How do you return a tomahawk serve with heavy side spin and topspin?

Ask the coachCategory: Tactics & match-playHow do you return a tomahawk serve with heavy side spin and topspin?
Larry asked 11 months ago

The other night in my local league competition, my opponent had a tomahawk serve with what I now think was heavy side spin and topspin, where he was serving in the middle of the table to my forehand, not far from the centre line, deep on the table.

I am not used to seeing these types of serves and my pushes, which I thought I was aiming towards  the middle of the table, as I didn’t really know what spin was on the ball, were going well long off the middle of the table.

What are the options for returning this type of tomahawk serve?

1 Answers
Tom Lodziak Staff answered 11 months ago

This can be a tricky serve to return.  The reason your return went off the end of the table is because the serve had sidespin with topspin and you tried to push. This will make the ball go upwards and most probably off the end of the table. 
To return this serve, you could either block, drive, flick (if short) or topspin (if long). You need to treat it like any other topspin shot. Close your bat angle slightly and contact over the top of the ball. This will keep the ball lower over the net and help you keep your return on the table. If there is a lot of topspin on the serve, you may need to close your bat angle quite a lot to keep the return low over the net.
To deal with the sidespin, you will need to direct the ball against the sidespin, or just aim for the middle of the table.