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Improving Your Return

ALTA Senior Men player returning a serve.

By Stewart Atkins, Tennis Director, Jekyll Island Tennis Center 

This article is about using the return of serve to improve your game. At our facility, we spend an extreme amount of time on its importance.

Why is the return so important? Sure, it starts the point, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. The return can take a serve that’s a weapon and make it completely irrelevant. Also, if we can take the return and get the point started in an offensive manner for us, then we’ve started dominating the court in our favor instead of the server doing that in theirs. For those who rely on their serve but may not have a shot or two to combine with it, the return forces those players to beat us with something other than the serve.

Often, when put in that situation people tend to give what we need — unforced errors. In singles, I like to think our opponents have a two-step radius at their feet. Think of a circle or hula hoop. If we can use the return to get them out of that two-step comfort zone, we are dictating the point right from the start. In doubles, if we can get the return cross-court and avoid the established offense with depth, then we should start right away in an offensive manner, leaving our opponents with only one option — defense. I don’t know about you but if I leave my opponents with only a defensive option, I’m very happy!

But the most important reason the return is so awesome? You cannot win a tennis match without breaking serve. There is no way around it. You cannot break serve without making returns! Put a little more emphasis on the return and you should see more success! If you have questions or comments, please feel free to call me at the Jekyll Island Tennis Center or email me at satkins@jekyllisland.com. I’m wishing you much great luck!

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