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The Service Return and It's Importance

 

The most important shot in tennis after the serve is the service return. The service return can be summarized as either a block or swing but is a most difficult shot to master, especially if you are facing a big server.   A good server will be able to determine what type of shot a returner has most difficulty with and will favor that side or type of serve on big points and take advantage of the returner's problems. Having only half of a return game is a severe limitation even more so than not having a volley, overhead or strong backhand.

The essential elements of the return is being able to see the ball and anticipate where the server is going. It is much like a goalkeeper and shooter in soccer.  The keeper must anticipate where the shooter is going to hit the ball and of course the shooter is going to try to disguise where they are hitting the ball.  One great tip is to watch the ball from the moment it is tossed to keep the concentration focused on the ball.  Reaction time on a serve is all anticipation.  A ball served at 100mph will cross the net in under a second.  There is very little time to adjust once the ball is served.  You must be in the moment.

 Do not try to be overly offensive with your service return.  Be consistent and make a good shot everytime possible rather than trying to finish the point with your return.  If you are too offensive you will make unforced errors and give your opponent some easy points.  Make them work for their points on their serve always!  Look to be more aggressive with your oppoenents second serve as it will generally be weaker as they are looking to make sure they get it in.

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