Although I enjoy playing singles, doubles is my preferred game. I know some people like doubles because they “do not need to move as much”. However, it’s the opposite for me, I feel like I move more in doubles since I’m always on my toes. I love the continuous movement to cover the court as your partner moves around. Nothing is better than when you jive with your partner and naturally you become a duo that can get nearly every ball. Here are some tips and strategies to make your doubles game seamless.
Serving up Victory
Serves are always a daunting stroke since it can make or break your game. The most important thing in doubles is to get your first serve in or have an accurate second serve preferably one with top spin. I highly advise against a “dinky” second serve. Dinky refers to a very soft touch of the ball that is so soft the only noise is a quiet dink. Playing doubles guarantees you to at least once experience your partner hitting a dinky ball—one moment you see it bounce and next thing you know the ball streamlining towards your face and your opponent slightly grinning. Overall, weak serves can ruin your game because it gives your opponent the opportunity to put away your serve either down the line or at a sharp angle making it extremely hard to cover.
When serving in doubles you want to keep the ball down the middle because it deters the opponent from hitting down the line or getting a put away. The opponents return of the down the middle serve will be easier for your partner to poach. Hands down my favorite thing to do in doubles is poach. Poaching means to play a ball hit into the territory of one’s partner that is properly the partner’s ball to play. I would give my partner a little hand signal that meant if her serve permitted I would poach the oncoming ball, so she would stay on her toes ready to move or possibly cover me. Poaching an opponent’s serve return can surprise them and put the pace in your advantage.
Who doesn’t love a surprise?
Everyone loves a good surprise, right? Okay, maybe surprises in tennis can be bad, but it does not hurt to give a little surprise to your opponent’s net player. A great strategy when making an approach shot is to keep the shot low and towards the net player. By hitting it to the net player it makes the shot faster; however, if you hit your approach to the baseline player they have time to reposition and lob the ball right over your head. Keeping the ball low is important because it prevents the net player from making a strong volley, or worse a swinging volley right back at you. This strategy is very simple, but when used properly can be very effective as you and your partner play offensively at net.
Go with the flow
When playing you want your movement with your partner to be as fluid as possible. You want to shift with your partner, so if a shot takes her off the court you need to move accordingly to cover the middle. When moving it is crucial to communicate with your partner, meaning you should call balls. Simply yell our “yours” or “mine” and if those words are too hard to utter in the heat of the moment you can say “you” or “me”.
Abs without sit-ups
This strategy that I’m about to share is by far my favorite tactic and single handled carried my tennis partner and I in high school to the All-State round of New York’s State tournament. My coach called it “attacked the back” which lead to the nickname “abs”, whenever my partner and I wanted to use this strategy we would just pat our abs. This strategy is simple and very beneficial if you can do deep top spin lobs. If you are on baseline you simply lob the ball over your opponent’s net player’s head causing your opponent’s side to switch. As the opponent tries to hit back the lob, which is difficult, your partner will be at net ready to attack/poach the ball. When using this strategy the person at net needs to be patient. Your opponent my return the lob with a ground stroke cross court and you should return the ball again with a high lob over the at net opponent’s head. This will tire out your opponent very quickly.
Up close and personal
The fun of doubles is the race to the net against your opponent. My coach always said that if you get to the net first you win the point. The concept of this is correct because when you make it up to the net it officially put you on offense. Controlling the net in doubles is very helpful because it gives you access to making angled volleys. Since being up at net is so crucial it is important that players develop their volley. Staying on your toes at net aids in better movement and aiming your volley. Remember that you should be conserving your energy and streamlining towards the ball coming at you, which means you want to move at diagonals to get to balls.
Ready to play some doubles?
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