Every new point with tennis always starts with a serve. The person who is serving stands behind the right (or left) side on their end of the court, behind the last white line (the baseline). This signifies that they’re standing outside the court. One can stand to the far right on the edge of the court or almost in the center. Players often find it helpful to change position depending on where they are aiming. After each serving (up to two serves), you change from the right to the left side (or visa-versa) to serve as the next point.
The idea with the serve is to strike the tennis ball and send it over the net and into the box on the diagonally opposite side of the court to where you are standing. Once this is achieved with frequency, you will start to improve your serves by targeting corners of the box to make it harder for your opponent to return the server (by hitting it back over the net inside the court). While striking the tennis ball cleaning is, of course, important, the central focus is directed towards accuracy. Advanced tactics include hitting to the weaker side of your opponent (perhaps their backhand is not as strong as their forehand). Don’t be afraid to mix it up too, so that your servers are not predictable.
When you’re up for serving, you only get two serves on one side of the court to get the ball into the opposite box just over the net. Hitting the net is acceptable as long as the ball lands in the correct box. The first serve tends to be one that’s struck hard and aggressively. There is a greater risk of missing the box or hitting the net this way, but it leads to the best results.
With the second serve, failing to hit the ball correctly and landing it into the correct box on the other side of the net leads to losing a point in the current set. Because of this, you should be more cautious with your serve to ensure it reaches its intended target. Players typically aim more for the center of the box (to account for error) and strike the ball less hard (to reduce miss-strikes) with second serves.
Which Area to Target?
The serving box is divided into three main sections. These are known as straight through the middle, wide and the main body. Serves aimed out wide target the near edge of the court and risk being ruled out of court, but get the opponent having to stretch to reach the ball. Alternatively, with the middle area, aim as close to center as possible. Lastly, the middle is where one should aim at a second serve when leveling or down on points in a set. You would be smart to vary your serving to keep your opponent constantly guessing what you’ll do next.
A deliberate short serve is one that barely gets over the net and bounces at the front of the box. For opponents waiting at their baseline, they then have a long way to run to reach the ball before it bounces a second time and they’ve lost the point. This type of serve usually leads to extended rallies at the net which is exciting.