View Full Version : A Question About Returning A 123 MPH Serve

Sep 5th, 2002, 07:10 AM
Why do they (meaning any player except the Williams') stand ON the baseline to return a serve that everyone knows will be coming between 110-130MPH? I mean, isn't that just asking to give the point up? Why don't they just maybe take a 1/2 step or 1 full step behind the line to retriever serve? I think that way at least you have a split second longer to actually get to the ball....it's not like you're going to plaster a winner down the line perfectly placed after chasing a 120MPH serve, right?

Sep 5th, 2002, 07:12 AM
one reason for standing in is you can try and cut off the angle or take it on the rise. if you can see the serve early enough this could work. if its a huge huge serve there is not much you can do either way maybe they think so they want to stand in and try to take a wack at it. one person who tries this is Daniela Hantuchaova.

Sep 5th, 2002, 07:16 AM
If the serve has a lot of action, it is often a lot easier to take it early than wait for it to go spinning out in unpredictable directions.

In Monica's case, she knew she needed to be aggressive on the return. To send back a floater is no good against Venus, who would send the easy ball hurtling into one corner or another. It's no good just returning it if you're just setting up Venus for a winner.

Sep 5th, 2002, 07:19 AM
But shouldn't you at least give yourself a chance to hit the ball?

Sep 5th, 2002, 07:29 AM
Well, that's a valid argument LOL

Sep 5th, 2002, 08:51 AM
Monica has NO chance against Venus if she stands far back to return serve. Venus 1st serve was an average of 110 miles per hour. Plus Monica is two handed. She cant slice it back and go out wide. she needs to get it early as possible.

Williams Rulez
Sep 5th, 2002, 10:31 AM
I think Monica should have taken 1 step back. It would have made a lot of difference, especially since Venus wasn't hitting her serves very wide today.

Lord Chips
Sep 5th, 2002, 11:36 AM
The further back you stand, the further the ball has to travel, the longer it takes, the more time you have to react.

Sam L
Sep 5th, 2002, 01:48 PM
I agree with anton about this. But it amazes me how many male players stand so far back :confused: With the exception of Agassi?

I think if the serves are coming down that fast, might as well stand on the line and take a whack at it. At least that will intimidate the server and force them into double faults etc...

Sep 5th, 2002, 02:45 PM
Standing 2 or 3 feet behind the baseline is recommended against the Williams on first serve. Davenport does that most of the time; watch for it on Friday. Remember Guga, up until this year, used to stand 6 feet or more from the baseline against the big boomers!

Seles (the poster) has a good point in that you should give yourself a chance to put the racket on the ball.

Nonetheless, there is the other school backed by those who can see the ball early. That school preaches to stay on the line on first serve and use the momentum of the in coming ball for the return. Basically, block the ball and it will go back almost with the same energy. That's what I do most of the time; I hardly swing on returning a big serve. Then again I am nobody in tennis, I just play. But those who are billed as best returners, eg, Monica, Agassi, who can see the ball early, always tend to stay on the line. In general, it's not recommended.

Sam L
Sep 5th, 2002, 02:49 PM
TennisPower good point but if you stay behind the baseline about 6 feet or more, wouldn't you just be chasing the ball. You wouldn't be able to do anything with it anyway.

Most likely the server the come in behind the serve and set up for an easy volley even if you get it back.

I don't know. I just prefer to watch players who take chances and stay on the baseline, it's more exciting.

Sep 5th, 2002, 02:54 PM
Yes, but that's why Guga has never made it past the QF at Flushin Meadows and is often upset by lesser players with big serves. Every other part of his game is well-suited for the hard courts but he stands so far back on the returns! It works on clay, but not hard...unfortunately :(

Sep 5th, 2002, 03:29 PM
Point well taken, Sam L, but if you know you can't see the ball as early as Agassi, you have to stand further back; at least you'll put the ball back in play. Several things will happen though when you stay far back: first, on an outwide serve, you will be chasing the ball (if you're lucky!); second, the more the ball travels the more it loses energy, and as a result, you will have to swing to impact some energy of your own for a decent return; third, you have to be very light on your feet (many little steps can help), ready to spring in any direction before and after the return.

