If you have spent any time watching or playing tennis, you have probably heard the term ‘ace’ thrown around. If you are wondering what exactly an ace is in the world of tennis, keep reading!
The Basic Definition
An ace is a legal serve not returned by the receiving opponent. Usually this occurs because they could not make contact with the ball.
The server is awarded a point and is one step closer to winning the game.
The serve must be legal to count as an ace. It must not touch the net (a let). The server may not cross the baseline or center hash mark before striking the ball (foot fault).
The receiving player must also make no contact with the ball using their racquet.
If the receiver touches the ball with their racket but fails to return it, the result would be a successful serve (forced error) and a point rather than an ace.
There are no extra points awarded for serving an ace. It is just a sign of a cleanly struck serve, but they are a source of pride with tennis enthusiasts and serving powerhouses alike.
Why is it Called an Ace?
While it is not entirely clear why an untouched, legal serve is known as an ace, the term has certainly stuck.
Most believe that these perfect serves are called aces as a reference to an ace in a deck of playing cards. It has also been suggested that the term ace could be linked to the name given to skillful fighter pilots during the First World War.
No matter where the term ace originated from, it has been adopted and embraced across the entire tennis world, and hitting an ace is almost always seen as a skillful achievement.
How Can You Hit an Ace?
As an ace is essentially just a perfectly placed serve, there are quite a few ways to serve one up.
You will need to serve the ball with precision. Adding in speed never hurts.
You may also want to try and put some spin on the ball. Spin makes it more difficult for your opponent to predict the tennis ball’s path after it bounces.
The key is outwitting your opponent so they cannot predict where the ball will land after you serve it.
You will also find that most players tend to hit an ace when making their first serve. Second serves are often more conservative. After all it’s the last chance to start the point without conceding it to a double fault.
As with any tennis-related skill, you can increase your chances acing your opponent by practicing.
The better you become at serving, the more likely it will be that your opponents will fail to make contact with the balls you serve. Even if you don’t ace them, free points are free points.
Work on serving drills regularly and focus on employing those skills, especially during practice matches.