In tennis, you have two chances to serve the ball and get it into play. Tennis experts agree: the second serve is more important than the first serve. Obviously, you need that second serve to start the point if you make an error on your first serve. And if you have a good second serve, you can afford to be more aggressive on your first. Unfortunately, not everyone has a good second serve (even at the professional level). Though that is a pretty big weakness, all is not lost!
Commit to the following tips to win more second serves in tennis:
Have a plan
Many recreational players hit their second serves with no goal other than just to get it in. Rather than be surprised by what comes off your racket and then react to it, you should create the point to your advantage.
Since the second serve is usually weaker than the first serve, placement is key. Formulate a second-serve strategy based on your opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. Serving down the T, whether it’s the forehand or backhand, is always a good idea on your second serve. That way, even if your opponent does get a piece of it, you know that it’s probably coming back up the middle as you’ve taken away their angles.
A slice second serve into the body is effective as well, especially if your opponent is somewhat lead-footed. Most club players have no split step and literally plant themselves at the baseline, making it harder for them to move out of the way of the ball. More than likely, their return will be short if it makes it back over the net at all.
Use more spin
Generally, players have trouble handling heavy spin, so use the slice and kick serve often. The great thing about this serve is that it’s pretty effective no matter where the ball ends up landing. The spin not only causes the ball to move sideways as it travels through the air but it also gives the ball a wicked sideways bounce making it more difficult to return. Just make sure and hit the ball hard…at least as hard as you hit your first serve, if not harder. Don’t worry about it going into the net or out, as the speed will make sure it gets over the net, and the spin will bring it down into the service box.
Mix it up
Don’t be predictable. If you always serve your second serve to an opponent’s backhand, you are literally giving them a lesson on how to return backhand serves, and before long, they will be crushing them.
Throw in some body serves and serves down the T to their forehand. And if you’ve noticed that they don’t move well, surprise them with a serve out wide. Keep them wondering where you’ll serve next, and you will keep them from properly preparing for their return.
Always be ready for a return
Don’t assume that because it’s your second serve that it won’t go in, or that your opponent is going to crush it. Decide where you’ll place the ball and as soon as you hit that second serve, get ready for the return. Use your serve to anticipate where your opponent may hit the return before he/she makes contact with the ball. For example: Did you serve down the T? Then be prepared for the ball to come back in the same direction. Was it a serve to the body? Be prepared to move in because chances are it will be short.
Put in the effort
Neither your second nor first serves will get better from playing a league tennis match once or even twice a week. You have to really work on them. Rent a bucket from your club or save the balls from your practice and league matches, and spend some time every weekend just serving (make sure and practice BOTH serves, not just your first serve.) Work on increasing speed, adding spin, and improving placement, and before long you’ll have a second (and first) serve to be proud of. You will gain consistency with landing them, which will make you more confident when it’s your turn to serve. Not only that, but the frequent service repetition will also increase your muscle memory which will help you find your rhythm much faster when warming up for your league matches.
Commit to these tips and win more second serves (and matches!) in tennis!
While players like Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal bask in near-universal adoration, not all players are as fortunate.
There are players who, rather than earning applause, often find themselves in the crosshairs of fan frustration and, at times, the recipients of outright hatred.
I’ve been watching ATP tennis for as long as I can remember. Here are ten of whom I believe are the most hated ATP tennis players of all time.
10. Lukas Rosol
Lukas Rosol had numerous on-court outbursts and arguments with chair umpires. However, it’s mainly his unsportsmanlike behavior on the tennis court that has made fans and pro players dislike him.
Once, during a match, Andy Murray said, “No-one likes you on the tour, everyone hates you” to Rosol.
Here’s the clip:
He loved to play mind games with his opponents and did everything he could to get them off-guard. Rosol was not just on the outs with Andy Murray but also with one of the all-time greats, Rafael Nadal.
Nadal is known for his routines, especially with his water bottles. They need to be in the same place for some reason. Rosol knew that and knocked one of his bottles down to annoy Nadal.
What a jerk, right?
In another match, Rosol purposefully bumped into Nadal during a changeover, an incident that Nadal later said in a presser that it was unsportsmanlike.
Whether you’re a Nadal or Murray fan or not, it’s just too hard to like Lukas Rosol.
9. Robin Söderling
Robin Söderling, known for his powerful game and defeating Rafael Nadal at the French Open in 2009, faced much criticism during his career for his on-court demeanor. Fans and players alike perceived him as arrogant and unsportsmanlike.
He didn’t have many friends on tour, and overall, he had a very strained relationship with most players.
If you ask Rafael Nadal which player he dislikes the most, his answer just might be Robin Söderling. And it’s not because he beat him at the French Open.
This clip may explain why Nadal hated Robin Soderling:
Let’s face it. If you’re disliked by one of the most loved players of all time, you will be hated by his fans. And you will add him to your list of the 10 most hated ATP tennis players.
Apart from his beef with Nadal, he constantly got into heated arguments with the chair umpires and other people in the stadium.
8. Andy Roddick
When it comes to Andy Roddick, it feels like two distinct personas share the same name.
