| By Steve Annacone
Photo Credit: Simon Bruty/USTA


Statistics are becoming a big part of coaching tennis players. First serve percentage, points won on first serve or second serve, and percentage of return of serves in play are often compared when analyzing a match. There are still crucial points in a match which may influence the outcome. However, the success a player has serving and returning serve will have the most impact.

I cannot remember a match I have watched where a player served and returned serve better than their opponent, and lost. I have been watching the 2022 U.S. Open and this is still the case. I would dare to say that the only time serving and returning would not be the determining factor is if the players were exactly equal statistically (I can't even explain what that means) and the last two points of the match were started with a great serve and a great return, then a neutral situation, and one player won the points with their groundstrokes or by moving forward.

 It just doesn't happen like that.

The quality of the first shots that are hit tend to be the reason why the player hits the shot (or cannot hit the shot) that wins the point. Focus on the first shot (serve or return of serve) and execute it better than your opponent. If you can do this better than the player on the other side of the net over the course of the match, I am picking you to win.




Steve Annacone, USPTA Elite Pro, is the Director of Annacone Tennis, www.annaconetennis.com and MyHamptonsPro, www.myhamptonspro.com throughout the Hamptons, NY.  In addition, Steve and Miguel Coelho have introduced the JET (Junior Elite Tennis) program at the Tucson Jewish Community Center (Tucson, AZ) for high level players ages 8-18. Please contact Steve at info@annaconetennis.com