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Service Return
By: Andrew S. Rosz

South Florida Professional Tennis Instruction
Hollywood, Florida
(954) 922-8040


  1. Not acknowledging the service advantage.
  2. Emphasizing offensiveness over consistency.
  3. Attempting an offensive return in a defensive situation.
  4. Making your offensive/defensive service return decision BEFORE your opponent has served the ball.
  5. Attempting a great offensive service return against a consistent groundstroker.
  6. Favoring either a forehand or backhand service return.
  7. Reacting too slowly on the return.
  8. An incorrect service return ready position.


  1. Acknowledge the service advantage.
  2. Make your final offensive/defensive decision AFTER your opponent has hit the serve.
  3. Emphasize consistency and depth (over power) on all service returns, especially on defensive service returns.
  4. As a general rule, use offensive returns against a serve and volley player and use defensive returns against a consistent groundstroke.
  5. Emphasize the basic defensive special emphasis techniques on all defensive service returns.
  6. Direct all defensive service returns to one of the three backcourt target points.
  7. Hit your defensive returns with only 60% power (neutral groundstroke pace).
  8. Watch the ball all the way to the strings (watch impact).
  9. Use an appropriate service return ready position.
  10. React quickly; early preparation using a two-step stroke.
  11. Use a short concise backswing.
  12. Maintain a firm wrist at impact.
  13. Turn TM2 sideways.
  14. Use efficient footwork.
  15. Use full strokes; follow-through completely.
  16. Hit the ball with an awareness of racket pitch at impact (open racket face at impact).
  17. Use low to high strokes.
  18. Recover quickly back to the ready position.


  • Offensive Service Returns... 2,8,12,13,17
  • Defensive Service Returns... 1,10,11,8,16,12


  1. The "Serve-Return" exercise. As a non-competitive exercise, one player serves for 30 minutes while the other player hits returns. If both players elect, play each point out. This is an excellent exercise for developing both offensive and defensive service returns.
  2. Ball machine exercise. Some ball machines have an attachment that will allow them to hit serves thus allowing you to practice your service returns. This is excellent for learning and practicing the many techniques of a proper service return.

Note: Each of the tennis tips outlined above are more fully discussed in a series of expertly-written tennis instruction training manuals and book publications for players who prefer to be "self-taught."  For more information on our world-renowned SFPTI tennis instruction training manuals and book publications CLICK HERE.


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