Wonder Why… Serve, And Volley Went Out Of Fashion in Tennis


STARNBERG, November 25, 2020

Veteran tennis fans will tell you that they miss the serve-and-volley style of play. Fans and punters on the BetMGM app remain entertained by the impressive rallies and brilliant baseline games by the best tennis players. However, many still miss the serve-and-volley playing style.   

So, what happened?

The All England Club, organizers of Wimbledon Championships, introduced new measures to maintain their legendary grass courts. In the new measures, the grass would still be cut at 8mm height; however, they introduced a new grass composition to enhance the surface’s durability. The initial composition was 70% ryegrass and 30% creeping red fescue. But, the new surface was made of 100% ryegrass. 

The real effects of these new measures were felt in the 2002 event when two baseliners Lleyton Hewitt and David Nalbandian, reached the men’s singles finals. This was the first time such a thing had happened since 1978. And, as you’ll learn in this article, it wasn’t by accident.

It was evident that removing the 30% creeping red fescue grass had taken away the speed from the Wimbledon court surface. Neither of the finalists had a powerful serve; therefore, their strength was groundstrokes. Since the surface had no zip on the surface, the classic serve-and-volley was no longer used as the game was decided from the baseline. The final between Hewitt and Nabaldian marked the end of the serve-and-volley era. 

The courts became slower

There are three major types of court surfaces used in tennis: grass, which is regarded as the fastest, hard courts, and clay surfaces that are considered to be the slowest. However, when Wimbledon introduced measures that reduced the courts’ speed, organizers of hard court events followed suit. 

According to tennis experts, slower courts give room to a player to get to the ball in time to make a return. This delays a rally forcing players to stay back at the baseline instead of moving up to the net. This happens when a player is serving or receiving, leading to longer points. 

Heavier balls were introduced

Another significant change organizers made to the game was the introduction of heavier balls. As a result, players have to generate more power for their drive to be sufficient. Heavier balls could not shoot through the grass because of the heaviness. The introduction of heavier balls also served as a deterrent to the serve-and-play style. 

Racquets and strings

The introduction of a new type of string and racquet frames also led to the decline of the serve-and-volley playing style. The new racquet design allows all players to generate more spin. According to some former players, currently, the ball does much more than it did in the past. Other tennis experts argue that the new racquets and strings are more powerful and favorable to the returner. 

Could the volley return?

Some next-generation stars seem to favor the serve-and-volley playing style. Denis Shapovalov and Stefanos Tsitsipas have been seen rushing to the net instinctively to finish off points. If one of these budding stars wins the grand slam and makes it to the top of the world, then they’ll make serve-and-volley trendy again.