Club players give the return of serve too little attention. Mark Bey, the director of Care Academy in Libertyville, IL, and assistant coach for doubles stars Bob and Mike Bryan, would like to change this. Bey tells his students that the return is a weapon, rather than a rally starter. Bey says you should return with a shortened backswing, about 2/3 of your normal swing, as shown above. “If it’s a slow second serve, don’t wait for the ball,” he says. “Better to move closer and hit with a shorter swing. That way the ball gets on top of your opponent right away.”
• The split step is key to an effective return. To properly time your split step, imagine a box over the server’s head. “When the toss goes in the box, split,” Bey says.
• While you should use an abbreviated swing on your return of serve, you shouldn’t limit your weight transfer. It’s important to move forward. Go after the ball, don’t let it come to you.
Master Other Strokes:
Originally published in the Jan/Feb 2011 issue of TENNIS.