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By the Numbers: Serves and Returns

Author: Andrew Gilman | July 11, 2023

Every game starts here. The pros in top-level doubles don’t take many chances with serves and returns and tend to perform these two shots with the highest level of consistency. So much so, that their rallies seem to start with the third or fourth shot.  Do the numbers back up this general observation? You bet.

We dug into the stats from the three championship doubles matches (men’s, women’s, mixed), in the first six PPA events of 2023…18 matches total. There were 2,436 serves…a large sample size. The results were very similar across all three divisions of doubles.

Serves: Out of 2,436 serves, the pros missed 16. That’s less than one out of one hundred. In an active streak of men’s Championship matches, they hit 690 consecutive serves without a miss… all under Championship conditions with TV coverage and a packed crowd of fans watching. 

Returns: The pros missed 58 returns out of 2,420 — just 2.4% — an incredibly small number.

Here’s a breakdown, which shows how consistent the pros are across these three events:

Men’s Doubles:

Serves: 99.86%

Returns: 96.7%

Serves & Returns: 98.3%

Women’s Doubles:

Serves: 99.75%

Returns: 98.87%

Serves & Returns: 99.3%

Mixed Doubles:

Serves: 98.5%

Returns: 97.2%

Serves & Returns: 97.8%

Overall:

Serves: 99.3%

Returns: 97.6%

Serves & Returns: 98.5%

All this emphasizes with certainty that the pros keep their serves and returns fundamentally sound and choose to take their risks during other shots — even during a time in the sport where the serve has become more of a weapon. Aspiring pros out there would do well to follow this example and tighten up errors during these two shots.

Stats courtesy of Jim Ramsey.

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