I’m standing—sweating, squinting, panting—at the opposite end of a court from 21-year-old Ulises Blanch, one of the many elite athletes who train here at the USTA’s National Campus.
Blanch possesses a tremendous serve, yet it remains far from the most powerful.
The fastest serve ever recorded came in 2012, when Australian Sam Groth was measured walloping a ball at 163.7 mph.
The fastest serve recognized by the ATP was delivered at 2016’s Davis Cup by American John Isner, at a speed of 157 mph.
“There are three big factors in optimizing for speed,” says physiologist Steve Kovacs, an expert in serve mechanics.
“Technique, technology, and height.” The sport’s latest generation of athletes, he says, have pushed the limits of all three.