Do agents maximise? Risk taking on first and second serves in tennis

Jeffrey Ely, Romain Gauriot, Lionel Page*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


We investigate whether expert players with high incentives are able to optimally determine their degree of risk taking in contest. We use a large dataset on tennis matches and look at players’ risk taking on first and second serves. We isolate a specific situation, let serves, where second serves and first serves occur in a way which is as good as random. This creates the setting of a quasi-experiment which we can use to study players’ serving strategies on first and second serves in comparable serving situations. We find that players, both men and women, are able to adopt serving strategies which meet the requirements of optimality arising from simple assumptions about risk-return trade-offs in serves.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Economic Psychology
StatePublished - Dec 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Economics and Econometrics


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