The happy medium is to stay 2 or 3 feet behind the baseline. That's what Guga has tried to do lately. As you can see, Mishar, it did work against Safin, ... but not against Schalken.

Ahh, tennis is such a great game! A winning strategy is a cocktail of many tricks and tactics, not a single one. Adjustment during the match is the key.

That was a good dicussion, guys.

Sep 5th, 2002, 04:14 PM
The place where a player hits a return is halfway between the minimum and the maximum "bounce point".
It's not true that the further you go back the less you hit the ball.
The further you go back, the most likely you WILL hit the ball, whether you hit it hard or not.
The point is that if you are more than 4 feet behind the baseline, whre the serve gets at 30/40 Mph, the server plays an "underarm" and you're done!

Sep 5th, 2002, 04:53 PM
interesting thread... Sels, try telling your argument to Marion Bartoli, who was standing almost halfway to the service line to receive Lindsay's serves :eek:

Sep 5th, 2002, 05:29 PM
Fair point but Monica return is her best shot well one of them and she'd be no good far back.

Sep 5th, 2002, 05:31 PM
monic cannot stand back, she needs to stand on the baseline b/c her reach is limited with 2 hands on both sides. if she stands back further, she is giving up more and more space!

Brian Stewart
Sep 6th, 2002, 12:11 AM
It's up to the individuals. Some can stand on the baselines for anyone's serve, some can't. Venus, Serena, Monica, Chanda, and Kimiko Date are examples. (Bartoli was crazy to stand where she was.) Others have to stand further back. Borg used to do the momentum thing, standing further back, then moving into the return.

I liked returning from the baseline because it cuts the server's options. You can cut off a kick or slice serve before they do their damage. That means the one serve they can most hurt you with is the heater. However, they have to get it deep in the box, or you can attack it, too. You can pressure them into missing some first serves.

Remember the unique stance Kimiko had? She would stand on the baseline at an angle. This allowed her to cut off slice serves, but still get to a fast one down the middle. Obviously, you're still going to have some serves that are just going to be too tough to handle no matter where you stand.

A player has to consider their reflexes, how well they see the ball, and their strokes themselves before deciding where to stand. Sometimes, an adjustment has to be made during the match. But I think a good general rule is to stand as close as you can and still handle the serve. For every split second earlier you hit the ball, you take twice that much time away from your opponent.

Sep 6th, 2002, 12:25 AM
With Monica, the reaction of her hands on the return is much better than her reaction to move on the return. If she stands back, then she exposes that lack of movement reaction because a sliced serve on her backhand or a kick serve on her forehand is just going to travel all the way to the next continent and she's not going to have a chance - even if she does get a racket on the ball, with two hands and her lack of movement, it's probably going to be a weak return, giving her opponent (in this case Venus) an opportunity to belt a groundie into submission.

I find that Monica does fairly well returning those big serves when they come to her, she has good reflexes with her hands on the return and thus it's more preferable to her to stand up close, take the serve early and see what happens.

As an aside, I'd just like to congratulate Monica for getting to the quarter final stage of the US Open given all the struggles she has had to go through, on and off court. :D :kiss:

Sep 6th, 2002, 12:44 AM
I'm not saying for the serves to be returned from the backstop, but maybe 6-12 inches behind the line would give just those extra nanoseconds to respond.

Sep 6th, 2002, 02:37 AM
I think monica was just trying to block Venus' serve Maureen Drake did that very effectively at Wimbledon and to do that you need to be on the baseline

Sam L
Sep 6th, 2002, 02:42 AM
Good points, Brian, I remember the way Kimiko used to stand well. But I thought it was to her disadvantage cause she'd be on angle.

Sep 6th, 2002, 04:05 AM
regarding Marion Bartoli stance, I've seen her playing in several junior championships and she has always stood way inside the court to return the opponent's serve...I think it has actually cost her a loss to Kuznetsova in the semi's of last year's Orange Bowl, because Kuznetsova has a wicked kick second serve that would jump high over Bartoli's shoulders...