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The Serve in Professional Men's Tennis: Effects of Players' Handedness

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Abstract:

The serve is one of the most important strokes in tennis and has often been the subject of sport scientific investigation. Left-handed players are said to have an advantage in tennis, especially when serving against a right-handed player to the advantage court. We investigated the serving strategies of male left- and righthanded professional tennis players whose serves (N= 4744) were recorded by the automated ball tracking Hawk-Eye system at international tournaments. Right- and left-handed serves differed significantly regarding the ball distribution in the opponent's service box at both first and second serves as well as regarding the angle of lateral ball flight. As a consequence, players have to take into account different probabilities regarding the direction of serve when awaiting right- vs. lefthanded serves. At the same time, they also need to adjust their return stroke due to the different spin imposed on balls served right- vs. left-handed. Furthermore, analyses also revealed that the left-handers' serve is not simply mirrored to that of right-handers but still significantly different. In light of the reduced familiarity with the left-hander's style of play, the findings suggest that for the serve in tennis tactical and technical aspects may promote the left-handers' advantage.

Keywords: BALL; HAWK-EYE; LATERALITY; NOTATIONAL ANALYSIS; STRATEGIC ADVANTAGE; TRACKING

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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uwic/ujpa/2009/00000009/00000002/art00012
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