For people who have played tennis for a long time, they will be very aware of what an ace is but if you are just starting out in the game, a lot of the tennis jargon might baffle you for a while. Even if you have heard the term ‘ace’ when watching matches on TV and have a basic concept of it, you do not necessarily understand all of the rules concerned with scoring an ace. For example, whether the ball hitting the line is counted as in or out or what happens if the ball clips the top of the net before scoring what would otherwise be classed as an ace.
In this article we look at the basics of how an ace is scored and the different rules that come into play.
In very basic terms, an ace is when a player serves the ball into the correct area of the opponent’s court (service area) and their opponent is unable to touch the ball. It is the quickest way to score points in tennis and is a very important part of the game of tennis. Many pros spend a huge proportion of their training time dedicated to perfecting their serve in order to achieve high numbers of aces, knowing that it is the best way to pick up points. For many, a powerful, fast serve is the secret to scoring high numbers of aces but in some cases, being able to serve to a player’s weaker side can also help to score aces. The surface of a court can also increase the likelihood of serving aces, with faster surfaces allowing for more of them due to the faster pace of the ball.
In tennis there are two service areas on each side of the court. When a player is serving they must stand behind the service line and hit the ball diagonally into the opponent’s service box. So if you are starting on the right, you will be serving to the left-sided service area on the other side of the court (your opponent’s right side). The ball must be played within the box, so not going into the doubles sideline or the back area of the court. If the ball lands on the line then it is counted as being in. In professional games you have a lot of players questioning the umpire whether a ball is in or out because the serve can be so fast, so technology in the form of Hawkeye has been introduced for major tournaments to make crucial decisions.
If the ball hits the net on the serve and bounces over the net into the service area then this is called a let. The player is then allowed to have another try, so if it is their first serve, they have a let and are allowed to serve again before they move onto the second serve.
As we mentioned earlier, getting power behind the ball to play a fast serve is usually essential. Of course, at amateur levels the ability of your opponent will also have a big impact on your own ability to score aces. The better your opponent is, the harder it is to score an ace.
Using the court space to your advantage will help to score an ace. For example, hitting it right into the back corner of the service box will mean that your opponent will need to move further to reach the ball. You can see where your opponent is lining up to receive your serve in order to decide which side will be harder for them to return the ball. If you are aware of weaknesses such as their backhand then it is a good tactic to play it to their backhand to increase the chances of them not being able to return the ball.
You can practice hitting aces without needing an opponent to train with, as you are simply aiming the ball at the part of the service area that is most likely to score aces i.e. the back corner.