Return of Serve:
The First 3 Principles

Bill Tym

40% of your effectiveness comes from return of serve.

Mastery of the return of serve is crucial to achieving your tennis potential. How important?

I have long contended that, directly or indirectly, 40% of your effectiveness is attributable to your serve and another 40% to your return. Notice I say directly or indirectly.

Aces and other unreturned serves are not the only factor contributing to the 40% figure for the serve. What an effective serve sets up is also critical.

For example, take the common "serve plus one" pattern where the server hits a strong serve which is weakly returned and the server steps in and hits a forehand winner. The match statistics show that the forehand won the point but, in reality, the serve played a pivotal role in the point's outcome.

Similarly, if the returner effectively neutralizes a good serve, or even better gains an offensive position with the return, and then subsequently wins the point, the effective return played a significant role in the point's outcome.

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Bill Tym, a USPTA Master Professional and past USPTA national president, has been involved in tennis as a coach, player and administrator for half a century. He coached the Vanderbilt University men's tennis team to its first NCAA tournament. As a player, Tym was a Southeastern Conference singles champion at the University of Florida. He also competed on the international tour and won 10 national and international titles.

As executive director of USPTA, Tym helped create a standardized certification test. Tym was named USPTA Professional of the Year in 1982, College Coach of the Year in 1989, and Touring Coach of the Year in 1997 and 2002. He also received the George Bacso Lifetime Achievement Award from the USPTA in 2001 and the International Tennis Hall of Fame Tennis Educational Merit Award in 1981.

Bill wishes to acknowledge Tennisplayer founding investor Ed Weiss’s help in preparing this article.

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