Tennis Shots: The Serve
In terms of the rules of tennis, the serve is a shot which has one function – to start a point by putting the ball in play. It is simply intended to commence a rally, all things being equal, but in recent times it has become a whole lot more important than that. These days, a particularly good serve can win you matches almost on its own – although players who can serve and do little else are still unlikely to win many titles.
Because of the way it is played – the ball is almost always struck overarm, from a ball thrown into the air by the player whose turn it is to serve – it tends to be the fastest shot played in any rally. A player with a particularly fast serve, or one who has pinpoint accuracy, can win points without their opponent even getting a racket to the ball. When a serve wins a point without being touched by the opponent, it is referred to as an “ace”.
Some of the greatest exponents of the serve have been the Croatian Goran Ivanisevic, Britain’s Greg Rusedski and the man with the three fastest serves recorded in men’s tennis, Andy Roddick, who holds the world record with a service of 155mph. The fastest women’s serve ever recorded came from Brenda Schulz McCarthy, who hit one of 130mph in 2006. there are many people who view the growing speed of tennis serves as detrimental to the game, as it prevents long rallies – but others who view it as an awesome display of raw power.