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As we all know, America is a nation of sports enthusiasts. Most Americans participate is some kind of sporting event, either as a spectator or as a competitor. In the pantheon of great American sports, there is one that stands out. It has been called the great American pastime. Yes, that great sport known as tennis. Tennis requires a mastery of many skills to be able to play competitively, but the primary skill needed to win in tennis is the serve. The serve is the primary offensive weapon used I tennis, because it is the only time when a player gets to put a ball into play. The player controls the speed, the placement, and the spin of the ball. With proper procedure, the serve can win many points and games for the server. The technique I will demonstrate is used by most professional tennis players, with only slight variations due to personal style.

First, the server should stand with his or her left shoulder toward the net, placing the left foot in front of the right foot. The server should hold the racket in his or her right hand, holding the right arm straight toward the ground. The racket hand should point in the direction of the net. The server should hold the ball in his or her left hand, touching the ball to the racket face.

The actual serve motion requires timing and speed. The server should toss the ball straight up into the air by fully extending his or her left arm. He or she should leave the left arm fully extended to help sight the ball as it ascends. While the ball is in the air, the server should rotate the racket head so that it points away from the net, and then bring it straight up so that the frame almost touches the right shoulder blade. Meanwhile, the server should shift his or her weight to the right leg. Then, as the ball reaches the height of its ascent, the server should jump up while fully extending his or her right arm toward the ball and slightly twisting his or her right wrist to bring the racket face into contact with the ball. Then he or she should continue the forward motion of the racket by following through the stroke, bringing the racket across the body so that it points toward the ground at the server s left side.

These directions are for a right-handed player. A left-handed player would use the same technique, but for each direction concerning the right side of the body, he or she should use the left side. To truly master the serve technique, practice is a must. The timing and speed needed to move the racket into position to strike do not come naturally. However, the time spent practicing the serve will pay dividends in points and games won.

So keep practicing, and the next time Pete Sampras issues a challenge, serve him up a little something the he will not be able to eat for breakfast.

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