Every week, Tennis Analytics dives deep into the data, bringing you a stat of the week to help you understand tennis better and become a little smarter.
April is conference month for college tennis. This month we have been taking a look at some brand new college data from a study by Warren Pretorius (Tennis Analytics) and Craig O’Shannessy (Brain Game Tennis). They’ve compiled this data and more in their online course A Million Points of College Tennis (coupon code “StatOfTheWeek” for 20% off).
Stat of the Week: 63%
We think that the more the merrier with first serves. It’s simply not the case.
Players who tend to make around the 70% mark hardly win a match. Making too many first serves means you are not really going for it enough and the ball is not “behaving” like a first serve. The “made” percentage looks impressive, but the win percentage doesn’t.
The opposite end of the spectrum is true as well.
If you don’t make enough of them, then your opponent is simply not having to deal with enough of them throughout the match. Here’s a nice, clean, general rule.
- Around five out of ten is not enough.
- Around seven out of ten is probably too much of a good thing.
- That leaves six out of ten, or in that vicinity, as the sweet spot as to what we want to put in, what we can put in, and what will best help us to win the match.
Let’s look at a comparison with the pro tour.
- 2019 US Open Men = 63%
- College Tennis Men = 63%
The best players in the world at the 2019 US Open made 63% of their first serves. Collegiate players battling on college campuses all over America made the same amount. College players may have holes in their games in other areas, but this is a fairly constant in the global tennis community. Sixty-three percent is right at the norm.
Would it be better to make 64% or 65%? Maybe it would, but players are dealing with a trade-off. Power and direction greatly contribute to the serve not coming back, and also to the serve not going in.
Match Winner vs Match Loser
Rarely will you see the match metrics between the match winner and the match loser so close. Coaches have preached “get your first serve in” for decades in the absence of real match data. Now we know an ideal range to put the first serve in play.
Next week we’ll look at these numbers for collegiate women.
Point of the Week
For more college data, check out A Million Points of College Tennis. On the serve alone, we dig much deeper into other areas:
- 1st Serve Points Won
- 1st Serves Deuce Court
- 1st Serves Ad Court
- 2nd Serve Points Won
- 2nd Serves Deuce Court
- 2nd Serves Ad Court
Use coupon code statoftheweek to get 20% off the course fee. Offer good until May 15th.
Photo of the Week
Key positions for Naomi Osaka’s return.