Underhand Serve:

Is it allowed?

January 16, 2018
underhand tennis serve

Have you ever had a dispute with a fellow player over a call on the court that you couldn’t settle? Maybe you’re just curious about how some scenarios, from the common to the ridiculous, are resolved.


Question:  In the middle of my match, I hurt my shoulder and the normal serving motion really hurt. I didn’t want to retire so I started serving underhand. My opponent said serving underhand isn’t allowed.  I disagreed. Who is correct? 


Answer: Great thinking! We should call you Michael Chang. He famously won the 1989 French Open after defeating Ivan Lendl in a five-set battle using an underhand serve. Although unconventional, the rules allow for underhand serving in tennis. As long as the ball is hit with the racquet prior to hitting the ground, it doesn’t matter if it was released in an upward or downward motion. 



This rule can be found in the Friend at Court under the ITF Rules of Tennis #16 The Service.  




For the "Friend at Court" handbook and more information on the rules of tennis, visit the rules and regulations homepage.


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