Hey guys, I played against an older opponent yesterday in a singles match and he had very unusual serve. I believe it's called the, "Drive Serve". I've never really seen it used in this way and never really thought that it would be hard to stop. Well...I was wrong! It worked really well against me and it definitely contributed to me losing the match. I'm not saying I lost the match only because of the drive serve, but it was one of the main reason I believe for the losing...Anyways, what is the best way to combat a "drive serve" in singles, that comes right at you, fast and very low to the net. Keep in mind, that my opponent was standing further back than usual in singles to create that 'drive' angle. I have to play him again soon, and would like some ideas on a better way to handle this serve. (score was 21-19,21-9..second game I was way too tired to play... I had play a lot of singles prior to this match) Thanks!
Hey, I don't know about killing the shot. It's so low and fast that I'm not sure I can kill it. I was thinking about just clearing to the backhand side.. What do you think? It's usually played to my forehand side...
you should pay more attention to practicing fast flat exchanges when training. it will really help.
my opponents sometimes use this fast drive serve both in singles and in doubles. the easiest way is to block it, furthermore, if you say he's standing far from the net, it will make enormous amount of trouble getting to the shuttle, especially if you manage to block it a little to the side. And if you have a fast wrist and fast reaction you can certainly drive it back to him and again you will have an upper hand, because he is serving from below the net and the shuttle is travelling upwards, whereas you will be driving back and the shuttle will be travelling downwards. Again, it's all about practice.
There's a reason why pros dont use it in singles or doubles games - you can dig your own grave with this serve against a worthy opponent.
I don't like flat play in singles either, I prefer to just block it to the net. It should give you a slight advantage in the rally if you block well. But it requires good position and a ready racket. As some people say, you might need to back off a bit to give yourself more time to return well, and get lower so that the trajectory doesn't get uncomfortable.
a more aggressive reply: either block/drop it back or flat drive back. This would be a setup shot for your next shot depending how he replies.
a more defensive reply: very high/deep clear. This is best if you were caught by surprise and is behind on the play, but a very high/deep clear is very doable b/c the drive serve has a fast momentum and if you practice and get the angle right you can make a very good defensive clear to the backcourt.
One thing no one has asked and I'm curious is what is it that you are doing with the serve RIGHT NOW that's giving you problems? are you make a weak return and letting him kill it right away? are you making unforced errors when returning the serve? is it just going over your head and you're forced to hit behind? are you just too anxious trying to kill it straightout?
edit: if you were tired b/c you've play a lot of matches prior, it could just be that you were too anxious to win the point or to be aggressive so you made more mistakes. I'm sure if you had the energy and just took more patience with the return you'd been ok.
sometimes it just takes a little repositioning on the court, and sometimes it's just about being more patient and using your return as a setup shot to gain advantage.
Agree with LD rules! Drive serves can only be performed without service fault when the server stand quite far behind the service line. You should also be standing quite far behind because even if he gives u a short serve u still have enough time to move forward quickly to retrieve it.
Again, most probably most of his serves are ILLEGAL (ie too high). Check n make sure that is not the case.
Not sure if i can add to the excellent suggestions that've been made, but my best success rate comes from staying prepared with a steady racket, and advance. As pointed out, stay half a foot behind if you have to, so you can have the space to lunge forward - it usually forces them to make an error (mis-hit or hit it out). If he's the kind to stick to a pattern, or repeats it during certain times in a game (when he's losing or depending on your receiving position or always from left court etc) figure out where he aims usually, simulate it and get your racket head ready to intercept...most of the time, he may not be expecting a sudden reply to his drive service as he expects it to catch you off-guard (that could be a reason he may have fallen slave to that bad habit, ahem )
In short: Unless you're a very wristy player and can attempt shots at the last millisecond, I'd recommed practicing aggresive netshot or drop it close to the net, away from his serving side, closer to you, and see if that does the trick. ps: first option may blow in your face if he realizes you're going to come forward and flick a high serve - you won't have time to counter your direction or correct your bat's angle (made a fool of myself so many times in front of crowds..rather embarrassing, but good entertainment to the supporters lol!).