I am a fan of the Bolle wraparounds and wear them on every sunny day.  Some players complain they are not comfortable playing with them on; but that becomes their choice.

  2. Wear a Hat – Like the glasses most pro players don’t wear a hat (except on backwards!); but wearing one can keep the sun out, at least until you toss the ball (and it will also protect your scalp from harmful sun rays).

  3. Change Your Toss – Depending on how high the sun is in the sky, you can either toss your ball higher or lower – or more to the left or to the right.

  4. Change Your Stance – When the sun is really bad for me, I am forced to change my stance to look more like John McEnroe used to serve … with my chest almost facing the BACK fence.  This allows for the toss to go out to the side and avoid the facing sun (it will also give you a very “spinny” serve).

  5. Change Your Strategy – If that doesn’t work, just try to get your serve into the box (and warn your doubles partner to watch out for the killer service return).  Also, probably best to NOT come to the net behind your serve … first, because it will be softer; and second, because the sun may still be impacting your after-vision.

  6. Change Your Mindset – And if all else fails, don’t be embarrassed to default to serving underhanded!  You’re almost guaranteed not to double fault, with some practice you can actually put in an effective slice or topspin, and you won’t have the after effects of sun spots on your next shot.

How about YOU, how do you handle serving into the sun?

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6 thoughts on “Serving Into the Sun

  1. Serving into the sun adjustments – maybe the most important is mental – decide you are going to be competent at serving into the sun – like tennis in windy conditions, deciding to learn to handle it is something you want to do rather than just avoid.
    Choose to practice serving in the sun, choose in practice matches to be the one serving into the sun.
    In one of my first national grass court tournaments, at 4-4 in the third versus a seeded former European tour pro, the sun suddenly became a big presence while I served. I did not serve well but he did in the next game. Decided never again.

    Winder, i know a player who always says, “I HATE serving into the sun!” And of course, he does poorly. thanks, george

  2. As someone who never wears sunglasses, and rarely wears a hat (but not to serve), I’d offer two more suggestions.

    Along with changing your toss, change your serve selection. When serving into the sun it seems like the toss for my flat serve is in exactly the wrong place but the toss for my slice or kick is just fine – so I hit those a LOT more even on my first serve. And in dubs that actually works out better because I’m “making” more 1st serves. (And when a cloud rolls through, I try to sneak in a big flat serve.)

    The other thing is, you gotta go out and PRACTICE serving into the sun. Next sunny day take a bucket of balls out and practice serving into the sun for a couple hours. That helps a ton.

    Terry, good advice! thanks, george

  3. George over the many years of playing, I’ve become a master of the “Squint” on sunny days!

    Jim, it does help. george

  4. George,

    Happy Sunday. I am scheduled for eye surgery tomorrow morning. He is replacing the lens in my left eye with a multi-focal lens.

    I will keep providing you with information for your blog as this progresses.

    Take care, Arnie Vance

    Arnie, do well… feel well … play well. george

  5. I’d add “change where you stand”, relative to the center line.

    When I teach, and get this question, my standard answer is “toss the ball where the sun isn’t & just hit it”. You might discover a new spin or flat or slice serve. Don’t over think!

    Jeff, yes, changing where you stand can alter the relative location of the sun to your toss. thanks, george

  6. George,
    For me playing against the Arizona sun can be a challenge. First, I would definitely recommend wearing sunglasses on sunny days. Fourteen years ago, while in my 50s, I had cataract surgery on both eyes along with lens implants. Those harmful UV rays should never be ignored. Since living in the desert climate for a number of years, I’ve experimented with my toss. By adjusting the height as well as tossing the ball to the left or right, can make a difference. When playing doubles, I always ask my partner what side he or she prefers, because I feel confident serving into the sun. You mentioned changing your strategy, which can win you or your team a few points. Sometimes, I like to use the sun’s advantage and put up some lobs to give my opponent(s) a difficult read to locate the descending ball. When the table is turned on me and confronted with a high lob into the sun , I’ll let it bounce and then drive the overhead, rather than being “blinded by the light”. Learning to “weather ” the elements should always be a concern with a plan in mind.

    Glenn, good stuff! Thanks. George

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