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As a tennis player and fan myself, this has always been a question that I have wondered about. I know that an ace is when a serve that is in the box goes through untouched. Is a service winner a serve that is hit but not returned, or is it something I have just made up?

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You are right. A service winner is a serve that the receiver hits without making a legal return.

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The serve, called an ace if the opponent cannot get his racket on the ball and a service winner if the opponent reaches it but cannot play it back to opponent's court. In both situations we are talking about the case when the serve goes to the service box of course

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If the receiver does not return the ball in play, it can be classified as one of the following: Unforced Error: The serve was not fast and the returner tried to hit a winner but the ball was not in play. One typical scenario is when the receiver clearly tries for a forehand while the serve was directed to the backhand. Forced Error: The serve had enough pace to make the return difficult, the return was somewhat controlled but still went out or into the net. Service Winner: The receiver touched the ball, but he/she had no control whatsoever. The ball went to the stands or hit the ground from the receiver's racket.

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