Serving Thoughts by Roscoe Tanner

Updated: Jul 25, 2020


Roscoe Tanner is an Australian Open Champion, former World #4, NCAA Doubles Champion, and one of the greatest servers in history. Twenty years prior to Andy Roddick's record breaking serves, Roscoe Tanner was serving 150+ mph using a wooden racquet. Here are some thoughts he shared with us on the topic of serving.

I have been taught so much by the best coaches in the history of tennis. Starting with Jerry Evert, then Dick Gould, followed by Pancho Gonzalez and Dennis Ralston. Playing doubles with Arthur Ashe and getting tips all through my career from the best in the game. I am a compilation of all that.

The overriding theme for me is simplicity. Each of those coaches and champions taught me to reduce the game to simple concepts. Your mind must be clear and focused on what you need to do. On the serve it all begins with the toss. It is not simply throwing the ball up. It is placing the ball at the exact spot where you intend to hit it- the point of contact. Once you are consistent at that you can begin to serve with more confidence and think of spins and placement.

The toss placement location is found by throwing a ball. If you put a racquet in your hand at the exact spot where you release the ball and go to the racquet face then you have located the start for your toss. When you serve if the ball goes long then move the toss slightly forward. If it goes in the net then move the toss slightly back. Not much. This takes practice and time. Once you have perfected this you can move on to strategy of serving and controlling the the point.

Remember when serving you get two. You can miss your first serve and get another. If your second serve is good then your first serve is a free shot. Use the serve. It can be a weapon and should be at all levels.


- Roscoe Tanner


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