Singles: Second Serve Targets

When playing singles, targeting your second serve effectively can significantly enhance your strategic advantage.

Here’s a friendly guide to expanding your targets for a second serve, focusing on placement, variation, and tactical intent:

Aim for Depth

– Deep Serves: Aim deep into the service box, near the service line. This forces your opponent back, making it harder for them to attack the serve aggressively. A deep second serve can neutralize their advantage, buying you time to set up for the next shot.

Target the Body

– Body Serves: Serving directly at your opponent can be a smart strategy, especially if they have a strong forehand or backhand return. A body serve cramps them for space, making it difficult to create angles or generate power.

Exploit Weaknesses

– Weak Side Targeting: Identify your opponent’s weaker ground stroke—usually the backhand for many players—and target that side. This can limit their return effectiveness and potentially force errors or weaker replies.

Use Spin

– Spin Variations: Incorporate topspin and slice on your second serves to vary pace and bounce. Topspin serves kick up high, challenging the returner’s timing and comfort zone. Slice serves swerve away, potentially pulling your opponent off the court and opening up space for your next shot.

Serve to Strength, Then Exploit

– Surprise Factor: Occasionally serving to your opponent’s strength (usually their forehand) can be a tactical move. Follow this with a planned pattern of play that exploits the open court or their delayed recovery.

Control the Point

– Serve and Position: Think about your serve not just as a way to start the point, but as a setup for your next shot. Place your serve in a way that allows you to take control of the rally early, possibly with a strong one-two punch strategy.

Practice Under Pressure

– Mental Toughness: The effectiveness of your second serve targets also depends on your confidence and mental toughness under pressure. Practice serving under simulated match conditions to improve consistency and reliability.

By thoughtfully choosing your second serve targets, you can maintain the upper hand in singles play. Remember, the goal is not just to get the serve in but to use it as a strategic tool to set the tone for the point. Keep practicing, stay mentally tough, and continuously adapt your serve targets based on the match situation and your opponent’s tendencies.