What is an ace in tennis?

What is an ace in tennis?
  • A tennis ace is when a legal serve squeezes past the opponent without them touching the ball.
  • Roger Federer is known for being the best spot and he does this by focusing on accuracy.
  • Hitting an ace in tennis doesn’t require amazing skills and unreal talent, but it is difficult, clearly.

   Your Guide

Gavin Davison   Gavin Davison

The serve is one of the most important parts of tennis. It’s the ONLY shot that you have 100% control over, and if you’re serving well, I usually find that the rest of the game follows.

Serving well also simplifies the game.

If you can keep the scoreboard ticking over by holding serve easily, it MOTIVATES you, yet deflates the opposition.

With this said, the best reward you can get when serving is to hit an ace. A serve is classed as an ace if it is hit and squeezes past the opponent without them even touching the ball. 

Now, there are many ways to do this, but you have to execute the serve perfectly to stand a chance of scoring an ace.

I’m not the tallest guy in the world, nor do I have an ENORMOUS serve, but I do know how to effectively hit an ace. 

How to hit an ace – my top tips

To AVOID painting a picture that hitting an ace is a walk in the park, I’d like to say that this isn’t the case.

It is possible, however, of course, and if you follow the tips provided here you might have a better time of things:

Pick your spots

By far and away, Roger Federer is the best ‘spot server’ there has ever been.

He isn’t the BIGGEST guy, and it’s fairly rare that he manages to get his serve North of the 130mph mark.

So how is it that he hits so many aces when he plays?

Well, the answer is ACCURACY.

He is able to find the corners of the box and the edges of the line with amazing regularity, and this is what gets him so many aces in a match.

This is also what allows him to hold serve so easily, for if the opponent manages to get the ball back, he then has an easy GROUNDSTROKE to take advantage of.

Analyze your opponent’s position

This isn’t so much of a factor at the very PINNACLE of the tennis game, but at the lower levels, this is absolutely a factor to think about.

Whether playing singles or doubles, most coaches will advise that you stand in the corner of the court where the singles line meets the baseline.

This avoids leaving too much space down the middle, or out wide.

But sometimes, you might find that your opponent starts to edge towards the middle or more towards the alley. This is done when they want to PROTECT their weaker side, which for many players, is their backhand side.

If you do notice this, there will be a bigger gap towards their stronger side, and if you can serve big or HIT your spot, it is very possible to grab an ace this way.

Contact the ball as high as possible

This is more of a technical element regarding hitting your best serve possible, but it is still relevant for hitting an ace.

If you’ve received coaching in the past, you will know that you are supposed to MAKE CONTACT with the ball with your arm fully extended.

But while most coaches will emphasize this, they won’t tell you why.

And I always like to add another tip to this, which is to TOSS THE BALL in front of you so that you can snap your wrist over the top of the ball.

But coming back to the high contact point now, basically, the higher you hit the ball the more downward motion you can put on it.

This will increase your power on the serve, and speed in itself can lead to plenty of aces – just ask John Isner!

It’s always worth noting that you should really try to DRIVE your legs upwards to the ball, which adds a few inches to the contact point. 

Add some spin to your serve

If you hit a flat serve, sure, this is going to be the FAST POSSIBLE serve you can hit, but it’s not always the most effective.

If you can get the ball moving in the air and get plenty of reaction from the court when the ball lands, this will make things pretty tough for your opponent.

I like to always add a bit of slice to my serves unless I’m trying to really hit it as hard as possible up the middle of the box.

Slicing the ball also makes it SKID through the court, which makes it difficult to time the ball for the returner.

Players to emulate

I couldn’t finish this piece without giving you some homework!

Now, there’s a fair chance that most of you reading this aren’t pushing 7ft tall, so I won’t be talking about Isner or Opelka here.

Instead, I’ll be talking about guys who TRULY MAXIMIZE their serving potential, and you can follow their examples to add to your own serve.

Roger Federer

Come on, I had to include the GREAT man!

Federer has one of the smoothest serving motions you are likely to see in your lifetime.

As soon as he releases the ball, he bends his legs into the court, getting a great DYNAMIC position, and he always makes contact with the ball well in front of his wrist.

Check out his serve in the video below:

Dominic Thiem

Speaking of people who MAXIMIZE their game, Thiem is the perfect example.

The exertion this man puts into every shot is remarkable, and of course, this includes his serve.

What I love about Thiem’s serve, however, isn’t necessarily the technique – it’s the MOVEMENT he gets on the ball.

This is especially true with his second serve, which he kicks into the box and gets plenty of response from the court.

Felix Auger-Aliassime

Auger-Aliassime is a rising star, there is no doubt about it.

This was proven in his recent run to the US Open semi-final, and his serve is one of the key shots that helped him get to that position.

He uses his legs to great effect, adds slice and topspin to the ball to mix things up, and his weight transition is borderline perfect. 

Now that you know what an ace is, what BENEFITS hitting aces can have, and how you can boost your chances of hitting one…

…I feel you are ready to get back on the court and put what you have learned here to good use. 

Do let us know if any of the tips and advice given here helps, and I’d love to hear your individual stories in the comments. 

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