Off the court, Roddick is known for his likable personality and sharp wit. He’s engaging and personable, the kind of guy who can light up a room with his humor, making everyone feel at ease. This Roddick is relatable and easy to like.
However, on the court, Roddick is all business. His temper is notorious, as is his propensity for engaging in heated disputes with officials.
Here’s a video clip:
His tendency to focus energy on disputes rather than on the subtle ballet of tennis has frustrated many fans, particularly his fellow Americans.
It feels like Andy Roddick’s energy is often spent disputing rather than focusing on his game, and it’s difficult for fans to cheer for a player like that.
7. Mikael Ymer
Known in Sweden as much for his cocky persona as his tennis, Mikael Ymer is quite a controversial figure. His audacious antics on the court, like smashing a racquet on an umpire’s chair, certainly raise eyebrows, and not in a good way.
Despite his lack of success on the ATP Tour, the audacity to liken himself to titans like Zlatan Ibrahimovic furthers the perception of arrogance.
Also, his refusal to play tournaments in his home country unless he was paid a significant sum caused quite an uproar. This has not only strained his relationship with local organizers but also left a sour taste in the mouths of his once-loyal fanbase.
Consequently, he’s become something of a tennis villain at home, with many Swedes eagerly cheering for his competitors. Ask any Swedish tennis fan – nobody likes Mikael Ymer.
Here’s Mikael Ymer smashing his racquet on the Umpire’s chair.
If more people knew who Mikael Ymer was, he would have been higher on this list.
5. Novak Djokovic
Despite being one of the greatest players of all time, Novak Djokovic has faced his share of criticism and dislike from certain sections of tennis fans.
He’s broken countless racquets in rage and even scared some ball kids. And at the 2020 US open, he was disqualified after hitting a ball in anger which struck a line judge in the throat.
His off-court behavior has gained him haters as well.
While his talent and contribution to tennis are unquestionable, his volatile personality often stole the limelight, attracting both fascination and ire from fans.
His fiery temper was like a double-edged sword, adding an element of drama that was as likely to enthrall fans as it was to provoke their disapproval.
Even today, the mention of McEnroe is as likely to bring up memories of his brilliant game and his blazing outbursts.
Here’s a video of him unleashing his wrath on the umpire:
4. Daniil Medvedev
Daniil Medvedev may be one of the top players on the ATP tour, but his disrespect has fans in an uproar. While some Daniil Medvedev fans find his bad-boy attitude to be cool, many others despise him for the very same reason.
He can’t handle when an opponent hits great shots, and the crowds cheer for them. He’ll take it out on a ball boy or throw a racquet. And when the crowd boos at his petulance, he’ll flip them off.
Here’s a video of just some of the behavior during the 2019 US Open:
It’s an unfortunate catch-22. His behavior draws boos, and the boos draw more bad behavior.
3. Nick Kyrgios
A common phrase among Kyrgios fans is, “You either love or hate him.” And you can tell how I feel about him because he is on my list of the most hated ATP tennis players 🙂
He’s undoubtedly one of the most entertaining players to watch, attracting many fans. But his foolish behavior on the tennis court also draws hate despite it adding an extra layer of excitement to the game.
His on-court behavior is often at the heart of this sentiment, with volatile outbursts, instances of perceived lack of effort, and a seemingly dismissive attitude towards opponents and officials, all contributing to his controversial standing.
Here he is throwing the game on purpose:
I’ve watched many matches that Kyrgios played, and I can’t recall a single one where he hasn’t argued with the umpire.
One of his worst incidents happened at the 2019 Italian Open. He quit the game mid-match after throwing a chair into the tennis court.
Here’s the video:
For years, I have wondered why Kyrgios even bothers playing professional tennis. And I do not doubt that I’m not the only one.
2. Daniel Köllerer (Koellerer)
Daniel who? Exactly. Daniel Köllerer was a hothead who hailed from Austria.
In every match, he put on at least one dramatic performance (especially if he was losing), which would irk not only his opponents but also the officials and fans. In 2006, the ATP fined and suspended Köllerer for six months for bad behavior.
In the clip below, he faked an injury by dropping to the ground when a point was over. And when no one believes him, he quits the match, walking away without any limp whatsoever.
But his poor performances were not the only thing that earned him his place on my list of the 10 most hated ATP tennis players.
In 2011, Köllerer was banned for life for match-fixing and was fined US$100,000 by the Tennis Integrity Unit. The Court of Arbitration upheld this ban for Sport in March 2012. However, the court overturned the fine as he had not benefited financially from any of the charges for which he had been found liable.
1. Alexander Zverev
The German superstar Alexander Zverev tops my list as the most hated tennis player of all time. There are so many reasons why that is, but these are the main reasons:
Domestic abuse allegations
Volatile behavior on the tennis court
Let’s start with the domestic abuse allegations. I don’t tolerate violence against women – or anyone. You will top my list EVERY time.
The allegations of domestic abuse against Alexander Zverev stemmed initially from his ex, Olga Sharypova.
She publicly accused Zverev of engaging in both physical and emotional abuse throughout their relationship. Sharypova detailed multiple instances of physical violence, including claims of being choked in 2019. Zverev, for his part, has firmly denied these serious allegations, and because of lack of evidence, Zverev received no punishment.
