Service is the opening gun of tennis. It is putting the ball in play. The old idea was that service should never be more than merely the commencing of a rally. With the rise of American tennis and the advent of Dwight Davis and Holcombe Ward, service took during a new significance. These two men originated what is now known as the American Twist delivery.
From a mere formality, service became a point winner. Slowly it gained in importance, until Maurice E. M'Loughlin, the wonderful "California Comet," burst across the tennis sky with the first of those terrific cannon-ball deliveries that revolutionized the game, and caused the old-school players to send out hurry calls for a difficult foot-fault rule or some way of stopping the threatened destruction of all ground strokes. M'Loughlin made service a great factor in the game. It remained for R. N. Williams to supply the antidote that has again put service in the normal position of mere importance, not omnipotence. Williams stood in on the delivery and took it throughout the rising bound.
Service must be speedy. Yet speed is not the be-all and end-all. Service must be accurate, reliable, and varied. It must be used with discretion and served with brains.
Any tall player has an advantage over a short one, in service. Given a man about 6 feet and permit him the 3 feet added by his reach, it has been proved by tests that should he deliver a service, utterly flat, with no variation caused by twist or wind, that just cleared the net at its lowest level (3 feet in the centre), there is only a margin of 8 inches of the service court in which the ball can possibly fall; the remainder is beneath the net angle. Thus it is easy to see how significant it is to use some form of twist to bring the ball into court. Not only must it go into court, but it must be sufficiently speedy that the receiver executes not have an opportunity of an easy kill. It must also be laid so as to permit the server an advantage for his next return, admitting the receiver puts the ball in play.
Just as the first law of receiving is to, put the ball in play, so of service it is to cause the receiver to fall into error. Do not strive unduly for clean aces, but use your service to upset the ground strokes of your opponent.
Service should be hit from as high a point as the server can COMFORTABLY reach. To stretch unnecessarily is both wearing throughout the server and unproductive of results. Varied pace and varied speed is the keynote to a good service.
The slice service should be hit from a stage above the right shoulder and as high as possible. The server should stand at about a forty-five degree angle to the baseline, with both feet firmly planted during the ground. Drop the weight rearward throughout the right foot and swing the racquet freely and easily behind the backward. Toss the ball high enough into the air to ensure it passing by the desired hitting plane, and then start a slow shift of the weight forward, at the same time increasing the power of the swing forward as the racquet commences its upward flight to the ball. Just as the ball meets the racquet face the weight should be thrown ahead and the full power of the swing smashed into the service.
Rent the ball strike the racquet INSIDE the face of the strings, with the racquet travelling directly towards the court. The angle of the racquet face will impart the twist essential to bring the ball in court. The wrist should be somewhat flexible in service. Whenever essential lift the correctly foot and swing the whole body ahead with the arm. Twist slightly to the right, using the left foot as a pivot. The general line of the racquet swing is from correctly to LEFT and always ahead.
At this stage and before I take up the other branches of serving, rent me put in a warning against foot faulting. I can only say that a foot-fault is crossing or touching the line with either foot before the ball is delivered, or it is a jump or step. I am not going into a proficient discussion of foot faults. It is unnecessary, and by placing your feet firmly before the service there is no need to foot-fault.
It is just as unfair to deliberately foot-fault as to miscall a ball, and it is wholly unnecessary. The median foot-fault is due to carelessness, over-anxiety, or ignorance of the rule. All players are offenders at times, but it can quickly be broken up.
Uchenna Ani-Okoye is an internet marketing advisor