The world of tennis is filled with various strategies and techniques that players employ to gain an edge over their opponents. One such technique that often sparks curiosity and debate is the underarm serve. While traditional serves in tennis involve powerful overhead shots, the underarm serve takes a different approach, delivering the ball with a lower trajectory. The question arises: are underarm serves allowed in tennis? 

In this blog, we will explore the rules, history, controversies, and player perspectives surrounding underarm serves in tennis, shedding light on this intriguing aspect of the game. Whether you’re a tennis enthusiast or simply curious about the intricacies of the sport, join us as we dive into the world of underarm serves and discover their place in the dynamic realm of tennis.

Understanding Underarm Serves

Underarm serves in tennis refer to a technique where the server hits the ball with an underarm motion, delivering it from below the waist instead of the traditional overhead motion. This type of serve can catch opponents off guard and disrupt their rhythm, as it offers a different trajectory and pace compared to the more commonly used overhead serve. Underarm serves have a long history in tennis and have been utilized by players at various levels of the game.

While underarm serves are not as prevalent as their overhead counterparts, they can be effective in certain situations. Players may choose to employ underarm serves to add variety to their game, surprise their opponents, or exploit weaknesses in their opponents’ positioning or movement. Underarm serves can also be used tactically to change the pace of the match or to handle specific court conditions, such as windy conditions or uneven bounce.

It is important to note that underarm serves must still adhere to the rules and regulations set by the governing bodies of tennis, such as the International Tennis Federation (ITF) or individual tournament organizers. These rules outline the height of the serve, the service box that must be targeted, and other specifications to ensure fairness and consistency in the game.

While underarm serves are a legal and valid technique in tennis, they are not without controversy. Some players and fans view underarm serves as unsportsmanlike or disrespectful, while others see them as a clever and strategic tactic within the rules of the game. The perception of underarm serves varies among different individuals and can lead to spirited discussions and debates within the tennis community.

In the next sections, we will explore the rules surrounding underarm serves, examine notable instances of their usage, and delve into the perspectives of players and experts in the tennis world. Join us as we unravel the intricacies of underarm serves and gain a deeper understanding of their place in the sport of tennis.

Tennis Rules and Regulations

The rules and regulations governing tennis, including the use of underarm serves, are established by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) and individual tournament organizers. These rules ensure fair play and maintain consistency across matches and tournaments. When it comes to underarm serves, there are specific guidelines that players must follow to ensure their serves are valid.

According to the ITF rules, the serve in tennis must comply with several requirements. The server must stand behind the baseline and within the boundaries of the singles or doubles court. The serve must be delivered diagonally into the opponent’s service box, and the ball must not touch the net or the net posts during the serve.

Regarding underarm serves, the ITF rules do not prohibit their use. As long as the underarm serve complies with the aforementioned requirements, it is considered a valid serve. However, it is crucial to note that underarm serves must still adhere to the general rules, such as the correct positioning, service box targeting, and ball height.

While underarm serves are within the rules, players should be aware of their opponents’ positioning and reactions. Using underarm serves strategically can catch opponents off guard, but players should also be prepared for various responses, including aggressive returns or adjusted positioning to counter the underarm serve.

It is worth mentioning that different tournaments and players may have varying opinions about the acceptability and sportsmanship of underarm serves. Some players view underarm serves as a legitimate tactic, while others may perceive them as disrespectful or unsportsmanlike. The interpretation of the rules and the acceptance of underarm serves can differ among players, officials, and fans.

As the game of tennis evolves, so too does the utilization of different serving techniques. Underarm serves, although less common than overhead serves, provide an alternative approach to serving in specific situations. By understanding the rules and regulations surrounding underarm serves, players can make informed decisions about when and how to incorporate this technique into their game.

In the following sections, we will explore notable instances of underarm serves in professional tennis, discuss the advantages and disadvantages of using this technique, and examine the perspectives of players and experts on underarm serving. Let’s delve deeper into the world of underarm serves and uncover their impact on the sport of tennis.

Notable Instances of Underarm Serves in Professional Tennis

Throughout the history of professional tennis, there have been notable instances where players have utilized underarm serves to great effect. One memorable example occurred during the 2019 Miami Open when Australian player Nick Kyrgios surprised his opponent, Dusan Lajovic, with a well-executed underarm serve. Kyrgios’ underarm serve caught Lajovic off guard, resulting in an unforced error and securing Kyrgios the point.

Another notable underarm serve moment took place at the 2020 US Open when American player Taylor Townsend employed an underarm serve against Alize Cornet. Townsend’s strategic use of the underarm serve showcased her ability to vary her tactics and disrupt her opponent’s rhythm.

Perspectives on Underarm Serves

The use of underarm serves in tennis has sparked debates and divided opinions among players, experts, and fans. Some argue that underarm serves are a valid and effective strategy within the rules of the game. They emphasize that players should use all available tactics to gain an advantage and keep their opponents guessing.

On the other hand, critics of underarm serves claim that they go against the tradition and spirit of the game. They argue that tennis should uphold a certain level of sportsmanship and that underarm serves may be seen as unsporting or disrespectful.

Ultimately, the acceptability of underarm serves largely depends on the context and the individual perspectives of players and spectators. While the rules permit underarm serves, players should consider the spirit of fair play and respect for their opponents when deciding to employ this technique.


Underarm serves have become a topic of interest and discussion in the world of tennis. While not as commonly used as overhead serves, they offer players an alternative strategy to disrupt their opponents’ expectations and gain a competitive edge. The rules of tennis do not prohibit underarm serves, but players must ensure that their serves meet the requirements for a valid serve.

As the game of tennis continues to evolve, so too do the tactics and techniques employed by players. Underarm serves add an element of surprise and strategic variation to matches, showcasing the versatility and creativity of tennis players. Ultimately, the decision to use underarm serves rests with the players, taking into account their game style, opponents, and the specific context of the match.

In this blog, we have explored the concept of underarm serves, the rules surrounding their use, notable instances of their implementation, and the divergent perspectives on their acceptability. By understanding the nuances and considerations associated with underarm serves, players can make informed decisions about incorporating this technique into their game.