You can return serves either cross court, down the line, short, or deep to the baseline. The type of return you hit should take into account the spin on the serve. Serves with topspin will bounce high. Serves that are flat tend to be low and will go into your body. Serves with slice will kick out at extreme angles or bounce straight up and die quickly.
To return a topspin serve you will need to be ready to hit a ball that will kick up high into the air after it bounces on the ground. Step in and return the shot early, right after it bounces off the ground. This way you'll eliminate the effects of their topspin.
To return a flat shot you can hit it with any spin. The ball will be low, so bend your knees and make sure to follow through.
Returning a slice serve can be tricky. It is critical that your feet are ready to move in any direction in a split second. Slice shots can sometimes bounce in funny angles or barely bounce off the ground. Try hitting a topspin return. Topspin allows you extra time to get back to ready position.
So far we have only considered what a spinning ball will do once it touches the ground.
However, balls with a significant amount of spin will be doing things through the air even before they reach the ground. This is due to the infamous 'magnus effect'. I won't go into the mechanics here.
For instance, with servers like John Newcombe, or modern servers who step up to the serve and come around the ball, the ball will carry a great amount of sidespin that will swing through the air away from a right-handed player receiving a right-hander's serve into his deuce court if served wide to the receiver's forehand side. If this style is used when serving down the 'T', or to the receiver's backhand side, it will tend to cut back into the receiver's body.
A kick serve becomes less effective when the returner can predict when it is coming. Because of the greater spin, a kick serve travels less slowly. If the returner can position himself to strike the ball before the kick takes effect, he can punish the return severely. Many servers use the kick serve as their second serve; however, they must still occasionally throw in a slice second serve to prevent returners from getting grooved on their returns.
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