Which side in doubles?

While at tennis camp this year, I asked several of the Legends a doubles strategy question: If the correct pairing of a doubles team is opposites, one being an aggressive hitter (who will make some errors) and the other is Mr. Steady, which side of the court should each play?

The opinions were equally divided.

For example, Roy Emerson argued the steadier player should be in the deuce court; because he would be able to more often return serve and create a break-point opportunity. That way, the aggressive player could feel freer to hit out more and be relaxed.

Doubles specialist Brian Gottfried felt just the opposite. He believed Mr. Steady should be in the ad court to be counted on the get the return back on both ads for and against your team; and that the aggressive player would swing freer in the deuce court without the game-point pressure on his shoulders.

Depending on my partner, I have been placed in both roles: the aggressive hitter and the steady-Eddy guy. And I agree with Brian Gottfried. From my own experience, I have felt freer to “hit out” in the deuce court; and conversely, felt the responsibility of “getting the ball back in play” on the critical ad court points.

What do you think?

And as a corollary to the “which side?” question: In a lefty-righty team, who should be on which side?

The #1 team in the world, the Bryan brothers, play “forehands in the middle,” with the lefty in the deuce court. But I have spoken with lefties who prefer to play the ad court; because they argue they can run around and hit more forehands from that court.

I believe in the “forehands in the middle” theory, because most balls in good doubles will come at you down the middle; and if you have both backhands there, you will be weaker.

Again, what do you think?

2 thoughts on “Which side in doubles?

  1. I’m on board with you, George. I have played the ad (or 2nd court as Emmo calls it) for years and I’m a righty who often plays with a left handed partner, especially on my USTA team. Besides the benefit of the “forehands in the middle”, I have found this configuration has helped my singles game tremendously by giving me many more opportunities for working on my backhand return of serve, which has benefitted from this to the point where I no longer ‘clutch’ about hitting the backhand return from the ad side and in fact look at it as an offensive shot in many cases.
    Happy New Year!

  2. George, that question comes up all the time. Since I play very intermittent right now, I like to play the ad court side, since my backhand is very steady, and I have more control with it. Also, I never had a problem with pressure, I am more nervous what my partner is doing when I play the even court side. Some of my best doubles I have played with Mike Lahan, with him being the aggressive forehand player. Happy New Year and thanks for keeping your website interesting.

    Happy New Year! Rolf

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