A tennis serve that curves from right to left or left to right is call a slice serve. Although it may travel a little slower than flatter serves, it is very effective and can be harder to return because of its movement. Players who have mastered the slice serve have an advantage over their opponent. They can pull their opponent wide, opening up the court for a point-ending shot. To learn the slice serve, practice the key components. These include the grip, stance, ball toss and contact point.
For your serve to curve, you must make the ball spin by using the correct grip. Tennis professional Nick Bollettieri recommends using the Continental grip. This grip is sometimes referred to as a chopper or hammer grip because you hold the racket as if you were going to chop wood or hammer in a nail. A more precise way to find the Continental grip is to hold your racket so that the strings are perpendicular to the court and study the end of the handle. Notice that there are eight sides; these are referred to as bevels. Think of the top bevel as No. 1, the next bevel to the right No. 2 and so forth around to bevel No. 8. If you are right-handed, place the base knuckle of your index finger on bevel No. 2 and the heel pad of your hand between bevels No. 1 and 2. Left-handed players use bevel No. 8, with the heel pad between bevels No. 1 and 8.
The basic serve stance is you standing behind the base line with your body positioned diagonally to the net. If you are right-handed, envision an imaginary line drawn from the right net post back to where you are standing. Use this line as a reference and position your toes on the line. For left-handed players, envision the line drawn from the left net post.
The success of a slice serve, or any serve, is directly related to the ball toss. For a slice serve, the toss should be slightly in front of your body and to the right of your front foot. Envision a clock face as a reference and toss the ball at 2 o'clock. Left-handed players toss the ball to the left of their front foot at 10 o'clock. The height of the toss varies from player to player and depends on the rhythm and speed of the serve motion. Experiment with the toss until you find the right height to allow you to maintain a continuous swing with no hitches.
Where you contact the ball determines the type of spin you impart to the ball. Tennis professional Ron Waite recommends using the clock face as a reference when learning the different spins. For a slice serve, the hitting surface of your racket must contact the ball at the center part of the ball and then brush across the 3 o'clock side of the ball. Think of the strings of your racket as a peeler and peel off the left side of the ball as you hit it. Left-handed players peel the 9 o'clock side of the ball.