As I mentioned in a recent post, serving an ace is usually a matter of placement, rather than power. Having said that, the ace is often set up with a couple of powerful serves followed by a slower, more accurate serve.
This diagram shows the areas on the court where you are most likely to hit an ace.
The three across the back of the court are pretty obvious, and usually require a fairly fast serve, having said that, the closer you get to the line, the less speed you will need. The middle ball in particular often causes confusion, and is more often left with a hopeful “out” call, when both passers hesitate.
How to jump serve an ace under pressure. If I want to jump serve an ace, but also need the serve to go in, aiming at the cross court side of deep middle is my preferred option. It gives me a good length of court to work with, and allows some room for mishitting the ball left or right.
The three zones across the front of the court are where I hit 70% of my best serves. Not necessarily aces, but serves that cause my opponents problems. Notice the two arrows showing the cross court short serves. These serves need to be hit low across the net, with more spin and a little bit softer than your standard jump serve.
The reasons that I really like these two serves are that when you hit them just right, they are clean aces, and even if it’s not an ace, it is usually a very hard ball to pass well. Moving the passer forward and outwards, away from his or her partner.
So, getting back to the topic at hand: “How to jump serve an ace”
Here are a few ideas to try out next time you play a training match.
- Jump serve two or three good deep serves to the middle zone, then follow up with a short cross court serve. Try to make the cross court player pass the two middle balls, so that he gets used to stepping to the middle.
- Jump serve two or three high deep line serves then follow up with a short line serve. It is often hard to judge depth on a ball when it is coming straight at you. The line serve is harder to read because it is a shorter distance so the reaction time is less.
- Aim for a different area on court every time you jump serve, so that your opponent doesn’t get into a rythm. This might make them more likely to make an error
- Just keep bombing away at the deep middle as hard as you can