In July of this year, he faced another set of abuse charges from his baby mama, Brenda Patea. This time, the judge ruled in her favor and awarded her €450,000 ($475,000).
Volatile Behaviour (On The Court)
Alexander Zverev has shown volatility on the tennis court on numerous occasions. This includes his smashing his racquet, arguing with umpires, etc.
One of the worst incidents occurred during the 2022 Mexican Open in Acapulco. After a bad call from the umpire (according to Zverev), he smashed his racquet into the umpire’s chair. It looked like he may have hit the ump’s feet, too.
Here’s the video:
He was defaulted from the tournament and got a $40,000 fee from the ATP. He also forfeited all prize money and ranking points. He’s lucky that’s all he’s got. What a brat!
So, did we miss anyone? Do you know of a player who deserves to be on this list of most hated ATP tennis players? Comment below and tell us why, and we’ll add them!
In doubles tennis, it can be confusing who should take the volley when it’s up the middle. You don’t want to be a ball hog, and you don’t want to clash your rackets together. And you definitely DON’T want the ball to slip between the two of you for an easy winner!
So, in those awkward moments, how do you know when you should go for the ball or leave it for your partner? When should your partner expect you to go for or take the ball themselves?
The dilemma of deciding who should go for the ball happens often in doubles tennis, usually when both players are at the net. There is very little reaction time and even less recovery time at the net, and there are no second chances.
The tennis rule of thumb says that it belongs to the player closest to the ball or the one with the forehand shot. But is the answer really that simple? Sometimes.
Unless it’s a bullet, whoever is closer to the net at that point should go for the shot. Remember, the closer you are to the net, the better, more offensive volley you can hit. The ball will be higher, so you’ll be able to hit down on it and hit better angles. However, if it is a bullet, the person closest to the net might not have enough time to prepare to hit it. In that instance, their partner should be ready to take it.
That said, there are a few other scenarios that contradict that theory.
What if the partner on the deuce side has a killer sharply-angled backhand volley that is much better than their partner’s forehand volley? The opponents won’t expect that, so that partner definitely should take it.
And if one partner is stronger and more confident at the net than the other, she should take it. Stronger players have a better reaction time and can do more with the ball. They also need to realize that their weaker partners will probably let most balls go by them at the net. The stronger player should always be prepared to make her move when that happens.
I will never say this enough – COMMUNICATION BEFORE AND DURING A DOUBLES MATCH IS CRUCIAL – whether you are equal-strength partners or if one of you is stronger. The better you know your partner’s game (and vice versa), the better a doubles team you will make. Knowing when you or your partner should hit the ball will make your team more successful!
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue running along the sole of your foot (from the heel through the arch to the toes) becomes inflamed. It’s an extremely common (and extremely painful) condition that many tennis players experience. That’s why it’s so important that we stretch properly before and after we play, establish a fitness regimen to strengthen our muscles, and maintain a weight that our feet can support.
I have a lot of friends who’ve had plantar fasciitis, so when I first felt the pain, I knew right away that I had it too. The pain was the worst in the morning when I woke up. It literally felt like I had a rock embedded where my arch met my heel. Crap!
I hate going to the doctor for anything, so a friend let me borrow her walking boot to relieve some of the pressure when I was on my feet, but it was just a temporary solution, as the pain came right back once I took the boot off. I can’t play tennis like this – I can barely walk!
I finally gave in and went to a physician who specializes in sports injuries. She administered a cortisone shot and gave me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory. She also offered a recommendation to see both a podiatrist and a sports physical therapist. More doctors? Really??
Well, I blew off the podiatrist because I thought they would end up referring me to a PT anyway, but I did see a sports physical therapist. He determined that my problem didn’t begin in my foot, but in my legs, hips and core which weren’t strong enough to keep my body properly aligned for the rigorous up-and-back, side-to-side movements that playing tennis requires. So my therapy included not only working on my foot, but the rest of my body as well, strengthen my muscles to give me the support I need when I play.
My PT was preventing future injury, but I couldn’t figure out how to break up the stiff tissue in my foot and get back to square one, so I did what I should have done in the first place and booked an appointment to a podiatrist…and it was the best decision I could have made! He told me I was doing the right thing by seeing the PT, but for complete recovery, he said I needed a night splint.
Being the skeptic that I am, I didn’t believe that sleeping in a “foot prison” could possibly work, so I purchased the cheapest option with the best ratings I could find on Amazon: the Alpha Medical Brace ($26). It’s got three strips of velcro that I pulled as tightly as I could to keep my foot in the flexed position, pulling my toes back toward my shin. It took a few nights to get used to it, but then it actually felt fantastic to really stretch my arch, and it wasn’t long before I could get out of bed in the morning without the excruciating pain.
It took 6 months to completely heal (it would have been a lot sooner, but I hit the courts too soon and had to start all over again.) I’ve also purchased a few pairs of custom orthotics that I wear in all of my shoes. But I swear by this $26 Amazon boot — I know for a fact I wouldn’t have recovered so quickly without it.