Serves are the fastest kind of stroke in tennis. It is way more common for players to win their service games than to lose them. This is because serves are such a powerful strike that, if hit well, it puts the serving player in a dominating position in the point.
An ace in tennis is when a legal service is hit inside the opposite service box, and the receiving player is unable to touch the ball.
If the player on the receiving end manages to touch the ball, even if by a little bit, it is no longer called an ace – but a winning serve.
Aces in tennis have been becoming more common as racquet technology evolves, allowing for faster serves, and the ever-increasing time spent by professional players training this kind of stroke.
An ace happens when a tennis player hits a serve from behind the baseline, the ball touches the opposite serve box, and the receiving player cannot touch the ball before it hits the court for the second time.
While the origin of the word “ace” to define a legal serve that the receiver could not touch before hitting the court twice is unclear, it is commonly believed that its origin has to do with playing cards.
The most valuable playing card is an ace; in most card games, you win the point when the ace is played.
The same happens in tennis – you win the point if you manage to get an ace.
Another plausible explanation came from the Middle English, Latin, and Old French languages, where an “ace” meant one unit and defined the “one” on playing dice.
While you are here, you might also want to find out the meaning of the word love in tennis.
Hitting an ace gives one point – the same as winning the point any other way – by forcing an opponent error or out-hitting your opponent from the baseline, for example.
The occurrence of aces depends on the serving player’s ability to serve and the receiving player’s ability to return the serve.
Some players have an incredible serving game, whether by their ability to position the ball on the opposite service box, the effect they apply to the ball, or by sheer pure force and serve speed they manage to apply.
On the flip side, some players specialize in returning serves – it is not uncommon for players to hit winners on fantastically hit serves.
Ultimately, it all boils down to psychology, mental game, and execution ability. If the receiving player thinks you’ll hit the ball near the center of the court, he will position himself there to be in better conditions to return the serve. In this situation, if you hit your serve to the side of the box, the probability of a serve increases. The opposite is also true.
If you consistently hit serves at high speeds, the receiving player will position himself further from the baseline to have more time to prepare his return shot. In this situation, if you suddenly decide to hit a short serve, it will be hard for the returning player to touch the ball.
To hit aces consistently, practice different types of serves, speeds, effects, and ball positionings, so you can hit them with mastery and outsmart your opponent!
There are two conditions that, if met, make the occurrence of aces more probable – the serving player is tall, and the game is being played on hard courts.
The taller the serving player is, the more they can hit the ball at a downwards angle – generating more speed on their serves. The faster the ball is hit, the less time the receiving player has to prepare their shot, and the probability of an ace increases.
When a match is played on hard courts, the game tends to be played at a faster pace.
This happens because hard courts don’t slow down the ball’s speed as much as grass or clay courts when it touches the court. The same logic from before applies here – if the ball travels at higher speeds, the opponent will have less time to prepare and execute his return shot, increasing the probability of an ace.
There is a cheeky way to hit an ace that your opponent won’t be expecting for sure: an underarm serve. The receiving player will typically be further from the baseline, expecting a fast serve – instead, try serving with a forehand for the ball to hit near the net.
As of 17 October 2022, John Isner holds the record for the most aces ever in professional tennis, with 13960 aces in 747 matches.
Iconic tennis legened Roger Federer takes the third place in this list.
Below you can find the top 10.
The record for the most consecutive aces goes to Sam Querrey – managing to hit 10 aces in a row against James Blake at the 2007 edition of the Indiana Tennis Championships.
Again, the record for the most aces in a single tennis match goes to the tennis legend John Isner.
He managed to ace 113 times against Nicolas Mahut.
The fastest ace ever recorded hit the astonishing speed of 263 Kph (163.4 Mph). It was hit by Sam Groth at the 2012 Busan Open Challenger Tennis Tournament. It is considered to be the fastest tennis shot ever.
However, this record is not recognized by the ATP.
The fastest ace recorded and approved by the ATP was hit by John Isner, at 253 Kph (257.2 Mph), at the 2016 David Cup.